Welcome to the ninety-seventh (woo hoo, nearly a century!) of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with erotic mystery author Liliana Hart. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello, Liliana. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Liliana: Well, obviously I’m a compulsive liar since writing fiction is my drug of choice, so how could you possibly believe anything I have to say about myself?
Liliana: In all seriousness, I was a pretty good liar as a kid and my mom thought I needed an outlet for all that creativity, so I started writing lies on paper so the truth could start coming out of my mouth. The writing bug caught, and I’ve been doing it ever since. And to set the record straight, I only lie on paper now. Mostly. When I’m not writing, I’m taking care of a husband, four kids, and a couple of cats. I wake up super early so I can get in some exercise before I start writing (sitting all day doesn’t decrease the size of your behind).
Morgen: Only if you don’t eat at the computer and do bum crunches (or whatever they’re called). I’m allergic to exercise (I have a note from my doctor) although I risk my health three times a day by walking the dog and to / from work. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Liliana: I write erotic romance, romantic mysteries, and romantic suspense. I have trouble making up my mind when I sit down to the keyboard. I’ve just recently finished an Urban Fantasy to add to the mix, and it’s already off to my agent.
Morgen: I’m a liquorice allsort when it comes to writing – it’s just whatever comes out, which isn’t particularly helpful when trying to find an agent (which I’ve stopped doing for now). How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Liliana: I do all my marketing for myself. I’m a huge Twitter addict (follow me here: http://twitter.com/Liliana_Hart)…
Liliana: …and I’m active on Facebook and the Kindleboards. I think any author has to take charge of their marketing and book promotion. The book industry is too saturated to just sit by and watch the sales roll in. Word of mouth from fans is an author’s best friend.
Morgen: It is and the best thing is you get direct contact with them by doing your own marketing. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Liliana: I have won several contests with my books. WHISKEY REBELLION and DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS have both won numerous contests. I’ve made good contacts from each contest, but I don’t actually think they’ve helped me in any other ways. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve love getting the certificates and trophies (and I’ve even had a star named after me from one contest), but they’re just pretty things that decorate my office.
Morgen: Wow. I’ve had more wins / shortlists than fiction pieces published and it does all add to the CV – for me I just like seeing my name in print (or read out) and knowing that someone else is reading my writing. Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Liliana: Yes! I certainly do. Liliana Hart is a pseudonym, and I do it for a couple of different reasons. The first being that my books generally have pretty explicit sex scenes in them. Since I’m a PTA member, a room-mother, and I teach a Sunday school class, I thought it would be best to not use my real name. I also live in a very small town, and the people here generally still live circa 1952.
Morgen: Ooh there’s a story in itself.
Liliana: I’d hate to have an angry mob of torch burning farmers on my lawn because a couple of my characters in WHISKEY REBELLION almost have sex in a church crypt. The second reason for having a pseudonym is that I write Urban Fantasy under my real name, and those are the books my agent is shopping to traditional publishers.
Morgen: Good idea having different names for different genres – unless you start with a mix like I have, the readers do come to expect a certain thing from you. You mentioned having an agent (well done!), do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Liliana: Yes, I do have an agent, and I absolutely adore her. She rips my manuscripts apart when I send them to her, and I adore her for it. She makes the books as good as they can possibly be before submitting them. I think agents are vital to an author’s career only if you’re going the traditionally published route. Most New York pub houses won’t look at your work without it being submitted by an agent.
Morgen: It’s the same with the bigger publishers here and it’s said that it’s more difficult to get an agent than a publisher and I tend to agree. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Liliana: Yes, my books are available in e-format (my novellas are in ebook format exclusively). It took me a while to warm to the ebook movement, but now that I have a Kindle I’m hooked. I’ve found my readers are just as devoted to it is I am, because sales have been consistent since I released my books for Kindle and Nook. Almost all the books I read are in ebook form now. I’ll buy a book in hardcopy only if it’s one that I want in my permanent collection.
Morgen: I’m the other way, sort of, I have so many books that I want to read I rarely use my ereader but it’s great when I go away (also rarely). What are you working on at the moment / next?
Liliana: I’m working on a couple of things actually. I have a Christmas anthology, NAUGHTY OR NICE, coming out November 1st, so I’m fine tuning those. I also have CADE, which is the next book in the MacKenzie Brothers series, coming out in early 2012. AND…I’ve got the next Addison Holmes Mystery, WHISKEY SOUR, which will also be out in 2012.
Morgen: A busy lady. Presumably you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Liliana: I do write every day. If I don’t then I completely lose my momentum. As much fun as writing is, it’s also a business and I have to treat it that way. The most I’ve ever written in a day is 40 pages. Sometimes the muse just hits and you have to roll with it, no matter how exhausted you are.
Morgen: My goodness, that’s good going (unless it was quadruple spaced ). What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Liliana: I don’t believe in writer’s block. If there’s a scene I get stuck on I usually walk away from my computer and grab my notebook so I can start writing long hand. That usually gets the ideas flowing again.
Morgen: Good plan. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Liliana: I’m not a plotter. Usually the characters pop into my head first, and then the opening scene follows pretty closely. After I get it written down, the rest is pretty much a roller coaster ride of surprises until the end.
Morgen: That’s pretty much how my head works too. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Liliana: My husband is always my first reader. He’s really good about saying stuff like, “that’s kind of dumb,” or “that makes no sense,” or “I don’t think sex like that is actually possible.” After he gets through with it I send it off to a couple of Beta readers and then it goes to my agent.
Morgen: “I don’t think sex like that is actually possible.” I like that (and wonder if he asks you to test the theory ). What sort of music do you listen to when you write?
Liliana: It depends. I’ve found as I get older (ahem, no jokes)
Morgen: I’m going to be another year older on Friday so yes readers, please no jokes.
Liliana: …that I need complete silence to write. That’s really hard to do with four kids in the house. I do like to have music when I write love scenes. I find it helps the mood quite a bit. Usually my playlist consists of Norah Jones, Adele, Brandi Carlile, Sara Bareilles, Harry Connick Jr.
Morgen: Ah, Harry Connick Jr., one of my mum’s favourite (sorry, that probably doesn’t make you feel any younger does it?) but I’m a big fan too – and we’re especially fond of Michael Bublé. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Liliana: I write in first person for my mysteries and third person for my romances. I love both of them. I’ve never tried second and have no desire to.
Morgen: That’s a shame because it’s fun (although usually dark) but it’s not for everyone… maybe I’m just strange (for anyone who hasn’t and wants to you could try continuing some of the second persons on my http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/sentence-starts page). What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Liliana: To keep at it. To not get discouraged by the rejections. It’s part of the business. You have to have a thick skin and just keep writing. You’ll get better with every book. But just keep writing.
Morgen: Absolutely – write and read. Speaking of which, Liliana, what do you like to read?
Liliana: I read everything. I’m a book addict. I’d say my favorite books are the OUTLANDER series, by Diana Gabaldon (read them because they will blow your mind). I also love ALMOST HEAVEN , by Judith McNaught. I’m a huge fan of Lee Child, Janet Evanovich, Roxanne St. Claire, Elizabeth Haydon and Julie Garwood as well.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Liliana: I always read Bob Mayer’s blog because he really keeps up with the publishing industry and he’s honest about it. http://writeitforward.wordpress.com. I’m also a huge fan of Margie Lawson. She offers classes on deep editing and empowering your characters emotions that will rock your world. http://www.margielawson.com.
Morgen: And where can we find out about you and your work?
Liliana: http://www.lilianahart.com – I always answer emails from my readers!
Morgen: Me too (although it would help if my eBooks were ready ). What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Liliana: I think the future for most writers is pretty scary and uncertain, especially if you’ve been traditionally published for a long time and are unsure about epublishing. My own opinion is that people are always going to read a good story. It doesn’t matter if it’s in paperback or ebook, indie published or traditionally published. As long as there are books like that out there, then they’ll have an audience and writers will have careers.
Morgen: That’s what I’m hoping. Do you have an excerpt you’d like to add here?
Liliana: This is the Prologue from WHISKEY REBELLION: AN ADDISON HOLMES NOVEL
My life was a disaster.
I sat in my car with a white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel and watched the rain pound against the windshield. I was soaked to the skin, my skirt was ripped, and blood seeped from both knees. There were scratches on my arms and neck, and my face was blotchy and red from crying. Along with the external wounds, I’d lost a good deal of my sensibilities, most of my faith in mankind, and all of my underwear somewhere between a graveyard and a church parking lot.
I’ll explain later. It’s been a hell of a day.
My name is Addison Holmes, no relation to Sherlock or Katie, and if God has any mercy, he’ll strike me with lightning and end it all. I’ve had a job at the McClean Detective Agency for exactly six days. It’s been the longest six days of my life, and I’ll be lucky if I live to see another six. Unspeakable things, things you’d never imagine have happened to me in six days.
Now I faced the onerous task of telling Kate McClean, my best friend and owner of the McClean Detective Agency, how I’d botched a simple surveillance job and found a dead body. Another dead body.
I should have kept my job as a stripper.
Morgen: That’s funny. Thank you Liliana.
Liliana: Thank you so much for having me. It was a blast!
Morgen: You’re so welcome. Do come back with updates or perhaps a guest blog on the creating / uploading eBook process?
Liliana Hart spent five years teaching music in the public education system. She molded America’s youth, busted kids for smoking pot in the restrooms, and broke up illicit affairs behind the stage on a regular basis, so she finally decided to hang up her hat and let someone else have all the fun. (Liliana’s Addison Holmes Mystery Series, about a small town teacher who gets into a whole lot of trouble, is somewhat autobiographical, but she won’t confess to which parts). Liliana’s books have won awards such as: The Daphne Du Maurier, The Suzannah, The Linda Howard Award of Excellence, The Maggie, and many others. Her affiliations include Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America. Liliana loves to cook, and is addicted to reading, Internet Boggle, kickboxing, and Bones. She lives in a big, rambling house in Texas with a couple of cats to keep her company.
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