This month I’m really excited to host not only a brilliant independent author but someone I feel I am lucky enough to now call a friend.
Lauren is an independently published author who reached out to me back in the spring to ask me to read and review her debut novel Moroda. You can check out my review here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/moroda-by-l-l-mcneil-review/
Lauren has kindly agreed to do this month’s interview and I am very excited to host her!
What was your background and how did you get into writing?
I’m a Copywriter and have worked in Marketing / Marketing Communications for quite a few years now! I’ve always loved writing, and as a child I was always making up stories! I always wanted to make a living from writing, which is what I do, but there’s something incredible about writing your own novels!
What are your ambitions for your writing?
My previous ambition was just to get published! Next it’ll be to get the remaining books in the series out, but also to the same standard as book one, if not higher! Five novels to go…
But in truth, I’d like to be an author full time – to have my bills paid with my books. That’d be an epic achievement!
I’m really excited for the next books in the series! Which writers inspire you?
Many of them! In particular, those who create complex characters, worlds that come to life, even created languages! Right now I have a lot of admiration for Leigh Bardugo and Patrick Rothfuss.
Writing fantasy requires a lot of imagination, particularly high or epic fantasy like Moroda.
I really need to get into Leigh Bardugo! Where did the idea for Moroda come from?
I came up with the original concept back when I was sixteen, so quite a while ago, now! I remember handwriting pages and pages of this idea, trying to get it down before I lost the thread of it. It combined a lot of things I enjoyed – dragons and quests, magic stones, a vast world. I remember very clearly seeing the university at Berel, and the ballroom scene in the palace of Taban Yul in particular. I even hand-drew a map of the world!
Moroda herself was actually the weakest character up until almost final draft. She was kind of dwarfed by all these strong side characters and I struggled to find the character and voice of Moroda until very, very late on. She was just kind of swept up in events and didn’t do much for herself – so I hope I’ve brought her back to be a more balanced character, with real motives and understandable behavior!
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m working on a spin off / collection of short stories which details some of the characters’ lives before the events of book one. These are very short reads, only about 10,000 words. The first one I’m working on is all about Amarah and how she became a sky pirate!
I’ve also written the first draft of book two in the series, which is called Palom. I’m currently working on editing that in the hopes of publishing it later this year.
So that’s due anytime now then! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc.
I use anything and everything to jot ideas down!! I’ve always got a notepad in my bag, a couple on my desk at work, and loads more floating around at home! It’s nice to be able to write down a bit of dialogue or description of a scene as and when ideas strike! I also keep one by my bed in case my dreams throw up anything worth exploring!
For actual writing I use my laptop and stick with Word. I often have many files of notes – so I have a whole document on the world of Linaria, another on various characters and their arcs, another on currency, another on things I’ve written that I’d like to keep for another book, etc. Plus all my outlining and plotting!
It all sounds very complex! Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write?
I’m a fantasy fan through and through, so I can’t see myself writing another genre. I’m in awe of those who write thrillers and mystery. All that plotting and foreshadowing. It’s very complex!!
How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes?
I try and set aside a couple of hours every night (although that’s gone out the window since publishing!) – I can typically write 2,000 words an hour, so once I’ve completed my plotting, I can sit down and churn out quite a lot. NaNo is very good for helping with accountability, too!
I do need to get back into a routine, but often when you’ve been at work all day, the last thing you want to do is spend another few hours looking at a laptop screen!
What sort of publishing route did you choose and why?
I went for self-publishing, though it wasn’t my original plan. I wanted to go traditional, and purchased the Writers and Artists Yearbook, shortlisted agents I wanted to query, etc. But by the time I finished my manuscript, I’d had a change of heart.
I mentioned having a Marketing background, including many connections and colleagues. I could probably do a lot of the things a publisher would do, by myself. Plus I’d keep full creative control, and I could get it out there faster. If I was picked up by a publisher right now, it could be another eighteen months before the book went out on shelves.
There are also stories of wildly successful self-published authors who have later been picked up by a traditional publisher, so something like that could happen if my series takes off! You never know!
From what I’ve seen so far Moroda is continuing to be very successful How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures?
I’m quite active on Twitter and Facebook, so I’ve run a few ad campaigns there. I’ve also done some “author takeovers” and interviews like this one (many thanks again for the opportunity!). I’m part of a fantastic writing group called Garage Fiction who do a weekly podcast that I’m now involved with, which is awesome fun!
I have an author website and blog which I post to at least weekly (including a series on my self-publishing journey and mistakes I made!), and I’m currently working on creating a book trailer. I’ve also commissioned an illustrator to create some beautiful artwork of the eight main characters from the book, which is awesome!
I approached people on Goodreads who typically read my genre and asked if they might like to receive a free copy for review, and I’ve also run a couple of Goodreads Giveaways, which has really helped with visibility and a few reviews have come from it. I’ll be exhibiting at some of the UK film/comic-cons, too!
It’s a constant learning curve. I don’t have an emailing list or newsletter (yet! I’m working on some added content for this), and a lot of my marketing efforts probably would have helped more if they were done before the book was released! But it helps to have this in place for when it comes to book two!
It sounds like you know what you’re doing! If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why?
Oh gosh, that’s a tough one! So many! I’m in awe at the scope of A Game of Thrones, so I’d probably have to go with that one! Sorry for choosing the obvious!
What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews?
Touch wood, I’ve not received a bad review yet!! I’m still expecting one/several; certainly, as I have critiques about the book and shortcomings I’m not happy with. Good reviews make me giddy and I often cry when I read them, haha!
I am hugely influenced by reviews. If someone I follow on Goodreads leaves a four or five star review for a book and I like the synopsis, I’ll immediately add it to my “to read” list. If that book is part of a series, I add the rest of the series without looking! I love paperbacks too, so tend to rush out and buy those!
I think on a site like Goodreads, reviews will help the success of an unknown book or author. Amazon supplements this, too.
Overall, reviews are very good, I think – especially when you hit about 50+, so I’m always asking those who’ve read my book if they’d be kind enough to leave a review!
Thank you so much for joining me this month Lauren it’s been a pleasure to have you!
If you want to see more from Lauren and get the latest updates to can visit the website and social media pages below!
https://twitter.com/LLMcNeilAuthor https://www.facebook.com/LaurenAuthor/ http://www.llmcneil.com/blog/ https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16468949.L_L_McNeil https://www.amazon.co.uk/L.-L.-McNeil/e/B06VVFY3DC/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0