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Lori Anderson Interview

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    Posted: Mar-10-2015 at 9:13am

Get up and do it! might well be the rallying cry of many of the "new-wave" P.O.D. and/or self-published authors. On the other hand, it's good advice for anyone looking to make a career in publishing - and especially for novelists who want to bring more readers to their title (s).

Enter Lori Anderson, author of the SF Trilogy: Pledge of Honor, Obligation and Destiny's Hope. With a unique narrative voice, an epic "saga" in both literary and personal senses, and the confidence to pull it all together despite the usual harsh obstacles confronting a SF novelist, Ms. Anderson presents a spirited and studied approach to the new frontiers of alternative publishing - and also to the boundaries and definitions of Speculative Fiction.

Bereft of the usual, lengthy credentials, Lori Anderson's bio and additional information on her fiction, as well as photos of the author may be found at her web site.

Reviews of her books Pledge of Honor and Obligation are available here at SFReader.

We thank Lori for taking time out of her busy schedule for this interview and for her patience in waiting for it to post!

You've got a great attitude and spirit when it comes to both writing and promoting your work. Have you always been an energetic person? Ever have days when you wonder: "why do I bother trying to be a writer?"

First of all, thank you. I believe my attitude and spirit derive from the passion I have for creating magical worlds and mental escapes for anyone who just needs a break from reality. I have noted a positive change in the quality of my writing over the years. And I would never expect anyone to believe in me and my work, if I didn't believe in it completely!

As for having days when I wonder: "why do I bother?" Never. Not even once! I don't "try" being a writer…I am a writer-and from what I'm hearing from my readers, a pretty good one at that. (My sincere gratitude to the readers of my books).

Tell us a little about how you got started writing SF. Were you influenced much by any particular writers in the genre? Out of it?

I started writing in the fourth grade. Having grown up with Star Trek, Time Tunnel, Lost in Space-It had always captured my attention and imagination at a very early age…the "what if" scenario. It was a "no holds barred" place for any writer to expand their own creativity and go beyond the bounds of the conventional writer.

As for any particular writer, anyone who wrote anything about Star Trek was tops in my mind. So I guess Gene Roddenberry would have to be The Man.

One thing I noticed right away about your novel Pledge of Honor was the complex   back story for the novel, the intricate plotting. Is this a tale you've been carrying with you for a while or did you create the story more "on the fly?"

I started Pledge of Honor in 1992. I have always worked on several novels at a time, but   this one ultimately became a big part of my life. The characters grew into a part of my   family-so to speak. Now I've finished the final book of the trilogy: Destiny's Hope that I hope will hit Barnes and Noble and Amazon by late spring-if all goes well.

Like many good writers, your sympathy for your protagonist, Keenu, is quite evident to the reader throughout Pledge. Is character, like so many critics, writers and readers, have insisted, the essence of storytelling? Any advice for writers about getting closer to their characters?

I think that a well-written character is very important to any tale, written or told. If you can relate to the person you're reading about, you can sympathize, and ultimately become part of the struggles they endure throughout the storyline. I'm still learning how to create better characters, more colorful history of who they are and why they're important enough to be part of the story. But I still believe without a good saga the characters won't be enough to keep the readers attention.

Advice for writers about getting close to their characters: Envision them. Become part of them or they a part of you. Give them realism, if they're too off-the-wall your readers may not understand them and lose interest.

You've recently decided to switch publishers for your entire series of novels. What prompted the move? How has this changed your situation personally?

The cost of the books to the reader was the main reason for the move. As they sit today, the hardcover is: $31.99 and the soft: $21.99. That's ridiculous and I can't expect people to chance that much money on an up and coming author-no matter how good I am.  I'm not writing to make a million dollars. I'm writing because I love what I do, and love sharing that with others.

