Lynne Stringer is a sci-fi geek who published her first book, The Heir, in June. The sequel, The Crown, will be available in November 2013. Lynne, thanks for joining us today.
What kind of response have you had to The Heir? What have been some of the high points? Low points?
The response has been pretty good. Most of the reviews I’ve received have been positive ones. Of course, every writer is going to find someone who doesn’t like their book. Creative writing (or any sort of creativity) is subjective. Some people will get it and some people won’t. It was hard to receive my first poor review, but it has been balanced out by the four and five star reviews I’ve had.
What can you tell us about The Crown (without giving away any spoilers)?
The Crown follows Sarah’s continuing adventures. She is in danger and is hidden to try and keep her safe, but her enemies are determined to kill her, so she doesn’t stay safe for long.
Do you think people have to read The Heir first, or does The Crown work as a stand-alone novel?
I think it would help to read The Heir first, but there is a distinct story thread that begins and ends within The Crown’s pages, so they should be able to follow that without a problem. I have had a couple of people read The Crown without having read The Heir and they said they could follow it.
I often find the middle book in a trilogy is the weakest. What do you, as an author, do to try to avoid that?
I have found that too. It’s a difficult thing to combat. I have tried my best to write a story that moves along the overall story, as well as being entertaining in its own right.
When I interviewed you in regard to The Heir, you commented on how you love Dan because you can see what’s going on in his head, but the reader doesn’t see that because the story’s told entirely from Sarah’s point of view. Do we get to see Dan’s viewpoint in The Crown? Have you ever thought of telling us Dan’s side of the story?
We still don’t see a lot of his viewpoint, no, mainly because the group he belongs to do tend to be secretive, and I felt it was better to stick with first person narrative from Sarah’s point of view because that’s what I’d started with. As a reader, I find it distracting if a series of books alters its internal structure too much.
As for writing more of Dan’s side of the story, when I was writing The Heir I did write the entire story from his point of view. It helped me work out exactly what was happening, especially since there was so much going on that Sarah didn’t know about. I would certainly consider submitting it for publication, but I think the trilogy would have to be amazingly successful before my publisher would agree to it!
When can we expect to see the final book in the trilogy? It is a trilogy, isn’t it?
Yes, it is a trilogy. The Crown, as act two in my three act play, raises a lot more questions than it answers. Those questions will be answered in book three, The Reign, which is due out in May 2014.
You are in the unusual position of working for a publisher and being an author and editor yourself.
How do you find working for your own publisher? Does it make the editing and publication process easier or harder?
It has helped to hone my own writing and also to see things from everyone’s point of view. I know what it’s like to be an author who waits for any sliver of news about whether or not their book’s been accepted for publication. I also know just how much work goes into publishing even one book. It has made it easier for me to understand everything involved, but harder because I want to do as much as I can to help make the process easier for everyone, which can be time consuming.
How is working for a small press like Wombat/Even Before different to a bigger publisher?
It is harder because we don’t have the huge publicity machine that many of the bigger publishers have or the relationships that they have developed with many bookstores, reviewers, etc, over a long period of time. We’re little fish in a big ocean and getting our name out there can be an uphill battle. We rely a lot on word of mouth to spread the news about our books.
What advice would you give to pre-published authors today?
One of my favourite quotes is from Dorothy Parker and reads like this:
"If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favour you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy."
This may seem a little cynical, but there is no doubt in my mind that writing a novel is the easy part. And as with everything, if you aren’t willing to put in the hard work, even in those areas that you don’t enjoy, you will not have success.
Just today I went out to ask some bookstores if I can do signings instore. I was knocked back by the two I tried, but a few weeks ago I was accepted by another bookstore, and when I went in for my signing I sold the most books I have sold anywhere. You have to be willing to get up every time you’re knocked down or you will never succeed.
Also, make sure you do everything you can to make your book as good as possible. There is a lot of negativity out there towards authors at the moment because these days anyone can get their book published if they have enough money. Unfortunately, it means a lot of poor quality books have flooded the market. This has made us all look bad.
Make sure you listen to everyone’s advice and consider it all seriously before deciding whether or not you follow it. You don’t have to do everything everyone says, but keep an open mind. Many of the things you are told will only improve your chances. But if you’re not willing to change and you’re not willing to fight, you’ll never make it at all.
You can find out more about Lynne Stringer and the Verindon trilogy at her website.
Interview by Iola Goulton. I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog.