Authors: Stories Behind the Books, Lee French
To kick off my project, I first photographed local author, Lee French. Lee is a superhero fiction and fantasy writer. She has published eight book with the ninth due in late September and her tenth in December in 2015. In addition to photographing, I interviewed Lee about her life as an author...
When did you get into writing?
I've just always been a writer. From the moment I understood how to read, I made up my own stories and wrote them down. The thing that pushed me from amateur writer to publishing pro was a friend who told me he'd pay to read something I'd written. There's a vast gulf of difference between being told one is talented at something and being told one can possibly make a living by doing it.
Do you struggle with writer's block?
I don't really get "writer's block" in the way many people describe it. What I've found is that when I can't figure out where to go in a story, it's because I made a mistake someplace along the line. My subconscious knows it was a mistake, and the rest of me has to catch up and figure out where I need to go back and change things. This is why I actively work on 2-3 projects at once: so I can shift gears and let the problem percolate in the background until I figure out where the story went wrong.
Who is your favorite author? Where do you gather inspiration from?
I don't have any one favorite author. These days, because I'm an indie writer, I read a lot of other indie writers. The ones I like a lot have become friends. The writers who shaped me in my youth are primarily Mercedes Lackey, Dean Ing, and Michael Moorcock.
You designed the first edition cover to Dragons In Pieces, it has been revised since then but you keep it in close view to your writing desk. Why? What does it symbolize for you?
I keep a copy of the very first iteration of Dragons in Pieces around as a reminder that I'm not as awesome as I think I am. Until people started giving me feedback about it, I never realized that books aren't produced by a single person. It takes a group: a writer, an editor, beta readers, friends, proofreaders, and an artist. This learning experience can be shocking and painful (and exhausting), but it's just another thing that makes every successive book better than the one before. Dragons In Pieces has been redone from stem to stern, a process that took about a year and a half.
Can you share more info about what you are working on now?
My next book, Al-Kabar, is currently in (hopefully) final revisions with a planned release in late September. The story follows a young woman as her simple, ordinary life becomes--of course--tragically complicated. It's based on the Joan of Arc legend and set in a desert region based on Ancient Arabia. After that, I'm working on a young adult book inspired by singer/songwriter Ilana Harkavy's girl-positive music, and we're hoping to have that one out in time for Christmas.
Lastly, as a reader, do you feel compelled to finish a book once you start reading it?
I abandon any book that hasn't grabbed me by the start of Chapter 2. Life is too short to read books I don't like. This is a major reason I love my Kindle so much: books are cheap! I don't feel bad giving up on a book that only cost me a couple of dollars. The effect of my Kindle has been that I'm much less picky about what books I pick up than I used to be. Twenty years ago, if I was going to spend money on a paperback or hardcover, I wanted to make damned sure I'd enjoy reading it. I'd read the blurb, examine the cover, and read the first chapter before committing, and often stuck with the same authors over trying new ones. Now, I'll pick up nearly anything that sounds interesting, just because it's only a few bucks.
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