My very first interview of an author is with Liz Long, author of The Heroes of Acarnia trilogy and the Donovan Circus. I was able to ask her some questions for a paper I was doing for a class and she has given me permission to post the questions on my blog for an interview. Thank you so much!
Sam: Thank you so much for allowing me to ask you question for my paper.
Liz Long: You got it, girly! Thank YOU for considering including me! My answers are below your q’s:
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born in Northern VA in 1985, but moved to Danville, VA very early on.
Q: Who was your most influential person to you as a child and why?
A: I would say my father – we were very close, as he acted as my basketball and sports coach, writing mentor, and so much more.
Q: Do you recall any interesting stories related to you by any of your elder relatives that you have never forgotten and you think are worth telling this audience?
A: That is a really hard question! I do know my family members always talk about how I was reading from a very early age, and I remember writing stories before I hit double-digits. My brother recalls one time, when he informed me that I could not, as a girl, attend VMI, I turned around and wrote a paper explaining why this was not equal and I felt it was unfair. Even at an early age I guess I was into feminism! 😉
Grade School/High School
Q: How would you describe yourself as a student, both academically and socially?
A: I’m proud to say I’ve never even had so much as a detention. I did well academically (maybe less so in math and science classes), and socially, I stayed very active with sports, student newspaper and yearbook, marching band/colorguard, and a few other clubs. I had a well-rounded resume even back then!
Q: What would people you know find surprising about you as a teen?
A: Like most teens, I was very, very self-conscious. I spent way too much time worrying about what people thought about me, despite the fact I was probably invisible to most of the “cool kids” I worried about. I excelled at most things I tried, and worked hard and had plenty of friends and did leadership roles, so I think that would probably surprise people because they never saw that on the surface.
Q: What does the word “family” mean to you?
A: Family, to me, isn’t just about blood relatives. My best friends are my family, too. Family has your back, no matter what happens, and they’ll support you in any way to reach your dreams.
Q: In what ways have your parents influenced you the most?
A: My father influenced my early years and into my early teens, but my mom definitely influenced me in my later teens into today. They were always incredibly encouraging of whatever I decided to tackle, whether it was sports, academics, or extracurriculars. I’m lucky to have had two parents who always had my back and supported me. When I said I wanted to do something, not only did they believe me, but if they could, they’d help me achieve the dream.
Q: Who was your biggest influence in your career?
A: Totally cheesy, but my BFF Morgan who is also my editor. She’s been reading my stuff since high school (back in the Harry Potter fan fic days!) and rather than laugh at me or roll her eyes, she asked me for the next chapter or story. It was always encouraging and supportive, and I’m so lucky that she’s my editor even 15 years later and still just as nitpicky and precise as ever. She makes my work better every time and is truly the most supportive person I could ask for in my life.
Q: In addition to being paid money, how else has your career created value in your life?
A: Much of my career is thanks to my full time job as well, but creative writing has really built upon that foundation where I’m known in my community as a writer. I’m often asked to speak to students and writer groups, which blows me away because I’m so honored people think I have valuable advice to give. I love talking to groups and spreading the writing love, and helping young writers realize their dreams can absolutely come true.
Q: What sort of stories excite you?
A: You know, I’m not one of those literary fiction lovers who always wants something deeper and meaningful. Oftentimes, I just really love a kickass heroine who saves the day. I’m totally cool with fight scenes and running around to figure out what happens next, sitting on the edge of my seat because I can’t bear the thought of the villain winning.
Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?
A: Hmm, this is a tough one. Can I say my dog? I’ll say my dog, because it’s SO EASY to choose to snuggle up with him on the couch and watch TV instead of ignore him while I write at my desk 🙂
Q: Was there a specific moment that made you start writing your first novel Supernova?
A: I wrote the very first chapter – the critical moment where Fortune murders her little sister in the bank foyer – years ago, and it was the first thing that I knew happened that would kick off the rest of the story.
Q: How did writing your first book change your process of writing?
A: I’ve grown a lot since my first book, both in how I write, and how I edit. Less adverbs, more showing, less dialogue and more action. I’m proud of my first book, but am also proud that my writing and skills have grown that much stronger over the years. That’s the way it should be – we should want every new book to be better than the last, since we learn and grow as we go!
Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A: Sometimes it’s hard to get into the head of an opposite sex character, how they think or speak. My male character, Cole, is the 2nd POV in the HoA trilogy, and while it was actually pretty easy to get into his head (he turned out to be the romantic one of the duo), it’s not always the case for every book. Especially if the guy is supposed to be dark and mysterious!
Q: What was your hardest scene to write?
A: I killed off a major character in my Donovan Circus series, and it was NOT fun to write. I’d known from the beginning who would die, and I dreaded it, pushing it off until I was nearly done with the book. I hated doing it, but knew it was necessary to the story and moving forward in the series. It was devastating, like I’d lost a friend of my own in real life, too, as I’d written this character in 3 previous books (i.e. about 5 years with them!).
Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?
A: Yep – have unfortunately had it plenty of times in the past, and sure to have it again in the future. In which case, I step away from the computer for a mental break with books or movies/TV, or, if I’m determined, I put pen to paper, because there’s something about writing by hand that often gets me back into the writing flow.
Q: Have you had readers block?
A: Absolutely. I’ve DNF’ed so many books because it just wasn’t for me, or lost interest because I just couldn’t get into the story despite great reviews from others. I’m the type of writer who won’t read a thing while I’m working on something, and when I have a break between WIPs, I read a dozen books in a week (though I don’t always recommend it, because unless it’s a very strong story, all the characters and plots can run together!).
Q: What’s the best way to market your books?
A: Write more books. I know, it sounds cliche, but seriously, social media and advertising only get you so far. It’s when you keep producing good work and putting it out in the world that gets people’s attention.
Q: Do you read all of your reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
A: I used to read every review, and slowly learned that it wasn’t helpful or therapeutic in any way. To me, reviews can not only influence future works (even positive ones), but they can also totally derail your motivation if you disagree with one. As far as “dealing,” I simply ignore them and move on. There’s absolutely no use replying, and in all honesty, if reviews are on either end of the spectrum, maybe it helps your sales because readers want to be able to decide for themselves on what side they’re on after reading it.
Q: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
A: I swear, it’s never the outlining or the marketing, it’s the middle parts. You know, where you have a beginning and an end, but you have to figure out how those pieces meet? It always slows me down as I wonder about how far to stretch a timeline, or how they get from Point A to Point B!
Q: How did you come up with the powers for the heroes?
A: When I first wrote SuperNova, I knew I wanted a girl with immense strength and invulnerability. That’s all I knew, that the villain would kill her sister immediately, and she wouldn’t be able to stop him out of fear. That would motivate her to overcome her fear and use her gift to be strong and save her city using her gift. The rest of the gifts sort of fell into place as I wrote the characters and they are gifts we’ve seen in my Donovan Circus series but weren’t a big focus in those books.
Again, a big thank you to Liz Long for allowing me to interview her!