It's Monday again!
Funny how that keeps happening, eh?
Let's get things off to a good start with today's first interview - Lazarus Belle!
An English Language PhD from the University of Michigan, I publish in both the academic and fiction markets. My fiction is interested in exploring the ideological, racial, sexual, and class experiences of life. Challenging, to be sure, but hopefully rewarding. My creative writing ranges from literary fiction, dystopian, to down-to-earth dramatic realism and romance. As a writer, I try to never do the same thing twice, and I'm always willing to push - as I hope my readers are as well - social and cultural boundaries to spark discussion and critical debate.
Links to Works on Amazon:
Insidious (2022): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B7FDW3VN
A Beautiful World (2022): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BCKPLF9H
Facebook: Lazarus Belle (https://www.facebook.com/laz.belle.7)
Star Trek or Star Wars? Star Wars.
Firefly – gone too soon or overrated? Definitely gone too soon. The blend of sci-fi and western with compelling, character-driven plots was a welcome addition to the genre.
A book that pleasantly surprised you? Philip Roth’s The Human Stain.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? When I was young (10-15 years old) and began writing science fiction stories. None of them went anywhere, but the kinds of narratives I was drawn to in things like Star Wars, Isaac Asimov stories, and especially Arthur C. Clarke, lit my imagination. I went into academia for several years, but always kept that passion for fiction until I could actually sit down and write my own stories. Luckily, I got the time eventually do so.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? I’m really into using real-life experiences to craft a fictional story. Personal experience from living in New York City, trying to walk across America (yes, this happened), reading other authors, meeting quirky or out-of-place characters in my daily life, or reflecting on past relationships. A lot of my fiction deals with people, relationships, personal loss, and coming back from life-altering mistakes. Sometimes I do challenge myself to write from a perspective that isn’t my own, so my sources in those cases take research, talking to people, etc.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? The water won’t run until you turn the faucet on, said Louis L’Amour. I’ll write/revise anywhere from 3-8 hours a day, depending. I find that revision actually takes much longer than writing out the skeleton of the work.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? As above, personal experience. Or I set myself a challenge to write a character who is totally unlike me in every way. This takes research, and sometimes asking others who are unlike me to get things from their point of view.
When did you write your first book and how old were you? Self-published in 2022 via Amazon. I was thirty-six years old.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Playing cello, taking care of three cats, going for walks in North Carolina woods, thinking about my characters, agonizing over things in my published works I should’ve included. You see how fast this answer went right back writing?!
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they? Just write. Have a seed of an idea that captivates you and follow it. The first draft doesn’t need to be perfect. You’re just making the skeleton at this point; add the muscle and skin later. In prose, SHOW, don’t TELL. Keep exposition to a minimum. Give your characters a compelling motivation that a rational person can get behind. Even if it’s an objectionable one. Think Thanos. Whether hero or villain, a compelling motivation can make all the difference.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? Good reviews, though for a new author, reviews don’t come so easy, though I always encourage all forms of feedback.
What do you think makes a good story? A thought-provoking plot with compelling characters whose motivations are clear and drive the story forward to a satisfying conclusion.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry? Not paying literary agents enough. It’s one reason why many fine authors go into self-publishing; they just can’t get adequate representation.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Depends on the writing. I can write a thousand words and feel nothing. But I could write a single phrase that captures my meaning like no one else can, and I’m elated.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? I do. My pen name is Lazarus Belle.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Spending money on a professionally done cover for my works. It can hurt one’s wallet, but it goes a long way. Contrary to popular belief, books are judged on their covers. If I pick up a book and think the cover cheap, I’m less likely to open it up.
What does literary success look like to you? Changing minds. Crafting a thought-provoking narrative. Making readers cheer or cry for characters. Having scenes, characters, or twists remembered. And, of course, making a living off your passion.
What’s the best way to market your books? If you don’t already have an agent lined up, DO NOT spend money on internet scammers. It takes hard work to market one’s own book, but at least it’s free, and you get to keep the royalties.
What do you have coming next?
A full-length novel about a lifelong romance gone sour. The protagonist/narrator, Jamie, is an old widower reflecting on his life with love, loss, and the mistakes that led to the person he has become.
And now a special surprise - a sample chapter from A BEAUTIFUL WORLD!