Author Spotlight

 

I had the opportunity to speak with a very talented author this month.  So, without further delay, letís hear from the talent

Lauren Dane

Did you always know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you get your start?
Iíve always written. Stories, poems, etc. I worked on the literary magazine in high school and college and in college I did a column on domestic violence prevention as well as doing essays and op ed pieces. I always had this idea that it would be wonderful to write, but never really had the time to do it.

And then as I was getting ready to go back to work when my then youngest child was getting old enough for pre school, we were surprised with another pregnancy.  It was a difficult one, one I hadnít expected and at the time felt as if my life had been put on hold but as it happens, I had to be on bedrest a great deal of the time and so I thought, ďWhy not give this writing thing a chance?Ē  My husband bought a second hand laptop and I began to write a story idea Iíd had since Iíd visited New Orleans the spring before.

That story was Triad. I had NO idea of how to do any of this stuff, my dialog tags were atrocious! Anyway, I submitted it to Elloraís Cave and Raelene wrote me back and said theyíd be interested if I made some changes and cleaned it up. She gave me a chance and Iíll never forget her (and Martha Punches who read Triad and passed it to Raelene) for giving me that opportunity.

Tell us some of your favorites. (i.e. foods, music, books, authors, movies, and any other you would like to share.)
Oh my! Letís see Ė favorite food? Cupcakes. I love them. Theyíre like this little tiny bit of wonderful.  I also love Thai and Chinese food, the hotter the better. 

I love most every type of music Ė hard rock (Tool is a big favorite), classical (Mozart), alternative (PJ Harvey, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam), dance/techno (Basement Jaxx, Peaches, Chemical Brothers), Motown (Marvin Gaye, The Supremes), country (Keith Urban, Dixie Chicks, Patsy Cline) Ė I never write without a soundtrack specific to that story and group of characters.

Books Ė Iíve been reading like a fiend since I was four. Every year I get new favorites but some of them are Susan Cooperís The Dark is Rising, Tolkienís Lord of the Rings, Asimovís Foundation series,  Herbertís Dune, Nora Robertsí Born In trilogy, Jennifer Crusieís Welcome To Temptation and JD Robbís Naked In Death.

Authors Ė oh wow! Well Roberts, Crusie, Herbert, Asimov, Louise Marley, Sheri Tepper, William Gibson, Richard Morgan, Megan Hart, Anya Bast, Emma Holly, Kim Harrison, Nalini Singh, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Eileen Wilks, Stephen King Ė so many people out there writing books to challenge my brain.

Many of your stories are part of a series, do you enjoy writing stories that are connected? I know as a reader, I absolutely love stories that are connected and being given the chance to revisit old friends.
I love to write series! Partly itís because I like big families and casts of characters and if I can do it over a series, I can introduce readers to them all in a more intimate way. I feel like I can write a bigger world because I have the page space to let it sprawl between booksĖand even series.

In my Cascadia Wolves series I was able to take the big bad of the werewolf mafia and really give it leg room as well as to develop the world of these wolves and their hierarchy. 

And I like to revisit my characters too, I have to admit. I get sick of writing them for a while but after a time I find I miss them and it makes me happy to be able to come back to see what theyíre up to in their lives.

Do you believe in happily ever after? Have you found yours?
I do. Iím a big, giant sap for romance. I met my husband when I was eighteen years old and weíre celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary this fall. Itís hard work, weíve had our rough spots but I can honestly say he makes me believe in happily ever after each day.

You write in several genres, do you have a favorite? Is there a genre that you would like to try?
My favorite is usually whatever Iím working on at any given time. I have a soft spot for paranormals because I can pretty much just make up everything, make my own rules, devise my own creatures. For someone like me who hates rules, itís heaven!  Futuristics and post-apocalyptics are also fun for that reason.

But contemporaries are fun and I love to write them as well and I find myself itching to get back to them when Iím working on something else.

As for something Iíd like to try? Hmm, maybe gothics or historicals but I donít know if I have the voice for them.

Do you have a writing schedule that you follow daily?
Iím really old school about writing. I write every day, even when I donít want to. If I didnít, Iíd never get anything done because my life is so hectic and crazy. So after my kids go to bed, I write for several hours Ė three is my usual although I do stretch that to five or six on weekends when I can and sometimes I shut down early if I finish up a chapter or scene and I need the break. I have a little corner of our bedroom with my desk, computer and printer and whatever reference material I might need along with my character notes, etc tacked up. I used to write in bed on my laptop but it was killing my back!

Do you enjoy hearing from your readers and what is the best way to contact you?
Of course! Iím always totally flattered and touched when readers take the time from their busy lives to write to me about my books. 

I can be reached via email:  laurendane@laurendane.com

Or snail mail PO Box 45175, Seattle, WA 98145

Tell us what makes LaurenÖwell, Lauren.

Oh man, I suppose then answer depends on who you ask, LOL. First and foremost Lauren is about her family. My husband and my kids are the most important thing to me. I draw a lot of pleasure from them, as well as gray hairs and wrinkles, but itís easy to stay grounded when you live with a three year old who asks, ďWhat are those lines next to your eyes? Do they hurt?Ē

I like to think I donít take myself too seriously but my work and this journey VERY seriously.

