Interview with T.B Markinson

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Who or what inspired The Hidden One?

 Many who have read my A Woman Lost series know I’m a history nerd. I’m also an American political news junkie. I listen to way too many political podcasts, just like Ainsley in The Hidden One, hardly ever miss The Rachel Maddow Show, subscribe to several newspapers in the US and UK, in addition to reading articles on Politico, Axios, and others including right-leaning sites in a woeful attempt to stay impartial. The Chosen One series allows me to bring out the political animal inside me without actually having to run for office. Because that would be my definition of hell.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing? 

Two reasons immediately pop into my mind.

First: My love of reading.

When I was a kid, I spent many blissful hours reading in my favorite rocking chair. This passion never vanished. Unfortunately, the rocking chair did. That hasn’t stopped me. I read everywhere. If you were at the post office today and saw a woman reading in line, that may have been me. I always have a book with me. If I don’t, I feel naked and incomplete. By the way, if you know where my rocking chair is, please let me know. I miss my old friend.

Second: Being diagnosed with Graves’ Disease may have been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If it wasn’t for that, I may still be a person who has dreams but doesn’t chase them.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

 Oh gosh, this is a hard one. I’m quite fond of so many, even the ones who are a complete pain in the arse. If I had to choose one right now, I’d say Fiona Carmichael. She’s a supporting character in The Chosen One series and she’s a riot. Always saying what she thinks and the woman doesn’t have a filter at all. If you asked me this question again tomorrow, my answer would probably be different.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

 Before I start a novel, the idea has to sit with me for weeks. I spend a lot of time going for walks, letting ideas percolate. I’ll jot down notes, but I won’t actually write until I feel confident I can finish it. When I finally start, I have a decent idea where the story will go. But then, the characters hijack it and even I’m surprised by what happens.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

From everywhere. There have been countless times I’ve been in a store, restaurant, or park and I see interactions with people and my brain immediately starts to concoct a backstory to what I’m hearing or witnessing.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

 I write in my “office” in my flat. There’s nothing fancy about it. Just a desk, chair, and laptop. I’m easily distracted. Sometimes I listen to music. Other times I need absolute quiet.

 

What is your writing process?

 I write full time, so it’s not so much a process, but a job. Every day when I wake, I know that’s what I’ll be doing until quitting time. I’m a slow starter, though. I can’t wake up and jump right into writing like many authors. I have to make a cup of tea and clear some admin tasks off my plate, or I can’t concentrate on the story I’m working on.

 

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

 I think each published book has impacted my process. I’m always finetuning my approach. Like any job, it can become repetitive and I have to find new ways to tap into the creative process. Sometimes, I just have to give myself a stern lecture that can be summarized this way: sit your arse in the chair and write.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

 On books. In my humble opinion, if someone doesn’t love to read, they shouldn’t write. I read just about everything, ranging from nonfiction to fiction. Usually, I have three books going at once, plus an audiobook for when I exercise.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

 I’ve been receiving quite a few emails lately from people thanking me for helping them through difficult times. It’s nice to know my stories help readers disappear from harsh realities and give them some escapism. Life can be so very hard.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

 Back when I was a kid I had the flu and was home for school for several days. I was so bored and I started to read The Hobbit and fell in love with reading. It was the first book that wasn’t a picture book that I remember reading on my own and it introduced me to the wonderful world of storytelling. Over the years, I’ve reread The Hobbit and every time I can recapture that magical moment.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

 A Woman Undone, the sixth book in theA Woman Lost series, will be out soon (fingers crossed). The previous book, A Woman Loved, ended with quite a cliffhanger. Lizzie has a unique family (read crazy), and while she’s doing her best to live a happy life with her wife and twins, her family causes so many problems. And the clueless Lizzie does her best to navigate the issues in Lizzie style, which means she makes many comical blunders.

 

How do you take your coffee?

 I actually hate coffee, but drink way too much tea. My preferences change frequently. Lately I’ve been drinking it with honey.

 

Links and bio:

Readers can find me at I Heart Lesfic, on Twitter, and on my author website. And, if they want a free copy of A Woman Lostplus bonus scenes, they can sign up for my author newsletter here.

 

T.B. Markinson

T.B. Markinson is an American writer, living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.

Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. For a full listing of TB’s novels, please visit her Amazon page.

Interview with author Kate Genet

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Who or what inspired Saving Rose?

