This is the third interview in an ongoing series where I interview authors of books that I have read. Angel Lawson has agreed to be my third subject and she has graciously offered to give away an eBook copy of her current book, ‘Shadow Bound (Wraith #2)’ as well! Thank you so much, Angel!
My questions are in bold/italics.
I first learned about Angel Lawson last May when her first book, Wraith, was offered as an author requested review in one of the groups that I belong to on Goodreads. It is one of the few-ish indie pubs I have read that I thought was really worth reading. Since then, Ms. Lawson has released two more books, FanGirl and Serial Summer. Her latest book, the sequel to Wraith, comes out on Tuesday, December 11, 2012. It is called Shadow Bound. My review will be posted tomorrow. Angel lives in Atlanta with her family.
In the last year, you have published four books. That’s quite a feat. Which one of your books was your favorite to write?
Probably a tie between FanGirl and Serial Summer. FanGirl is probably the most autobiographical with the fandom aspect, the love of zombies and all the social media. Unknowingly, I totally based Iris, the best friend, on my good friend Sam. Seriously, I didn’t even realize it until she pointed it out. Ruby may have a little of me in her, but I have no dreams of being famous. I’m way too cranky and introverted to want to be famous. Serial Summer came to be when I was riding a boat at the beach with my family last summer. I saw this massive trailer park next to the water and at the exact same time that my stepfather said, “That’s not my idea of beach living,” I said “Oh my God, I want to move there.” I took photos, and before the boat ride was over, had started formulating an outline.
Which book took the longest to write?
Shadow Bound. I started it for a Nano (National Novel Writing Month) project in 2010 because I had just finished Wraith and was in the query process. I had a touch of writer’s block and some lingering story ideas about the characters from Wraith but never 100% intended to write a sequel or series. I was playing it all by ear. So I wrote about 30,000 words for Nano and put it away for about a year and a half. I published Wraith and decided to give the sequel another look. It took me six weeks to get everything back in order just to write the book.
Do you think the route you have gone with regard to publishing and self-publishing was the right one for you?
I queried the traditional way for about 6-8 months. The more I looked into agents and publishers, the more it annoyed me. I’ve owned my own business since I was 25 years old. It’s hard for me to hand over control of my work to other people, but what rubbed me wrong was the fact that authors essentially “beg” agents to take their money. What kind of job is this? If you sell your house, you pick an agent and they give you advice, set a price and attempt to sell your house. You may need to paint a room, clean your yard, redo the kitchen, but YOU, the homeowner, have picked an agent that works for you. In publishing, the agent picks you. I started getting very, very nervous that if an agent picked me, I would have a personality conflict with them and the whole thing would be a disaster. The entire process doesn’t make sense to me. I ended up self-publishing, which was scary but felt like the right fit for myself. I’ve enjoyed the freedom to pick my editors, book covers, and everything else.
Your first three books, Wraith, FanGirl and Serial Summer, are all completely different genres. Was this intentional?
Yes. This is one reason I picked self-publishing. I love writing what I love to write. In the summer, I get all warm and fuzzy for beaches and pools and cute lifeguards. In the winter, I start thinking about ghosts and crows and things that go bump in the night. And I love the fun, contemporary YA. It’s an elusive creature. Most YA books are kind of heavy or paranormal. My teenage years were pretty fun and fairly drama-free. I like to read books sometimes that make me happy and that’s why I wrote FanGirl.
Do you have a favorite genre?
This is hard. I read a lot, but I’m also kind of picky. I used to read a lot of true story books. I’ve had an obsession with World War II since I was a kid. But a couple of years ago, I got tired of being depressed so I kind of backed away from those. Currently, I’m kind of “over” series books that are not complete. Go ahead and call me a hypocrite. It’s not so much the genre as the style. Things just spark my interest. I noted this the other day. There are three series of books I’ve read more than once in the past ten years. Harry Potter (probably eight times?); Twilight (another eight); and The Hunger Games (just finished my third read). I don’t read a huge amount of YA or paranormal, but when I do like them, I REALLY like them. Also, I think some of my favorite literary novels are so painful to read I just can’t go there again.
What are your guidelines when it comes to age appropriateness of books?
