Since the age of eight, L.R.W. Lee knew she wanted to write a book. Fortunately or unfortunately, she felt she needed something significant to say first. She sought to contribute to others in a way that could change their lives.
“My older brother and I were encouraged to use our imaginations to entertain ourselves. And use them we did – climbing trees and creating tree forts, using a quilt for a matchbox car city, making puppets and putting on shows, and much more,” said Lee. “I went to college and got a degree in Accounting.
“However, most folks frown on “creative accounting” so I put my imagination on hold. My business interests eventually led me to found and grow a successful company which, with my partner, I sold in January 2012, leaving me time to imagine and write for the first time.”
Lee is the first to say there are some things that have influenced or inspired her Andy Smithson series of books. “In 2005, I chose to bring on a partner/mentor to continue to grow my company. He taught me not only business narratives, but also shared his personal philosophies. He is Korean and therefore has many philosophies you might call Eastern-based that are refreshingly different from Western-based philosophies I was raised with. Many of these, including overcoming frustration, impatience and fear among others, significantly changed how I think and act, and improved my ability to enjoy life. It is these life principles I seek to share through my books. I hope to help others better enjoy their journey through life.”
Lee also loves to write while taking a walk in the morning. Many a scene has gotten clearer and better organized as she trudged up the 40-degree mountain near her home. “It’s amazing what trying to block out the discomfort of breathing heavily can do to get things clear,” said Lee.
This new middle grade reader series, Andy Smithson is about a ten-year-old boy (Andy) who is magically brought to the Land of Oomaldee while he is doing dishes one night. Unbeknownst to him, he is there to break a 500-year-old curse.
Andy learns his quest is to enter the Dragon’s Lair to find an ingredient critical to breaking the curse — the scale from an elusive red dragon, the fiercest of all dragon species. Andy nearly destroys the castle amidst adventures, battling fire-breathing dragons, fighting vicious vulture attacks, escaping people-eating giants and more.
“I had a lot of fun interjecting humor throughout the book in the form of fart jokes that appeal to middle graders, but also more advanced word play for adult readers. One example, when Andy is faced with crossing a raging river, he speaks of overcoming the “current” problem. I love doing word plays like this. You’ll find these throughout the book, particularly in the prologue,” stated Lee.
There are many teachable moments sprinkled throughout the book as well. “I’d say overcoming frustration, fear and impatience are important messages in this book as well as commitment and dedication to a cause because of those you love,” said Lee. “I am passionate about helping others embody new ways of approaching these and similar situations. As a result, I have included on my website discussion questions for parents to work through with their kids.”
Like all authors, some things come quite easily (like creating the setting) and other things aren’t so easy (like deciding on a title). Lee said building the land of Oomaldee came fairly easily, while she struggled with titles for her books. “I struggled with what to title them as well as boiling down the novel into a one-paragraph description for the back cover. It’s just not an easy task choosing what main theme will best represent your work in a way that will draw readers to buy it,” said Lee.
While chatting with Lee, she shared an interesting thought about writer’s block. “My story about writers block is that it’s simply a missing narrative yet to be invented. With that orientation and from experience, I know with more thought, a narrative will emerge from my brain in the near future. Sometimes I talk to friends or my kids and they provide ideas that I “try on.” I keep what works and discard what doesn’t. I don’t sweat not having a particular narrative in the moment. I know it will come. It may take a week or two, but it always comes.”
For those wondering where these amazing stories are drafted, Lee works at a glass-top table in the upstairs loft area of her home, with a view overlooking a lake. “My table has lots of papers semi-neatly arranged in piles (I know what’s where – I really do!) and several books, including a couple Harry Potter books (for inspiration) and some reference books,” stated Lee. “I would not be the person I am today if anything was done differently. Only the person I am today could have created the work I have.”
Lee also does everything on computer. She can’t stand typing into her computer what she wrote out. “It drives me crazy!” shared Lee. However, she also just doesn’t walk up to her computer and sit down to write each day. “Usually, I start with an hour of exercise. This gets my creative juices flowing because I think about what I plan to write about that day, organizing my thoughts. After that, I get a cup of decaf coffee (creates a good mood for me) and I sit down at my computer and begin committing to structured sentences what I have thought through.”
Lee also does do some research for her book. “It depends on what I’m writing about. If I’m borrowing something from ancient works like King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable, absolutely!” said Lee.
L.R.W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, Texas, with her husband, a daughter (who is a Longhorn at UT Austin) and a son who is in high school. Her favorite musical is The Sound of Music. She hates scary movies, but loves piano and strings music, sunsets in Hawaii and a good cup of decaf, French press coffee (yes, decaf!). She’s a healthy-eating fanatic (lean protein and complex carbs, if you please) and she exercises regularly (even though she hates it!). She also loves Ansel Adams prints and all manner of kinetic art.
If you love fast-paced adventures with unexpected twists, there’s plenty of action and suspense found throughout the Land of Oomaldee.