I read a lot of crime novels, and I’ve always loved writing suspense, so one day I had the brilliant idea of putting those things together and writing one. It was a great deal of fun, and I expect I’ll do it again. But it really did come about simply because I decided I wanted to write a crime novel. Once I did that, my imagination came up with Claire and Rose. Valerie (my partner) and I had a great time talking about the story all through the writing process, and Claire is a sailor thanks exclusively to Valerie’s extensive experience with yachts. I love writing children, and am very protective of them, so it all just came together nicely.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to write. At the age of nine or ten, I was stitching together tiny books out of paper, just the way the Bronte sisters did, and waking up early in the morning to write poems in them. That habit didn’t last long, but the desire to write has never gone away. Kate and writer are synonymous, these days.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

This is an awfully tough question, considering I have a whole bunch of books I’ve written now. Every character is a favourite while I’m writing them, because I strive to make them feel as real as possible, and I tend to fall in love with all my main characters.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I’m ready to write when I can see the first scene in my head, and when I know what sort of feeling or atmosphere I want the book to have. I don’t outline at all; I simply start at chapter one and see where the story takes me, right up until the end. I don’t even know how to write any other way than that!

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

Everything is inspiration. I think when you’re a writer, every experience, everything you see, feel and do, falls through into the well of inspiration and then becomes part of a story, even if it’s one you never end up telling. I do most of my character invention during the actual writing, so they tend to grow very organically, and I meet them and get to know them at the same time I am writing them.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’m a big fan of routine. It makes my days look very dull, but I have a space – a room – set aside to write in, and that’s where I go to write. Usually at the same time every day, for the same length of time. The discipline and routine help my brain make the switch to that flow state where language and structure and story and inspiration come together on the page. I’m not a coffee shop writer, or anything of the sort – I prefer to sit on my own when I’m working.

 

What is your writing process?

It’s very dull, from the outside, at least! While it varies slightly from book to book, it pretty much always starts simply with the picture in my head of someone doing something. And I write that picture down and follow where it leads me. I start at the beginning, at chapter one, and I write until the story is done. Valerie (my partner) reads along while I write, and we will talk about the story and she usually does whatever research I need. When I’ve reached the end, I read through it, making sure it all works, and then it gets proofed.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It made me realize that finishing writing projects is a great idea!

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My whole writing career has been run on a shoestring budget. There just hasn’t been the money for anything, so of the few things I’ve spent money on, I’d probably say my very recent purchase of Vellum, which is a miracle programme which will finally allow me to bring my books out in paper.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I think it is always gratifying to get feedback from readers letting you know that they’ve enjoyed your work. It’s a difficult thing to work for a couple months on a story – something that didn’t exist at all until the writer made it up (literally!) – and then put it out in public for scrutiny, and enjoyment or otherwise. Which also makes it one of the most amazing, humbling things when someone says it made them feel all the things you were hoping it would when you wrote it.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I don’t think there’s been just one book. Instead there have been many. I’m a great fan of the modernists – E M Forster, D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolfe, Katherine Mansfield, and too many others to mention. Then to those, add a great dollop of Stephen King. An odd mix, perhaps, but then, I’ve never been particularly conventional.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

I have a few planned for this year. Two historical romances under the name Lily Hammond, two contemporary romances as Ana McKenzie, and after that I should be able to fit another two in, if life leaves me enough space. I’ll play with those ones and see what I come up with – most likely some sort of suspense novel like Saving Rose. I like not knowing yet!

 

How do you take your coffee?

With coconut milk and no sugar. If I’m out, I’ll have a cappuccino, again with no sugar.

Interview with Miranda Macleod

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Who or what inspired Holme for the Holidays?

There were two things that inspired this book. One was a trip I took through the real village of Holme in Yorkshire, and the other was the movie “The Holiday” with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. This story is nothing like the movie, but I loved the idea of a house swap that leads to romance.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, ever since I was a kid. I used to make up plays during recess and make my friends take roles in them. But it was as my 40thbirthday was approaching a few years back that I realized that if I didn’t do something to turn “I want to write a book someday” into an actual book soon, I never would.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

My very favorite character is Amanda, the office temp turned international spy, from Stockholm Syndrome. I think I like her because she reminds me of all the years I spent as an office temp while I was in graduate school. Often, when you’re in that type of setting, you don’t really know anyone and you can feel a little invisible and underappreciated, so it’s a great environment for letting your imagination run wild. Amanda daydreams about being a spy, only unlike most of us, she gets the chance one night to make her dream come true!