Here is my real view on this (and the Angel Lawson Rules for Reading in Her Home): I think that some kids can read the words to pretty much any novel when they are very young. That does not mean they understand the words OR the context of the words. I think that YA is a “rating” for a reason. It means Young Adult. And has Young Adult themes. I think that sure, you can read it when you are younger, but you will probably enjoy it a lot more when you are older. Why not wait until you enjoy it.
Do books cause kids to try things they wouldn’t normally?
Maybe, but that’s not a good reason for censorship or anything. I used to be a caseworker for juvenile delinquents. I don’t think any of them read for pleasure. They still did a lot of bad things.
How do you try to handle sexual situations, drug use and drinking in your books?
Another reason I like self-publishing is these rules are a little more blurry. Kids drink. They use drugs. And yes, they have sex. They also don’t do these things. I say write it to fit your characters and the story you are giving them. If it works, it works.
Tell me about your experience with releasing a serialized novel like Dickens did, back in the day.
I had written this story and just kind of got the idea to toss it out there in serial form. It seemed the right length and split appropriately into four sections. It was fun.
What is your opinion about books being turned into movies? Do you think Wraith would make a good movie?
Depends. The Hunger Games was great, although I’m not big into the third book being two movies. I’m excited about Warm Bodies and Divergent. I’m kind of critical of The Mortal Instruments series, but the trailer looked way better than expected. I think it just depends on the book. I think Wraith and Shadow Bound could make an AWESOME TV show like Misfits or Buffy or American Horror Story. Jane challenges different ghosts each week, makes out a little with Connor, and learns more about her family gift.
I have classified Serial Summer in the newly-minted genre of New Adult. What’s your opinion of this classification, where the main characters are over 18 so there are not the same prohibitions as in the traditional Young Adult genre?
I like the idea of NA. I love reading coming-of-age stories and college is a fun, interesting and often painful time. I have no idea why there aren’t more books in this area and why traditional publishing is hesitant to get behind this.
I found your first book, Wraith, when I agreed to do an ARR (Author Requested Review) for one of the groups I am in on Goodreads. Did you have success with this?
Eh, I think I’ve only done that once on Goodreads and I’ll occasionally submit to a blog if I see that my book fits into their criteria. More and more bloggers are turning away self-pubs or have a really long reading list. I’ve gotten kind of lazy about it. This just in: If anyone wants to be my volunteer marketing director, tweet me @LawsonWrites because obviously, I kind of suck at it.
What about Fan Fiction. What spurred you to write it?
Reading Twilight. I was left with a feeling of wanting more. I read it first and then got an idea. I love the idea of true fanfic…using the characters in alternate ways yet they are still very obviously the Twilight characters. It’s hilarious. I rarely read it and haven’t written anything in over a year (although I’ve been kind of busy). I did read a 5k word The Hunger Games story the other day.
You have a pen name. Why?
When I first published, no one in my family knew I wrote. At all. Some of my friends did, but none of my kids’ friends parents or my clients knew. I just wasn’t ready to be “out.”
You’ve got a pretty funny and opinionated blog. what else do you like to do in your spare-ish time?
Well, I run. I try to do one half-marathon a year. I obsess over some TV shows: Arrow, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Survivor. I have friends I hang out with. I internet stalk. You know, the usual.
What’s your next book about?
My WIP (Work in Progress) is tentatively called Perfect Timing. it’s about a 25-year-old girl named Ari who is a case manager for juvenile delinquents in the fictional place, Glory City. She’s caught in an armed robbery and saved by a masked mystery man. We follow Ari as she deals with her challenging jobs, dating, her way of blowing off steam and what happens when she comes face to face with a superhero. I have NO idea when this will come out. I hope Wraith 3 will be out next December, but I have to finish writing it and don’t be surprised if Justin and Paige (from Serial Summer) make a brief appearance sometime this Spring/Summer. OMG. I’m tired just thinking about it.
Now, for the giveaway! One copy of Shadow Bound will be raffled. It starts today, Monday, December 10th at 12:01 am EST and ends on Monday, December 17th at 12:01 am EST. Enter below and do as many things as you can to get as many entries as possible! This IS an international giveaway. Outside the US, winner gets an eBook copy. US winner gets a choice of an eBook or paperback copy.