Friday, June 28, 2013

An interview with author, Rebecca Lacy!

Meet author, Rebecca Lacy!
Where are you from? 
I am from So. California and am now living in Missouri. 

What inspired you to write your first book? 
My first book, which is Reinventing Holly. I wrote a novella for a Christmas present for my husband. Then I learned about NaNoWriMo and took the novella and turned it into the novel.
Do you write full-time or part-time? Part-time, but a lot of my ‘day job’ involves writing – papers, curriculum, articles, etc.
How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life? I am so very lucky to be self-employed. So, some days when I have a story that needs to be written down I am able to take the time to write. Also, I am blessed to have a husband who is my biggest fan and cheerleader. This goes beyond encouragement to doing a lot of the household tasks so that I have the time and energy to write. He’s very evolved!
What jobs have you held that influence your stories?  
I have owned my own company for 16 years doing training, coaching and consulting. The work that we do with clients helped to inspire one book. Also, one of the courses that I teach is about personality styles and communication preferences. This knowledge has helped me to understand the motivations and reactions of people in a variety of situation. I apply that to characters, and it makes them more realistic. It also helps me to develop characters who have very different ‘voices’ than I do. I would like to teach a class to writers on this topic. What do you think?

 I think that's a great idea. Do it! Do you have a specific writing style?

I almost always write in first-person. Beyond that, I’m all over the place. I have written business related, children’s, sci-fi, women’s, and am working on a piece that is about a WWII POW camp that was located in Missouri. I write primarily about personal journeys. I recently completed a book co-authored with a friend (whom I have never met in person). It is called Wonderland Odyssey: Turning Leadership on its Hat. As the name suggests, it is based on Alice in Wonderland, and she is on a journey to become a better leader of her tea company. It is a fantasy with business related undertones that we wrote because we don’t like to read typical business books and figure there are a lot of other people who don’t either.  I’ve tried several times to write a ‘normal’ business book, but I got bored and could never finish one!

How did you come up with the title? 

That was an interesting process. I’m so glad that I had a great co-author with whom I work very well. We spent a lot of time brainstorming the title (but not as much as we did trying to come up with the name of Alice’s company). Wonderland had to be a part of the title because it uses characters from Alice and her company is Leaves-of-Wonderland. Odyssey because it is her journey to learn how to overcome her fears and learn many lessons along the way. The tag line is Turning Leadership on its Hat. This was included because it is about learning to be a leader and because the Mad Hatter is Alice’s nemesis.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Many! Of primary importance is that most of us have fears or other things that hold us back from accomplishing our dreams. Too often fear or a feeling of inadequacy prevents us from taking a leap into the unknown. Alice is fraught with insecurities and an unwillingness to change. But as she moves down the path and learns about things that all of us deal with on a daily basis (communication, trust, goals, friendship, etc) she begins to believe in herself and becomes more supportive of others.

How much of the book is realistic?  
Well, one chapter deals with the legal team of Griffin and Mock Turtle, who spend all of their time at the Nest, the local hangout for all the ‘legal eagles,’ because they are unable to pass the bar. The situation is total fantasy, but the lesson that Alice learns on this part of her odyssey is very real. Each chapter is written in that manner. 
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 
The characters are all people who we see in real life. For example, the Duchess is the loud, overbearing Quality Control manager, and White Rabbit is the officious Production Manager. We meet these people at work and at PTA. They are everywhere. The issues that Alice faces are things that most of us will deal with at some point. One doesn’t have to be a business owner to have to learn how to deal with difficult people, or how to be more self-confident.
What books have most influenced your life most? 
I believe it was those books that I read in early childhood that sparked my love for literature. How many pre-teens do you know who want to be a writer? I continue to be inspired by authors who have created unforgettable characters and plots. I am amazed by those who are able to transport readers to another world. I love Anne McCaffrey. Once when I was reading her Dragon series, I dreamed of Pern, the world she so vividly created in the books. 
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Right now, I would say Claire Cook , author of Must Love Dogs, Time Flies, etc. The reason is that much of my readership would be the same as hers and some of the things that she has been able to accomplish are my dreams. Also, she seems to be a genuinely caring person who would want to help another succeed.

What book are you reading now? 

Yours! Just started The Chronicles of Koa. Moments before I started that I finished “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan fame). 

That's amazing! I really hope you enjoy The Chronicles of Koa. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? You mean besides you?? I have to admit that I’ve been reading mostly classics for the past couple years. One reason is that they are so different from my writing style that they never interrupt my creative process. Also I love the variations in language used in different times, and the richness of the prose.