Now (or soon) the books will be offered at a far better rate: hardcover will be around $23.00 on Barnes and Noble and the soft cover around $14.00. (I'm so excited about this adjustment). So if you're interested in the books-look for the second editions. (The first publisher isn't in any hurry to remove my books from their listings).

Also, the switch was actually a wonderful opportunity to change a few things I didn't care about in the first editions of both Pledge of Honor and Obligation (book two). The characters are now better defined with a bit more history-a little more "colorful" if you will. And the best advice I could ever pass onto a new author: "Be careful of what you write in your 'about the author' spot!" (Engagements don't always end the way you hope…and life changes constantly!) Trust me on this one!

Unlike many new writers making the rounds, you don't have a lot of short fiction credits under your belt. Did you write short stories before you set out to create your novels? Are you doing any short SF these days?

When I was younger and in Creative Writing class, I did write short stories: Science fiction, fantasy, horror, drama, romance, humor…But now; I'm too long-winded for anything short. There's just too much to tell and short stories just don't fulfill my writing fervor. I want to get into a character and in due course bring the reader with me on my psychosomatic journey. My job is to suck the booklover in and hold their curiosity. If a writer can do that, then their ambition was met.

The kind of SF you write is very interesting in that it seems to focus primarily on relationships between characters, though these relationships feed into a larger sense of cosmic/speculative themes. In effect, you are using the SF genre as a way to show how Fate or cosmic themes impact all of us. A fair statement?

Definitely a fair statement! Like I said earlier-no holds barred. The only thing holding any writer back is their own lack of imagination or the fear of "trying something new"…uncharted territory. Isn't that what Sci-fi and fantasy gives us? Open reign to explore and challenge ourselves (and others) to new ideas? And in the end, giving our readers something new to reflect on? I have received so many e-mails from people that have read Pledge of Honor saying: "You've given me something to think about…"  I've heard this from people that spanned from forty to seventy years old. I'm very proud of this fact! I had no idea I had this ability in me!

As far as the relationships go, good or bad, no story is complete without some type of interaction between two or more characters. One person throughout a book would bore me....

I doubt you envision the audience for Pledge of Honor as a typical trekkie type SF fan, nor as an industry insiders, nor as an aficionado of literary SF. Do you think there is an untapped audience for SF? Are readers of romance and mystery novels likely candidates as SF readers if the material is slanted, slightly, toward their interests?

Most definitely! I have had people contact me after reading Pledge and Obligation telling me they would never have normally picked up a science fiction or fantasy book: (they referred to it as "that kind of book") before. But after hearing others talking about my novels they took a chance…Know what? They loved them!

I may just be converting readers one at a time into the real world of Sci-fi and fantasy. If they realize one book isn't all "technical" and there are aliens that can love, hurt, hate, deceive and grow-just like we mere humans, they realize they can still relate to them as "people".

I feel sci-fi and fantasy has become "generalized" by some and they need to understand the way their minds are conditioned to believe isn't necessarily the truth about these genres. There's a whole new world out there-not everything is black and white! Especially in the world of sci-fi and fantasy...

Did you shop your novels to "name" agents and publishers before signing with a POD publisher? If so, what kind of response did you receive?

Yes, I did. But it was years and years ago. Their response was: "Your writing is strong and intriguing, but we're not accepting manuscripts without agents at this time."

Years later, when I became "serious" about publishing again, I found that people like Piers Anthony (a well established author) was publishing with a POD (same one I picked to start with, as a matter of fact). More and more "established" authors are now choosing to publish POD for several important reasons:

1. You keep your copyrights.
2. You have complete control over the publishing of your book.
3. You can-for the most part-choose the price range where you'd like your books to sell.

When my books finally reach a wider audience, I will still be in charge of my copyrights. That was very important to me. And again, to take a chance on yourself is far more courageous than expecting someone else to take a chance on you. If your readers see you putting your own butt on the line-I think that says something about the "character" of the author!

What projects are you presently working on?

Now that the third book of the Pledge of Honor trilogy: Destiny's Hope is with the publisher, I've been working on a few new projects: Hostage of Fate, genre: Fiction. It's about two brothers and the bond they share. But when guarded secrets are exposed and they find their lives were built on nothing more than lies and deception-can they find a way to keep their once unconditional rapport from being destroyed?

I'm also working on a "self-discovery" type of memoir that will allow my readers an inside-look at my life and the trials I had to overcome in order to find the true writer inside myself.

Any advice to writers on how to promote their work?

One word: Perseverance! You have to become your best critic verses your own worst critic. Believe in your work. Promote in any way you can: Flyers, internet, cards, radio, local t.v. news, write articles about yourself in the "third person" and send them to your local papers; many times if the news is interesting, they will print the article for free. Contact local bookstores, or retailers that you may know and set up book signings. One step usually leads to another and before you know it, the word is out and you just keep pushing!

Attend any conventions that relate to your genre. It might cost you a little money, but a single, unexpected contact could mean far more in promotion and sales than what you spent to attend. Plus, you get exposure. Not just for your books, but yourself too. You are the writer. Be friendly and memorable. Introduce yourself, shake hands, and make eye-contact. You sometimes need to sell yourself-figuratively speaking-in order to sell your books. Don't be shy. This is your book and possibly your future…show everyone how proud you are of your accomplishment!

How has becoming a published, aspiring professional writer affected you for the good? Conversely, has it had any negative impacts on your life?

There isn't enough time or paper to explain all the good that has come out of becoming a published writer or how the books have impacted my life. The people I've met alone while promoting-you can't put a price on that. I have seen a side of people that I don't know if I would have seen before, without the books. Once they realized my potential it was like they couldn't do enough to help point me in better directions: Contacts, ideas, sites to check, reviewers to send the books to. It's been phenomenal!

Without my readers and their insights, I doubt I'd be where I am today. And we're just beginning! I'm not doing this alone…and I can't even claim half the credit for the steps I've accomplished. Without the support of all those that have enjoyed my writing-I'd still be at square one.

The only negative I've run into is: there isn't enough time to accomplish everything I would like in twenty-four hours!

Where can we buy your books? Author appearances? Website?

You can buy my books at Barnesandnoble.com, Amazon.com or any on-line bookstore. You can order it from your local bookstores as well. I worked a few panels with authors such as: Gene Wolfe, Rosemary Kirstein, Richard Garfinkle, Jim Hines, Kathryn Sullivan, Deirdre Murphy, Mike Williamson, Mary Anne Mohanraj and several others that were very inspirational to me.

I'm looking forward to several up-coming Science Fiction conventions that my daughter and I may be panelists on; we'll get to work with and learn from some big name authors. I've had appearances on Channel 5 WFRV-TV, Good Day, Wisconsin and 106.1 FM radio. And with the finished trilogy, I'm looking forward to more interviews.

We have a website: www.pledge-of-honor.com where you can e-mail us or read about both our books and what they've accomplished so far.

And my daughter and I are contemplating a: Mother/Daughter author tour in late 2005. We are considering traveling across the United States, promoting and doing as many book signings as we can set up. It's our hope that after our first few states, we might start generating an awareness of what we're doing, as well as getting the names of our books on the lips of thousands. Lesson of the day: Perseverance and believing in yourself. I shouldn't give the advice if I can't take it.

What's the last POD or small press novel you read that deserved a 5 star review?

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this-but I haven't been able to read a book in years! I've been so busy writing and surviving every day life that I have had so little time for the pleasure of just sitting down and reading a good book. But the day will come. And when that happens-I'm going to give a newbie like myself a chance. There are so many good writers out there that just need a single opportunity to prove themselves. All good authors-no matter how big they might be now-started with a single reader!

Thank you for this opportunity, Daniel. I sure appreciate it!

copyright © 2005,  Daniel Blackston

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