Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Interview With Author, Lee French!

Let's give a warm wizardly welcome to this week's guest, Lee French! Here I interview this incredible author and learn a bit about her journey as an author!

Where are you from?
I'm originally from Cupertino, CA, but have lived in Worcester, MA for several years now. 

What inspired you to write your first book? What genre is it?

I wrote my first book in 2nd grade. It was a six page tome entitled The Mean Old Man Next Door. Since then, I poked and prodded at my writing muscles from time to time until I was introduced to National Novel Writing Month. Dragons In Pieces was my fourth winning novel for that 'contest', and the first I considered worthy of editing and publishing. It was primarily inspired by a Mutants & Masterminds game I run for friends, and is a Science Fiction superhero story.

That's such a great title! We're glad you kept up with your writing! Tell us, do you write full-time or part-time? How do you balance your writing life with your family/work life?
As a Stay At Home Mom to two school age kids, I have several hours during the day to pursue writing. Technically, I think I'm a part-time writer, but it's the only actual 'job' I have.

How did you come up with the title?
It was tough. I've always had a hard time with titles. I wound up frantically spitballing random words with some friends, and finally picked a handful that manage to perfectly describe the book while also making no sense and having nothing to do with it at all.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don't consider this book to be especially serious. It's fun, a romp of a summer beach read that I hope makes people laugh more than think. The basic themes are about family, personal responsibility, and accepting yourself as you are instead of how you wish you could be.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are bits of me in everything I write, but I sadly must report that I my only superpower is smartassery.

What books have most influenced your life most?
The first full length novel I ever read was Charlotte's Web, and I read it at least a hundred times. Once, I even timed myself to see how fast I could churn through it (about 2 hours). It's so full of whimsy. It was the source of my penchant as a child to anthropomorphize everything, from a wall clock to a pet hamster to the wind. One year at Thanksgiving, we went around and everyone said what they were thankful for – I chose 'the valiant broccoli that gave its life so I could eat it'.

What book are you reading now?
I read pretty quickly and voraciously. By the time you read this, I'll be on to another book already. Lately, I've been sampling a lot of fellow indie authors in a variety of genres.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I can't say he's 'new' exactly, but Scott Spotson is new to me, and I'm impressed with his work.

What are your current projects?
I'm on the cusp of releasing the first book of a new series with a co-author (Erik Kort), called The Greatest Sin. There's also the third book of the Maze Beset Trilogy, which is nearly done: Dragons In Flight. Another one that should be out this winter yet is a stand-alone fantasy novel tentatively titled Damsel In Distress. After that, I'll be focusing on the next books in The Greatest Sin and a few other ideas. 2014 will be a busy year for me.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Like a lot of indie authors, releasing my first book has been a tremendous learning experience. I don't have any regrets about the text of the book itself, I just wish I'd known what to do with it when I was ready to publish back in June.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I've been writing a serial on my blog, using a character idea I had, but couldn't think of a good conflict to sustain a novel for. The Baker of Brennan is completely free at http://authorleefrench.wordpress.com

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The biggest challenge I have is the part where I have to not write because something else needs to be done. Little things, like washing the dishes or grocery shopping. I'm something of a workaholic in that regard. When I'm not writing, I wish I was, and it can be hard to get everything done because of that.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was waiting for feedback from the second draft. I gave it to a few people I trust, and it seemed like it took forever and a half to hear back.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Dragons In Pieces was my fourth time doing and winning NaNoWriMo, so I already knew I could handle writing something of novel length. What I didn't know for sure was that I could write something other people would want to read. Now I know I'm capable of it, and it's made me all the more determined to continue writing for an audience.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write words. Lots of words. Being a writer requires actually writing. Everything else is a problem you should be happy to deal with, because it means you wrote something.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I appreciate each and every person who takes a chance on a new book by a new author. Thank you, one and all.

Do you have an agent or publisher? How did you go about finding one?
No, I'm fully independent.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I'm actually rather happy here in Worcester. It's not perfect, but it's a nice place to live. I'd miss the snow if I ever move away from it, and the hills are great for bicycle training.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
As a sufferer of severe motion sickness (hammocks and rocking chairs make me ill, it's that bad), I'm a big fan of teleportation. Being able to snap my fingers and travel thousands of miles in an eyeblink would be pretty awesome.

For more on Lee French: