For as far back as I can remember, I loved learning about writers – probably because I always wanted to be a writer myself. And now that I am, I still love it! And I love that there is such a strong sense of community with Indie authors. I love how we are able to help one another and bounce around ideas. From the moment I “met” TB Markinson, author of A Woman Lost we became fast friends, and have been guiding each other through this crazy world of publishing… Last week she interviewed me, and today is my turn to interview her!
1) Did you always know you wanted to write? If so, what prompted you to turn your dream into reality?
Ever since grade school I wanted to pursue writing. Over the years I would jot down stories and I started at least one novel but never finished it. Life always interfered. I was working full-time and whenever I tried to take my writing to the next level, something would happen and I found myself consumed with everyday life. Then over two years ago my partner’s company asked us to move from Boston to London. Suddenly I was unemployed. The transfer was supposed to last two years and my partner and I decided that I would use the time to give writing a go. So I pulled an unfinished manuscript out of the drawer and got to work. Now the book is published and I’ve completed the second one. It’s a wonderful feeling and I feel so lucky that life worked out the way it did. And we fell in love with London and have extended our time here.
2) Many authors say that when they write a novel the characters and the story line takes on a life of its own, and sometimes they are surprised with what happens. Did this happen to you? And if so, what was one of the surprises?
Absolutely! I had a completely different ending planned for this novel. As I progressed I realized that my characters didn’t want to do what I wanted them to do. They took over the story and I’m thankful for that. I like the ending the way it is now. For me it’s less fairytale and truer to life. Don’t get me wrong I love a happy ending, but I like one that can actually happen in life and not too Hollywood.
3) I am sure you get asked this a lot…. Is Lizzie and Sarah based on you and your partner?
Not at all. My partner and I met years ago but didn’t start dating until I was in my thirties. By that time I figured out I wanted a relationship that included honesty. Luckily I found someone who agrees completely. Both of us feel fortunate because our relationship is so easy compared to our past relationships. Some might find us boring, but considering the turmoil I went through in previous relationships I’ll take boring any day. And truth be told, I don’t find our relationship all that dull. Each and every day I still can’t wait for my partner to come home from work and I feel lucky for all the wonderful things we do together.
4) My favorite character in your novel is Lizzie’s mom, the scotch lady. I have to be honest, she reminds me of someone in my life. Did you make her up or was she based on someone in real life?
I had a lot of fun writing the scenes that involved The-Scotch Lady. I never knew what was going to come out of her mouth and she shocked me a few times. She isn’t based on one person that I know. Instead she’s an amalgamation of people I have met in real life and in books and movies. None of the characters in the book are based on just one person.
5) What was your writing process like? Did you share your manuscript with your partner as you wrote or did you keep it to yourself?
That’s a very good question and a tad bit difficult to answer. I started this book before moving to London. I would work on it occasionally and then tuck it back into the drawer when I didn’t have time. After we moved to London I worked on it full-time for several months. It needed some major work and I actually started the writing process over completely. I prefer writing later in the morning after I have all the tedious chores pertaining to business completed. I like to have my head empty from nagging thoughts and focus solely on the story. If I have too many things running through my head I’m just not productive and lose my train of thought.
My partner was my first reader and she read several different versions of A Woman Lost. From day one she believed in me and encouraged me. Whenever I was stuck I would bounce ideas off of her and her patience was astounding. For weeks this story consumed me and we talked about it incessantly. Not once did she complain and actually took an active interest in the entire project. Actually she’s the one that came up with the title. For the life of me I couldn’t think of a title and for many months my novel was called: Adventures of an Idiot in Love. Man I hated that title. Then one night, while at a Chinese restaurant, I informed my partner that we weren’t leaving the restaurant until we figured out the correct title. It took us a few hours and many beers then my partner just blurted out: lost. The main character is lost. That’s how the title was born. We played with it for a few weeks after that, but if my partner didn’t throw out the word lost I never would have found the way.
6) Like me, you self published. Did you explore traditional publication? Why did you choose to self-publish?
At first I wanted to go the traditional route and started searching for a publisher. I narrowed it down to a couple of publishers I wanted to pursue. Then one went out of business and when I dug a little deeper into the other one I found out that many of their writers were disappointed with their contracts and the publisher. I started to rethink my choice. I knew my odds of signing with a large publisher were more than a long shot considering I hadn’t published before and my genre is lesbian fiction. I didn’t want to sign with a small publisher and then figure out too late that the publisher wouldn’t do enough. I decided if I wanted it done my way I had to be in charge of all the details. So far, I don’t regret my decision. And I’ve learned so much about editing, cover design, publishing, and marketing. Each day I continue to learn. Who knows what will happen in the future, but I’m excited to see what does.
7) What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
My advice is simple. Sit down and write. So many people tell me that they’ve always wanted to write a book and when I ask them how often they write I usually hear, “Oh I don’t actually write anything, but I would like to.” There’s no magic formula to becoming a writer. You just have to force yourself every day to sit down and write. I think many would be surprised by how quickly a story comes together. Even if you only write 500 words a day, it adds up. Right now I’m trying to write 2,000 words a day. Sometimes I make it and other days I don’t. But the important thing is I continue to write and stay focused on the story.
8) One of the hardest things about writing is ﬁnding someone who doesn’t like your work or criticizes it. Did you ever get a bad review / feedback? If so, how did it affect you?
Yes! I have had bad reviews. I prepared myself for this and kept telling myself not everyone will like my story. That’s just not possible. I don’t like every book I read so I can’t expect everyone who reads my book to like it. Then when I read my first bad review it was difficult. The main thing is not to get discouraged. The best thing a writer can do is read the review, learn from it, and move on. Don’t let it fester.
9) I know that you are in the middle of another novel. Can you give a little coming attraction?
Here’s the blurb for Marionette:
Paige Alexander is seventeen and has her whole life in front of her. One day her girlfriend comes home to discover that Paige has slit her wrists. Paige isn’t insane, but she acts like she is. Why?
After the incident, Paige agrees to go to therapy to appease her girlfriend, Jess. However, Paige doesn’t believe that therapy will help her. She believes she’s beyond help. Paige doesn’t want to find herself and she doesn’t want to relive her painful past in order to come to terms with it. What Paige wants is control over her life, which she hasn’t had since her birth.
During her childhood, Paige is blamed for a family tragedy, when in fact, her twin sister, Abbie was responsible. Abbie doesn’t come forward and Paige becomes the pariah of the family.
To add to Paige’s woes while attending a college in a small town in Colorado, the residents are in the midst of debating whether or not gays and lesbians should have equal rights. Tension is high and there’s a threat of violence. She isn’t out of the closet and pretends to be straight at school since she fears what will happen if her parents find out she’s a lesbian. Will she end up dead like her best friend, Alex?
10) When A Woman Lost was published, how did you celebrate?
Simple, we went to a pub and had a few beers. However, I was already working on the second book so I didn’t take too much time to celebrate. For me the best part about publishing the first was knowing that it wouldn’t be the only novel I publish. I hope there will be many more.
Speaking of celebrating – join me in celebrating not only A Woman Lost but the publication of DANGLED CARAT with a giveaway!!!