Last Friday you got to hear about Lyrical Press so today it’s the turn of one of its authors, Autumn Piper. She’s multi-talented, and as you’ll see, also fun to interview. She’ll also be back on the blog again in October because when she’s not writing, she steps into the role of an editor in chief. Next month she’ll tell us about the ins and outs of the editing process and how we can improve our work before it hits an editor’s desk. Check out her Web site at www.autumnpiper.com
Susan Palmquist (SP)-I love your Web site because it’s got so many good things that can be turned into interview questions? So my first one, you’re a small town girl, do all your stories take place in smaller communities or do you prefer to write about living in the city?
Autumn Piper (AP)-My stories are pretty much set in small towns, other than a scene here or there in the city. No particular reason, that’s just how they come to me. (I am working on one with a couple of vacationers set in Puerto Vallarta, though…) Small towns are fun to write because you can’t go anywhere without running into somebody you know, which can be either bad or good depending on what you’re up to at the time, and who it is you run into.
SP-The Completely Aimless Trips sound like fun…lots of great stuff for a writer. Have you traveled anywhere and thought this can be a great setting for a story or perhaps got an idea for a book on one of these trips?
AP-Road trips never fail to inspire me. Especially if it’s a road trip someplace I haven’t been. Last fall my husband and I went to Arkansas for a few days, and saw some really neat stuff. One crazy-looking house in particular will probably end up in a story (albeit it’ll most likely belong to a loony character). It had this wild upstairs balcony/deck thing which extended out so far and with little to no support… there’s no way it could be safe. Besides that, it hung out above the main street in town! Just hilarious to look at, and wonder what somebody was thinking when they built it, like, did he just think he could extend his property boundaries by building above the city street? And how does it manage to stay up there?
Sometimes an unusual name for a road or community will inspire a story, too. There’s an exit in North L.A. for “Rocky Peak Road” which inspired my Lone Star Trouble novel.
SP-One of your goals is to create characters who will long be remembered. If you had to pick one character from a book you’ve read, who would be your favorite and why?
AP-The character who immediately comes to mind is in a historical set in Scotland, Remember, written by a CP of mine, Mary Reilly. The heroine, Maggie, is wonderful: smart, brave, hardworking, and with the most enormous capacity to love. Intrepid. She endures so much, and feels so much, you can’t help but feel along with her. And the love story is so deep and strong, it gives you physical pain when the characters are not together. This book isn’t published yet, but once it is, I believe everybody will “remember” it like I do.
SP-What makes a good character and how can every writer create one every time they pen a story?
AP- I think a good character should be well-rounded. And by well-rounded, I mean flawed. Who wants to read about perfect people? Characters should have weaknesses, just like you and I. Once you know a character’s flaws, it’s very easy to recognize what makes her tick (or tick dysfunctionally), and she’ll react accordingly in the situations which arise in her story. For instance, I very much admire independent women, but my heroines are sometimes independent and headstrong to a fault, which then can cause them much more trouble than if they’d just accept/ask for help when situations get dire.
SP-I think most writers would agree that this profession takes practice and it’s hard work?
AP-You got that right, sister! The secret most new writers don’t know is (hey, wait a minute, if you’re a brand new writer, you should cover your eyes for this part), erm, where was I? Oh yes, that tidbit from experienced writers: composing the story is the easy part. All the parts after are much harder. Whenever I hear somebody talk about how they’d love to write a book, or their life story, etc. I just smile and blink. Because they seem to think sitting down to write the story out would be the tough part! Oh, sorry for interrupting. You had a question…?
SP-What are some of your tips for improving our writing as we progress with our careers?
AP-Keep writing, keep revising, and you will improve, there’s no doubt. When I look back at my first works, those original drafts weren’t rough, they were downright jagged. Each successive novel’s first draft comes out a bit smoother, though. And once you’re published, learn from your edits (and your editor). After having a couple of books go through edits, you can probably predict what your editor will tell you to fix next time. As G.I. Joe used to say, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”
SP-You publish your books with Lyrical Press, can you tell us something about them and the types of stories and characters we’ll find between the pages?
AP-Lyrical Press publishes a wide range of books–pretty much everything but YA and nonfiction. Which is fortunate for me, since I cannot seem to write a cookie-cutter romance. In my books, you’ll find modern women (all my stories are contemporary), and they’re usually “experienced”–often divorced and usually older 20’s at the youngest. I try to put my heroines in positions “real” women readers can relate to: Mandy in Waiting for Revenge is dealing with impending divorce and wondering whether she can find true love twice, Kiersten in Lone Star Trouble is running the family business and caring for her aging grandpa while convinced love is nothing but a sham and a luxury she doesn’t have time for, Randi in Trouble Under Venus is looking for her missing father because she feels like she needs to know her true past in order to make a future for herself (she’s the only one doing something truly extraordinary–she joins an experimental time travel program to search for her dad!), and Cara in my newest Fallen Star Trouble has spent much of her youth caring for her younger siblings and is so intent on fitting in with the established married crowd, she considers sacrificing love for a “stable” relationship, instead of following her heart.
SP-I enjoyed seeing your dictionary of words, especially liked Nervous Muse Syndrome. Can you tell us what it is and any tips so we don’t catch it?
AP-Nervous Muse Syndrome: n. malady affecting many writers, whereby the sharing of a work in progress results in paralyzing stage fright and loss of inspiration (also known as NMS, not to be confused with PMS)http://www.autumnpiper.com/writersdictionary.htm
–This term “evolved” from my personal experience of getting critiques done on a work-in-progress. Doesn’t work for me. It’s hard enough to turn off my editing voice to write these days, but then if I get feedback from readers or CPs midstream…stifles me. Best way for me to avoid catching it is to keep my WIP to myself (I know, sounds like some kind of therapy for a BDSM addict, no?).
SP-Tell us about your newest release…this is your time to be as I like to call myself a shameless self promoter.
AP-Fallen Star Trouble releases today from Lyrical Press, and is available pretty much wherever ebooks are sold (and probably a few places where they are stolen…). It’ll be available in print in January. Here’s the cover copy:
Even a supernova can shine again.
A chance meeting between chart-topping pop star Brady and rebellious Cara–out to sow her wild oats–leads to one unforgettable night in Las Vegas. The next day, Cara runs home to family responsibility, unaware of Brady’s search for her and his slip into a steep downward spiral. Life leaves them no choice but to pick up the pieces and move on…until they meet again, nine years later.
Cara’s engaged, ready to settle into a quiet and normal life. Having Brady re-enter the scene doesn’t figure into her big picture. But Brady’s finally found what he needs to re-ignite his music career, and he’s not about to leave it behind. He’ll have to show Cara, with her help, even a supernova can shine again.
Content warning; snoopy small-towners, pestilent paparazzi, meddling relatives, second chances, and one hot rockstar.
SP-What’s next for you?
AP-Next… well, I’ve got that Vallarta story brewing. Trouble in Vallarta? Trouble South of the Border? Not sure yet on the title. Also have a snowbound trouble story kinda percolating, and started a sequel to Fallen Star Trouble, a story about one of Cara’s younger sisters. But to be honest I’m in a spot where no published author should ever find herself… with nothing finished and contracted. Eek. So I’ve really gotta get writing. Thanks for having me! *ducks out and heads to trusty laptop in the corner*