I’d like to introduce my special guest, author Samantha Lehane. Please join me in welcoming Samantha to Unfiltered Speech in A Politically Correct World. Take it from here, Sam!
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Hi, I am Samantha Lehane. Please let me introduce myself and my upcoming release from Musa Publishing.
I am a librarian by trade, pulp writer by nature, and time traveler by aspiration. I work in a museum by day and I write at night. My main literary pursuit is fiction but I do blog. I have a column, Writing with Catitude, at CuriosityQuills.com which is geared towards the writer/pet owner. My writing ventures into the fantastical with a pulp flair. My pen name was inspired by one of my favorite characters from the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I live in a little desert house filled with cats, books, and tea. My house is invaded weekly by my partner’s musical theater troupe. That’s why we have a closet dedicated to costumes. And that is me in a very small nutshell.
My short story can be described in a smaller nutshell. Kidnapping Cupid is an M/M romantic comedy with a Roman mythological twist. Its tagline, “Looking for some mythological mischief?” says exactly what you’ll find within its digital pages.
1. Do you have a specific genre you prefer?
I prefer fantastical fiction. I want fiction that takes me out of the mundane world or makes me think about it in a different way.
What I also appreciate about speculative fiction is that you can explore heavy current events or issues a fantastical wrapping without being overtly political. The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones are books that delve into serious moral and philosophical situations. They take these issues and put them in another world which gives it a new perspective. It also gives the reader enough distance so they don’t feel like their beliefs are being challenged even while they are being given food for thought.
I also just find speculative fiction to be great fun to write.
2. How did you decide upon the title for your latest book?
I am terrible at titles. I have gotten some lovely personalized rejections before and all mention my terrible titling. One of my nefariously bad titles was ‘The Cherub’s Ditch.’ Ouch. It’s a title that requires reading the book to even understand it. And even then it’s terrible.
I was serious about publishing Kidnapping Cupid so I tried to step back from looking at the story as a writer and look at it as a publisher. I asked myself a few questions. What kinds of titles are popular right now? What kinds of titles look best on e-books? What would be easy for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes? I decided that I wanted something with no more than two words so it would be easy for SEO and would pop on a small thumbnail image on both my publisher’s website and on Amazon. I didn’t want anything too cutesy with alteration but I did want it to roll off the tongue. I had a few ideas like Netting Neptune and Kidnapping Love, but after a few google searches to make sure that I had a unique title, I settled on Kidnapping Cupid. It’s a name that gives the reader an idea of the story, makes for a unique keyword, and doesn’t twist the tongue when I give an elevator speech about it.
3. How much of the book is related to your own life experiences?
The inspiration for the short story is based on my study abroad in Greece. I went on a fabulous summer trip that took me around the Peloponnese to visit ancient temple sites. I saw the Parthenon, Delphi, Olympia, Corinth, Mykonos, and more. I thoroughly loved Greece. I would spend my days wandering around ruins or museums, my afternoons would be spent journaling in cafes, and my nights were for exploring cities and villages. My journey coincided with the 2010 FIFA World Cup so I had a lot of fun learning more about soccer and following the action. Every taverna had a game on so I could wander for hours and always keep track of what was going on. Kidnapping Cupid is based in Roman mythology but the seeds were planted in that Greek trip.
4. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I’m very irritated with my prose because I have to force myself to be sparse. I admire wordsmiths like China Miéville and F. Scott Fitzgerald who can keep a reader interested through intricate yet oddly breezy descriptions. Their prose is far denser than mine yet it never feels purple. Mine always ends up a violet hue if I don’t hold myself back.
5. What or who inspired you to become a writer?
I have always been a dreamer and a creative type. I was constantly drawing as a child. I loved books from a young age but it didn’t hit me until I was thirteen that I could write as well. I was finishing a book by Amelia Atwater Rhodes when I saw in her biography blurb that she was thirteen too. I was gobsmacked that they let girls like me write and publish novels. It made me realize that if she could do it then so could I!
6. Did you learn anything from writing your book?
I always learn something from writing each piece, but I learned more during the editing process for Kidnapping Cupid. This is my first fiction publication so working with my editor has been very illuminating for me. Seeing each round of edits unfold has shown me some personal writing quirks that I hadn’t quite realized such as beginning so many sentences with the word ‘it.’ This editing process was interesting for another reason. My editor convinced me that I should revise my story to go from third to first person. I haven’t written much in first person but I really enjoyed it and it fit flawlessly with both the story and the main character. I branched out of my comfort zone with this story but I grew as a writer because of it.
7. Do you have any advice for other writers?
My first is to keep learning: learn the craft, learn the publishing scene, and learn more about you as a writer. My second is to keep writing even if it’s just a piece of flash fiction a week. Despite how busy you are, you need to make time to practice. This second piece of advice ties into the first because the only way you will learn is to write.
8. Do you ever experience writer’s block, and any tips on breaking the dreaded block?
I do. I had a writer’s block of three years. I thought it was from a lack of exciting ideas but it was due to lack of confidence. Grad school had left me too exhausted to write so when I did write, I felt rusty and unsure of myself. That kind of writer’s block can only be overcome by writing and having personal faith in your abilities.
9. Do you write an outline before every book you write, or does the story come to you as you write (plotter or panster)?
I make a token effort at an outline. I compile research and put all my links or citations into one document for easy reference. Then I jot down all my vague and random ideas and notions about the story. This can mean character notes (hair color, philosophy, relationships) or setting or backstory. Some of these notes are put into a nebulous three act structure which I add to as I go along. I try to capture the pillar scenes that move the story along but I let myself have wiggle room. Stories change and evolve through the first draft and even more so through every subsequent revision. I can’t be a full panster because I like having continuity notes and I like having an idea of where my story is going. However, I can’t outline too intensively during the first draft because I find that too much of my first conception can blind me to the organic evolution of a story.
10. What do you see yourself doing ten years from now in terms of your writing?
I hope to keep learning and diversifying my writing. I want to hybridize my portfolio to include small e-publishers, the Big Six, and self-publishing. I hope to write in every genre from mystery to western to science fiction and beyond. Essentially, I want to keep challenging myself. Writing was a passion that I lost contact with for too long and I never want to stray from my literary path again.
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Thank you, Samantha, for visiting Unfiltered Speech in a Politically Correct World.
Readers, please visit Samantha Lehane’s Buy Link, to pre-order/purchase her book, Kidnapping Cupid, scheduled for release on Friday, March 21st, 2014, through Musa Publishing.
Samantha is also offering a book give-away, so please visit her Give-Away Link to enter!