To celebrate the launch of Catalyst Moon: Breach (Book 2), my amazing publisher, Inkitt, interviewed me about the book, my writing process, and other neat stuff. The interview is below. Enjoy!
Inkitt: How did it feel writing the sequel, as opposed to the first book, Catalyst Moon: Incursion? I imagine you grew even closer to the characters and the world you created felt even more like home. Has your writing process changed or advanced at all, and if so, how?
Lauren: The road to Breach has been…lengthy. I started drafting what I thought would be just book 1 back in September of 2012; the outline at the time contained what will now be books 1 – 3. About a hundred thousand words in, I realized the story was too long and needed to be divided into more manageable chunks, both for me and the reader.
I’m a discovery writer, which means that, while I work from a loosely structured outline, much of the story unfolds as I write the rough draft. The more I write, the more the story evolves. After the rough draft is done and I have a better idea of what the story is about, it’s easier for me to rewrite the entire thing rather than edit endlessly – which is what I did for Incursion. By contrast, Breach was rewritten at least twice, and I think it’s a stronger story for it.
Currently, book 3 is being rewritten, while book 4 is about ⅔ of the way through the initial draft. My hope is that the story has solidified enough so that I won’t have to rewrite book 4 once it’s done, and that this (third!) rewrite of book 3 will be the last.
Obviously, time is a disadvantage of this process. It takes a lot of time to write and rewrite, and sometimes the work feels daunting. But one of the (many) advantages is that I come to know my characters intimately; writing them to such a great degree allows me insights and realizations about them that I might not have otherwise gotten.
Inkitt: You mentioned before what an important role character development plays in your books – how did you find the evolution of the emotional, physical and mental journeys of your characters?
Lauren: I learn about my characters first and foremost by writing them. Even if what I write doesn’t find its way into the final story, (see the convoluted process in my previous answer), the writing process itself lends familiarity, which makes characters breathe.
Another thing I do – which is admittedly a little strange – is imagine my characters in every scenario, even if I don’t write those scenarios. For example, while waiting in line at the grocery store, I’ll think over how Kali would handle the situation, or Stonewall. (She’d probably get distracted reading magazines while he’d start second guessing every purchase and wondering what he forgot.) It sounds silly and can be a bit mundane at times, but it’s helped me form a much clearer picture of who these people are, what they want, and how they conduct themselves in their world. It’s also a great way to get funny looks when your imagination takes you to interesting places while you’re in public. (My imagination has caused spontaneous laughter in not-always-appropriate situations.)
Inkitt: What was the publishing process like the second time around? Did it feel a bit less daunting now that you’ve gone through it once before? Were there any notable differences?
Lauren: The process itself feels much the same as the first time, albeit a bit more streamlined. I think Inkitt’s publishing strategy has evolved and y’all are overall more adept at getting polished books out into the world. For example, I was pleased to see Breach go through multiple stages of editing and proofreading on your end, which is an excellent change from Incursion’s single round of edits.
As to if publication feels less daunting…yes and no. Yes, because I have a better idea of what to expect, both internally and externally, which means I’m better prepared to handle the emotional tsunami that is publication. (For me, at least.) No, because putting my work “out there,” in the world, is always frightening. No matter how often I go through this, (even if it’s only publishing stories online), the act of offering up something so close to my heart is terrifying. I love what I do and I want other people to love it as well, but past experience has shown me that that will not always be the case.
Inkitt: Leading up to the publication date of CM: Breach – how has it been interacting with your audience, having a real fan base anticipating the sequel? Did your readers’ feedback influence the plot line of the sequel at all?
Lauren: Every now and then people reach out to me on Twitter or something and express their excitement over book 2, and it blows my mind every time. Storytelling has always been primarily for my own enjoyment; it’s still extremely difficult to comprehend that other people find value in these stories, too. It’s incredibly rewarding, but sometimes hard to wrap my mind around.
