Born in South Africa and raised in Sydney, Lauren Dawes is an urban fantasy/paranormal romance writer and the author of the Dark Series. In 2009, she quit her full-time Teaching English as a Second Language job to finally begin writing “that book”, letting her over-active imagination pour out onto the digital pages. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in whatever city the army happens to post them to.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? In a word? “Twilight.” I don’t mean that the story or the writing style inspired me to start writing. I mean that I read the books and wondered what all the fuss was about.
I’ve loved the urban fantasy genre for a long time. I grew up reading Anne Rice, and to see what Stephanie Meyer did to vampires made me feel sick to the stomach. No longer were they the seductive, dangerous, mysterious creatures that people feared. Now they were loved (on mass) by teenage girls as sparkling vegetarians. It’s just not right. I also looked at how poorly the whole series was written and thought I could do a better job.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? Since having my daughter 14 months ago, my writing day has been reduced to maybe 3-4 hours in the evening (if I’m lucky.) Before that, I was juggling a part-time job and my writing, and I would spend hours in front of the computer (hence my need for glasses now) and getting out about 5000 words a day.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Absolutely! Sometimes it doesn’t last too long and all that’s required is a short walk or doing something else for an hour. Sometimes just changing the music I’m listening to can help. Other times, it can last for weeks, or sometimes even months. In cases like that, I tend to do something else that still lets me be creative like designing promotional posters or book covers. Other times I take on a proofreading job which still lets me be involved in books, but not my own. And on rare occasions, reading a book from a completely different genre can help too.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? I’m a strict plotter. My first book was written without a plan…it took me 3 years to complete. Suffice it to say, I have learned my lesson.
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? I’m a hybrid author so I’ve been lucky enough to experience both. Each method has their own pros and cons, but promotion still ends up being left to the author to do. If I had to give an aspiring author advice about getting traditionally published it would be to do your homework before you pitch to a publisher. Know what kind of genre they’ve published before. Make sure your cover letter is direct and well-written. Make sure you have a completed manuscript before you pitch and never give up. You’ll get rejected so many times, but so did J.K. Rowling.
If you’re going to go down the indie publishing route, I’d say don’t skip out on getting editors and proofreaders. They’re expensive, but they will make sure your book is as polished as it can be before it’s published. Just remember that your name is attached to the title. Be professional. Be as good as the traditionally published authors. Don’t stand out as the book that could be good if it just had the proper editor working on it.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Just saying that I’m a published author. For so long, that was my goal and it was always unattainable (in my mind). But then I got the email that said they liked my writing and the story. The day I held a copy of my book in my hands, I was on a high.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. I can’t say too much but here’s the logline for “Dark Devotion” which is due for publication early 2016:
A ruthless assassin wants to avenge the death of his best friend by hunting down and killing the deranged god who committed the murder.
“Dark Devotion” is the final book in the Dark Series published by Momentum. The world I created revolves around Odin’s Valkyries, Odin, Loki and dark elves, but all set in modern day Boston.
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? The Dark Series is adult fiction, and is dark urban fantasy with touches of paranormal romance.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? My days are spent looking after my daughter. I also have my own proofreading and copyediting business, and I enjoy graphic design. I love to read, but find I have little time for it anymore.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) You know, I don’t even know the answer to that question! I struggle with marketing every day. I guess getting involved with other authors is a good way to start building connections. Talk to bloggers. Join Facebook pages were authors and readers can connect. Be willing to share some of your work with others. Try to post something on social media every day, but try to be varied. Share other author’s/blogger’s tweets/posts and then also find something original to share – perhaps you’re reading a great book and you want to tell people about it, or maybe you’re struggling with character development and you found a really useful link. My publisher told me, “Don’t make it all about the book. Don’t constantly blast it, promote it, talk about it. People tend to ignore posts like that.”
11.How long on average does it take you to write a book? On average, around 6 months, but that is solid writing every day. Right now, with my life as hectic as it is, I take double that time. Funnily, the first book I wrote, “Half Blood”, took me 3 years. The second book in the same series (“Half Truths”) only took me 6 weeks. It depends entirely on whether the inspiration is flowing, whether you have the time to write and whether you have the insatiable drive to sit down and get the story out. Sometimes those characters in your head and begging for their story to be told.