|Lindsey Loucks, author of The Grave Winner|
Your story takes place in Krapper, Kansas, and, being that you write from my old stomping grounds, I have to admit that I immediately assumed kinship and could visualize every road your main character travelled. You’ve struck the balance I would expect from someone who loves the plains and small towns of the Midwest, yet understands the limitations and frustrations experienced by a teenaged heart growing up there. How do you explain the ability to affectionately refer to the setting of your story with a word like Krapper?
Excellent question! I grew up in Liberal, Kansas, and when I went to high school, I could not wait to get out of that town. As a teenager, I think it’s a requirement to hate almost everything, and I was no exception. But since I’ve grown a little wiser, I’ve decided it doesn’t really matter where you live. I think my main character Leigh will realize that eventually. But for now, she lives in Krapper, Kansas.
For those who don’t know, Liberal is right next door to the edge of civilization, I’m pretty sure. Even those of us born and raised in “nearby” southwest Kansas think of Liberal as someplace way, way out there… but back to our interview.
Tell me about becoming an author of romance and other scary things. How many boyfriends were buried to gain the experience necessary to publish a book in this genre?
No boyfriends have been buried. Yet. (Insert evil laugh here). But as far as manuscripts go, I have one young adult science fiction book that won’t see the light of day anytime soon. It’s pretty awful, but I had a blast writing it. I’ve also written several short stories, some of which are published in various locations around the internet.
I blame my parents for my love of romance and other scary things. It seems like they’ve been married for a hundred years and they still get all starry-eyed at each other. From a very early age, they fed my reading addiction with doorstop books by Stephen King. If you combine my love of romance and all things scary, that pretty much sums up my writing.
I’m sure publication has led to many surprises, hopefully all good. Is there anything about becoming a published author that was completely unexpected? Any stories you would like to share?
So far, the publication of The Grave Winner has been great fun! Readers are an intelligent, witty group of people as evidenced by a Twitter party me and a couple other authors threw shortly after my release day. Their love for books and their enthusiasm is infectious!
As an author, I am always intrigued by the writing process. Do you outline and then write? Do you know the ending before you get there, or do you let your characters lead you? How about critique groups or first reader feedback. Does everyone have to wait for the finished product or do have places you share the work-in-progress?
I outline a little bit, but the outline itself is always changing. The characters often lead me in new, exciting directions that I never even considered. I usually have some vague idea of the ending, but not always. Until the book is shined and polished, it’s always a work-in-progress.
Speaking of shined and polished, I’ve met some incredibly talented authors through Critique Circle. The Grave Winner was critiqued there twice, once for the first draft and once for the third. I still rely on some of those critique partners for beta reading when I don’t have time to post every chapter to CC. It’s a wonderful resource!
Critique Circle looks like an awesome resource. Thanks for the link!
The Grave Winner is your first published novel and I understand that you have a second novel coming out by yet another publisher. How did you manage not one, but two novels at once? Is the second a young adult read, as well? What books should we be looking for from you down the road and when?
The other one that’s coming out soon is actually a novella, and I wrote it last summer when I should have been writing the sequel to The Grave Winner. It’s quite a bit sexier than TGW, but it still deals with scary things. It’s tentatively titled Haunted Chemistry and will be out sometime in the fall from Entangled Publishing.
I’ve also started a paranormal sci-fi story that I’m really excited about. It’s a rather strange idea, but I’m looking forward to see how it develops.
What’s the most valuable advice you have received about writing and publishing? What words of wisdom would you pass on to the young and upcoming writer (or a writer of any age who was working on a first novel)?
I’ll answer this question with a story. When I was younger, I mentioned to someone that I wanted to be a
- I didn’t let that someone step on my dreams and,
- I practiced the only way I could—by writing.
I see. So the boyfriend has remained safe, to date, but I suspect That Someone is has been fictionally buried in at least a couple of different ways. I think this is a good lesson for writers of all genres. What vengeance you can’t take in real life might fit nicely between the covers of a book.
Lindsey R. Loucks works as a school librarian in rural Kansas. When she's not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she's dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she'll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize.
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