Thanks! It's good to know that readers are enjoying my work! What are your current projects? 

Editing (ick) Reinventing Holly, the story about a woman who is turning 50 and looking forward to new adventures…one of which is to experience physical perfection. It is set in Arizona and Tapawatu, my imaginary island chain based on Hawaii, Tahiti and a bit of India.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. 
 NaNoWriMo! It was the challenge that I needed to get serious.
Do you see writing as a career? 
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a writer. Then, somewhere along the line, I became practical, and decided to get a business degree and go to work in Corporate America. Then I opened my company (a hint that I was losing that practicality?). Those were careers. This is something special…different. 
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
Wonderland Odyssey hasn’t been published yet, so we are still making some subtle changes. 
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
My dad. He taught English and Drama, so I was exposed to literature and theatre at a very early age. We read aloud in the evenings and there was a general love of books in the house. Also, he wrote stories, plays and music, so my interest came naturally.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? 

Yes. Bathing Suit Hell is an excerpt of Reinventing Holly, and there are sample chapters of Wonderland Odyssey on our blog site.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?  
Too many ideas. Not enough follow through. I’m an expressive and have a short attention span. So, that is something that I have to focus on. Also, I like things to flow smoothly in life, and sometimes that makes it difficult for me to put my characters in situations that create tension.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?  
I really don’t know if I have a favorite. I mentioned Anne McCaffrey earlier, and she is certainly one of my favorites. I admire how she weaves everything together creating believable characters, interesting plots and a world so real that you feel it really exists. 
Interesting! I am a McCaffrey fan as well! Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? 
I have had the great fortune to travel quite a bit on business, so I draw on that for my books. 
Who designed the covers? 
 Neither of them is to that point yet. I have an image in my mind for Reinventing Holly, however.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 
With Wonderland Odyssey, it was ensuring that the voice sounded right…not letting our ‘corporate speak’ invade. Also, because it is based on Alice in Wonderland, the voice had to reflect that as well. There were two of us who wrote. Interestingly, now when we go back and reread them, it is difficult to discern which of us wrote which chapters. With Reinventing Holly, it has been creating adequate tension. 
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? My co-author, Susan Goldberg, and I learned so much from Alice. As I mentioned, we have never met in person. She lives in New York and I’m in rural Missouri. That sounds like a recipe for a disastrous collaboration, but it was near perfect. What we learned from that process is invaluable.

Do you have any advice for other writers?  
Just write! I have heard from so many people that they want to write someday, or that they would love to but…If you want to write, just do it. Do it for yourself. I recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone who wants a kick in the pants to get started…or to finish. You don’t edit, you just write all month in November. It’s like studying for finals - it’s difficult, but you’ve got a lot of other people going through the same thing.  It’s comforting to be able to commiserate with people all around the world in the challenge with you. 
Great advice, Rebecca! Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
Thank you for reading my stuff!! I appreciate those who read the story that you put on your site. It’s fun to write, especially if I know that I’m entertaining someone.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life? 

Probably the biggest issue with Wonderland Odyssey was time. There were two of us working on it, both of us business owners living 1000+ miles apart. So, finding time when we could get meet (virtually) a couple times a week wasn’t always easy. That was more of an issue during the editing process because in the initial writing we each wrote chapters alone, but then we edited together. Additionally, we have many characters and they each had to have their own voice and it needed to be true to the original work as much as possible. It was fun, but not always easy. A final challenge has simply been to categorize the book. It is written as a pure fiction, a fantasy at that, but the undertones are non-fiction. The next challenge is to keep building our platform to increase interest in the book. 
What do you think about e-publishing versus technical publishing? 
Susan and I are trying to go the traditional route. The reason is that there are a zillion, give or take a few million, consultants who have self-published. It lacks the gravitas as a traditionally published book. Additionally, too many of them are published strictly as ‘calling cards’ as in “Hello, I’m the expert who literally wrote the book on…” We don’t want to go that route. Being a fiction, however, also makes is more challenging to find someone to take it on because it doesn’t fit into a nice, neat box.
Do you have an agent or publisher? How did you go about finding one?  
We are looking as I write. We have been identifying likely matches, and have queried a couple. We know that this isn’t a simple project that will appeal to just anyone. I’ve learned so much doing the research. There are some wonderful resources available to make this phase as painless as possible.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be? 
Right where I am for a primary residence. Our gardens are my oasis. I would like to have a vacation home in San Diego, Florida or Charleston.
If you could have any super power, what would it be? 
I believe I would pass on the super powers. I really think that they would be more trouble than they’re worth. 

For More on Rebecca Lacy: