Entertaining Interview on Liza O'Connor's Blog

*This originally posted here, but I will post it below as well.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Liza interviews Marie Lavender

Once again, I'm going to try my hardest to behave and give a proper interview. Don't groan and shake your head. It's a gloomy day, I'm cold and hungry. I think I can be serious.

Today, I have a complete stranger to interview: Marie Lavender, aka Erica Sutherhome, aka Kathryn Lane, aka Heather Crouse. I found her on a facebook promotion site. She sounded most interesting, so I wrote and asked her if she'd liked to be interviewed, and like a typical author, she said she'd love to.

I did warn her that while I tended to be silly, I wanted to be serious in this interview. And she believed me, so I'm going to try and make it true.

So here we go:

Liza: Marie, welcome to my humble abode. Have a seat on my couch. It's very comfy.

Marie: *sits* Thanks for having me.

Liza: You are most welcomed. Tell me how many books you've published, under what names?

Marie: I have published sixteen books, but I have used four names for them.  The first three were under my real name.  Then, I wanted a pen name so I used Erica Sutherhome for several books.  Right in the middle of publishing all of those, I had this thought of branching out and using a different name for paranormal and romantic suspense so I published one under Kathryn Layne.  Eventually, I returned to Erica Sutherhome for a few more books.  Finally, I grew tired of having so many pen names and I found one I absolutely adored, Marie Lavender.  It is dear to me for many reasons, but mainly because it is a family name.  Lavender was my great-grandmother's maiden name.  She was Cherokee.  I plan to re-release all of my previous titles under Marie Lavender.
Liza: So, when you grew tired of so many pen-names, your solution was to create another one... Well, it' better than I thought. Investigator Peep claimed you’d published 16 books under 15 names, and to be honest, that sounded a bit crazy. 


Investigator Peep: Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Liza: So, Marie, what’s your current views of names, and if you could step back in time, would you publish everything under Marie Lavender?

Marie: Yes, I probably would if I had thought of it before.  I think choosing a pen name is dependent on each author’s situation and preference.  Personally, I wanted to separate my writing career from my home life.  Also, one of my favorite authors always used pen names, and I thought it wasn’t a bad idea to do the same.  I do feel connected to the name so I don’t mind being referred to as Marie.
Liza: How hard is it to convert followers of Erica Sutherhome to followers of Marie Lavender in today’s social media?

Marie: I think that I am so new to publishing really that once I do re-release them all, it won’t matter.  I do list all of my books, pen names and all, on my website.  It has been a bit of an annoyance for me to maintain so many different social networking accounts under those names.  I have spent so much time networking under Marie Lavender that the others are almost forgotten.  I do try to market all of my books as Marie Lavender, even though the author names on the books are different for now.  It makes more sense to tie them all together if I can.
Liza: Makes sense to me. How many of your books have become bestsellers?

Marie: Upon Your Return has earned bestseller status on Amazon.  I haven’t done too shabby on sales for a few of the books under Erica Sutherhome either.
Liza: List your books by genre and pen name:

Marie: I will list according to when they were first published.
Express Café and Other Ramblings by Heather Crouse (literary fiction/poetry)
Ramblings, Musings and Other Things by Heather Crouse (literary fiction/poetry)
Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things by Heather Crouse (literary fiction/poetry)
Hard to Get by Erica Sutherhome (romantic mystery)
Memories by Erica Sutherhome (contemporary romance)
A Hint of Scandal by Erica Sutherhome (romantic mystery)
Without You by Erica Sutherhome (contemporary romance)
Strange Heat by Erica Sutherhome (contemporary romance)
Terror in the Night by Erica Sutherhome (paranormal romance)
Haunted by Erica Sutherhome (romantic suspense)
Pursuit by Erica Sutherhome (romantic suspense)
A Misplaced Life by Kathryn Layne (mystery, paranormal)
Perfect Game by Erica Sutherhome (contemporary romance, action)
A Touch of Dawn by Erica Sutherhome (contemporary romance)
Ransom by Erica Sutherhome (romantic suspense)
Upon Your Return by Marie Lavender (historical romance)

Liza: No one ever listens to me! Try and follow instructions this time: If a reader were to read just one in each genre, highlight which it would be?

Marie: Literary Fiction – Ramblings, Musings and Other Things
Mystery – A Hint of Scandal
Contemporary Romance – A Touch of Dawn
Suspense – Haunted
Paranormal – A Misplaced Life
Historical Romance – Upon Your Return

Liza: Thank you! Gold star for you. 

According to my Investigator Peep you’ve been publishing for 20 years. How have the changes in the publishing industry and social media changed the way you write, publish & promote?

Marie: I really haven’t published for twenty years.  I have been writing stories for over 20 years.

Liza: Investigator Peep. Want to explain yourself?

Investigator Peep: Another misunderstanding? 

Liza: Have you been drinking again?

Investigator Peep: No...not much.

Liza: *shakes head and looks at Marie* So tell me what you’ve really done.
Marie:  I published two short stories in a university publication in 2005, and I published my first book in 2010.  But, I have been researching the industry since I was a kid.  Obviously, it is much easier to self-publish now.  And since I’ve been trying to get published traditionally for the past few years, I’ve realized how much more important it is to have an agent than it was long ago.  I think the main thing that has changed is that the marketing and promotion is all on you as an author.  No one is going to do that for you.  I have probably evolved a lot as a writer, but I have had to pick up a lot of techniques to market my work.  A couple of years ago, I never would have thought it was necessary to use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to sell your books.   

Liza: How many publishers have you worked with?
Marie: Other than Lulu Press and Amazon, I am in a contract with Solstice Publishing for my historical romance.  I recently submitted a paranormal short story to another publisher, but I am waiting to hear back about that.

Liza: So you’ve mostly self-published? 
Marie: Yes.  Fifteen of my books were self-published.  I used Lulu.com and Kindle Direct to publish my books, but I know there are tons of other ways to do it.  I plan to do more self-publishing.  I even have a romantic suspense, Leather and Lace, that I am working on right now.
Liza: When you used different Pen Names in the past, did you create identities for each in the various social media?
Marie: Yes, I have accounts for each.

Liza: That sounds exhausting. I can barely get through my one set. I’d never sleep if I had more identities. 
Which social medias do you find most helpful?
Marie: I think Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are helpful.  LinkedIn is a good tool for locating other writers, but it is not a great place to try to sell a book.  I have never used Pinterest, but other authors have used it.

Liza: Totally agree with your choice of most useful. Which social medias do you enjoy most? And least?
Marie: Facebook has been really great to use.  I have connected with a lot of other writers and potential fans.  It feels more like a community than other types of social media.  Again, I don’t feel like LinkedIn helps much, but I still maintain the account.  Occasionally, I get comments on my posts, but LinkedIn is mainly for academic discussion.

Liza: I like Facebook and Twitter the most. I’ve never managed to bond with Good Read, but I keep trying. I love Pininterest. I constantly give people puppies and kittens. Their homes must look like a disaster pound now.

What do you think are the 3 most important items needed to sell a book?
Marie: A good cover, a great blurb and word of mouth.

Liza: I want a great cover, and MANY words of mouth, but otherwise we are in agreement.
So, what are your future goals? 
 
Marie: I am currently polishing the sequel to Upon Your Return.  I am also working on Leather and Lace, a romantic suspense, as well as anthology I plan to release before the end of the year.  Beyond that, I’d like to finish the Heiresses in Love series (Upon Your Return is the first book).  I am also collaborating on a romantic suspense with another writer.  It is titled Certain Death.  I have other works in progress, of course, but a lot of those projects are on the back burner for now.

Liza: I’m exhausted just reading this. I’m only working on 3 things right now, and suddenly feel like a slacker. So let’s learn more about your current book, Upon Your Return. (Gorgeous cover BTW)

