Alright y'all, as you know from last week, I met this lovely in the FB Group Dystopian Ink. Now I am still super grateful that she agreed to do this interview, and have me as an ARC reader. Lauren has also been hard at work getting ready for pub day of Guns & Smoke. I absolutely loved the book, and cannot wait for the rest of y'all to get your hands on a copy! Let's dive in to Lauren's brain shall we?
Q: What is your name and where do you live?
A: Hi! My name is Lauren Sevier and I live in Central, Louisiana. It’s a small town outside the capital city of Baton Rouge.
Q: Are you an Indie Author or do you work with a publishing company?
A: I’m an Indie author. I had the opportunity to work with a publishing company in the past, and may choose to in the future for other books, but I’ve been enjoying the Indie publishing industry so far.
Q: What genre(s) do you write?
A: I love (and hate) this question! My debut novel was the first in a YA Fantasy series titled ‘Songs Of Autumn’ but my newest release is actually an Adult Dystopian/Western Romance novel. I thought at one point I would never write romance, but when developing this book ‘Guns & Smoke’ it just worked too well not to. I like to say, never say never, so I like to think I’ll be able to cross genres several times throughout my career. However, I’m the least comfortable writing mystery novels…. So if I had to exclude a genre, that would be my go-to.
Q: What made you want to become a writer in the first place?
A: Do any of us really choose to become writers? It’s almost a compulsion, isn’t it? My son was the inspiration behind pursuing publishing and taking my writing more seriously. After he was born, I wanted to be an example of hard work and passion for him. I wanted to show him that if you work hard enough and want something badly enough, you could achieve anything. But, choosing to write in the first place? I’ve always done it. From song lyrics, poems, short stories, fan fiction, I’ve always had ideas too big to stay inside of me that I’ve written down. Most writers I speak to have a very similar experience. The need to create, to share that creation, to explore your imagination and by default find truths within yourself. I think writing is a fundamentally human activity. A way to explain the world, as we know it, to ourselves and to others.
Q: Do you work a regular job in between books?
A: I do! I actually work full-time in Cardiology as my regular day job. I love it. I love working in healthcare, advocating for patients, being able to see the effect I have on others lives every day at work. I like helping people, and I feel very lucky I get to do that every day.
Q: How many books have you published?
A: Guns & Smoke will be my second published book, but I’m hoping to have at least two releases this year.
Q: How many books do you have in the works right now?
A: My husband asked me this question recently and was more than a little shocked by the answer. The count is currently at 30 books in progress. Some have been outlined, plotted, planned, others I only have the hook and genre for. But I have a running file of all the books I plan to publish and I just added a Regency Era Historical Fiction novel last week, so the count is currently up to 30. No pressure! LOL!
Q: What was your hardest scene to write so far?
A: There’s a scene in my debut ‘Songs Of Autumn’ and without giving any spoilers… there’s a character death. The death wasn’t hard to write. It’s a plot point that’d been there since the conceptualizing stage of the novel. Writing the devastation afterwards… that was incredibly hard. You have to tap into real emotions for scenes like that to be written well, and I was grieving my own losses at the time. So it was incredibly raw and very difficult for me to disconnect the grief I was feeling from the grief my main character was at the time of writing it. That’s why I think it’s been the hardest scene to write so far. I didn’t have enough distance from my own real life experiences that seemed to parallel those emotions.
Q: How many books do you have that are not being currently worked on, but are half-written or complete but unpublished?
A: 29. No… 28. I am currently working on Book #2 in both the Songs Series titled ‘Songs Of Winter’ and ‘The Fool’s Adventure’ series titled ‘Leather & Lace’. So that leaves 28 that are in my file ready to be worked on.
Q: Do you have a series developing?
A: Two. I mentioned them above. My YA Fantasy series is the ‘Songs Series’ and will be a total of 6 full-length novels, the first of which is already published. It’s titled Songs Of Autumn. The other series, my co-authored series, is launching 7.10.2021 and it’s the Dystopian/Western Romance novel I mentioned earlier as well. The series is titled ‘The Fool’s Adventure Series’ and so far it will have a base 4 novels, as well as I believe 6 or more additional novels set in the world. The debut for that series is titled Guns & Smoke. I am actually really excited for those novels. I think they’re really something special.
Q: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
A: For the Songs Series it’s clear that each novel is connected. It follows the same band of characters and has the same overarching conflict needing to be resolved. Mainly, how to save the world. For the Fool’s Adventure series, the base 4 novels are connected, and then there are several that will stand on their own within the world we’ve built. It’s something I’m immensely proud of.
Q: What is your next book that is set to be published and when is the release day?
A: Guns & Smoke is set to be published 7.10.2021!!!
Q: How long did it take you to write it?
A: I guess, technically, it took my co-author and I six years to get it to this stage. BUT, when we’d originally written it, we thought it would be a YA Dystopian novel and it grew beyond that. We also took an almost 3 year break from developing it. When we came back to it, I sent Abbie (my co-author) a really comprehensive breakdown of revisions and changes, the main thing being the genre change and aging up the protagonists. When she read my proposal though, she immediately was like ‘OF COURSE! THIS IS WHY IT WASN’T WORKING!’ and we set out a timeline for rewriting the entire manuscript. We were supposed to give ourselves a year or more to have a workable draft to send to an editor… we finished the revisions in less than a month. The book literally took control. So we moved up our timetable by about 9 months.
Q: What did you do when your characters stop talking (writer’s block) to you during the process?
A: Take a break. I’m convinced there’s no such thing as writer’s block. There are times when your mind and your body tell you that you need to slow down. Getting distance from your book can oftentimes help clear your mind and give you a more objective view of changes that may need to be made. Or it could be your body saying you need a little self care. Those things are important for writers. The act of creation is draining. You can’t create from nothing. You draw on a well, and you can’t draw on it if it’s empty. You need to refill it with things that inspire you. Spending time with your family, traveling, reading a good book, trying a new restaurant. These are the kinds of things that refill my well. Going for a walk in nature. People watching at a park. (All within reason for Covid procedures, of course)
Q: What routine do you have when you sit down to write a book?
A: Panic. LOL! No, I bring snacks and drinks into my office and make sure my husband knows that he needs to keep my son from crashing the party (if at all possible, toddlers are VERY persistent) and I put on my noise cancelling headphones and… go. For as long or as short as I need to. I normally try to tackle it one chapter at a time. Usually in order, though, if I’m really motivated and need to skip ahead to keep up the momentum I will. Drafting has always been where I was the weakest. So for me, it’s all about getting it out on the page as quickly as possible and trying not to fall down a plot hole the size of Texas that I’ll never be able to crawl out of.
Q: Do you write it all out in long sittings or short ones (sprints)?
A: It really depends on the circumstances. My husband is a first responder and works shift work. So if he’s not home, I usually write in shorter sprints during my son’s naptime and after bed. If he’s home and it’s a weekend, I’ll write in long sittings in my office during the day. Coming out periodically to eat, spend time with my boys, etc. Usually between chapters or as a treat to myself when I’ve hit milestones.
Q: Do you get exhausted or energized during writing sessions? Both?
A: Both. There is nothing more motivating than when you hit your stride in the middle of a writing session. When puzzle pieces click together, you find your character’s voice, and it’s ringing through you like a church bell. When you can’t stop the momentum even if you wanted to. But after an intense writing session, whether it’s the aftermath of the above type passion or tapping into emotions to really develop your characters or even spending hours upon hours researching one seemingly insignificant detail… the result at the end is always exhausting for me. That’s why I think it’s so important to make sure we’re telling other writers it's OKAY to take breaks and to rest when they need to.
Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books?
A: From life, mostly. There are things I get passionate about and they somehow turn into ideas for books. Songs Of Autumn for example has themes that directly parallel the climate crisis. Also parts of my life inspired the conflict in the novel. I like to tap into things that affect us all universally as well when it comes to character development. In Guns & Smoke for example, both characters are healing from past trauma and learning to trust and hope and love again. First themselves, then each other. That’s definitely something I think is relatable to a lot of people coming out of this global pandemic.
Q: Is there another author you look up to or strive to be as successful as?
A: No. I have authors whose writing style I really enjoy or whose stories really resonate with me, but I’m a firm believer that comparison is the enemy of success. I had to really dive deep and ask myself what success looked like to me when I was choosing whether or not to pursue traditional publishing over the last few years. What I realized is that success looks different for everyone. For me, I think success is more about reader enjoyment and passion than anything else. I wanted to put out books that I loved, and I wanted my readers to enjoy them. To care about the characters and the world I created. I’m doing that. The reviews and readers who’ve reached out to me, they make me rich beyond measure. BUT, I do love Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse… specifically the development of Kaz Brekker in the Six Of Crows duology. I am a fangirl of anti-heroes and misanthropes in literature. So, while I don’t look up to her as far as success or strive to have the same publishing journey as her. I definitely love her writing style and character development.
Q: Are you a reader yourself?
A: Nope. *Said in front of a library of wall to wall books* LOL! Yes. I’m an avid reader. I love books. I love books so much it’s probably a little unhealthy. But, I guess there are worse hobbies right?
Q: If so, are you a beta or ARC reader for anyone else? (You don’t have to name for who if you do not wish to.)
A: I am! I can’t say much since he hasn’t announced publication for his novel series, unfortunately. Then of course there are the authors that I do developmental editing for, I don’t have a ton of time between my full-time job and the books I’m publishing, so I’m REALLY selective about the clients I choose to work with. I love all their books so much when I sign on to help them. Again, since it’s before publication announcements no specific details. Sorry!
Q: Do you like to read the same genre(s) you write?
A: I’m a pretty eclectic reader, which is probably why I have interest in writing in several genres too. I do tend to read a lot in the genre I’m currently writing in, I like to stay on top of publishing trends. I also like to see when the market gets saturated with certain themes/tropes/etc. It’s always good to try and make sure you know what your intended audience is reading, and responding to. Especially if you want to write stories they’ll enjoy.
Q: Do you have a favorite book or a book that stands out the most?
A: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It’s not technically a YA, or Fantasy, or Dystopian/Western, BUT… it’s my favorite book of all time. There were a ton of things that were done well in it that I’ve been able to translate into my writing. For example, my writing style favors long, loose sentence structures that Austen was a fan of. I also really love the way she subverted the trope of the good girl falling for the bad boy. If you really take a look at P&P you’ll notice Darcy is the good girl falling for Elizabeth who would be considered the ‘Bad Boy’... which really just makes me love the book even more than I already did. We should definitely have more Good Boy/Bad Girl romances in the world.
Q: Have you ever cried, laughed, or had a real emotional response to a book?
A: Almost daily. LOL! It’s what I LOVE about reading, and writing respectively. The point, to me, of literature is to make us feel things. And if you don’t, then why did you waste your time reading it? I want to care. I want to cry. I want to be horrified. I want my heart to break. I want the happily ever after butterflies.
Q: What kind of social media do you have?
A: I’m almost everywhere! I love connecting with people. Here’s my linktree for all of the places you can find me. :) https://linktr.ee/laurensevier (copied each link below if this one doesn't work).
Q: Do you like to connect with your readers using your chosen platforms?
A: Absolutely! I love connecting to my readers however they choose to reach out. And I love making new friends. :)
Q: Do you have any author friends that have helped you with your writing process or just been there for support?
A: My co-Author A. Smith is literally the Yin to my Yang. Where I have a lot of passion and energy that needs to be wrangled into a semblance of organization, she’s methodical and thorough and measured. We balance each other really well. I love writing with her. Even brainstorming with her. We can sit in a room and talk for hours, ad nauseum, about a book plot and by the end of the session have so much work done it’s insane. And it’s fun. We laugh until we fall out of chairs. Or I scandalize her with some off the wall idea and then she figures out a way to make it work. Also, Nicole Mckeon, Author of ‘The Eververse Chronicles’ has done a lot for me. She beta read, gave me critique, drew character art for my characters, and even did a blurb for my inside cover of Songs Of Autumn. I’m so blessed to have so many wonderful friends in the industry.
Q: What was the best money ever spent as a writer?
A: Any craft book. Anything that will help me learn and grow in my craft is money WELL spent. Even though I’m published I don’t plan on these being the BEST books I’ve ever written. I hope I never have a book I publish that is the ‘Best book I’ve ever written’. For me, it’s about my career as an author, not just one book or series. I hope I never think I know everything or can stop learning, I want to keep getting better through my whole career, exponentially. That’s a goal for me.
Q: How does your family feel about your writing?
A: They’re incredibly supportive. My mother is always astounded by my vocabulary, as if she didn’t realize I knew so many words. It’s adorable and so endearing every time she says it. My husband is a fanboy. He has favorite characters and threatens that I'll have to sleep on the couch if I dare kill them off. Which, naturally, makes me want to do it all the more. LOL!
Q: Is there anything about you that your readers don’t know that you would like them to know?
A: Yes! My co-author and I have a new book launching a new series coming out this summer! July, 10th 2021 Guns & Smoke will be available in print and ebook form platform wide! It’s a Dystopian/Western Romance so fans of the TV show Firefly or the video game Borderlands will really enjoy this book as it's in a similar setting. You can add it to your Goodreads list too!
Alright folks, there you have it! Lauren Sevier has many more books in the works, but is counting down the days until pub day for Guns & Smoke with her co-author A. Smith. I am so grateful that she agreed to do this interview, and cannot wait to see what she has in store. I hope that you guys go check out her social media pages and her first book!