Friday, May 15, 2009

Lauren Willig Author Interview

After a number of scheduling issues on both our parts Lauren Willig and I were finally able to sit down to talk about her latest Pink Carnation novel The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. As I think you'll see below Lauren is a serial workaholic. With a background in English history Willig has managed to write a series of historical novels that never get old.

Kelly Hewitt: The last time we chatted you were balancing Harvard Law School and the writing of your popular Pink Carnation books series - two perfectly successful careers at once. I read now that you've finished school and are working at a law firm. Do you think you'll always be a two career kind of person?

Lauren Willig: Life moves very quickly—either that, or we haven’t chatted in way too long! Since our last confab, I’ve left the practice of law. After a year and a half juggling briefs and book deadlines, I decided that enough was enough. The two career model did wonders for my writing, since I had no choice but to write like a maniac whenever the opportunity presented itself, but little for my temper or my social life. I am sad to say that since becoming a full time writer, I have lapsed back into all my old bad habits.

All that being said, I do think I am a two career person, in that I find it much easier to do anything while I’m dodging doing something else. One of the wonderful things about life as a professional writer is that it does often feel like two careers for the price of one. One of these two careers consists of my writing life, which boils down to me, my computer, the characters who inhabit my head, and the coffee with which I fuel them. The other is my author life, in which I get to dash around to conferences, give talks, and answer questions for websites such as yours.

Kelly: Aside from being jealous of your dual ability I have often wondered how it is that you found time to write a book a year with the rigorous law school. A lot of the authors I have chatted with who only write for a living have expressed the difficulty and pressure that comes along with writing a book a year. Is it fair to assume that you are a very scheduled and disciplined writer?

Lauren: Ha. Ha ha ha. Insert hollow laughter here. I’m about as disciplined as the Blob. (No offense to the Blob, who, for all I know, might have a rigorous scholarly work ethic when not spreading himself out over large quantities of terrain and engulfing screaming teenagers). I tend to write in fits and starts. I’ll have stretches of a week or two when I’ll write like the wind, followed by a week of scowling at a blank screen. This may be because I wrote my first four books while scheduling my writing time around other things, or simply a facet of my character. I suspect the latter. Fundamentally, I’m an adrenaline worker. When left to myself, I tend to procrastinate and overthink until panic takes hold, at which point everything suddenly gets done very, very quickly. In the context of a book length project, this divides itself up into lots of little cycles of procrastination and panic.

Kelly: How has the transition from law school to law firm affected your ability to write?

Lauren: The most jarring aspect of moving from an academic calendar to a bona fide job was my inability to schedule. School and novel writing go together like peanut butter and chocolate, largely because one knows exactly what all the major stress points are going to be before they happen. My editor had been very nice about letting me schedule book deadlines around exams, papers, and the other milestones of the academic year. In an office, on the other hand, one can never predict when a crisis will arise, consuming nights and weekends—or when a crisis will suddenly subside into calm. It made planning out writing time rather tricky and taught me valuable lessons about seizing any free moment to write, with no nonsense about muses or writer’s block.

Kelly: We have chatted a few times about our mutual interest in Renaissance European history and the fact that we both have pursued masters degrees in English history (I, sadly, was not so smart as to jump to law school instead of finishing). (Correction: Lauren finished her MA and went on for her doctorate.) When history grad students get into a room the first thing that happens is that everyone gives a rundown of what they think they'll write their looming thesis on. I know you inevitably chose a different path but what did you think you were going to write about?

Lauren: After getting my MA, I spent several years working on my PhD before I jumped ship, including a year in England on fellowship trudging back and forth between the British Library and the Public Records Office. My plan was to finish the dissertation while in law school, so that I could walk off with the PhD and JD at the same time. But by a strange fluke, I signed my first book contract my first month of law school. There went all my dissertation-writing time!

My partially written dissertation was grandiosely titled “Give Caesar his Due: Royalist Conspiracies in the English Civil War, 1646-1649”. It followed the movement of royalist groups in England and abroad between the King’s capture in 1646 and his execution in 1649. One of these days I really do want to dig out my three foot high pile of research notes and just finish the blasted thing, since it really was a great topic, replete with deeds of derring-do and lots of slapstick. My favorite episode was Charles I getting stuck in a window as he tried to escape his Parliamentarian captors. But for the width of the royal shoulders, the trajectory of English history might have been entirely different….

Kelly: I, of course, love that you use a history graduate student to frame your novels. You have also written about another bastion of graduate school life, teaching entry level classes. Do you have any graduate teaching horror stories? (I will have to share mine later.)

Lauren: Oh, heavens. How many of them do you want? Some of my personal favorites involved grading exams (advise to TA’s: open a bottle of wine before approaching those blue books) and finding gems like, “In the Middle Ages, there were no windows. That was why they called it the dark ages. Then in the Renaissance they discovered glass and everything became light.” The post-exam wrangling about grade is also always fun. I had one guy storm into my office and inform me that my giving him a “B” was unconscionable since he was an “A” student. He had brought his transcript to prove it to me. I pointed out that he might be an A student, but it still wasn’t an A paper. He didn’t agree with this. Fortunately, the professor did.

I have a whole bunch of other stories, but they’re not going into print.

Kelly: Your readers have commended the latest novel in your series, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, for your ability to keep storylines new and exciting, avoiding any of the staleness or repetition that are sometimes synonymous with multiple installments of a series. Is that something that you consider when writing?

Lauren: Repetition is something that any multi-published author has to worry about, and the equation becomes even more delicate when one is dealing with a series. Part of the lure of a series is a certain promise of familiarity. The reader wants to re-enter a familiar world. At the same time, no one wants to feel like they’re reading—or writing!—the same book over and over again. Trying to maintain continuity while keeping the series fresh is a constant challenge for me. In my next book, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, I moved the action to India to provide a fresh perspective on the series and the time period.

Kelly: Sometimes authors who write a series of novels will map things out in order to have a long term idea of where they are going. Is that something you've done for the Pink Carnation series?

Lauren: I do have long-term plans for the series, but they are always subject to change. For example, my image of the how the series is ultimately going to end hasn’t changed, but a lot of the stuff that goes on in the middle—the intermediate books in the series—has, as my characters grow and develop throughout a multi-book arc. I’ve learned to be more flexible in my plotting because clinging to one image or one idea often stymies the organic development of the series.


Kelly: How many books do you envision the series having?

Lauren: At this point? Um…. Let’s just say it’s entirely open-ended. At some point, I should probably sit down and make important decisions about how I plan to get to my eventual end goal, but at this point I’m still having way too much fun with the series to start plotting the wrap-up. I also love the freedom I have within the series to play with different tropes, character types, and historical events. The Napoleonic Wars cover a broad span of time, countries, and characters and I’m taking full advantage of that. For a more practical answer to your question, I can say that currently there are plans for three more Pink books underway (which would bring us to nine).

Kelly: So, the next book in the series will take place in India. Can you give Loaded Questions readers any exclusive info about the next book?

Lauren: Pink VI recently acquired a title! It is now officially The Betrayal of the Blood Lily.

Blood Lily follows Lady Frederick Staines (nee Miss Penelope Deveraux) to India after her indiscreet behavior found her hustled into a hasty marriage. Penelope and her new husband are sent off to India to give time for the scandal to die down. What Penelope doesn’t realize is that far more dangerous challenges await them in India, where her husband has been appointed Special Envoy to the Court of Hyderabad. Penelope plunges into the treacherous waters of the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, where no one is quite what they seem—even her own husband.

In a strange country where elaborate court dress masks even more elaborate intrigues and a spy called the Marigold leaves cobras as his calling card, there is only one person Penelope can trust: Captain Alex Reid, the man detailed to escort them to Hyderabad. But Alex has secrets of his own….

The first chapter of Blood Lily is available on my website here and I’ll be posting other updates and excerpts throughout the summer.

Kelly: Thank you so much Lauren for doing the interview and thank you for being so kind as to send along books for our "The Temptation of the Night Jasmine Book Giveaway!"

Lauren: Thanks so much for having me here, Kelly! It’s always so much fun to hang out with you at Loaded Questions.

34 comments:

Marg said...

Terrific interview as usual Kelly!

traveler said...

Thanks for this fascinating feature and the interesting interview. This novel sounds captivating and your next one intriguing.

see you there! said...

Interesting interview. I'd love to win the drawing (got info in an e-mail) but I'm not sure I'm commenting in the right place.

I look forward to more of your book talk, I'm always on the lookout for new authors to read.