I laugh a lot. Iím goofy in a major way and I love the shiny Ė vintage things, cupcakes, music, shoes, books Ė it doesnít take diamonds to make me happy (although Iím not turning them down!)

What would a perfect day for you involve?
Iíd be left alone to sleep in until about 9:30 and then able to stumble out of bed by 10 or so. Right now with this gray and rainy weather, stumbling out onto a beach and being handed a plate of fresh fruit and a cup of coffee is nice.

Reading all day in a beach chair with fruity drinks, my husband nearby, the sound of the ocean. Thatís all nice too.

Alternately, days that start off with no fighting children, children who eat all their breakfast and donít complain, an easy trip to get them to school and then a call from my agent with a sale Ė that rocks as well.

What was the best advice you received when you started out? Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I didnít know anyone when I was starting out, which when I look back was a good thing because I didnít second guess myself. Over time I met other writers like Anya Bast and Megan Hart whoíve given me a lot of wonderful technical advice.

I think the best advice is something I also tell other writers which is Ė put your butt in the chair and get your hands on your keyboard.

In the end, itís about finishing your book. You can fix a manuscript, but you canít fix whatís not there. Instead of making excuses about not having the time, you need to use what you have. Even if itís ten minutes a day. Youíll never have anyone elseís schedule but your own so complaining about people who are able to write all day full time or who are faster than you or whatever does nothing positive. You arenít them. You have to make the most of what you have.

Essentially, at some point itís: STFU and Write

Where do your story ideas come from? Does the whole story develop at once or does it start with a character or a scene?
All over the place. Sometimes itís a snippet of dialog you canít get out of your head. A song lyric Ė Outshined, a book I just sold to Berkley, came to me as I was listening to Soundagardenís Badmotorfinger. 

Traveling is a huge source of inspiration for me. Every time I go somewhere I come up with an idea.  For instance my husband and I took a trip to Las Vegas two years ago. This was our first alone trip since weíd had our first child. Anyway, we went to a burlesque club and I totally fell in love with it. Itís such a fabulous mix of vintage sex appeal and dancing.  On the way back home I started sketching out an idea for a book and like two weeks later, my agent called me about an opportunity to pitch a multiple author anthology with Las Vegas as a theme.  That story turned out to be Stripped, which is in the What Happens in VegasÖ anthology coming out May 1 from Harlequin Spice.  Megan Hart and I were at the RT convention last year and while in line we started riffing story ideas off each other and over a few nights we came up with Taking Care of Business, which comes out from Black Lace in December of this year.

Sometimes itís a character I have a strong sense of and I write them and let them guide the story. Or a seed of a scene and I go outward.  Generally, I keep my eyes and ears open and grab everything I can for my story hoard.

Is your family your biggest supporters? Do they read your work?
My husband is a wonderful supporter of my work. There are plenty of times when he takes the kids off somewhere so I can work. Heís always telling people about my books too, itís very sweet. Oh and best of all, heís a great sounding board and there are many times he helps me with plotting and research.

My mom and dad raised me to believe I could be anything I wanted so theyíre very proud of me. My mom follows people around in the bookstore with my books, so if a short woman with glasses starts bugging you about Lauren Dane, it might be her.

How do you promote your work?
Thereís a really fine line to walk with promotion. I believe really strongly that the most important thing is contact with readers. Real contact, not just saying hello when Iím trying to sell them a book. I like them, I love talking to them and that means I love talking about all sorts of things Ė their families, other books, music, popular culture, etc.  I really donít want to be perceived as someone who only cares about herself and her books. I like being part of the romance community as a whole.

Other than just being around? I do list mom days at my publisher loops. I try to keep my website and blog updated with current book information. I love to hold contests and I believe books are the best prizes to give. I do print ads in RT and attend conferences and signings.

What is the most outrageous thing that you have ever done?
LOL!! Um, well deciding at 18 to move in with a guy Iíd met just two months before and then two years later, at twenty and just married, picking up and moving to Washington state.

The other stuff, well, I save that for my books.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? Any current or upcoming releases?
This is a big year for me books wise. I just ended my Cascadia Wolves story arc with Standoff and Iíll begin a new one in August with Unexpected.  Iím putting out a new Witches Knot book on April 4 called Celebration for the Dead.  And in May, my first NY release, Stripped, comes out in the What Happens in Vegas anthology from Harlequin Spice.  Later in the year my first Berkley Heat book, Undercover comes out on December 2 and my co-authored contemporary, Taking Care of Business comes out from Black Lace that month as well. 

Also Ė the last Chase Brothers book, Making Chase comes out in print at the end of June and Reading Between the Lines comes out at the end of July. 

Lots and lots of fabulous stuff! (and my youngest starts preschool in the fall so Iím actually going  to have two hours of ALONE time starting in September.)

You can always check my website (www.laurendane.com) and my blog (www.laurendane.com/blog) for more info!

Thanks so much for having me! Joyfully Reviewed has always been such a wonderful supporter of romance and of my career Ė I appreciate you all so much.

 

     

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