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I write down ideas whenever they come to me, often along the lines of “wouldn’t it be funny if…” Most of the time, the initial thing that draws me to a story is something funny, like a celebrity chef on a gluten-free diet who gets stuck in a tiny Italian village where the only things to do are eat pasta and flirt with the local chocolate maker. After the initial idea, I always write an outline, even if some of the scenes are a little vague at first. I have to have a plan before I can write, even if sometimes I change the plan halfway through.

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

Sometimes I base my characters and their occupations either on things I know myself, or on people I have encountered. For example, my Love’s Encoretrilogy is set in the theater, where I worked for several years. Other times, I ask myself what type of extraordinary life an ordinary person might like to drop in on for a few hours—perhaps a celebrity singer or spy. But it’s important to me that even the characters with the most unusual and exciting occupations need to be real and relatable.

Where is your favorite place to write?

During the warmer weather, I have a desk on my three-season porch, but when the New England winter gets too cold, there’s a local coffee shop I like, and the library is also a good choice. I find it helpful to get away from home, where there’s always a load of laundry to distract me from writing.

What is your writing process?

Ideally, I spend a week or so creating an outline and then launch into my first draft, which usually takes a few months. When that’s done I get editorial input, revise, and send for final editing and proofreading.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Getting through the whole process, from idea to final product, for the first time helped me to start building a series of steps that I refine with each new work. I found, for example, that I tend to get tired in the middle of the book, where it seems like the end will never arrive, and so it can help me to send it at that stage to a beta reader to get some feedback. Even if all the reader says is “Finish this so I can read the rest,” it helps to rekindle my energy to push through to the end.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

For me, it was buying a Mac and loading it up with the Scrivener and Vellum programs. That gives me everything I need to go from outline to published e-book and paperback.

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

The comments that stick with me the most are when a reader reaches out to say that my story gave them hope in a dark time. My books are romantic comedies on the surface, but I try to deal with the emotions and challenges that real people face, and intfuse them with hope and humor. When I know that’s brightened someone’s day and made something difficult easier, that’s the best feeling in the world.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

In 4thgrade, my friend Jenny gave me a copy of Emily of New Moonby L.M. Montgomery. That series is not as well-known as her Anne of Green Gables series, but it’s all about a little girl who dreams of being a writer, and who has great adventures along the way to achieving her dream, with a lot of embarrassing challenges thrown in for good measure. Even as an adult, I still go back and read it sometimes, and love it every time.

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

Yes! 2018 proved to be a difficult year for writing because of various things that came up in my family and personal life, but I’m pleased to say that I will be publishing London Holiday, the 5thbook in the Americans Abroad series, this coming spring. It’s a modern retelling of the 1950s classic Roman Holiday, which is probably my favorite movie of all time. In my version, a struggling journalist meets a runaway princess in London and has to choose between the tabloid story of a lifetime, or the possibility that she’s found true love.

How do you take your coffee?

Whole milk, and no flavored creamers or heaven forbid, anything sweet in it.

 

Interview with debut author Jax Meyer

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Who or what inspired your latest novel Dal Segno?

It all started as a dream, which is a rare experience since having my daughter almost four years ago. In it I was visiting a college and ran into my old music teacher and had this sense of home at seeing her. The dream wasn’t romantic, but that idea of finding home in a person unexpectedly stuck with me for days. I played around with ideas to create a backstory and before long I had the beginning of the book.

Once I had the basic backstory, I focused on building Cam as a character. I knew I was too new at writing to get too adventurous, so I based a lot of her on myself. Her butchness and autism are based very closely on my experiences, but I did this purposely because there’s so little autistic representation in lesfic. And the butch representation is often something I don’t relate to. Ultimately, I wrote a character I wanted to read about.

The rest, including Sharon and Laura’s characters came to life as I wrote, which was the most fascinating experience for me to look back on.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

This is my first novel. It’s the first book I’ve written, with the exception of a story I wrote when I was 12 or 13 about my friends and I being rock stars. I never knew I could be a writer until this book because of the way my autistic brain works. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about myself!

