What made you decide to be an author?
I think the decision was made for me! I don’t ever remember thinking to myself, “I want to be a writer” and then going off and writing. I’ve always written – it was like I was born to do it, like breathing. It’s always been a part of me.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least?
I get to spend time in a world that I’ve created, and talk to characters who I know better than most people in ‘real’ life. It’s fantastic. I don’t think there is anything I dislike about writing, except maybe that my day job takes up too much time and therefor I don’t have enough hours to write.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing?
Oh, that’s a good question! I think they’ve prepared me in every way. The more experiences you’ve gone through the more you can put in to your writing. I’ve lived and visited the places I’ve written about – so my traveling experiences have prepared me. But then there are my personal experiences with my family, friends, partners – all of it has prepared me, given me something to draw upon.
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with?
All the time! I often think I am just the means to get the words onto the page. And I know the times when I try to either ignore the character dictating or write the words I want to write – they’re usually the times I suffer writers block, because I’m going against what I’m being told to write.
You have two novels published and are working on a 3rd novel. What’s your favorite time management tip?
Make writing your priority. If you’ve dedicated a Saturday afternoon to writing and a friend invites you out to lunch, learn to say no. It’ll feel weird at first, but that’s what you’ve got to do. Family and friends will soon learn writing is serious to you. I often say to my family I can’t do x,y,z because I’m writing and they no longer try to ‘lure’ me away. Also, be strict with yourself. Set a daily word count you must achieve and do not stop writing until you achieve it – no matter how tired, or how hard the words are to get on the page.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer?
Up until recently I swore I was a panster. Me, plan? Pah! No way. Well, actually I do plan. Kind of. I'm not one of these writers who know every single detail (including character details) before I write. I still like to be surprised along the way. However, I do always know the ending - because I need to know where I'm heading.
For my books, Of Love & Vengeance, Of Love & Betrayal, and my current untitled work in progress, I adopted the snowflake method of writing. In a nutshell the snowflake method is this:
Describe your story in one sentence.
Then, describe what happens in your story in five sentences. The first sentence should be the setup (where your story takes place). The second sentence is 'the incident' that happens end of act 1. The third sentence is the 'incident' that happens end of act 2. The forth sentence is the 'incident' the end of act 3. The fifth sentence is the ending.
You then write a paragraph for each of the above sentences.
And then you expand each of the paragraphs into a further paragraph and so forth. But save each version as a different document. There is a reason for doing this, I'll tell you below!
There are a few advantages of taking the time to do this.
One, you avoid the sagging middle syndrome.
Two, you have a good plan to keep you on track - now, with the paragraphs you can be as detailed as you need be. So for absolute planners, go for it, this method is ideal for you. For pansters, you can still use this method - because it still allows enough room for those moments that take you by surprise.
And three - this is probably the best advantage of this method. You actually end up with several different synopsis' of varying lengths. You have a five sentence synopsis. You then have a one page (5 paragraph) synopsis. A two page (10 paragraph) synopsis and so forth. Which is why I mentioned above to save each version as a separate document. There is no need to try to sum your story up after you have written it!
The snowflake method really is a win win situation.
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be?
Write the book of your heart. I often hear author's discussing what's trending at the moment or which genre is selling the most books. They'll then quickly go and write a book to take advantage of the current trend. I have nothing against authors who do that. Each to their own. I'm not here to judge. But, I think it kind of shows in your writing - if you're writing from your heart, or simply writing to make a quick dollar. Some may find my words controversial, but as I said, this was something that has been drummed in to me early on and I've kind of stuck with it ever since.
Tell me more about Of Love and Betrayal.
Aveline de Bondeville is on the run. Determined to keep out of the hands of the cruel Raimbaut de Blois she will do whatever it takes to stay alive. And so when she finds herself in the company of Troy de Gysborne she must quickly decide if she can trust him. But can she confess to murder knowing it would mean her certain death?
Troy de Gysborne did the unthinkable; he tore the bonds of brotherhood and left a path of destruction in his wake. And now Troy must face those he betrayed, including the father who long ago renounced him. But to confess to the crime he committed will cost him everything. Including Aveline. But can he remain silent if it means losing the woman he loves?
How about an excerpt from Of Love and Betrayal?
“You cannot escape me, you murderous whore!”Aveline remained pressed against the tree, desperate to be at one with it. Her heart rammed against her ribs, and she did not dare move, nor did she dare breath, afraid he’d be able to hear her. She glanced at the sky and caught glimpses of the moon through the lattice of leaves and branches. The shadows around her thrashed and snapped as the wind tore through the forest. She rubbed her wrists, bruised and swollen from having been tied. Her lips throbbed, and when she licked them, she tasted the saltiness of blood. Her back, still raw from the flogging, stung as sweat snaked down her spine.“You are a fool if you think you can escape me!”The fine hairs on her arms stood on end. Her knees shook. Her belly tightened. And when a twig snapped from somewhere behind, she shoved a fist into her mouth to keep from crying out. She risked a glance over her shoulder. She was greeted with only the blackness of the forest.She felt safe pressed against the tree but knew she wasn’t. It would only be a matter of time before Raimbaut found her. She inhaled deeply. The scent of rotting leaves filled her nose. Another twig snapped and she pushed herself away from the tree, and with her arms held out in front of her, she sprinted deeper into the woods. Her booted feet skidded on moss-covered rocks, and her bare hands pushed through low-lying tree branches. She stumbled over bumpy roots and shivered as wet leaves brushed against her cheeks.“You will hang for what you have done!”His cruel, hellish, voice sounded near. Her heart pounded. Sweat broke over her brow, and she fought to get air into her lungs. He was right. She could keep running, but she would never escape him.Footsteps sounded behind her. She leapt into the thick scrub and bit back a cry as a sharp twig tore at the flesh on her arm. But the pain was nothing in comparison to what she had already suffered. And would suffer if she allowed Raimbaut to recapture her.Her hunter stopped in front of her. She could smell his pungent scent on the wind. She could see his yellowed teeth in the dull moonlight. She carefully felt around her, and when her hand landed on the solidness of a fallen tree branch, she wrapped her fingers around it.He placed his hands on his hips as he peered at the thick scrub that was her shelter. Could he see it move as her entire body shook? Could he see the whites of her eyes? Smell her fear? He took a step toward her, and her teeth sank into her lower lip. Then he turned on his heel and headed further into the woods.Aveline sat back on her heels as the sound of her heartbeat thrashed in her ears. Her hand shook as she wiped cold sweat from her upper lip, black spots appeared in her vision. Her nostrils flared as she bit down a primal scream. She needed to keep fleeing.She sensed him behind her seconds before his heavy hand landed on her shoulder.“I told you I would find you, you whore!”Her scream was wild. In one fluid movement, she stood and swung the branch and whacked him on the side of his skull. His eyes widened, and he dropped his torch. The flame hissed and sizzled, but did not extinguish itself, as it hit the damp ground. Then he fell to the ground with a loud thump. Aveline dropped her weapon. And when he groaned, she picked up her skirts and raced into the darkness.She did not dare look behind her. She did not dare cry out as she slipped and fell on the wet, rotting forest floor. Her chest burned, her lungs gasped for air as she fought her way through the thick undergrowth. If the devil took a human form, then it was of the man who pursued her with single-minded determination.She raced across a clearing and came to a skidding halt as she teetered on the edge of a rocky overhang. The moonlight was not bright enough to see the ravine below. She backed away from the crumbling edge and looked wildly around. A gust of wind whipped her hair into her eyes, but she did not need to see to know he’d found her. He sounded like a bear as he charged through the scrub. Above the howl of the wind, his roar echoed through her ears.He took slow, purposeful steps toward her. His torch glared in her eyes, and that’s when she saw the blood. On her hands. On her dress. None of it belonged to her.“You murdered my father.”
Where can readers find more about your stories, books and you on the Internet?
Louise, thank you so much for being with us here today. I know my readers will enjoy your work and your interview.