It’s with great pleasure that I present to you a new section of my website that will be known as “BACKSTAGE – A Chat With Author John/Jane Done.” This will give authors a chance to learn about other authors and how they do things. Things like planning, writing, editing, and self-publishing. It will also give readers a fantastic opportunity to discover more awesome books to read.
My first guest on BACKSTAGE is Lorelei Logsdon, author of the psychological thriller, Comorbid. The best way to learn about Lorelei is to let her tell you. Here we go!
BC: Tell us about how Comorbid came to happen for you.
LL: To answer this question I’ll have to explain what I do for a living. For the past three years I’ve worked as a full-time freelance fiction editor, working mostly for self-publishing, independent authors. One of my long-time authors presented her manuscript for editing–a paranormal that centered on vampires. One of the vampires was holding a human hostage in his basement as collateral against a future threat. In the back of my mind I thought, “What in the world would a person’s upbringing need to be in order for them to think holding someone hostage in their basement is acceptable behavior?” And that’s how Comorbid was born.
BC: Creepy. That description alone is enticing. What do you think are some common traps that aspiring writers should be aware of?
LL: Asking for, and listening to, too much advice. As a new writer it’s really difficult to separate the good from the bad, especially when most of it is well-meaning. Find a system that works for you and ignore the rest until you’ve found your groove and feel confident in who you are as a writer, which takes time.
BC: That’s good advice. There’s a lot of info out there and it can definitely be overwhelming. What is your personal writing Kryptonite?
LL: Noise and interruptions of any sort. Because of that, Comorbid was written over the course of a year, mostly between the hours of 3:00-5:00 a.m. There were a lot of sleepless nights that went into this book but it was all worth it.
BC: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
LL: Genre fiction has general requirements that have to be met in order to categorize your writing effectively. For instance, in a romance novel, you have to provide an “I love you” moment and a happy ending. You can be original with the rest as long as you still meet the requirements, in other words. The story is the story is the story, but the way you tell it governs which category it falls into. That being said, I didn’t focus on any of those issues as I was writing. I allowed the story to unfold organically, and then decided where it fit best within a genre, massaging it a bit afterward to make it fit within readers’ expectations. If you label a book as a romance novel and decide to be original, killing off the main character and never having declarations of love, you can say you were original but that fact alone probably won’t satisfy you when you get bad reviews and not many readers!
BC: Ah, very good points. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
LL: Anyone can be a writer–I really believe that. But someone who doesn’t feel emotions strongly probably wouldn’t do well with genres that generally have lots of emotion. Focus on your strengths and write what works for you.
BC: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
LL: I’m fortunate in my line of work to have built friendships with dozens of writers, many of them NYT, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal best-selling authors. One of the main takeaways after seeing their individual successes over the years is that there are many avenues to get to the same place. As long as you’re clear in your own mind about your personal goals, there’s no one “right” way to get there. Find whatever way works for you. If that means you only write on the weekends, then write on the weekends and don’t worry about people who tell you writers must write every day. The Comorbid manuscript often sat for weeks untouched, and then I’d go on a binge and write five chapters at once. That’s what worked for me.
BC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
LL: Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. If you have a story to tell, tell it. Your voice is just as important as anyone else’s.
BC: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
LL: Mark Dawson’s Facebook Advertising for Authors course.
BC: I’m very impressed with Mark Dawson and his success. I hope to have him on BACKSTAGE in the near future. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
LL: I have many! If I had to narrow it down to just one, I’ll say Atta, by Francis Rufus Bellamy, published in 1953. I’ve read it dozens of times and it’s just as good with each reading.
BC: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have, if any?
LL: There’s probably about four currently floating around my head. I hope to have time to start writing them soon!
BC: I can relate to that! What do you believe is the best way to market your books?
LL: Facebook ads, hands down. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re just throwing your money away. Take Mark Dawson’s course before you even consider running a Facebook campaign.
BC: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
LL: Research is actually one of my favorite aspects of writing. I always loved writing book reports and research papers in high school and college. Research grounds my writing and helps to make it more realistic, which I appreciate when I read too. I based Comorbid in my home town of Takoma Park, Maryland, though I called it by a different name since I took liberties with the town’s layout, buildings and other features. I hope that “realness” comes across for my readers, that it’s a real place, with real people. I don’t do research prior to beginning a book, though. I write the story and then see where I need to edit based on where the story has taken me.
BC: Sounds very similar to how I handled the setting for Grey Areas. What did you edit out of this Comorbid, if anything?
LL: A lot, actually. You may be surprised to learn that Comorbid began as an erotic horror novel. Then I changed it to literary fiction. Then I rewrote it completely, turning it into what it is now: a psychological thriller. This goes back to what I said earlier, that a story exists in a vacuum, and how you tell it controls how it’s categorized.
BC: Wow! That is very interesting to learn! Who would’ve guessed? Do you read reviews of your books? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
LL: Yes, I read every review. I know authors are advised not to, but we can’t help but want to know how others perceive our work. A negative review doesn’t make me want to rewrite my book, but it’s still helpful for future projects to know what is working and what’s not. If I got hundreds of reviews a day, I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with reading them, but for now that’s not an issue I’ve had to worry about. 🙂
BC: I completely agree. I have learned a lot from reviews. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
LL: Yes, actually. It wasn’t on purpose, but it’s become apparent that the biggest twist to my story is only understood by a very small percentage of my readers. It was actually a little frustrating, because every time I got a review that said, “I figured it out halfway through the book and was disappointed to see that it ended exactly as I thought it would.” To me that means the reader completely missed the main twist. Most of my readers enjoy the book despite missing the main twist. One of the best pieces of advice I was given early on by a close author friend of mine was that everyone who reads a book will get something different out of it. It doesn’t matter that some people get the twist and some don’t; it only matters that they enjoyed the experience of reading it. If you give the same book to 20 people, there will be 20 different interpretations. That took the pressure off making sure everyone “got it.” What the story is to me might be something different to you, and that’s absolutely OK!
BC: Again, that’s some more fantastic advice for authors. What was the most difficult scene in Comorbid to write?
LL: Comorbid is a dark, tragic book. Being a dark book, there are many difficult issues dealt with, including child abuse, murder, rape, etc. As a parent myself, the child abuse was particularly difficult to write, but I would have to say that writing about rape took me to a very dark place mentally. Having to put myself in the shoes of a victim of such violence is something that will never leave me. However, I still consider the ending to be happy, though maybe not in the traditional sense. This goes back to readers getting different things from a book, but I choose to see the positive even in the face of adversity. What’s on the surface may be bleak, but there’s a hidden silver lining that’s there if you look for it.
BC: A bit of a subject change, here. Do you believe in writer’s block?
LL: Yes, unfortunately. I have to work everything out in my head before I can begin writing, or else I just write in circles. It sometimes took weeks to work things out, which I found very frustrating. Sometimes I’d sit down and force myself to write even when I hadn’t worked something out, and during the process of writing the perfect solution presented itself. These moments were few and far between, though. Most often if I sat down to write when I didn’t know what the scene entailed, the result was rubbish. Sometimes, though, it was pure genius. An example of this in Comorbid is the ending, where the main character is trying to find someone and has exhausted all options. The character thinks to himself, “I’ve looked everywhere” and at that moment the entire ending came to me in an instant. It was pure inspiration borne of much perspiration. Writing is fickle! That’s why it’s so rewarding and yet so frustrating at the same time.
BC: God bless art, right? 😉 I’m wondering, do you Google yourself?
LL: Every author should. You can set up a Google alert based on your author name so that any time you’re mentioned, you will know. This is especially important when it comes to fighting piracy.
BC: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
LL: Since I have a special affinity for the ocean and everything beach-related, I will choose a gecko.
BC: I can’t thank you enough for spending this time to be my first guest on BACKSTAGE, Lorelei. I’ve learned a lot in our short time together and you’ve helped me realize that many of my struggles as an author are normal.
If you’d like to learn more about Lorelei Logsdon and her psychological thriller, Comorbid, here are some places you need to visit:
Lorelei Logsdon Author website – CLICK HERE
Lorelei Logsdon on Facebook – CLICK HERE
Lorelei Logsdon on Twitter – CLICK HERE
Lorelei Logsdon on Amazon – CLICK HERE
Lorelei Logsdon Editor website – CLICK HERE
If you’re familiar with an author you’d like to see featured on BACKSTAGE or if you are an author who’s interested in participating, shoot me a line: brad @ bradcarl.com