*Doing a little soul searching? Check out this interview and you’ll have a chance to win Lori Ann Stephens novel, Song of the Orange Moons!
Lori Ann Stephens made her debut into the publishing world with her novel, Song of the Orange Moons. A novel about three girls from different cultural and economic backgrounds coming of age and becoming friends despite their differences. Doesn’t that sound like a book every girl needs to read?!
Lori Ann also teaches at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas and lives in Plano, Texas. If you’d like to learn more about Lori Ann, check out her blog!
1) How did you become a published author?
I cut my heart and let it bleed words on the page, which thrilled the apparently anemic editors. Seriously, there were no vampire editors—just student staffers in desperate need of submissions for the upcoming school literary journal, and me, writing sentimental pieces about heartbreaks and enlightenment.
When people think about what makes a “published author,” I think they often overlook the importance of the getting those smaller publications, particularly the ones that are school or university-affiliated. Those unpaid publications. Those you-get-2-free-copies-and-a-subscription-of-our-magazine publications. But really, it’s those small publications that give budding writers the audience, the platform, and the warm fuzzies needed to continue writing the rest of the time, when no one’s listening and nobody cares whether you write a single word more, ever.
2) Agents. Something every writer needs. How did you get your agent?
Ha! You’re so right. Every writer does need an agent, and I’m feeling it now as I’m working on my current novel. I’m one of those rare writers who published her first novel without an agent. And it was hard. You can’t even send your manuscript to the bigger publishers without an agent to get you in the door. I’m so very fortunate that Blooming Tree was accepting unsolicited manuscripts at the time. Shortly after I signed the contract with them, I read online that they had stopped accepting unsolicited material. I slipped in by the seat of my pants.
3) Who has been your biggest influence?
As far as published writers go, Barbara Kingsolver, by far. I love the way she builds her female characters. I’m in awe of her careful research and striking settings. It may be a bit ironic that I think William Faulkner also influenced me in a deep, dark way. I don’t write like him, but as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Dallas, I was completely immersed in his books, so I know he’s affected me in some way (I hope for the better). As far as teachers, Robert Nelsen, who gave me the tools to write, and Clay Reynolds, who gave me the guts to write.
4) What has been your favorite author experience so far?
A few weeks after one of my short stories was published in Glimmer Train Stories, a reader somewhere on the West coast emailed the publishers a letter of…admiration, I suppose you could call it, for my story. The editors forwarded her email to me, and I was on cloud fifty-nine all week. Someone whom I didn’t know read my story without being coerced or obligated by relation, and loved it. That one email helped me believe that what I’m writing might actually mean something beyond self-gratification. About two months later, my computer crashed and I lost that email along with everything else. But I’ll never forget her letter.
5) What has been the hardest thing so far as an author?
I hate to resort to clichés, but it truly is hard to find enough time to write. I have a full-time job at the university—which I love, don’t get me wrong—but… It is very difficult to be a college instructor, a mother to a seven-year-old, and a writer every day. I think to be a great writer, you need to do it every day, and so far, I find that difficult to do during the semesters.
6) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Find a small group of three friends who like to write and swap stories and ideas for improvement. Grow thick skin, and take criticism with grace. Take a creative writing class or two to get the tools you need. And read Steven King’s On Writing.
7) When you’ re writing, what do you have to have next to you?
A glass of Malbec. My partner, love of my life, he’s in charge of refills.
8 ) Tell me about your novel, Song of the Orange Moons:
It’s funny—I have to keep looking at the blurbs to see what my book’s really about. Those reviews say it much more eloquently than I can. But if I must, here goes: Song of the Orange Moons is about three girls who struggle through some pretty difficult family situations. They’re searching for love, like all of us. The world can be a pretty awful place, especially during puberty, and I try to strip the stereotyped veneer we’ve all read before from the “coming-of-age” experience. The narrative jumps into the minds of these three characters so you can walk in their shoes, feel what it’s like to be “that other girl.” I hope it transcends religious lines and generational lines.
9) Where did you get the idea to write a novel about three young girls, coming of age?
It actually started with just Rebecka, the one girl who felt all alone in this house of sickness. After it was published, someone suggested that I make a novel out of it, so I did. I gave the second chapter to Rebecka’s best friend to narrate, and the third chapter to the widowed neighbor. And the rest of the novel unfolded from there.
10) If you could meet any author, who would it be?
Has George Clooney published anything? A newsletter, perhaps? If he hasn’t, then I suppose Barbara Kingsolver would be a close second.
11) Say you just won the lottery. What would you do?
This is a dream I’ve had many a time. Let me tell you, I’m well-prepared for the lottery boon should it ever happen. I’d pay off my debts (not much there), take good care of my family, then become my community’s biggest Secret Santa. I like doing things for people in secret. It’s addictive. You know what I’m talking about. I’ve schemed the many ways I would secretly pay off people’s mortgages, car payments, credit cards, and they’d be all “Hey, what happened?” And I’d be all, “I don’t know. That’s weird. But good for you.”
*To Enter for a chance to win Song of the Orange Moons:
Simply leave a comment answering the following bolded question!
Rules for this contest:
*You can enter anytime from right now up to Sunday (Jan.30). Those who comment will be entered to win. Giveaways are U.S. only (sorry!) When you comment, you will be asked for your email address. This information will not be made public. It will only be used to contact the winner. You must provide your name.
For additional entries and chances to win:
*Subscribe to this blog!
*Become a member on Facebook: The Write Stuff
*Follow me on Twitter
*Twitter, Facebook, or Blog about the contest (you must provide a separate comment that you did this with a link).
As always, every name is thrown into a hat or in the case of huge entries…a bucket, and I’ll announce the winners on Jan. 31! Once contacted, the winner will have three days to email me their mailing addresses. If I do not receive a reply within the allotted time, I will pick another winner. Good luck!
*What’s was one of your New Year’s Eve Resolutions?
For example: To get organized and stopped drinking coffee. Unfortunately….in order to ‘feel’ like organizing I need to have my favorite latte. So I sacrificed one to save the other and so far it’s working…(cough)…