I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Author L C Conn, and here is her intriguing view on the literary world. Thank you Loraine.
My life started in a small city in New Zealand. Upper Hutt is surrounded by hills and the perfect place for a kid to wander and explore. There were four of us kids in my family, three boys and me, the only girl. We wandered the hills and paddocks and swam in the river near our home. It was a wonderful way to grow up and set me up for the writer’s imagination. I first discovered my love of writing at the age 8, when I wrote a story for English class, about a hermit crab. But it wasn’t until much later that I would take what I thought was just a hobby and something fun to do, and turn it into a full novel.
I married at the age of 26 to my wonderful husband and we have two beautiful children. We raised them in New Zealand until 2008, when we moved to Perth, Western Australia. I was a stay at home mum, caring for my family and dog and a breast cancer survivor, when the dream hit me. I kept mulling over that dream for a day or two and it wouldn’t go away, so I began to write. Seven novels later I had the series. And in between those seven I wrote other stories. The flood gates have been opened and I don’t want to close them. I love writing, it is a deep seated need in me to get these stories told.
Question 1 – When did you first realise you wanted to write a novel?
I have always wanted to write, from the age of 8. But it wasn’t until I was much older that I actually finished my first story. That was over ten years ago and just after the death of my mother. She loved to read and I believe it is her guiding spirit that helped me write my first novel. Which by the way will probably never see the light of day, as I have learned so much and developed a lot as a writer since then.
Question 2 – What do you hope to achieve from your writing?
I just want to entertain people. Writing is never about money or fame for me. It is about telling a story that I need to tell. If I can make someone smile, laugh, cry or even make them think, then I have achieved what I set out to do. My favourite compliment is someone telling me that I made them cry, or mad because I did something to one of the characters. It means that I have pulled them in and they have been immersed into the world that I have created.
Question 3 – Who are your novels aimed at?
My series, The One True Child, is mainly aimed at an adult fantasy fiction audience, but they are suitable for young adult or even younger if the child is mature enough to understand. They are basically a tale of good versus evil, light and dark. With the main theme of love as all-encompassing and without love the world will have no future. I hope that comes across anyway.
My other writing is probably aimed at women mainly, but in some cases I hope they would appeal to men.
Question 4 – Is your literary voice male or female?
My literary voice I would say is predominantly female. Although one book in the series, Tony, is told from the point of view from one of the male characters. I grew up with three brothers, got on better with males than females, so I hope that the male voice I use in Tony comes through as being authentic. Another of my stories, not involved in the series, is told with both male and female points of view.
Question 5 – What is the title of your latest book, and is it part of a series?
The title of my latest book is Sentinels. It is the first in a series of seven books, entitled The One True Child Series. It is a fantasy series, the first two set in historic times and the final five in modern day. The first two set the scene for what happens in the latter stories. Sentinels is due out on February 15, 2018.
Question 6 – Do you write under your own name for your novels?
Yes, I write under the name L C Conn. I decided on my initials rather than using Loraine for two very simple reasons. The first was that I thought it would look and sound better than having either a feminine or masculine name on the front cover. And the second reason was because my name only has one R in it and no one spells it correctly. So the initials seemed like a good compromise.
Question 7 – Other than novels, do you write a blog?
I do not write a blog, but I have been told I should. It is something that really does not appeal to me, to be honest. I have a hard enough job letting go of my stories for other people to read; let alone trying to put out pieces once a week or month or even more frequent. I do post updates on my Facebook Author Page, and they seem to be well received… I hope lol.
Question 8 – Have you written anything other than novels, i.e. magazines, etc?
Writing for me has always been very personal and private. I have only ever submitted one other piece of writing for publication and that was for an editorial in my local newspaper. It was in response to an article about how the weight of a person was determined by genes. I wrote a sarcastic filled piece, which basically told them that they were stating the obvious. It made it in the paper though, which I was very proud of at the time.
Question 9 – If you had to summarise your novel in six words, what would they be?
Six words to summarise my novel – Love is stronger than hate. It’s only five, but I think that sums up the theme I tried to put into the series.
Question 10 – What is the blurb for your latest novel?
Sentinels – Book 1 of The One True Child Series
Order was born from the light of the old world being destroyed and must protect the emerging new world from the wrath of Chaos. From Order, the Sentinels are brought forth to act as guardians, and from these ethereal beings come The One True Child.
Carling, raised as a normal daughter of The People, was brought up to believe in the value of love and caring, of kindness and tolerance, only to learn of the darker more sinister teachings of Chaos and his plans for her. Facing her fears, she must leave the only family she has known, and the protection of the valley in the sacred lands. Forced to master the untapped abilities of her heritage, Carling must act as the staff and sword of Order
Whether she is willing, or not, Chaos seeks her out and will not allow anything to stand in his way to get to her. Chaos has become obsessed with the destruction of the earth and all of its inhabitants that were born of Order and the Sentinels.
Carling must not fail.
Question 11 – Do you base your characters on real people?
I try not to base my characters on real people, but a few are physically inspired. Throughout the series it is about following the spirit of the main character as she learns and grows. So therefore it would follow that the spirits of people around her would be the same also. Throughout all seven books there are four male characters who I have taken physical characteristics from four of my favourite actors. No, I am not going to name them. Lol
I would hate to think that people who I know would read my stories and think “is that character based on me?” If I have somehow included someone’s personality into a story, it has been totally unintentional and unconsciously done. Writing draws on an author’s experience in life, which includes those around them.
Question 12 – Are your characters demanding, and do they have a mind of their own?
