Hello and welcome to my S.I.S. (Sunday Interview Series)! I hope you are finding these helpful, enjoyable, and a means to connect fellow writers, bloggers, and editors. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Lara Lee and found humor and interest in her author’s journey. If you would like to learn more about her books or her journey, then follow Lara Lee on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her Author Website.
Are you an indie author or a traditionally published author?
I’m an indie author who gets my short stories traditionally published. I’m seeking traditional publishing for a new novel because I’m masochistic like that.
Tell me a little about your writing journey, thus far.
My writing journey has been a bit like a drunk squirrel searching for its used up hoard of nuts. I’ve been making up fairy tales and stories as long as I can remember, but I was discouraged from writing for a living because of dyslexia and the fact that authors don’t earn much. Since eating was a priority in my life, I got a real job until I was forced to quit to follow my husband on a crazy half-baked adventure to Scotland and then around Europe with a baby in tow. It wasn’t until my thirties that I self-published my first book with fear and trembling. Since then I have had short stories and articles published as well as another book. My third book came out at the end of January. I’m now pursuing writing full time since I let my husband pay the bills while I play mom.
Do you write under a pseudonym? If so explain why.
No. I find a pseudonym to much trouble. I have a hard time remembering my name when I’m trying to tell my son to not jump on top of his rubber ball on top of my bed.
What genre do you write and why?
I write mostly young adult fantasy fiction. I sometimes dip my toe into humor. I believe in the would of make-believe, and I try to make my writing give hope and encouragement: that and the fact that I never grew up. Both humor and fantasy are about reading things that make us feel good; at the same time, we can also wrestle with the hard things in life in such a way that we can handle it. I pretty much write what I want to read and the way I see the world shows through.
What are you currently working on?
I’m trudging through the last book of the Truthseeker Trilogy and making notes for a whole new novel as a distraction. I’m also working on short stories that will eventually go into an anthology called The Adventures of Sage Goliad, dealing with an audiobook, submitting work to publisher and getting 90% of it rejected, writing some non-fiction articles, posting on my blog, and wasting tons of time pretending to promote my work on social media.
What inspired you to write your books?
Each book has a different inspiration. Gryphendale, my first book, began life as a grown-up fairy tale. After my mother died of brain cancer and my son was born extremely premature, the book became a way for me to deal with life and death. It’s surprisingly optimistic considering how dark those time were for me. Humor peaks its head through the quirky characters, and I learned to laugh my way through difficulty because of them. It was also heavily influenced by Scottish folklore since all of this happened while I was living in Scotland.
My second book and the first of a trilogy, The Shadow of the Gryphon, has twin princes named after my twins who passed away soon after being born. The main character, Arthur is a retired brownie adventurer who helps the princes on their adventure. I based it off of some of the adults in my life who want to retire from living, but it as has strong influences of my grandfather in my childhood. It takes place in a swampy land that reminds me of growing up in Florida. This book also has humor and fun peeking through the lines just because life is ridiculous at times.
The newest book coming out, The Gryphon’s Handmaiden, is the sequel to The Shadow of the Gryphon. In this book, I have a main character who has a significant disability, mutism caused by trauma. I had debated making her autistic, but it made the story too complicated. I wanted to encourage my son that no disability can keep you from pursuing your dream. This is part of my message as an author. I’ve been very involved in the special needs community and often seen children told what they couldn’t do. A person may have to work harder because of a disability, but there is always a way to find your path in life.
What are your top 5 favorite books?
Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
Looking at this list, is it any surprise I write young adult fantasy fiction?
What does literary success look like to you?
For me, I want readers who enjoy the books and have a better day, week, or life because of them. The hardest part of writing is finding your audience. People are so bombarded with books that they began to feel numb towards them. Success for me is helping them find books to get excited about.
How many hours a day do you write? What is your writing routine?
I do try to write every day, but this isn’t a chore for me. It’s more like sneaking into a tub of ice cream in the middle of the night, every night. I often write about 5 hours a day. It’s one of the main things I look forward to when I wake up in the morning. I drive everyone crazy in my obsessiveness over my writing.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it be and why?
Scaramouche is just brilliant! I wish I had thought of it first. The first line of the novel is: “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” That is just the beginning of the fun of the novel.
What advice would you like to give to aspiring authors?
Work hard and don’t give up. You will get ten rejection letters for every acceptance, and you will get criticized for your writing. This happens to everyone. Keep working at it. My second piece of advice is READ! I don’t know why authors have it in their head that they shouldn’t read. I hear it all the time, and it shocks me. Why write a book if you don’t like reading them? It’s like baking an apple pie when your allergic to apples. They’re proud that they can’t be accused of being influenced by anyone, but all the great writers in history were great readers. Your writing will improve when you read good writing. READ!