What ultimately got me writing was a subconscious need to, and a lot of support from the other authors I’ve connected with this year over in Slack. This book would not be what it is without the Lesfic Love group, which is why they get a shoutout in the acknowledgments.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

I love Cam, but writing Laura was so much fun! I fell in love with her as she developed as a person on the page. I’ve spent the last few months writing the prequel, which means writing Sharon into existence, and I couldn’t begin to choose between them. Both provide Cam just what she needs at that point in her life, but what she needs at 20 is very different from what she needs at 40.

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Since I’m still new to writing, I’m don’t have a lot of experience with this. So far, I get a tiny snippet of an idea, then I start brainstorming. I really love Lisa Cron’s Story Genius book to help me get to know the characters, but I don’t actually know that much about them when I start writing. I find my starting point and just write. Their voice begins to develop, the story develops based on their interactions, and I’m just along for the ride.

One thing I think I do well is knowing when something isn’t working. It just feels off to me. Sometimes that means going back and changing a character’s reaction or choice. Sometimes it means scrapping the whole thing like I did with the upcoming A Marine Awakening. That started as a short story, to help build Cam’s backstory. I completely scrapped that when I went to write the actual book though because it just didn’t work. Thankfully I don’t refer to her life with Sharon much, so I didn’t have to worry about consistency very often. Also, thankfully, I’m using the same editor for both books so she’s well aware of Cam’s character and what occurs in Dal Segno.

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

I always start with real people for at least one personality quirk so I have something to work with. My autism presents itself in a way that makes understanding people very difficult, which is the exact opposite of my wife. So I will start with a character, in a moment, and often discuss them with her to get a deeper understanding. Once I have that understanding it helps me guide the characters’ development. I also have friends that are great to brainstorm with. Their questions help the character come into focus.

I have noticed that by the middle of the book, the original person the character is based on is hard to find, as the character has come into their own. I’m learning to separate the inspiration for the character from the character more quickly, which allows the character to develop more easily. It truly is a fascinating experience for me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I prefer to write in a quiet room, with lots of natural light. However, I wrote about 75% of Dal Segno on my iPhone, many times while working one of my part time jobs. I’m so often on the run that being at home to write is a luxury. Then again, writing with an almost four year old means it’s often not quiet either. It would be a dream to go on a writing retreat in the mountains.

What is your writing process?

Just write. When I get stuck, I reach out for help brainstorming so I can keep writing. I don’t outline, unless I have some key beats I’m aiming for, because I discover so much as I write. I do occasionally write a scene out of order, just to get the words out of my head, but it almost always gets significantly rewritten by the time I reach.

For example, the weekend Cam and Laura first have sex, Laura plays Warm Valley for Cam. That was originally going to be their first kiss earlier in the book. But as I wrote and talked to people about Cam, I realized that she needed to fall into that first kiss. The scene as originally wrote was so much fun to write, but it didn’t work in the story, so it was repurposed.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

When I published, I had no clue whether people would like it or not. As the good reviews came in, I gained confidence. Now I’m committed to being a writer instead of a person who wrote a book. I’m still surprised that it happened, but I love it. This year has been a very difficult year for me personally, but writing has kept me sane and given me an outlet.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

First, I was lucky to be referred to a great, affordable editor by other lesbian romance authors. She turned my draft from something that would have been ok to a book that I’m proud to call mine. She also gave me frequent confidence boosts which made it much easier to hit the publish button. There are a lot of editors out there, but I wanted someone who knew lesbian romance, specifically. She was able to provide a lot of beneficial guidance not just on the story, but the cover design and blurb.

Second, getting a quality cover designer. I found Amanda Walker in a Facebook group and loved her pre-made covers. She worked with me to find the right stock photos, title fonts and colors, and my cover looks really nice. Cover art really makes a difference! She’s rather affordable as well. She can be found at https://www.amandawalkerpa.com/

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I was really insecure about Cam’s autism. Even though it’s based on mine, I worried I didn’t show it well enough. But I received an email from a reader who said they really appreciated that aspect and it was spot on. I’m pretty sure I cried a little.

Recently, Anna at The Lesbian Review covered my book and I couldn’t stop smiling when she said this about my characters. “Meyer’s characters are subtle in their depictions, yet they deliver a powerful impact. It is pure genius.” I can’t describe how it felt to read those words!

I’m still in shock at how much people loved my book. For readers, know that your kind words really do make a difference. I don’t respond to reviews, but know you have my deepest gratitude for reading and enjoying my book.

