Late last month, I had the pleasure of reading Lauren's latest book, Only With You. I absolutely loved it, and I am sure you are all going to as well, especially those who love a male lead who has Mr. Darcy vibes. I had the opportunity to interview Lauren in the lead-up of the book's release, she discusses all things Only With You, as well as advice she has for you aspiring novelists out there.
Tell me about your new book 'Only With You'?
I'm going to skip the official blurb and tell you how I think of this book in my head: it's a modern day Pride & Prejudice. Not by accident, either, I wanted to create a Mr. Darcy-esque hero whose first impression with the heroine got them off on a wrong foot. And by wrong-foot, I mean he mistakenly thinks she's a prostitute. Whoopsie!
Even though Gray is lovable, he has the social skills of a rock. What challenges did you have with creating his character?
So can I be perfectly candid here? Some of the early reviews of Gray thought he was TOO cold, and those comments sort of broke my heart, because it means I didn't do my job well. In my head, he's not cold at all; he's very, very shy, and has been burned badly in the past by women. The main challenges with him was trying to figure out how to show his vulnerabilities beneath all that ice. Some readers saw them; some didn't.
I loved Sophie's confidence and sass. What do you think makes an enjoyable female protagonist?
My female protagonists are all over the board, mainly because I go out of my way to make them as varied and real as possible. I think flaws are the key, as long as they ring true. Sometimes I'll read a book where the heroine's flaw is that she's "too nice," and I'm like, "OH COME ON! WHAT'S HER REAL FLAW!." With Sophie, I set out to create someone that, on one hand, was very secure in her appeal; she's pretty, flirtatious, good with people, and she knows it. But she's also a little bit lost in life. She had an upper middle-class upbringing, but rocked the boat by dropping out of law school and is sort of floundering at a deeper soul-level when she meets Gray. I was really drawn to writing an atypical heroine; the one whose story doesn't usually get told because people write her off as "ditzy."
Do you have a writing schedule?
Sort of, but I'm not rigid about it. When I'm working on a draft (ie, creating new words as opposed to planning or editing) I generally write as soon as I wake up. I'm a morning person, and my brain isn't much use after 3pm or so. How much I write varies. I use Scrivener which has this handy "project due date" word count calculator. I enter my due date, goal word count, and let it do the math for me. Depending how ahead/behind I am, it might be 6,000 words or it might be 300. I write until I get the notification that I'm done. If I'm on a roll, I keep going. If I'm not feeling it, I'll switch to another project. But I always hit that goal.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers of the romance genre?
Not so much advice as a gentle warning: writing is never going to be easy. I made the mistake of thinking I was doing something wrong because writing was hard, so instead of keeping at writing, I wasted a bunch of time looking at writing blogs, writing books, figuring it was the process that was broken. Nope, it was just a fancy form of procrastination. The best thing you can do is just sit down and finish the book. Then write another one; that's the key:
You HAVE to write another one, no matter what stage of the game you're in.
If you're querying an agent, she'll want to know what else you have in the works. If you're in submission, the publisher will want to know what else you have. And if you're published, your readers want to know where your next book is. I'm not suggesting quantity over quality; write only as fast as you're comfortable with. But please, please, please don't use all of your writing time polishing that lone manuscript!
There are exceptions, but in my author-friend circle, the most successful ones are also the most prolific.
The beginning half of this year was relatively slow; I only had one release (Just One Night, April) and was editing a bunch of projects so was sort of in a writing lull. The last half of 2014 is proving pretty crazy though! In an addition to Only With You (7/29), its sequel, Made for You got fast-tracked and will be out on October 28th. I also have my second new adult being released on September 2nd; it's called Broken and it's a modern-day beauty & the beast.
And my writing schedule is sort of nuts as well; I have a books due July (as in like, yesterday), September, October and November, so I'm basically writing a book a month for the news few months. One is a New Adult, three are contemporary romances. It's totally crazy, but I wouldn't change a thing about it!