This is a repeat of an interview Amber and I recently did for our blog, authors block.
I loved the novel Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins (5 stars!!) and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to ask author L Carroll some questions about her writing experiences and the new book in the series, Four Hundred Days.
Lisa, thank you for joining me on my blog.
Thanks so much for having me and for your support on the “Four Hundred Hours to Four Hundred Days” tour!
1. What first inspired you to become a writer?
Well, I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never in a million years did I think I was going to be doing it professionally. About seven or eight years ago I had a dream which I thought would make a great movie or book. As I pondered the dream, I thought, “I wonder if I could write a book.” That was how it all started.
2. For your first novel, Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins, did you outline a story board first, or write and see where the story took you?
Have you heard the expression, “You just throw a bunch of mud at the wall and see what sticks”? This accurately describes how DFT came together. In the beginning there was no outline to speak of, and I’m sure that’s the main reason it took so long to write.
Funny Story… My family and I are in the process of moving right now, and I just packed up my office. In it, I came across a box stuffed to the rim with old “Destruction from Twins” chapters that never made it into the book.
Needless to say, “Four Hundred Days” was thoroughly outlined BEFORE I started writing.
3. Can you tell meabout that light bulb moment when the story first came to you? Or, was it more of a gradual development?
“Destruction from Twins” was one of those light bulb moments, for sure. The bulb popped on when I had the dream that I mentioned before. Chapter sixteen in DFT, “The Journal of Kahlie” is the written version of that dream.
However, “Four Hundred Days” falls into the gradual development classification. It began its progression even when I was still writing DFT, and continued almost until its last chapter. My original outline ended up being pretty close to the actual story, but there were definitely some last minute plot tweaks along the way.
4. How did you come up with the title(s)?
I tend to do this weird thing when I write. I pick a random letter from the alphabet, and then sort of invent a word in my head. That’s how the title of the series, “Lor Mandela” came to be. It wasn’t my only choice, though. I wanted the name of this beautiful, distant planet to sound somewhat ethereal and mysterious. Using my “pick a letter, any letter” method, I came up with about…oh…maybe half a dozen names that, to me, sounded otherworldly & then wrote them all out side by side. Lor Mandela was the one that sounded the best, and looked the best in print.
As to the names of the books themselves, “Destruction from twins and so it must end,” is the first line of the prophetic riddle, the Advantiere, which runs throughout the book. The name “Destruction from Twins” didn’t come about, though, until the book was in the final stages of editing. Up until then it’d been called, “Lor Mandela & the Trysta Advantiere”, but I decided that it was probably not a good idea to have a title where the only discernible word in the English language was the word “the”.
“Four Hundred Days”, started out as “2121”, but — as it turned out — the number 2121 didn’t even end up being a part of the book. Once you read 400, you’ll have a pretty clear idea as to why the title is what it is.
5. One of the first things that drew us to your book is the stunning cover picture. Is that model anyone you know or was it designed for you?
Thank you! Actually, the cover of DFT was designed by Trisha Fitzgerald, a very talented graphic designer inGermany. When she sent back the original proof it featured a girl who looked quite a bit younger, and who didn’t really have the look I was going for. I ended up hunting down the picture of the girl who is currently on the cover at a stock photo repository — so, no. I don’t know her, but I think it might be fun to meet her someday.
6. Do you have any interesting writing quirks you could share with us?
Oh…too many to list! I’ll just tell you about the two writing quirks (or rituals) that I have.
First, I have to be in a good mood when I write. I’m not sure why, but even when I’m writing the dark stuff, I have to be up, up, UP! If I’m grouchy or bummed about something, I own a goofy pair of glasses that I force myself to slip on. They’re these awful white, plastic, pointy things, with rhinestones all over them, and no lenses. All I have to do is look in the mirror or confront one of my kids while I’m wearing the “crazy lady glasses”, and joviality is sure to follow!
The other thing I do is act out scenes. I start each writing session by re-reading the last chapter I wrote, and then acting out the next one. This helps me visualize the scene, and helps make it more real when I write it. I’m a horrible actress, though, so I try to avoid being seen. Unfortunately, I get caught by someone or another in my house more often than not!
7. How long did it take you to write Lor Mandela: Destruction from Twins VS Four Hundred Days? Was it faster to write the sequel? Do you feel you learnt from your experience writing the first book?
Destruction from Twins took almost six years from start to finish. (Eek!)
When I first started writing, I was working as a District Manager for a large home furnishings retailer, overseeing 10+ stores, and putting in 60-80 hours a week, so there wasn’t much time for writing. Not only that, but — as I said before — I really didn’t have a plot to follow. Then, about four and a half years into the process, I was forced to retire due to an illness and suddenly found myself with many unoccupied hours. It was then that I really dove in, came up with an outline for the remaining chapters, and went to work on DFT. From that point, I finished in about eighteen months.
“Four Hundred Days” only took a total of fourteen months, and was much easier to write! Like I said…for me, the outline was crucial. Also, after having gone through the editing process with the first book, I was on the look out for mistakes as I went along. This produced a far more polished final manuscript. When it came back from editing, there were just tiny adjustments to be made, so I must be getting better…at least grammatically!
8. We recently wrote a blog about “writers block”. Have you ever experienced that and, if so, how did you keep yourself focused and get back on track?
Fortunately, I don’t experience writer’s block all that often. For me, when it does happen, it usually is caused by one of the following: lack of sleep; a self-imposed deadline; or life’s little stresses. When it’s lack of sleep, there’s nothing that fixes it, except, of course, sleep. After a good night’s rest or a nap, (yes, I do nap in the middle of the day sometimes), the ideas usually start to pop back into my head.
As far as the other stresses go, I have two methods. One, I take a bath. Some of my best ideas come to me while I’m relaxing in a nice warm tub! And two, I write anyway. If I can get the basics of the next chapter down, I can tweak the words later—once they are flowing nicely again. Often, just having a rough (or even a VERY rough) draft is enough to jump-start my brain. At any rate, I try not to freak out about it too much. I believe that panicking only makes writer’s block worse!
9. Who is your favourite character to write about and why?
Definitely Lortu… He’s creepy, mysterious, and can disappear and reappear in shadow. Plus, he has traits that make him more animalistic than human, he rules a massive clan of nearly lawless Shadow Dwellers, and you never quite know whether he’s the good guy, or the bad guy.
10. We look forward to your upcoming book Four Hundred Days. Can you share anything about it with us?
Sure! Here’s a brief synopsis:
“Four Hundred Days” follows Audril Borloc, the heiress to the Lor Mandelan throne, as she disobeys her father the High Ruler, and sneaks away to Earth to save one of her dearest friends from an evil tyrant. Her journey takes her to the haunted cells of Alcatraz Penitentiary; a creepy abandoned sawmill in the Midwest; and back to Lor Mandela, where she learns that sometimes friends can turn out to be enemies, foes can become allies, and just because someone dies, it doesn’t always mean that their dead.
11. Where can we buy the books from?
These are the links for “Destruction from Twins”. “Four Hundred Days”, will be available on July 15th at both CreateSpace.com and Smashwords.com, and will be available on Amazon, B&N, and a bunch of other websites about 2-3 weeks after that.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions. Destruction from Twins is a fantastic read and I can’t wait to read Four Hundred Days!!!
BRING IT ON!!!