Interview with Marie Lavender – a bestselling multi-genre Indie Author
27 juni 2020
If there’s one thing you can say about Marie Lavender, it would be that she definitely has tons of experience in the writing and publishing world. She’s gone both the traditional and Indie route and has written successful books in more than one genre.
After receiving an email from this bestselling multi-genre Indie Author, I dove into her background and found out that she has more than 20 published books on her resumé. I was intrigued to find out more and, so, I sat down to ask her some questions.
Marie: “I am from the Midwestern U.S., and I live with my family and two cats. I love reading, writing, and I’m a definite shopaholic. Let’s just say my Amazon and Ebay wish lists are long. 😉 My favorite books to read are romances of any kind, but I have a weakness for paranormal, modern, or historical love stories. I write my stories in journals or cheap one-subject notebooks, at least until I am ready to type them up.”
Marie: “In a way, yes. I always leaned toward writing romance. But I found myself delving into other types of stories sometimes – mystery, supernatural themes, more dramatic tales. Really, it has been such a wide range of genres, yet I still write romance often enough.”
Marie: “Honestly, I’d have to say it was probably my Victorian maritime romance trilogy which was mega successful. Perhaps part of it is because the characters were so vivid. The rest? Who knows? The time period could be intriguing for some readers. I have often wondered how cool it might be to travel back in time to see how everything was for my ancestors.”
Marie: “Part of my book ideas are extemporaneous – the plot and characters just come out through my random spouts of writing. Eventually, I must pin myself down to one story at a time. The more detailed plans are handled with outlines, which then serve as a good foundation for me to construct the rest of the narrative. As aforementioned, I write everything by hand first… but sometimes, when I want to nail a certain description, I’ll compose directly on the keyboard. This happens especially when I’m relying on research to fill in the details, or I need to better visualize what I’m talking about.”
Marie: “It is a challenge, but it helps to add elements as they come to me within each story file. I usually write a loose outline, if I’ve made that amount of progress by then. The more detailed outline happens later, once I’ve written several scenes already. I always do a full character worksheet for the main characters last. That way, I can make final decisions about someone’s background or quirks, and gently add in specific information within the story as I see fit.”
Marie: “I still have to say it’s Upon Your Return, the first historical romance novel I finished. Partly because it took me nine years to write, and it evolved considerably over time. The rest is because I can relate so well with the heroine, Fara Bellamont. She is rare amongst her contemporaries. Plus, her love interest, Captain Grant Hill, is melt-worthy. The second edition of the novel is set to be released through Foundations Books this year.”
Marie: “I started out using my birth name, but then expanded into adopting pseudonyms. The more books I finished, I quickly realized I would need to put some space between my public and private life. I tried to come up with a good pen name, and eventually took two more on, as I explored other genres. By the time I submitted a manuscript to a traditional publisher, I had settled on using this pen name – Marie Lavender. Now I’m working on moving all my backlist titles into collections of various genres. The first collection, Directions of the Heart, came out in 2017, and was comprised of four novellas which were fully revised and re-released.”
Marie: “There is certainly more respect overall tied to traditional publishing. Plus, I really like the ‘family’ aspect of being with a mid-sized publisher. All the authors are working together with the editors, and we’re always getting pointers for improvement. The downside is that nothing is set in stone. Even if you follow the rules to a tee, you could get dropped at any moment whenever a policy gets changed. In my case, the publisher decided to stop publishing books in a certain genre, which ended up affecting the rest of my titles with them. Eh, what can you do? Just try to make the best of an unfortunate situation. I was just lucky that I’d already had some prior experience with indie publishing. On the other hand, being an indie author frees you up to make more decisions. You don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy involved in the company mindset, and you can pick your own book covers, adjust your titles as necessary, and even run your marketing campaigns. Plus, the writing community is incredibly supportive. One big disadvantage is that, at least in some ways, trying to drive sales seems more competitive, since every writer has the same notion – to do it on their own. And it is so much easier these days to self-publish.”
Marie: “I maintain my social media accounts. I keep my author website updated, so that readers can find me and any questions they have will be easily answered. I have active blogs, to keep up interest. I promote my books, and especially spread the word about any interviews or guest posts I’ve done. I make sure there is an actual web presence for ‘Marie Lavender’ by getting listed on author/book directories and doing a book launch with each book release. It has taken time – years, in fact – to make it this far, but it is worth the effort.”
Marie: “What urges you to keep going, despite the odds? I try to step back and think about my origins. What are my goals? Have I reached them? Sometimes just looking over at my array of published books makes me realize I have made so much more progress than I realized. That if I hadn’t been patient with myself, and still persevered when things got iffy, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Do I feel burnt out now and then? Sure, and it’s good to take a much needed break, to clear your head, and come back with a fresher perspective. Especially if you have writer’s block. But the key is to find your personal motivation.
What drives you to write? Why did you begin this path in the first place? Was it for money or fame? I can’t say those are the best reasons. The journey can be harrowing, especially for writers who are just starting out. However, if you sought out a writing career because you can’t think of doing anything else for the rest of your life, then there is hope yet for you. If the vision of a story keeps you tap-tap-tapping away on your laptop, and you can’t wait to show readers what crazy thing your character is doing next, I think you have done very well. That’s a huge accomplishment in itself. Many writers give up before they’ve even begun.
Just find something to motivate you every day, whether it’s the prospect of a new story or a cool writing quote that you decided to hang on your office wall. Only that kind of innate passion will help you through the roller coaster of being a writer.”
If this interview peaked your interest and you want to learn more about Marie and her books, go visit her website www.marielavender.com.
Thank you, Marie, for taking the time to answer these questions. Wishing you all the best in your writing adventures!
Petra is a published Indie author. She’s been writing all her life, but only dared to publish a book when she started writing the Somnia Series. She’s a motivational coach for (Fantasy) writers, offers all kinds of services on her own Dutch platform www.fantasyschrijfcoaching.nl, and uses her author’s website to help other writers achieve their writing goals. She loves using her platform to promote other Indie Authors who have the courage and determination to make their books worth your (reading) time.