Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Short Q&A With Aurelia aka Erica Lawson


1. Why did you start writing?
I sort of got pushed into it by friends.

2. If you had to do it all over again would you still write?
I think so. I get enormous enjoyment out of seeing my books on my bookshelf. I’ve also won two Golden Crown Literary Awards so I must be doing something right.

3. Once you’ve written a story do you ever sit down and read it for enjoyment?
I occasionally do. It still amazes me that I wrote the thing.

4. How did you start writing Xena fan fiction?
I was in a Xena chatroom and we used to play word games to while away the hours. I started putting together very short stories and they encouraged me to write more. I wrote my very first Xena story in 2005 (“Gladiator”) and submitted it to the Academy and Athenaeum where it still sits today.

5. Is your muse a constant companion, or does it abandon you for long periods of time?
My muse is very fickle and only comes out to play occasionally. I suffer from depression and my attention span and concentration are very short. Because of this I have to write in short bursts – usually the length of a scene.

6. How do you feel about sequels?
I love sequels because it gives you the opportunity to expand the characters even more. “The Chronicles of Ratha” will be a series and some fans were not happy that I didn’t reveal more about the Noorthi in the first book. As I had written it in the first person, there is only so much you can reveal. If the group, such as the Noorthi, are suspicious of outsiders they are not going to blurt out their entire history or rituals to a complete stranger. I don’t think some readers understood that and complained that the characters were two dimensional. However in subsequent books more will be revealed about them as they open up to Jordana.

I also like to keep each book as a separate entity. No one wants to read a book that says “to be continued” where the storyline hasn’t been neatly tied up.

7. Is writing a quiet thing for you, where there can't be any noise or conversation going on?
I used to write with music blaring through my headphones. Lately, however, I’ve taken to writing without the music. It is impossible where I live to have no noise whatsoever but I tend to tune it out these days.

8. Do you prefer to write/read romance, angst, horror etc, etc?
I’m a sci-fi/adventure fan. To date I’ve written a police procedural (“Possessing Morgan”), two sci-fi’s (“The Chronicles of Ratha” and “Soulwalker”), one comedy-romance (“Miss-Match” through Affinity eBooks) and a historical romance (“Reflected Passion”) which is due for release in a couple of months. Most of my books are published through Blue Feather Books.
Online, as Aurelia, I have written the paranormal comedy series with Priory and Dylan (“The Do-It-Yourself Guide…) – the ones with the impossibly long names. Of course, I have written Xena as well. After all that is where it all began.

9. What usually sparks a story idea for you?
A couple of my earlier stories came from friends who offered ideas. I took the idea and then thought outside the box. I think a lot about the story before I even sit down at the computer. I look at different scenarios, different ways that the heroine can accomplish the mission, what can the bad girl do to gain the upper hand.

10. Where do your ideas come from?
I really don’t know. They pop into my head, usually around bed time when I’m trying to go to sleep. It’s scary inside my head.

11. What advice can you give to future writers?
Keep trying to improve. You will learn things in the editing process which will help with making your stories better. If you seek an opinion, make sure it’s an honest one. If you want to go down the self-published route, get your work looked at by a professional editor.

12. What has the show Xena meant to you?
Everything. It completely changed my life. Besides giving me a second career, it changed me personally.

13. How do you feel about the way it ended?
I thought it was a cop-out. No one wanted the redemption thing. They wanted the happily ever after. Maybe I wanted them to finally say “yes, we’re in love”. What did they have to lose by doing that? It was the end of the series, after all.

14. How real are your characters to you?
Real enough, however I don’t obsess over them. They don’t talk to me outside the writing process.

15. Do your characters speak to you?
They don’t speak to me personally. They tell me what to write.

16. Are you in control of your story, or do the characters run the show?
It’s a bit of both. I know in what direction I want the story to go, but sometimes the characters steer the story in a direction I hadn’t considered before. They’ve rarely been wrong.

17. How would you feel about another writer giving one of your characters a cameo in their story?
Since it hasn’t happened to me, I don’t know. I suppose if it was acknowledged I’d be okay with it. It would be cool to think that someone thought enough of your work to want to use a character from it.

18. Has online writing changed your life in any way?
It certainly has. I had never considered writing before 2005. Now I am a published author of four books (a fifth due in August/September with Blue Feather Books-“Reflected Passion”). Had you asked me in 2001 what was in store for me, writing wouldn’t have been on that list.

19. Have you ever been stalked on the internet by an overzealous fan?
I did have one fan in about 2006 who contacted me all the time. I suppose you could have called her overzealous. When the emails escalated I had to stop corresponding. Luckily, she did not contact me again after that.

20. Which one of your online stories is your favorite?
“Avenging Angel”. I like the setting (1850 Japan) and the innocence of the romance. One day I hope to expand it into a novel.

21. Do you do a lot of rewrites?
No. I tend to edit as I go. I’ll re-read what I’ve written so far to bring me up to speed with the story. If I see something not right I usually correct it then and there.

22. Is there ever a point in your writing where you get stuck each and every time? How do you get out of it?
Around the middle of the book-every time. I’ve written the pieces I want to include in the story so I have to look at how to expand that.

23. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy it when the story comes easily to me. I can type quickly and can usually keep up with the chatter in my head. It’s a lot harder when the words won’t come or I’ve come to a point in the story where I don’t know what will happen next.

24. When you're working on a story are you obsessed with it until it's done?
Not really, no. While my characters dictate the scene to me, once the scene is completed that’s it. I think about the story a lot but that’s to get ideas to progress the story. I don’t live and breathe my story.

25. Who are your favorite top five writers? Online or published.
Lori Lake, Mavis Applewater, Blayne Cooper & T Novan, Missy Good (her Soulmates series) and B.L. Miller.

26. The song says "Who rules the world? Girls." If that were true would the world be a better place?
Better? I don’t know. Different maybe. I think the world will have problems no matter who’s in power.

27. Do you write a story straight through, or do you write in pieces, then put it all together.
I’m very much a pantser. I tend to write the scenes I want to include first while they’re fresh in my mind. Then I try to start at the beginning and work through the story. Sometimes an idea that occurs to me in, say, Chapter 3 will send the story off in a completely different direction, then I have to adjust the pre-written scenes when I put them together. If I hit a block, I may skip ahead and continue the story then try to come back to it later and make the bridge.

28. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing is hard work and don’t let anyone tell you different. There are great rewards for this work. Intense satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment come from holding the finished book in your hands. It’s not for the money. Most of us have a day job and can only write at night or weekends.

29. Do you read books for pleasure while you are writing?
No. Because of my attention/concentration difficulties I haven’t read a book for about 20 years. I look at this as a bonus sometimes because then I’m not influenced in my own writing by subconsciously “borrowing” something I may have read.

30. Do you have a favorite Greek God?
Aphrodite. I hope she’s like Xena’s Aphrodite.

31. Do you have a pet peeve?
In writing, those authors who don’t “pay their dues”. Slapping a cover on a work created in days and selling it just annoys me. To me it takes away the prestige of being a published author. Before self-publishing, if you managed to get a contract with a publisher it meant something; that someone felt your work worthy of their investment. That you were good enough as an author. Now, with the flood of self-publishing, that prestige is gone.

Otherwise, in normal life I have a lot of pet peeves, too numerous to mention here.

32. Have you created a character you would like to meet?
Francoise from “Reflected Passion”. She comes from a part of history that is fascinating. Who wouldn’t want to meet a French aristocrat? Besides, I’m sure she could teach me a thing or two in the bedroom <wink, wink>

33. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Retiring from my day job and probably still writing.

33. What is your favorite word?

35. What is your least favorite word?
Get up it’s time to go to work.
No, you can’t have it.
When editing, “change it”.

36. What turns you on?
A great song.
My favourite TV shows.
A sensual love scene (not necessarily explicit) expressed with a great deal of emotion.

37. What turns you off?
Authors who are constantly pushing their book in public.
50 Shades of Grey (pisses me off that she gets millions for that piece of crap).

38. What sound or noise do you love?
A puppy playing – growling and barking.
A child laughing.

39. What sound or noise do you hate?
The alarm clock in the morning.

40. What is your favorite curse word?
Crap. Okay I’m a prude.

41. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I’m getting too old to be changing professions. Besides it’s too stressful to be the ‘new girl’ on the job.

42. What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
Anything requiring manual work.

43. If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
What took you so long?

Here is Aurelia's favorite story:
Avenging Angel by Aurelia - 43 pages
Set in 1860, what had started out as a casual trip to visit her father in Japan, turns into a deadly escapade for Clarissa Hughes. Kidnapped and fearing for her life, her luck changes with the appearance of a mysterious stranger, a samurai, who rescues her from her capture. Could this lone avenger turn out to be more of a danger to her than those men intent on killing her?

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