Lucy March is the split personality of NYT and USA Today bestselling author Lani Diane Rich. As Lani, she blogs and teaches online writing classes at Storywonk.com, and co-hosts the popular writing instruction podcast, Storywonk Daily, with her husband, Alastair Stephens.
As Lucy, she writes amazing magical romances for St. Martin’s Press, and co-hosts Popcorn Dialogues, a podcast in which she analyzes romantic comedy movies and tries to extract lessons about writing, with NYT Bestselling author Jennifer Crusie. She is also blogging at www.lucymarch.com every day until she turns 40 on June 7th, 2011. She’ll still blog after that, but probably not every day. The Betties, however, will go on…
Feel free to e-mail Lucy, but if Lani writes back, try not to freak out. It’s all perfectly under control…
Hi Lucy. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.
Can you give us some insight to your writing process?
It definitely varies as I go, but in general, I start with an idea, then spend anywhere from six weeks to three months doing intensive discovery work – building the soundtrack, creating the collage, immersing myself in story via reading and watching movies and television, writing snippets to get a sense of tone and voice – and then anywhere from six to nine months writing the damn thing. Then there’s at least six weeks of pretending it doesn’t exist and trying to forget it so I can go in and do a decent edit. I’ve “pantsed” a lot of books – just started on page one and seen where it took me – but lately, I’ve been mapping out the major scenes of the book to be sure I have a decent structure holding up the story, and then I pants between them. So I’m a half-pantser, half-plotter, I guess.
How can a new writer “find” their voice when they aren’t sure what voice means? 😉
Write stuff you don’t intend for anyone to ever read. Go to the blank page with the intention to write crap, and have fun. Your voice comes out when you’re enjoying yourself, and when we think about how our work looks to other people, we cover up, pretend to be other writers. We write in the voice and tone of people we admire, instead of being true to ourselves. So the best thing you can do is write like no one will ever read it, and see what shows up on the page. That’s you.
When you read books, is there any one weakness you find the most often?
Many authors don’t know when to start the story. They start telling all the backstory and infodumping loads of stuff in the early chapters that doesn’t move the story. When they finally get to the story, usually around Chapter 3, they’ve lost me. I think all that stuff is important for the author to write, it informs their knowledge and understanding of the characters and the story, but I consider most of it to be the bottom 90% of the iceberg – it holds up the tip that floats above the water, but the reader only needs to see the tip. The entire iceberg is too overwhelming.
All those deadlines must bring a lot of stress. What do you like to do when you take a break from writing?
I’m not sure a writer ever takes a break. Even when I’m doing things that are specifically not writing, the book is always churning in the back of my head. I find that the only thing that really refreshes me mentally is getting out of my head and into my body – good, solid, regular exercise. I do far too little of it, though, but when I do, everything works better.
Your Lucy March book , A Little Night Magic, is due out soon. Can you give us a hint of what it’s about ?
You bet! A LITTLE NIGHT MAGIC is the story of a small town waffle waitress named Olivia Kiskey who discovers she has magical powers, right as dark magic is threatening to take over her town, and now she has to save her world. It’s funny and sexy and romantic, and though it was really hard to write – I wrote it while going through a huge life change of my own – looking back, it’s one of the books I’m most proud of. It’s really a lot of fun.
When can we expect another Lani Diane Rich book?
Right now, Lani Diane Rich is taking a break from fiction. She might come back someday, but I think I’m going to be Lucy March for a while. She’s a better dancer, anyway. 🙂