Sunday, 31 July 2016

Author Interview: Lavinia Lewis

As you may know folks, I am rather fond of an author interview. I get to ask them all the things I want to know as a reader and as a writer myself. It's always fun to get to know the person behind the books as well, and today I am lucky to get to do that with the fabulous Lavinia Lewis.
Hello Lavinia, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview, I am pleased to welcome you to my blog.

Hi! Thanks so much for inviting me. It’s so great to be here.

So tell me a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what do you write?

I’m from a small village in South Wales, not too far from Cardiff and I write romance in several sub-genres. I write M/M romance exclusively, both contemporary and paranormal under this name and paranormal and contemporary M/F romance under the name of Amy Armstrong. I also have several ménage romances in the works which will also be released under my Amy Armstrong pen name. I love romance in all its forms and didn’t want to limit myself to just one type.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration everywhere. In the movies and television programmes I watch, in the books that I read and in daily conversations with my friends and family. However, I’d say about ninety per cent or more of what I write comes purely from my imagination.

What can you tell me about your typical writing day and what your process is?

At the moment, I have a full-time day job and work on my books during the evenings and weekends so writing has to fit around a rather hectic schedule. I try to do a little each day, but it depends how tired I am. My process is always the same. I’m a pantser rather than a planner which means I don’t have an outline for the novel before I sit down to write it. I do however, spend about five minutes planning out the major things that are going to happen in the chapter I’m about to write next. That saves a lot of time staring at a blank screen when I open up my document.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

To relax I love to read a good book although I try not to read in the same genre that I’m currently writing in because I’m terrified that I’ll inadvertently copy an idea. So if I’m writing a M/M paranormal romance for example then I might read a M/F contemporary or a thriller. I also love to watch the occasional movie or television programme. I particularly love The Walking Dead, The Vampire Diaries and Game of Thrones. Darts is one of my main passions and I play it a few times a week, both pub league and super league plus lots of tournaments throughout the year. One day I’d love to play for my county too, but to do that I need to get my average up and that requires many hours of practice—a difficult thing to fit in around two jobs.

Can you tell me about your journey to publication? How did that all happen?

I always hate to admit this but my path to publication was surprisingly easy. I got a typewriter for Christmas at aged eleven and worked on one book or another for the next twenty three years, but I never finished anything. Perhaps because I wasn’t totally invested in what I was writing, but more likely it was because halfway through a book, I’d think “what’s the point?” You see, I always believed that it was nigh on impossible to get a publishing contract. I read so many stories of authors who had been rejected hundreds of times or couldn’t get an agent. I thought writing for a living was a pipe dream and something that only happened to a select few. 

Despite all that, the drive to write never left me. Ideas would pop into my head one after the other and I’d have to get them down on paper. Around 2008 I discovered eBooks and with them M/M romance and I read voraciously for the next couple of years. I started reading the Cattle Valley series by Carol Lynne and got the idea for my own series about the lives and loves of three werewolf brothers—The Morgan’s. In the dedication of one of her books, Carol thanked her publisher Totally Bound and she was so nice about them, I looked them up. I poured over their website and found their submission guidelines which didn’t seem too complicated. It was then that I began work on the first brother’s book. Luke. The words kept coming and I finished the story in record time. I submitted three sample chapters and a synopsis of Luke’s Surprise to Totally Bound and a week later I got a reply from an editor to say she’d like to read the rest of the book. A emailed it to her and a week after that, I had my first contract. 
What most people don’t know and what was bittersweet about that time was that I signed that first contract a few days after my mother passed away suddenly. Naturally that was a heartbreaking time in my life and my mum never got to know that I became an author. In honour of her memory, I took her name—Lavinia as my pen name. 

What are your publishers Totally Bound / Pride Publishing like to work with?

Totally Bound have been absolutely wonderful to work with. They took a chance on me when I was a brand new author with nothing published and I’m still with them today, six years later. They are a forward thinking company who are always coming up with new ventures and ideas to push erotic romance and M/M romance into the mainstream. In fact, they’ve just signed a huge deal with WHSmith a book and stationary store in the UK and one of the books I wrote for them came out in mass market print just last week. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be able to walk into a shop and see my book on a shelf. That is one of my lifelong ambitions recognized. I’m so incredibly proud especially because that book—Too Many Chances is one of my M/M titles. That means I’m one of the first people in the country to have a gay romance novel out in mass market print. What an honour.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The main advice I would give is to not, under any circumstances give up on your dream of getting published. Write and keep writing. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough, even yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too difficult to get published or it’s something that only happens to other people. Since I’ve got older, I’ve grown in confidence and if there’s one thing I firmly believe now it’s that anything is possible. You can accomplish so much in life if you work hard, and never give up on your dreams.

What do your family and loved ones think of your success?

They’re all incredibly proud of me for the things I’ve achieved. It’s wonderful to have such great support around me.

So what’s next for you, how is the writing going right now?

The writing is going great though it is challenging to work it around a full time job and a hobby (darts) that takes me out of the house two to three evenings a week and the occasional weekend. Right now, I’m finishing off my Vanderguard Vampire trilogy and as soon as it’s complete, I’ll be going back to my roots and working on the next Shifters’ Haven novel. I’ve had lots of people email me about that series wanting to know if I’m continuing it. I am, I just took a break for a while to work on other projects but rest assured, there’ll be many more stories to come out of Wolf Creek.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Lavinia. 

You’re most welcome! Thank you so much for inviting me here today. It’s been my absolute pleasure to be here. xx

 To find out more about Lavina Lewis, check out one of the links below: