Lorna George lives in a crooked little house in Norfolk with her husband, a lot of books, and a fifty year old begonia named Frank. She spends an inordinate amount of time dreaming up magic, dragons, and fearsome ladies, and has decided to try and make some sort of career from it by writing them down. She hopes this will give her a reasonable excuse when caught staring wistfully out of windows when she should be paying attention to the not-so-mystical “Real World”.
Since she has become increasingly vulgar with age, she writes predominately New Adult stories, and despite what a lot of people seem to think, she seriously doubts she will ever grow out of fantasy.
She doesn’t particularly want to.
How would you describe your story in one sentence?
The Princess is evil, the virgin sacrifice is actually the knight, who ends up rescuing the dragon, and the dragon thinks he’s the knight, but he isn’t, he’s actually the virgin sacrifice.
Which authors have influenced you?
Every single one of them, in one way or another. I think every time you pick up a book, whether you’re a writer or not, it will leave a mark on you in some small or large way. Even if you hate a book, even if you can’t bring yourself to finish it, you will have learnt something from the experience. Of course it’s far better if you love a book, but I like to think there’s always something to be gained from reading anything.
Which are your favorite literary genres?
I’m a big sucker for romance, to be honest. The trashier the better! I know there can be a lot of snobbery attached to the romance genre, but honestly I can’t help myself. I’ve tried. Friends have tried. My mum cried when she found out; I think she blamed herself. Still, it can’t be helped, and coupled with my deep love of fantasy, also seen as a “low brow” genre, I think I have to just be at peace with my choices.
What makes a book/story special for you?
Good characters always make reading so much better, I think. A book could have the most dull, tropey plot in the world, but if the characters are interesting and unique, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Most stories have been done in a million different variations anyway. It’s the characters that make a story special.
Where do you live? Did your hometown/country/culture influence your story?
I live in Norfolk, England, in a very wonky, narrow house that I’m about seventy-five per cent sure is haunted. I haven’t lived here too long, though. I moved here about six months ago from Dorset, down on the south coast. I think anyone who has ever hiked the Purbecks or visited the New Forest will see where my influence for Ffion came from, but I expect that’s all.
How long did it take you to write this book/for your first draft/ for your revision/editing process?
Well, this was my very first full-length novel, so in total it took me about five years. That said, I wasn’t writing solidly over that time as I am now, because along with a first book comes a great deal of confidence wobbling, existential crises, and trying to learn what sort of writer you are.
The first chapter I entered into a competition, mostly because a friend harassed me into it. When I did quite well, I decided to try and finish the story off, and away I went. Originally it was all going to be one book and after writing it that way and throwing it out a countless amount of times, I decided to split it into four. Doing it that way made the story flow much better, and after another six rewrites, here it is!
I’m working on book two at the moment, and have managed to get it down to just over a year so far, so that’s a big improvement!
Did you hire a cover artist/editor/proofreader?
I did! My editor, Juliet Bresler, runs Casa Ceilo and is my hero. Finding a good freelance editor is really quite difficult, not only because there are a great many sharks out in this pool, but also because you need to work well with whoever does this job for you. She’s always very honest in her feedback, but also constructive, and that makes a big difference. I know that if she tells me something doesn’t work, her reasons for saying so are sound. It’s a double blessing too, because this also means that when she says she loves something, I can believe her without question. Having an editor I can trust without question is wonderful, really.
I’ve also been very lucky with my illustrator, too! Juliette Brocal is an animation student, and we actually met as mutual on tumblr some time ago. I had a few problems at first trying to find someone to do my cover art, but then I saw her commissions were open for summer vacation, so I dropped her a message right away. She did it all in a very small time frame, and her enthusiasm for the project has honestly been so wonderful. I know the book cover has been a big success, and she already has ideas for how the series will look as a set, so I’m really excited by that.
What have you learned while writing and publishing? Did unexpected things happened?
It’s so hard. I’m not saying that to be pretentious, but honestly, it’s much, much harder than I’d ever imagined. I remember when I finished up one of the later drafts I invested in “Getting Published” by Harry Bingham as a way of working out what my next move needed to be. It was a depressing read, let me tell you. Helpful, but depressing.
There are so many pitfalls in writing, and it is by nature an incredibly lonely profession, so keeping your morale up is really hard anyway. The sad fact is that in any branch of the arts, there are a lot of people who want to tell you that you can’t do it, or that you shouldn’t, or that there are people much better doing it already. I think to make it through all the discouragement, you have to really want it, you know? You have to light that fire under your butt and keep going, no matter what.
What helped you to get inspired and overcome hurdles along the writing of your book?
Routine is your friend, first and foremost, and setting goals, but perseverance is more important than anything else when you want to write for a living, though. If you have enough determination to see things through, you can learn and improve and work your way over any obstacle at all.
Looking back, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?
I would have started sooner. I always wanted to be a writer, but I let other people persuade me that it wasn’t a viable career option and didn’t follow through with it in school. I wasted years trying to learn a “reliable trade” when I should have been writing instead, and I regret that a lot. The worst part was that this so called reliablejob actually only lasted five years before I was made redundant and ended up working in customer service anyway.
I wish I had done what I wanted to do, because I’d have been proving people wrong long before now.
Best pieces of advice for first time writers?
Invest in a decent desk chair. Seriously, back problems from bad posture are the worst, and usually reoccurring once they start.
Stay hydrated! I know most of us love our caffeine, but try and drink some water too. Nothing kills a writing stint quite like a dehydration headache.
Go outside every once in a while. It’s good for you, trust me. Plus listening to strangers talking can go miles to helping write believable dialogue.
Eat and sleep. You only get one body, so make sure you fuel it up! Without the meat-suit, there is no writer, and without the writer, there is no story.
Write. Edit. Rewrite. Rewrite again. Don’t skim the hard stuff just because it’s tedious. It’s part of the process for a reason.
Where can readers contact you in the internet? Do you have a blog/website?
What are you planning to write/publish next?
Book two of The Redwood War series! I’m up to my elbows in rewrites at the moment, but I’m hoping to have this draft finished in time for November so I can use NaNoWriMo for the first draft of book three. I’m hoping to do a release once a year, and at the moment I’m ahead of myself, which is nice. Ideally I’ll have The Royal Sentinel ready for publication next autumn!