Home » An Interview with Marie Lavender
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Tell us a little bit about your books and why you became an author?
I’ve published and written in many different genres. I have a soft spot for romance, and I often write various subgenres of it. But now and then, I truly surprise myself as a writer, by exploring new types of projects. For example, in recent years, I tackled children’s fantasy, a science fiction tale, and even started writing a horror story, as well as psychological thriller. My latest book is a futuristic paranormal romance/urban fantasy, Blood Instincts, and the previous year I published a romantic drama collection, Directions of the Heart, among others. I have published twenty-four books to date.
Let’s see … why did I become an author? That question makes me think I just put on an author costume one day, just to try it out! LOL. No, it was a culmination of efforts over the years, a lot of hard work. I’ve wanted to pursue a writing career since I was nine years old. At least, that’s when the muse wouldn’t leave me alone, and I found myself immersed in so many stories I wanted to tell. It seemed natural to get into writing. I would often tell my family, “I want to be a novelist!” At the library, I would explore the writer’s reference section for inspiration. In college I pursued a Creative Writing major to further my knowledge. In 2010, I began to discover indie publishing, and in 2012, I was discovered by a publisher, when my first historical romance manuscript was accepted by Solstice. The book came out the following year. I have been with that publisher ever since, but sometimes I still release books on my own. I am a bit of a hybrid.
As an author, do you need any kind of business skills?
It doesn’t hurt. I think it would’ve helped me a lot to maybe have a background in advertising, to help market my books more effectively. I’ve had to learn everything on my own.
Do you consider writing a business or a passion?
Both. When I’m writing a book, at least once I’m immersed in a scene, I can enjoy the story as it unfolds on the page. My characters sometimes surprise me, and go in directions I didn’t anticipate. But it takes a certain level of business savvy to survive in a writing career. You have to be adaptive, willing to try on different hats — writer, editor, publisher, and marketer — and it takes a lot out of you. You also have to be open to delegation, finding a service that will help improve you and your work. Get a good editor. Invest in a great book cover. Place book ads or be willing to go for a blog tour promoter for your new release. There are avenues to pursue to further your career the right way.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Paying for a book review. Numerous services exist out there, offering a book review in exchange for a simple fee (and sometimes a rather exorbitant amount). I’ve never paid for a review in my life, and I don’t believe in the practice. I know a lot of the big name authors’ marketing teams use these services. I still don’t think it makes for an honest book review. I’ve only ever contacted legitimate book reviewers who merely want a free copy of the book in exchange for their honest review — a fair trade, in my opinion. It’s even better when fans leave reviews, letting me know their thoughts on a book!
How do you balance writing, family and everything else?
It is challenging. This takes a lot of focus and organizational skills. I’ve gotten to the point when I have to schedule whole time blocks for my writing, and reserve part of the evenings for family activities. Still, the muse has a tendency to strike at pretty odd hours, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility to get a story idea in the middle of the night, or early in the morning when I really should be sleeping.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Most of the time. But as with many writers, those who aren’t writers themselves will never completely understand the demands of such a career. I think it’s all well and good to see the finished product — a published book — but the sacrifices are numerous. The writing, the research involved in the book, editing, not to mention if the author is indie and must handle every aspect of the publishing and marketing process alone. This takes its toll. The career isn’t for the faint of heart, but as with many demanding careers, there are times when as a writer, you have to be firm about what needs to be done. Also, it doesn’t hurt to realize that some things can be put off until the following day … the world truly won’t end. It’s a roller coaster journey and having a support system behind you — hopefully your significant other, or at least a writer’s circle that understands the demands of your career — really helps.
Do you have any suggestions to help other women become better writers? If so, what are they?
Be patient. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So too it goes for your writing career. You must construct it slowly and steadily. There will be snags that you encounter, and you’ll often want to find an easier method, a straight shot to the pot of gold, so to speak. The truth is that you shouldn’t pursue a serious writing career if you aren’t ready to jump through all the hurdles involved. A lot of work lies ahead of you, and just try to stay positive throughout the journey.
Let your passion rule your domain. What I mean by this is … never forget WHY you started writing. Hopefully you got into it for the pure joy of the experience, the call of the muse, the way you feel when you’re in the midst of writing a scene of chapter, connecting with your characters. Or, if you write nonfiction, your enthusiasm for the topic at hand. Forget the business side of the writing career for a moment, and just bask in the glow of being a writer. At the heart of it all, that’s the reason you pursued this path.
Persevere despite the odds. You’ll encounter many obstacles in your writing career. Learn to evolve, and adopt new methods for marketing and such. But always, always, stay true to your own values. You’ll get there.
To learn more about Marie Lavender, please visit her website.
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Naghilia is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of WomLEAD. WomLEAD is a print and digital leadership Magazine that made its debut in 2017. We are the first magazine to celebrate women who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their professional endeavors and have been recognized as “Women Leaders ”. So, with women in mind, Naghilia brings you the best of education trends.