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

There are too many. However, in my upcoming book I do reference Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg as a critical book in my young adulthood. It gave me a reference point for my own butch identity at a time when I really needed terminology. For those who are younger, who always had the internet and gay characters on tv, it’s hard to describe what it’s like growing up in rural Wisconsin, not knowing anyone who was queer, and not having the language for your own identity. I’m not going to say kids have it easier today, because they have pressures I never had to deal with, but I love that they have the language to find themselves earlier.

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

A Marine Awakening is being edited now, to release by the end of January if all goes well. The book goes back in time almost exactly 20 years where Cam meets Sharon. We follow their journey as young Marines from meeting, falling for each other, meeting the parents, getting that first tattoo, and ultimately ending at their one year anniversary. We also learn why Sarah gets a free pass to be a loveable pain in Cam’s ass. This book is a lot steamier, so for those wishing Dal Segno had more sex, I think you’ll be satisfied with A Marine Awakening.

Afterwards I have two books on deck, though I’m not sure which will get written first. One will be a co-writing project with my wife, who’s had this story brewing for a year and a half at least, but her neurological issues prevented her from physically writing it. It’s the story of a dancer/choreographer and a writer who are both frustrated with their lives and have a lot of issues to overcome to be together.

The second book is mine, based at the South Pole, which I visited as a young physics student in college. Phoenix decides to run as far away from her life as possible when she realizes she might have fallen for her best friend. So she talks to her aunt who works for a company that employs people at the South Pole. There she meets Ashley, a serious astrophysicist who has no interest in relationships because she’s determined to help colonize Mars someday. This story has naturally come together so I can’t wait to write it.

How do you take your coffee?

Strangely enough, I never was much of a coffee drinker until well into my 30s. I still don’t drink it daily because I develop a tolerance for it quickly. I recently learned I prefer espresso drinks with enough sugar to balance the coffee, and tons of almond milk. Right now, my favorite is the juniper latte at Starbucks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with author Jea Hawkins

Jea Hawkins-Lucy True headshot

Who or what inspired your latest novel As Long As Love Lasts?

My own home renovations! We were ripping out walls and I started muttering, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if something fell out of the walls, like old letters?” And it snowballed from there.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Definitely my love of Nancy Drew. I wanted to make people feel the same excitement I felt reading her adventures.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Vera Morton from As Long As Love Lasts. She knows who she is and what she wants, and even though she presents a tough exterior, is vulnerable underneath it all.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

With excitement, and I’m all about getting everything I can written down before the plot bunny hops away on me. That’s why my stories tend to be big on dialogue and action – that’s what I envision most clearly as it plays like a movie in my head.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

A variety of things. I’m an avid genealogist in my Very Responsible Non-Writing Life, so I find quite a bit of inspiration from ancestors! But friends and acquaintances, or characters on TV shows also give me plenty of ideas.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

The small diner downtown. They have delicious food, a great atmosphere, and the waitress knows me well enough to always ask, “Is it a coffee or cappuccino day?” I just feel very welcomed and relaxed there. The library is my other favorite place.

 

What is your writing process?

I like to write down everything that comes to mind, first, even if it’s the end of the story. After that, I ask myself how I’ll get from point A to Z. For my romances, I create a linear outline of beats and chapters. For my urban fantasies, I plot backwards from the final scene until I get to a reasonable starting point that puts the reader in media res.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I used to discover write (aka pantsing) and maybe have a loose outline. The first several books I published under another name were okay, but over the years, I learned what I needed to make them better. When I decided to write romance about women who love women, I took everything I’d learned and found a way to blend my excitement about a story idea with plotting it out. Plotting wasn’t nearly as painful as I’d spent 20 years thinking it would be and, as a result, I think what I write now is stronger than my previous attempts when I was younger.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Editing from Em Stevens Edits at https://howtonovel.wordpress.comfor As Long As Love Lasts.The story wouldn’t be half as good without her expertise!

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

One of my wonderful fans (I’d like to think of her as much more than a fan, though!) told me her wife is dyslexic. Her wife likes to read books while listening to the audiobook version. It helps her enjoy the story. I’ll never forget that and ever since then, I’ve always made sure they get a free audiobook from me whenever I have a new one.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Dragonsongby Anne McCaffrey. It’s the story of a girl, Menolly, who lives in a fishing community, but doesn’t fit in there. She dreams of being a Harper, something her parents discourage. They have very strict ideas about a woman’s “place.” Menolly is frustrated and finally runs away from home, which is when she accidentally impresses a clutch of fire lizards, tries to outrun Thread (never a good idea on the planet of Pern), is rescued, and then revealed to be an incredibly talented musician and composer. I love absolutely everything about this story and have since I was a teenager, also keenly aware that I didn’t fit in with my peers at the time.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

At this time, I am working on the final book in my Burgundy Hart series. Burgundy is a small-town librarian and witch… until she discovers she’s actually a warlock. This isn’t considered a good thing in the supernatural community, thanks to all the fear-mongering from the Witches Council. In book 3, Burgundy stands up to the Council once and for all.

 

How do you take your coffee?

I use Dunkies lingo, since I’m from Massachusetts (but I live in the Midwest, so this confuses people!) – extra sweet, extra light aka two creams, two sugars. But watch out – coffee turns me into a motor-mouth all day long!

Zip Line Jea

Interview with author M.J. Duncan

Who or what inspired your latest novel Heist?

 

A tumblr post, actually. There was an article in Smithsonian Magazineabout a wealthy collector known as “The Astronomer” who hired thieves to break into a London warehouse to steal rare books for them. My Muse took that idea and added, “Let’s add lesbians!” so yeah. That was how it all started.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

 

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Mostly short stories, like most kids who dabble with words, but I wrote my first novel when I was still in high school. It was a totally cringe-worthy attempt at becoming the next Patricia Cornwell—whose stuff I was obsessedwith at the time—but it was words on the screen of a brick of a laptop and I was quite proud of it at the time. I then went on to become a Creative Writing major in college, which meant I got to write a lot of words and learn a lot of B.S. theories about what makes “good” writing that I completely ignored. Then life happened and writing kind of took a back seat for a while, and I eventually fell back into it with fanfiction. That was great because I was playing in someone else’s sandbox and could just refocus on finding my voice again, and then I eventually thought “why not?” and started working on Second Chances.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

 

God, that’s like asking me which child I love the most! I love all of my characters for different reasons, but I’m definitely the most attached to Bryn Nakamura from Spectrum.Her whole path-to-self-acceptance/awareness very much mirrors my own, so I feel very protective of her in a way that I don’t with my other characters who all start their stories knowing that very important part of themselves.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

 

Most start with an idea for a particular scene. For Heist, it was that first robbery in Paris. Characters are next, because my stories are all very character-driven. I’m not a fan of drama, I avoid confrontation like the plague in real life, and to me the “real” story is the two characters falling in love—everything else is just shit that happens to them in the course of that journey. Anyway, once I have the characters, I come up with a very, very rough idea for the arc of a story that feeds into/incorporates that scene I mentioned above, and then I start researching the shit out of everything about the world/careers/lives of my characters that I don’t know. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the process. I love learning new things and putting them to use to make my stories (hopefully) more believable, but then when the story is done I can move onto something new. Once I feel like I have a working-knowledge of everything important, I cobble together something that looks like at least the skeleton of actual story arc in Scrivener and start hacking away at it all.

 

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

 

I know I said my characters drive my stories, but the story also dictates what I will need from each character to make the whole thing work. In Heist, for example, I needed Parker to have a reason to know the less-than-honorable skills that she knows, as well as a reason to have to use them. The key points in Sheridan’s personality were born of the same need—she had to have a reason to resist falling for Parker. Everything else, all the little details and quirks that make them real, flow from there as the story progresses.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

 

I have a great little office in the basement, but I do pretty much all my writing at the kitchen island because my dog Hunter doesn’t like going downstairs (he’s a big dude, 140 pounds, so he’s not exactly built to manage stairs). Every time I do try to go downstairs to work, he’ll grudgingly follow me down there, rest his head on the desk so he’s staring at me, and cry until I give up and go back to the kitchen. At this point, I’ve basically given up on using the office, but maybe someday I’ll get back to it. Or maybe not. It really is convenient working right next to the kettle and snacks.

 

What is your writing process?

 

Besides what I said already? It’s pretty much: open Scrivener, look at where I left off the day before, and try like hell to hit my word count goal for the day. Oh!, and try to not get distracted with shiny new ideas. Some people can have multiple projects working, but I’ve found that I work best focusing on one story at a time.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

 

I’m definitely getting better at plotting chapters for the story. I went at Second Chanceswithout any kind of a plan besides getting Mac and Charlie together and pretty much just winged the whole thing, but I’ve learned to see the helpfulness of actually planning further ahead. Switching from Word to Scrivener helped with this, too.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

 

Definitely Scrivener. It’s seriously the best large-project writing program I’ve ever come across.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

 

I honestly treasure every nice comment anyone has ever said about my work. But the messages I treasure the most are the ones where people reach out to tell me that a particular character touched them in some way. Writing is a very solitary process for the most part, so whenever I get a message like that it’s like, “Okay, I’ve done something good.”

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

 

I don’t know if there is one book that has really influenced my life. Or, at least, there isn’t one that immediately comes to mind that I can point to and say, “Yes, that one.”

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

 

Eventually, yes. I am still working on finishing up my latest story, Pas de Deux, but my goal is to have it out in March. It’s another LONG one, though, so we’ll see if I can swing it. *sighs* I really need to learn how to write shorter stories. Anyway, it’s a kinda-sorta-not-really sequel to Symphony in Blue.Kinda-sorta in that it’s in the same universe, but not-really because this time the story is about Mallory moving past everything that went down in Symphonyand finding her happily ever after. There are two people in every failed relationship and two different stories about how the relationship got to that point, and while she was painted as the necessary villain in Gwen’s story, she wasn’t in her own and I hated leaving her where I did.

 

How do you take your coffee?

 

Like Maeve Dylan, I prefer my coffee to not taste anything like coffee. Usually a splash of flavored creamer (it’s peppermint mocha season!) and milk is enough, but I’ve also done the hot chocolate mix thing that I gave to Maeve.

Interview with debut author Lou J Bard

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Who or what inspired your latest novel There’s A Possibility?
Actually, it was a Patrick Dempsey movie called Made of Honor and I loved the plot so much, but of course I wanted to see how you could twist it to be gay. This has been in the back of my mind ever since it came out in 2008. I’m glad it’s finally out of my head and on the pages!

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing since as long as I can remember. I think the first time I ever realized fanfiction was a thing, I’d already been writing some for Pokémon! LOL

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Oh wow. I guess I’d have to go with Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter. She was always a badass in my opinion. Youngest Auror of her time AND a Hufflepuff. Fun colored hair. She was my idol when she appeared in the books.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Character sketches! My absolute favorite part of the story is understanding my characters and where they come from, what their purposes are and where I think they’re headed.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

Mostly everyday people I live around and myself. I think I put a little piece of me into all of my characters. I try to write what I know.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

If it weren’t for my cat begging for my attention all of the time, I’d saythat it was my living room couch with lots of pillows and blankets and a hot cup of coffee. But I generally find myself at Starbucks to avoid distraction (go figure).

 

What is your writing process?

See the thing. Plot the thing. Write the thing. Get blocked by the thing. Cry over the thing. Write more of the thing. Send the thing to Editor and then cry when it returns looking like a crime scene. Finish polishing the thing. Cry again over the thing because it’s finished. Cry more over the thing when people enjoy the finished product.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I think it made me more aware of how I write, definitely with my use of adverbs and how I use the words “that” and “like” a LOT and how I need to correct it both in my speech and in my writing.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My editor. Claire works miracles with the shite I send her! LOL.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

Everything from my readers is memorable. Even if it’s not a stellar review, I am happy that someone took the time to read what I wrote and at least gave it a shot. Of course, I love the great reviews, but I take all of them in stride.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Am I lame if I say Harry Potter? It was the first real set of books I ever fell in love with and have changed the way I look at books for the rest of my life. I may never be as great as Ms. Rowling, but I certainly thank her for giving me the gift of loving the written word and the magical places it can take you.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so what are they about?

My next book is called The Sound of Silenceand it’s about a young woman who has been mute for over half of her life, falling in love with one of her caretakers and her caretaker trying to defend her own emotions against the world that thinks they are wrong.

But that’s as far as I’ll tell 🙂

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How do you take your coffee?

Cream and sugar with a splash of black coffee. Or just a soy caramel macchiato from Starbucks.

 

Lou’s upcoming book The Sound of Silence will be available on Amazon Kindle August 31st. It is available for preorder now by clicking here.

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