Blurb 
Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life. But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms. Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society…
Excerpt
Once the formalities were over, the ladies descended down a wide staircase into the ballroom where couples were dancing. Around the edges of the room were chairs, where people could rest. Some ate at small plates from the tidbits of food on trays which were passed on by servants around the room. It really was elaborately planned. Fara did not miss the decorations or the Turkish rugs, the velvet curtains, which covered hidden alcoves where couples could escape from the crowd.
Her stomach tightened in anticipation. She wondered if she would run into Grant and if he would recognize her at the same time she realized it was him. That was the thing about masques. It was so easy to be mysterious, incognito. She shook her preoccupation away and joined her companions to partake in the meal. They made themselves comfortable in a group of chairs placed along the left side of the ballroom.
When they were done with their repast, Fara and Helene gossiped about the identities of the guests. It was an honor to receive an invitation, especially from the governor. But, no one had been left out. Most of the townspeople had been invited including those for whom it would not have been socially required to attend, those who were ill, had other circumstances which made it difficult to attend, or those in mourning like Fara. She did not feel she should have been left out of the festivities. There were not many such occasions in La Rochelle besides.
The ladies spent the first two hours chatting casually and finally two men approached them. Both were of medium stature and dressed in some kind of uniform. Their masks concealed their identities so well it was hard for Fara to tell if she'd seen them before.
Bonjour, Mesdemoiselles,” one man greeted, bowing slightly. “It would be my pleasure to escort you. Would you perhaps join me in a waltz?” His gaze flickered between the girls. His companion remained silent as if he would let the man choose for him.
When the man who spoke turned to Fara and held out his hand, her breath caught for a moment as she wavered in decision. Well, it was not as if she owed anyone anything. She was still unattached. Her betrothal to Monsieur Bordeaux would soon be dissolved and she still had not seen Grant appear. It would not matter if she enjoyed a dance with a stranger this once. That was the point of a masked ball. “Thank you,” she replied, and took the arm he offered. Looking back, she saw that Helene had taken the other man's offer to dance. She was on her own now.
The man carted her to the floor, led her through the waltz, following each step, and did not bother to converse with her at all. Just as he was about to lead her through a turn, he guided her off of the floor, up a short climb of stairs, and into one of the alcoves. He swept the curtain closed behind them and ushered her to a balcony.
Monsieur!” she gasped for breath, winded not only from dancing but from his abrupt manner. Her heart began to beat in a sick thud. What did he intend? “Monsieur,” she began again, “what is the meaning of this?”
“I thought we could enjoy a moment alone, away from the crowd.” Through his mask, she could see a lascivious glint in his eyes as he looked her over. “Surely you cannot deny a man what he wants?” He reached to drag her forward with a grip on her arm.
She gasped, in indignation this time. “I certainly can! I will deny you! How dare you treat me like some trollop--”
“Quit your whining,” he grated out before trying to crush his mouth against hers.
She fought him with all she had, teeth, fingernails and as much strength as she could muster. He reared back, swearing. His lip was cut where she'd bitten him and there was an ugly red scratch on his neck where her nails had sunk in. “Leave me alone!” She wiped the back of her hand across her mouth to rid herself of his taste.
“Bitch,” he muttered. “You'll pay for that.”
“I would listen to the lady if I were you.”
They both swung to see another man dressed in a dinner coat and trousers with a phantom mask over part of his face.
“What business is it of yours?” the man who'd accosted her asked.
“That doesn't matter. I demand that you now treat her like the lady she is. Apologize.”
A thrill tingled down Fara's spine. She knew that voice. It was Grant. But if he wanted to remain anonymous, she would play along.
The man beside her shifted uneasily where he stood. “Or?”
“Or you may not make it to the brothel I assume you attend regularly. Suffice it to say you'll regret it, Monsieur. I may not even go to the trouble of challenging you in a duel.”
He must have seen the sincere threat in Grant's eyes as well as his rapier, which he always carried at his side. The man turned to Fara. “I am sorry, Mademoiselle. It will not happen again.” He did not wait for a response; he swept past both her and Grant and was out of the alcove before they could stop him.
“Obviously propriety is lost on him.”
She smiled. It was so like him to make light of a bad situation. She remembered she still hadn't acknowledged that he knew her. Perhaps he did not recognize her? “I would like to thank you, Monsieur, for your intervention.”
“There is no need. I did what any man would have done.”
“Not every man would aid just any woman. I should not have accepted his offer to dance. Before I had a chance to stop him, he dragged me in here. I should not have trusted him.”
“Don't punish yourself over it. But, it's true that some strangers can have ulterior motives.”
“But, not all?”
“No, I suppose occasionally someone means well.”
“Would you fit into that category? One that has no ulterior motives?”
“Perhaps when I first came into the alcove…”
His eyes beneath his mask seemed to bore into her very soul. In a way, she knew she was toying with Grant, that he probably thought she didn't know it was him, and was appalled that she would flirt with simply any man. What was he feeling? Her heart raced in a strange, exhilarating way, and her breaths were more shallow. If he did know it was her, did he care?
“But, not now?” she teased.
“Now I just might have ulterior motives…”
“Oh?”
The alcove curtain was closed so there was no reason to fear being seen. A part of her didn't care if they were caught without her having a chaperone. The fact that she wasn't supposed to be here because of her mourning period added to the risk. It was enticing. She closed the distance between them by approaching him, placing her hands on his chest. “I want to thank you.”
“I told you it wasn't necessary.” His voice sounded suddenly husky.
“I think it is.” Their lips were inches apart and they stood that way for what seemed an eternity. When Fara thought she would go mad with the waiting, he lowered his lips to hers, softly questing. Their mouths lingered, lost in sensation and the essence of one another until finally he pulled away. Through their masks and the silence of the alcove, there was an element Fara couldn't quite pinpoint. Temptation perhaps? She wanted to give in to the unspoken need, but it would be idiocy to act on it.
Grant whispered, “Mademoiselle Bellamont, you are a tease.”
     He had accused her of it before, but now she could only sigh. “You would know if I was teasing, Capitaine.”

Liza: Sounds fabulous. Here's the buy link


Investigator Peep found this picture which may or may not be Marie Lavender. I've lost complete faith in the fellow. 

Author Bio
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.
At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. Her imagination fueled a lot of her early child's play. Even growing up, she entered writing contests and received a certificate for achieving the second round in one. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted - to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.
Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender's real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories. Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them. Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel.
Links

http://www.amazon.com/Heather-Crouse/e/B0049E42M0/

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