As to reader feedback influencing book 2… Not really. In part because book 2 was written before book 1 was published, but also in part because the story is evolving as I write, and readers don’t have the scope that I do.
Inkitt: Now, a few questions for the newcomers – what type of reader do you think will enjoy this book and the series the most?
Lauren: Lovers of fantasy, for starters, but maybe those who want something a little different than the usual sword and sorcery fare. Those seeking a world that features equality in gender and sexual orientation. Folks who enjoy a slow burning story and a well-crafted romance that drives the plot but doesn’t overshadow it. Someone who enjoys realism in characters’ behavior and actions, but is maybe a little weary of the current “grimdark” trend and wants a story about finding love and hope in difficult times. Readers willing to trust someone who is a new author, (but is not a new writer). Anyone eager to get lost in another world.
Inkitt: How do you find the time to write these incredible works of fiction while having a regular day job?
Lauren: I write every morning before I start my job as an office drone. I also write in spare moments throughout the week, and on weekends. It’s not easy and I don’t have much of what you’d call a “social life,” but I don’t see this as a sacrifice because I’m doing what I love.
Inkitt: Three things that changed in your life after Catalyst Moon: Incursion got published.
Lauren: Well, for starters, I had a great new lockscreen for well over a year. (Although Breach’s phenomenal cover has since taken over.) In all seriousness, publication brought forth a lot of changes, some expected, some not. Of those expected, my drive to get out the rest of the story has increased tenfold; basically 100% of my writing efforts are geared toward that outcome.
As for unexpected changes… Publication was my dream for so long. Once it happened, I had to find another goal beyond “have two books published instead of one.” This search prompted me to think of my writing as something that could be a career, if I work hard enough. Before publication, I never allowed myself to think “yes, I could do this for a living,” because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself. Now that I see it is possible for me to be published, I’ve started thinking of what else I can do, how far I can ride this train. Publication has made me think in much broader terms than I did before; it’s made me realize I have to trust myself more, too.
Publication has also made me realize that I dearly want to share my stories with others. My writing isn’t just for me any longer, although stories often start that way and although I would still write even if I knew no one else would ever read any of it. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of soul-searching to realize that I want other people to love what I write. And as someone who struggles with issues of confidence and self-worth, that’s a difficult truth to admit.
And because of all of that, I think – I know – I’m a stronger person now than I was before Incursion was published.
Inkitt: Will you tell us a fun fact(s) about you, hidden talent or funny pet peeve.
Lauren: Music is my muse. When planning a scene, thinking over a character arc, or simply brainstorming, my favorite thing to do is put in my earbuds, crank up something inspiring, and go for a walk in the woods. Music gets the imagination flowing like nothing else. This is why I love music festivals so much! They’re a vacation for brain and body, which allows me to “recharge” my mental batteries and stay true to the joy of creating art. There is something so inspiring about being in the presence of a musician doing what they love, among an audience who is totally absorbed. I envy musicians a little bit, because they get the instant gratification of seeing audiences respond to their creations!
Inkitt: What book(s) are you reading right now?
Lauren: I don’t have much time to “read,” but I enjoy audiobooks! I’m currently listening to Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, by Allison Goodman. It’s a really cool epic fantasy featuring a ton of Eastern mythos and imagery. Plus dragons!
Inkitt: And finally, the question on everyone’s mind: will we see more from the Catalyst Moon universe or have you started working on a new story idea?
Lauren: Yes and yes. I’ve got about 5 books planned for the current Catalyst Moon story arc featuring Kali, Stonewall, and the rest of the gang. As I said earlier, I’m rewriting book 3 and the rough draft of book 4 is about ⅔ of the way done. I also have a novella/novellette set in the CM ‘verse, which needs some editing before it’s fit for human consumption. After this arc is done, I have plans for many other stories set in the world of Catalyst Moon, set both before and after the current arc.
I do have ideas for stories not set in the CM ‘verse, but right now, my focus is on Catalyst Moon.