Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.
With me today is Lori L. MacLaughlin. Her debut novel, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, is an epic fantasy story of swords-for-hire sisters Tara and Laraina Triannon, and is now available at your favorite retailers.
1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?
Thank you so much for having me here! My writing odyssey began way back in the 1980s when I was working on my parents’ dairy farm. Some of the chores, like mucking out stalls, spreading sawdust for bedding, and throwing down hay for the animals, didn’t require a lot of thought, so my mind would wander, and I’d make up stories to pass the time. One day my Mom suggested I write down the stories in my head. I tried it and discovered a whole new realm of joy.
I’d always considered writing a hobby until the last year or so. At that point I made the conscious choice to start treating my writing as a business with the ultimate goal of self-publishing my work. I made a list of all the things I’d need to learn about and do, and step by step, reached my goal.
2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?
I wish I’d gotten serious about my writing a lot sooner. But then life has a way of shifting priorities…
3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?
Start building your social media/marketing platform long before you’re ready to publish. Revise your work until it’s as good as you can make it, then hire an editor and revise some more. Invest in a good cover designer. I think those are the most important things.
4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?
I’ve written two and a half novels, the first of which has just been released. This first book, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, will always be most special to me. The main character, Tara, is my alter ego. If I lived in a world such as hers, I would be her.
5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?
That is a tough question. My first inclination is to say Tara, because she’s such a part of me. She’s an adventurer, vulnerable on the inside but hard and cold as the steel of her blade on the outside. She’s been hurt too many times to let anyone inside her guard.
However, I’m teetering toward choosing Captain Natiere, the wolf-like executioner known as the Butcher. He claims the wolves as his kin, though he’s not a shapeshifter. He’s also been shaped by a traumatic past, but there is so much more to him than anyone realizes. He holds many secrets in the unfathomed depths of his soul.
6. Tell us about your new book. What can we expect from it?
Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble is a fantasy adventure, sword and sorcery with a side of romance. It’s about two sword-for-hire sisters who get into a heap of trouble by being in the wrong place at the right time. Here is the really short blurb:
A brutal invasion. A terrifying assassin empowered by wolves. A swordswoman, gifted with magic and cursed by nightmares that are all too real. With the help of her sword-wielding sister, an aging adventurer, a secretive soldier of fortune, and a sorceress whose spells often go askew, Tara Triannon must stop an army led by a madman and fend off an evil being caught in a centuries-old trap who seeks to escape through her dreams — all while keeping one step ahead of the Butcher.
7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?
I am self-published. I originally started down the road to traditional publishing, but the long wait times between hearing back from submissions and the shrinking market sent me down the self-publishing path. I also much prefer having sole control over every aspect of the publishing process.
My advice would be to research both models and choose which one is right for you. The Internet is full of resources, and countless bloggers generously share their publishing experiences. Take advantage of all that’s out there. If you decide to self-pub, invest the time and money to put forward your best product.
Lori L. MacLaughlin traces her love of fantasy adventure to Tolkien and Terry Brooks, finding The Lord of the Rings and The Sword of Shannara particularly inspirational. She’s been writing stories in her head since she was old enough to run wild through the forests on the farm on which she grew up.
She has been many things over the years – tree climber, dairy farmer, clothing salesperson, kids’ shoe fitter, retail manager, medical transcriptionist, journalist, private pilot, traveler, wife and mother, Red Sox and New York Giants fan, muscle car enthusiast and NASCAR fan, and a lover of all things Scottish and Irish.
When she’s not writing (or working), she can be found curled up somewhere dreaming up more story ideas, taking long walks in the countryside, or spending time with her kids. She lives with her family in northern Vermont.