From an early age L. R. W. knew she wanted to write a children’s book. Her imagination for such a book was cultivated early on as her family didn’t have a lot of money. She and her older brother were encouraged to use their imaginations to entertain themselves.
Lee is now back for a second interview as the second book in the Andy Smithson series Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning is now available.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
The Andy Smithson series is planned to be seven books in its entirety. Before I begin crafting sentences invent what a specific book needs to accomplish in the grand scheme of the seven-book series. From that, I put together a rough outline of the book. I think through the various characters that exist and think about how each needs to grow. This then has me invent the events I will use to produce said growth. From there, I flesh out more details with the scenes. For example, if a chapter needs a character to use a specific tool, I look back in the outline and invent where I will introduce said tool earlier in the book. Once I think I’ve got a solid outline, I go back and force myself to justify each chapter and specify how it moves the action along while accomplishing the goal of character growth. If I find I can’t justify a given chapter I nix it — no sense in writing a chapter that doesn’t accomplish anything. By the time I’m done with this process, I usually have the full book in my head and can move and dance with it. Only then do I begin crafting sentences.
Some people prefer just sitting down and writing. I can’t do that. I need to work through this process so I know where I’m going. It also significantly reduces rewriting and editing, which I do not enjoy. I also find that as I have the whole novel in my head, the characters start doing things I didn’t expect and the plot evolves from there. It always amazes me how rich the characters make the book when you let them loose in this structure.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Absolutely! As I was writing book two something happened with one character that had me modify how a critical plot element would go. It was completely out of the blue and took me by surprise, but as I worked through it, I had to agree that the whole series would be better because of the change. Yes, my characters know best.
What is your favorite food?
Baked apples with cinnamon… Mmmm… Can’t you just smell it?
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I hate to say it but neither anymore. I have never been a morning person and anymore, I have a hard time staying awake past 10:00 at night… I feel like my parents (did I just say that??? Yikes!)
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I would love to visit Hogwarts some day. Can you imagine???
Do distant places feature in your books?
Yes. I think the land of Oomaldee qualifies as a distant place.
Do you listen to music while writing?
I do, but it has to be instrumental otherwise my family begins asking what animal is in pain and could I please make it stop. I get very distracted by lyrics.
In book two of the series, Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, eleven-year-old Andy Smithson returns to Oomaldee to retrieve the second ingredient needed to break a 500-year-old curse enacted to punish the current ruler for murdering his older sister when she was 15. Not one to forgive easily, Imogenia’s spirit is bent on thwarting Andy to preserve the curse and naively aligns herself with the evil, scheming Abbadon. Things go from bad to worse when a creature Abaddon conjures from the darkest magic steals the Stone of Athanasia, the source of the ruler’s immortality, causing the king and his wizard Mermin to fall gravely ill. Andy is forced to choose between retrieving the stone to save those he loves or obediently going after the second ingredient. What will he chose? Will he be able to save the King and Mermin?
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
It’s difficult to make others aware that you exist! This is not a surprise to me, but it takes much stamina and diligence to persistently working on marketing activities.
Is there anything you would do differently?
My first book I did not originally have edited by a professional editor when I launched. I regretted that decision about four months into it and found an editor. Boy, what an improvement!! That experience taught me that getting a professional involved for that exercise is not just a good thing to do, but necessary. And with the publishing industry moving as it is, no longer is it acceptable to slap any old thing up on Amazon. From what I’m seeing, the is going toward more professional books, especially for indie authors with the standard rising… And rightly so if the indie market is going to gain more ground.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
I have to say books I’ve read primarily. My favorite authors include C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling with a dash of Rick Riordan thrown in for good measure.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Believe in what you’re doing and stick to it. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. And, if there is a reason you are passionate about writing (like me sharing uncommon life principles), only you can hold that narrative and see it through.
What are three words that describe you?
Insightful. Passionate. Ambitious.
What’s your favorite book or who is your favorite writer?
It’s very hard to narrow down to just one book. If I have to choose, I’d say the Harry Potter series is probably my favorite.
List of previous books if any:
Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Book One
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.