We had the pleasure of chatting with Emily A. Renfroe all about “The Hitman’s Mark”
1.Could you share with us the initial idea or spark that led to the creation of “The Hitman’s Mark“?
I initially came up with the idea for The Hitman’s Mark while watching HBO’s “House of the Dragon” this past fall. I loved the court intrigue and power struggles within the Targaryen dynasty, especially for the female protagonist in a largely patriarchal society, and I was drawn by the idea of applying these themes to a modern setting. This, combined with my love for dark romance, led to the creation of my mafia-based story!
2.Where did you draw your inspiration from when you were developing the characters and plot for the book?
As an avid consumer of mafia and dark romance novels, I felt that, too often, the female characters in this genre lack autonomy and power beyond their relationships to the men in their lives. For this reason, I wanted to write Valentina’s character to have goals far beyond her relationship to her love interest, Matteo. She strives to break free from the chains and limitations placed on her by the men in the Cosa Nostra, and, as her bodyguard, Matteo makes it his goal to protect her in her ascent to power. It was my hope that their relationship, although tenuous at first, become balanced, with neither character rising above the other.
3.What is one thing you want your readers to take away from your work?
The number one thing that I want my readers to take away from my work is a sense of escapism. I want my readers to be able to sit down and completely immerse themselves in Val and Matteo’s story. I want them to dive into New York’s underworld, experience the danger and politics of the Cosa Nostra, and rise through the ranks alongside Val and Matteo.
4.Could you please share your personal journey on how you first came across Wattpad and what motivated you to start writing there?
I’ve been a reader on Wattpad for years! I think I first downloaded the application when one of my friends introduced me to the infamous After series, and I never looked back. After reading the entirety of Anna Todd’s original series on Wattpad, I found myself drawn by the various genres and undiscovered gems within the app.
With that being said, I wasn’t brave enough to publish my own stories on Wattpad until years later. I’ve always loved writing and knew that I had stories I wanted to tell, but it’s difficult to find the courage to share that first chapter with the world. Eventually, as I read more and more stories on Wattpad, I began to think, “Maybe I could publish one of my stories here, too?” I started my writing journey on Wattpad with a contemporary werewolf romance, and I’ve been writing there ever since!
5.What does the Wattpad community mean to you on a personal level and how has it contributed to your growth as an author?
Without the Wattpad community, I don’t know if I would have ever finished my first book. Before I began writing on Wattpad, I would often abandon a story after only a few chapters. However, Wattpad allows authors to connect to readers who are equally dedicated to their characters and story, and I find that I glean the most inspiration for writing when I can see the impact that my story has on its readers. There is something so special about receiving support from readers while you are still writing an unfolding story, and, personally, it holds me accountable as an author. Simply put, Wattpad has created a platform and community that safeguards my inspiration as a creator.
6.What advice would you give to budding writers who are hesitant about sharing their work online, particularly on platforms like Wattpad?
Share your story, no matter how scary or intimidating it might seem. It is so hard to be vulnerable and post your work online, especially after dedicating so many hours of yourself toward crafting a new world and characters, but your story deserves to be told. As long as you are writing a story that you enjoy, I promise that somewhere, someone else will enjoy it, too.
Finally, at risk of sounding horribly cheesy, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. If you dream of being an author, you have to start somewhere, and Wattpad offers such an incredible platform to begin your journey.
7.How do you believe platforms like Wattpad can support and uplift voices?
Platforms like Wattpad are so important for lifting up voices of countless authors and creators who might not otherwise get the chance to share their work. Practically anyone can publish their work on Wattpad and share it with the multitude of readers who actively engage with stories on the website and application. However, what makes Wattpad so unique is their willingness and dedication toward sharing and promoting stories written by authors of various identities and backgrounds.
8.How did you incorporate your own experiences into the storyline of “The Hitman’s Mark“?
Although I can safely say that I have very little experience dealing with New York’s underworld, hitmen, and the mafia, I still strive to share aspects of myself in the storylines of my works. For example, at one point in the story, Val rescues a dog from the local animal shelter– not because it adds a particularly substantial amount to the story, but rather because I have the biggest soft spot for rescue pets and have two of my own rescue pups.
Far more importantly, however, I believe that, naturally, aspects of my own personality leak into my characters. As an introvert, I definitely do not share the louder, more confident parts of Val’s personality, and writing such a badass female character is so therapeutic and exciting for me for that reason. At the same time, Val possesses a softer side that showcases her compassion and sympathy for others, and I see my own personality glimmer through during those scenes.
9.What is your biggest success as a creator?
My biggest success as a creator would have to be the publication of The Hitman’s Mark with Wattpad. I’ve always loved writing and knew from a young age that my dream is to be a real published author. I feel like my work with the team at Wattpad on Hitman is the first real step in making that happen. I have been given the most incredible opportunity to begin supporting myself and my family with my creative writing, and I feel that that is all any creator can truly ask for.
10. Finally, do you believe your writing journey would have been different if you had not chosen Wattpad as your platform? Can you elaborate on this?
My writing journey would have definitely been different if I hadn’t chosen Wattpad as my platform. Prior to joining Wattpad, I wrote stories for myself and never felt confident enough to share them with anyone else. Then, when I went to college and shared my creative works with professors, I received so many mixed opinions and criticism from “experts” who didn’t deem my romantic, fantastical stories as worthy of publication. Too often, I left classes feeling dejected and like I would never find success as a writer in my favorite genres.
If I never joined Wattpad and received validation from the beautiful community of readers and writers alike, I might have quit writing altogether. When I began posting my stories on the platform, I quickly realized that there are thousands of readers who love romance and fantasy just as much as I do. Their support, through comments, votes, and sweet messages, gave me the confidence to continue writing in spite of the discouraging words of others in my life. For this reason, I am eternally grateful to the platform and my readers. Without them, I don’t think I’d still be writing today, and Val and Matteo’s story would still be just an idea in the back of my mind.
After a devastating tragedy shatters the renowned Romano crime family, their fate weighs heavily on Don Leonardo Romano's only heir, twenty-two year old Valentina. Determined to uphold the family's power, Val will go to any means necessary, even if it means selling her heart to the highest bidder. As the Romano family's most notorious hitman, Matteo Costa knows the most depraved corners of New York's underground. So, when Val arrives home after college, he is confident she won't last long. The New York mafia would chew her up and eat her alive, and yet... Serving as Valentina's personal guard, Matteo realizes Val has grown into a beautiful, smart and cunning woman. He knows it won't be easy keeping the principessa safe, especially when the Romano's rivals set their sights on her. But, as their relationship grows, Matteo realizes that his own desire might be the greatest threat to the Romano dynasty.