Are my characters demanding? Yes! They have a mind of their own and have argued with me when I have written something. The number of rewrites and changes that I went through to make sure they were happy was funny, also one character became a lot more involved than I had first intended. Tony decided that he needed a bigger role, I had to go back into the previous story and write him into it so he could continue. Another just won’t do as he is told, some of the lines I put in I had no intention of him saying, but he insisted. It always seems to be the males I have trouble with, the female characters, particularly the main character, are very polite and sweet. My characters do talk to me, they have to; otherwise I can’t write their story.
Question 13 – Do you find that although you have a set route/plan, your lead goes where he/she wants?
In some cases, yes, they do follow the path that I set my characters. But in others they can wander. When I am setting down my first draft I don’t really like to think too much of where it is heading. I trust in their story and they tell it to me. In another of my stories, not connected to this one, I do say “It is their, story. I only write it down.”
Question 14 – Do you trust your reader, or do you feel compelled to explain everything in detail?
I do trust my reader. I hope they understand all that I am hinting at or not telling them. I believe that they are intelligent enough not to have to explain every single detail. But—and there is always a but—I have had feedback from beta readers who have told me that something needs to be explained more. Beta readers are essential. They let you know when something is working or not, as a writer you need to listen to them as they represent the audience.
Question 15 – Are you capable of killing your darlings, or do you protect them endlessly?
Oh I am and have killed off some of my darling characters. One of my beta readers actually rang me when she got to a certain part of one of the series and abused me for a full ten minutes because I did something very nasty to one of her favourite characters. To me that was a massive compliment. It meant she was invested in the character, had fallen in love with the character. So when the devastating event occurred, she the reader felt it. I am not precious about my characters. In real life people get injured or die unexpectedly. So I try to have the same sort of philosophy in my writing. It is not sure who will be there at the end. I love my characters, even the evil ones; but I am not above killing a few off to advance the story.
Question 16 – Do you have a view on independent publishing, versus the agent rout?
I am not with an agent, but have been signed to a publisher. I started to independently publish at the beginning of 2017. I managed to get five of the seven in the series out, before being picked up by a small publishing company. They were recommended to me by a friend and having already had numerous rejections, I didn’t think they would accept, but submit I did. I will always remember the thrill when I read their email telling me I had been accepted. To be quite honest I didn’t really put much effort into the submission. There are pros and cons for being independent and professionally published. I have enjoyed working with my publisher and editor in getting this first book ready. For me there is less stress and worry.
Question 17 – Do you have any advice for those considering joining the literary world?
My advice is do your research, write, write, write, edit more than you think you need to, and believe in your work. Your voice is different from everyone else’s, your stories matter to the world and should be put out there. Listen to advice of others already in the writing world, but be sure that the advice is kindly given, not criticism motivated by jealously. Be ready to change your work, be brutal in cutting things out that don’t work, even if they are your favourite bits (they may work for another story, so keep them). Be open to new ideas and views, reading widely and copiously is a good way of opening up these new avenues. Everyone who reads your work will take something different away from it. But most of all… Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, just go for it!
Question 18 – How important do you think your cover is?
The cover is vitally important. There is no half-arsing it. As much as we would like to think that the reader will peruse our blurbs and choose the story that way, they don’t. The first thing that attracts any reader is the cover. I know this first hand. When I first self-published my covers where horrendous and it was commented on. I made them myself. I was naïve, unskilled and completely unaware of what I was doing. I didn’t know about things like Canva and Pixabay, until much later. Even with having a publisher, it was hard. I was asked what I wanted on the cover, and I had to think quite hard on it. I sat back and just visualised the book and the image came to me. I realised it was the image I had always thought of, even while writing it. I am so happy with the cover, the artist has captured what I wanted brilliantly.
Question 19 – Do you see your novel as a film and if so, who would be your lead?
Do I see them as a movie? When writing them, no. But then my beta readers kept telling me they could see it up on the screen. Don’t we all dream about our work going into visual form, even just a little? As to a lead, I would have no idea. My main character is supposed to look the same throughout each of her lives, so it would have to be the same actress. I think it would have to be a complete unknown actress, otherwise I would keep seeing her other work overlaying her performance.
Question 20 – Which genre would best describe your novel/novels?
Overall genre is an easy one for the series, it would come under the general heading of Fantasy. The first two books are set in pre and late Roman Scotland respectively, so they would be Historic Fantasy. The last five are set in modern New Zealand and Scotland, so I would class them as Urban Fantasy. They are eclectic. My other work I have described as a certain genre before, but recently was told by someone that they would not considered that, so I have no idea. I have also written one thriller/crime story.
Question 1 – Where in the world do you live?
I live in Perth, Western Australia. But I was born and raised in New Zealand. I moved to Perth in 2008 with my family, but New Zealand will always be my home spiritually.
Question 2 – Are you a family person, and if so, would you like to expand on this?
I am a family person. I have been married for 21 years to my husband and we have raised two children, a boy and a girl, who are just about grown. I also count my lovely dog Billy as being one of my babies.
Question 3 – Where do you get your energy from, i.e. Mother Nature, family and friends, etc?
After going through breast cancer and all that entails, as I recovered, the more I found I could write. I love writing outside, I love writing in a café, so I suppose I draw on the energy of nature or any of my surroundings to carry on writing. One thing I do know, if I get interrupted, I get grumpy lol.
Question 4 – If you could be remembered for something, what would it be?
I would hope that it would be for my writing and for being a kind and giving person. But most of all I do not want to be remembered as a sweet old lady, but more the kind that people ask “What the hell is she up to now?” Life is for living, we can’t waste a moment of it. Cancer taught me that.