Interview on The IndieView

IndieView with Marie Lavender, author of Upon Your Return


Oh, and the number one thing – never give up.  You have to have a pretty strong backbone to compete in this industry, and perseverance will help.
Marie Lavender – 20 April 2014

The Back Flap

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…

About the book

What is the book about?

The book is about a young heiress who gets into trouble one night and a strange man comes to her rescue.  He appoints himself as her protector later on and she struggles with her growing feelings for him.

When did you start writing the book?

Oh, where do I start?  I think I started writing it in 2001 or 2002.  It’s been awhile.

How long did it take you to write it?

It was my first historical romance novel so it took me around ten years to write.

Where did you get the idea from?

I’m not too sure why it came to me, but I could suddenly hear the two characters having an argument in my head.  Just after that, I began to fill in the details for the story.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Oh, yes.  For quite some time, I struggled with the research.  Placing it in a specific time period was probably one of the hardest parts.  I knew the location and characters, even the story.  I just didn’t know the exact year.  After a bit of research, I figured out I wanted it in Victorian France.

What came easily?

Delving into the characters’ mindsets was pretty natural.  The dialogue flowed pretty well too.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

For this book, yes, they are entirely fictitious.  I don’t often base my characters on real people, though I may take the occasional quirk from them.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

When I first came across romance novels, other than the occasional Harlequin book, I started out reading books by Catherine Coulter and Rosemary Rogers.  They really woke me up to the historical romance genre.  Over time, I added others like Emma Wildes, Jane Feather and Tessa Dare.  I also have read contemporary romance by authors like Nora Roberts and Barbara Delinksy.   I am on a kick right now, following paranormal romance authors such as J.R. Ward, P.C. Cast, Kerrelyn Sparks and Chloe Neill.  I think all of these authors have influenced my style.  I have branched out in so many different directions.  Recently, I released a paranormal romance called Magick & Moonlight.

Do you have a target reader? 

Not really.  I think Upon Your Return can appeal to anyone between the ages of 18-75.  I imagine it will appeal to women and historical romance fans more though.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

My writing process is pretty haphazard.  I have a lot of different ideas at once.  I write scenes randomly.  But, when I am really focused on a project, I do an outline and do a lot of research.  Then I fill in the details of the book.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

When I first get an idea for a story or book, I do a basic summary.  Later, I do a more detailed outline.  This outline keeps me on track so I know what to work on next and what element of the story to find more information about.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I do basic editing as I go.  Usually if something jumps out at me that will distract me if I don’t fix it, I will edit.  The major editing comes after I write the book.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

Yes, sometimes I do listen to music.  It really depends on my mood.   I listen to different kinds of music – new age, rock, alternative, pop, hip hop.  Just whatever I’m in the mood for.  Once, I was listening to some upbeat Celtic music and a dancing scene came into my head.  Each type of music influences your writing.  Sad songs have worked in particularly dramatic scenes while alternative or rage songs help when my characters are upset or angry.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

Yes, I certainly tried that route.  The competition is fierce in the industry.  Each agent has a specific idea of what they want.  In the end, I ended up going with a publisher that didn’t require an agent.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process? 

I have self-published books before, but with Upon Your Return, I was intent on trying the traditional route first.  If that didn’t work out, I would have self-published it eventually.  It took about a year of submitting to various places before I got a bite.  When Solstice accepted the book, I was ecstatic!

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

It was professionally done.  A cover artist handled the book cover.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

Upon Your Return has been out since February of 2013.  I have done everything I can to draw attention to it.  I kept up my profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.  I launched three blogs.  I have done numerous interviews and guest blogs.  I have placed book cover ads.  In September, the book received bestseller status on Amazon.  In December, I entered the book into the MARSocial Author of the Year Competition and became a finalist/runner-up.  I also made it into the Top 50 on Authors Database so I don’t think I’m doing too bad with it all.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? 

Start blogging early.  Learn everything you can about marketing/promotion.  Oh, and the number one thing – never give up.  You have to have a pretty strong backbone to compete in this industry, and perseverance will help.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a very small town in the Midwest, in central Indiana.

Where do you live now?

I’m still in Indiana, but I hope to move to another state as soon as I get married.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I have many other series on the backburner in different subgenres of romance so I will never run out of books to publish.

What are you working on now?

My publisher just accepted the sequel to Upon Your Return so I’ll be working on getting that ready for release.  I also want to finish up the Heiresses in Love trilogy so I will start work on the third book soon.  I am working on re-releasing my self-published books as well.  And I am doing a romantic suspense collaboration with another writer.

End of Interview:

For more from Marie, she has an extensive web presence, not all of which is listed. For starters, you could visit her website, or two blogs, here or here. You can like her Facebook author page or a page for this book. You can also check out her Goodreads page, add her to one of your circles on Google +, or follow her on twitter.

And don’t forget to buy your copy of Upon Your Return from Amazon US (paper or ebook) or Amazon UK (paper or ebook).

During the time between doing this interview and it’s publication, Marie and her publisher have completed the sequel to Upon Your Return, called Upon Your Honor. It is scheduled for release the day after publication of this interview. Here’s the blurb and cover to whet your appetite.

Upon Your Honor
New York City, August, 1891 – Orphaned after the death of her father, Chloe Waverly stows away on La Voyageur to escape the clutches of her cruel fiancĂ©, Lamonte Beckett. Gabriel Hill, a strange and compelling gentleman, comes upon Chloe and promises to protect her without knowing the true circumstances of why she is running away. During their journey, Gabriel doesn’t bargain on being distracted by her fair beauty or succumbing to her many charms. As their attraction to each other grows, so does the danger and Gabriel suspects things are not as they should be.
Both are determined to get to New Orleans, where she can start a new life. But, once they reach their destination, events spin out of their control and Chloe is captured by the fiancé she escaped. Gabriel is left wondering if he can overlook her betrayal. Soon he finds himself in a race against time, to reach her before Beckett can exact revenge.