Darla

Alyssa said...

I love Lauren Willig! Her books are a great escape!!!

Great interview!

mishka said...

I love the Pink books!

lAUra said...

yay! thank you for interviewing her! i love reading/listening to lauren being interviewed! and the questions you asked were perfect!
~lAUra

Faerie said...

I absolutly adore the Pink Carnation series, and I can't wait to read this book! I haven't had time to read this one yet and all my friends keep dropping comments here and there that are driving me Crazy! Something horrible happens to Penelope, there's talk of India and the Hellfire club, and someting about the king!!! I'm about to lose my mind with anticipation!
My e-mail is grneydladee@comcast.net

Melissa said...

Thanks a lot for a bunch of good tips. I look forward to reading more on the topic in the future. Keep up the good work! This blog is going to be great resource. Love reading it.

dissertation writing help

Custom said...

Hi,
It's a really nice blog. I will refer this information with reference on my website

Custom Essays

dp said...

Hi,
I personally like your post; you have shared good information.

Dissertation Service

uk said...

Hi,
Thank you for sharing information in the blog. You are really doing a good work. I personally like this blog and appreciates your efforts.

Online Essays

Coursework help said...

Hi,
Nice post! You have worked hard on jotting down the essential information. Keep sharing the good work in future too.

Coursework Writing

Lisa said...

Hi,
This is really great work. Thank you for sharing such a useful piece of information here in the blog.

Buy Term Papers

Coursework help said...

Hi,
This is inspiring; I am very pleased by this post. Nice info at this post thanks!!! I really like it

Custom Essays

Dana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dissertation Help said...

Wonderful article, thanks for putting this together! "This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up!"
------------------------------
Dissertation Help

dissertation said...

it's good to see this information in your post, i was looking the same but there was not any proper resource, thanx now i have the link which i was looking for my research.

UK Dissertation Writing

Alan said...

Thanks for sharing this.
logo design Animated Logo

suzie said...

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.
academic research paper

Viko said...

Excellent article & fantastic blog too Requested to you that please keep us updated.I really appreciate on hard work. Nice job again.
Many websites are now providing assistance for students who are now having a hard time initializing the process of writing a dissertation paper. How to write a dissertation is now a big dilemma for next generation students. However, it is important that you know where to seek help and what types of materials you are going to use. A dissertation writing help therefore can be used to make your life easier.

Anonymous said...

Conceit is the quicksand of success.

-----------------------------------
Delhi

Anonymous said...

My partner and I really enjoyed reading this blog post, I was just itching to know do you trade featured posts? I am always trying to find someone to make trades with and merely thought I would ask.

Anonymous said...

Wasting time is robbing oneself.

-----------------------------------

ray bans said...

Christian Dior, in addition Gucci offer the plethora together with distinctive hues which in turn suit the some ugly kind. May all your favourite coloration pink or green? No drawback these kind tremendous companies get a new solution in support of one.

pandora sale said...

Christian Dior affords a junior model the way nicely that would maintain the exact small children permanently grateful providing quality frames children look remarkable having on. You can expect to discover

louboutins said...

Within the long run event customers determine which usually shop the web doing generally seek towards the model name will yield loads of outcomes intended for anyone to select received from, in addition Amazon simply because another together with many largest by going online retailers,

Anonymous said...

Thanks for share some review on it.
Logo Design Uk

sheepskin ugg said...

Folk were unwilling devote out inside winter times. Therefore that they were reasonably appreciative intended for house fantastic stuff. Customers had accesses at the ideally sections of raw wool at of the fact that time.

authentic ugg said...

widley known hosts, athletes every single the same as from be dressed in Australian sheepskin boots. Superb reputation might have been received throughout the universe.

uggs boots clearance said...

Customers hold appreciated this kind of running footwear is a nice exciting souvenir gift caused by Aussie men.

Sacramento Hotel Deals said...

An awesome project. there's so much helpful info here! Keep updating the blog, looking forward for more contents.

Custom Logo Design said...

Thank you for sharing this! Just what I’ve been searching for. Great info!

Write A Dissertation said...

interview. I'd love to win the drawing (got info in an e-mail

poster printing uk said...

I had to refresh the page 2 times to view this page for some reason, however, the information here was worth the wait.

Related Posts with Thumbnails