Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. This week, I am excited to introduce to you former teacher turned romantic suspense author Lynette Sofras. I really enjoyed this interview. I love that she gets past writers block by doing housework — that is exactly my strategy! And, I find it incredibly romantic that she came up with her current release while in Greece taking a ferry boat from Patras to Ancon. Please enjoy as Lynette answers the questions you readers asked.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi Hallee, First of all thanks so much for inviting me to your wonderful blog. About me: well I’m a former Head of English who gave up teaching almost three years ago to focus on my writing and have never looked back since. I’ve loved reading and writing all my life and you could therefore say my lifelong dream has now come true.
Tell us about your current release.
I’m excited about In Loving Hate because it began a long time ago in my head but only recently saw the light of day. It’s a romantic suspense – here is the blurb:
How far will the rich and powerful go in order to achieve their goals? That is the question Lyssa must decide when she finds herself caught between two formidable adversaries: powerful business tycoon and shipping magnate, Alex Andrakis and close childhood friend, ‘Dynamic’ Nell Winters, brewery heiress and prolific businesswoman.
Following the failure of her marriage in Greece, Lyssa returns to her family home in London, to discover that her mother, a once-celebrated actress, is now facing crippling debts. When Lyssa begins to investigate these, she becomes embroiled in the intricate business dealings of Nell and her arch-rival Alex. Irresistibly drawn towards widower Alex and his unhappy young son, Lyssa begins to uncover some unexpected and disturbing facts.
The more involved she becomes, the more shocking are the discoveries she makes. The conflicts culminate in a frightening battle for survival as Lyssa finds herself the prime target between the possessive Nell and obsessive Alex. With her loyalties deeply divided, can Lyssa make the right choice for everyone concerned?
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write?
I think I must have wanted to write stories ever since I could appreciate them – in other words from being a very, very young child.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?
I’m sure all writers dream of the big publishing contract and we probably never quite relinquish that dream, but the publishing world is changing and changing quickly and quite radically. When I first realised this, I decided to try self-publishing a story just to see if anyone in the world might be interested in reading it. It seemed very few people were because I knew nothing about marketing. I decided to approach some review sites and one of these turned out not to be a review blog but a publisher running a romance story contest. My book won the grand prize and I was offered a publishing contract. I subsequently self-published two more novels, one of which remains my all-time best-seller, as well as a short sci-fi story written with my son. I love self-publishing – it’s an innovation and it gives the author so much more freedom.
What made you take the plunge and finally do it?
Curiosity – lol. But I’m very glad I did.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write?
No, I absolutely don’t have everything laid out any more. I used to believe that was the only way to write, but my more recent experiences have shown me that it’s not necessarily the best way for me. I just need a snip of an idea to begin before I start writing and see where this leads me. At some point, of course, I do need to stop and think about my options, but ideas usually give birth to more ideas as I write.
Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book?
I tend to aim for around 60-65,000 words because I feel that’s a fairly satisfying ‘read’.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
It has to be to get your ideas written down but not to rush to publish. You have to be prepared to go through your work endless times before you inflict it on anyone else. Take time to distance yourself from your story so that you can try to approach it through the eyes of a reader who has not lived out the story inside your head like you have. After that, get brutally critical opinions (forget asking loved-ones here!) and ask these readers to look out for specific things (not to be your editors and look for spelling/grammar mistakes etc, but to look at the flow of the story, the plot and most of all, the interest level. If they don’t feel like turning the next page, you need to be prepared to go back to the drawing board).
What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.)
Interesting. When I first started writing I filled copious exercise books with hand-written (in pencil) stories and then typed them up. Now I couldn’t do that to save my life. I can only ‘think’ in front of a computer screen.
How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel. What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them?
Time, as always. Writing is a solitary, unsociable and extremely time-consuming activity. It’s very hard to do when you have a family and/or job screaming for your attention. I had to put my dreams on hold for many years because of these demands. I was able to give up work on two occasions which enabled me to focus on writing: the first time was many years ago when I went to live abroad. I found myself with literally nothing to do for hours of the day – especially after I’d read everything I could get my hands on. There seemed to be nothing else for it, but to write my own stories. And then more recently when I decided to give up teaching or die from exhaustion and suddenly had the freedom to devote to my lifelong dream.
What is your inspiration for writing?
Mainly it’s those waking moments of a dream. My latest novel In Loving Hate, for example, came from a snip of a dream about a young woman standing outside her family home – an elegant London house in Knightsbridge. She saw a very smart car parked outside in the private forecourt and instinctively, she glanced up at the house and thought she saw the shadow of a person looking down from a top floor window. And as I woke up, the whole story began to take shape in my mind.
Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?)
Oh my! How long do we have for this? When I was very, very young I loved the Bobbsey Twins and devoured everything in the local library. My mother disapproved and weaned me off them and on to the Anne of Green Gables series and then the classics. After that I couldn’t get enough of the Brontes, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
Who do you envision your typical reader to be?
One of my most delightful reviews (for The Apple Tree) said “I want to find my own Nicholas. If I ever find anyone half as decent and loving as that man then I will be a happy woman.” And that reviewer is exactly how I want my typical reader to feel about my characters.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper?
I did have a lot of ideas, but not an endless source and more recently I’ve struggled a bit to find new ideas – but thankfully there always seem to be a few of them lurking in the background. I believe we all have unplumbed depths and it really only takes a tiny germ of an idea to start bringing those to the surface.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read?
Oh no, I definitely want to please readers first and foremost, but yes, I write for my own enjoyment because I write the sort of thing I’d want to read.
Which of your characters most reflects your personality?
I know I’ve spread myself quite liberally over two characters in Unworkers (which isn’t yet published) but I do hope all my characters have developed their own personalities which are quite different to mine.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write?
Well that’s the time the house gets cleaned – I clear the clutter and start playing domestic roles, trying out new recipes etc. Then I try to brainstorm with someone who understands me. That’s always the best cure. As I said before, it really only takes the germ of an idea…
I assume when you start a book, you pretty much have the plot laid out. Do you ever change your mind later on in the book, and go in a different direction?
Always! And because I know that, I don’t bother trying to work out the plot in advance. Stories are organic, they change direction according to rules of their own and I just don’t believe in trying to tame them to conform to a prior set of ideas. I believe in letting them have their own way.
What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done?
Being able to give up my career (and an extremely well-paid career at that) and just devote my time to writing. It’s a dream come true.
Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story?
My latest story In Loving Hate, yes! I lived in Greece at the time and was taking the ferry boat from Patras to Ancona prior to the long drive across Europe and into England. And I just knew that was how I wanted my story to begin…only my heroine would be travelling alone, escaping from a painful past in a grim marriage.
Find Lynette online:
Buy link: http://goo.gl/GBPJK (shortened URL)
I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
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Buy link: http://goo.gl/GBPJK (shortened URL)
Thank you so much for inviting me to your lovely blog, Hallee and to your readers for providing such excellent and thought-provoking questions.
This was a lovely interview. I’ve read Lyn’s The Apple Tree, and it was excellent. This new book intrigues me. I love the title. In Loving Hate. I adore the name, Lyssa. How is it pronounced? I’ve nicknamed my daughter with the same name, but we prounounce it “Lessa.” LIke less is more. When I’m pleased with her, I say, “Lessa Lynn.” I’m eager to read In Loving Hate. Thanks for a great read on this blog!
Thank you, Gay.
The name Lyssa popped into my mind when I was looking for a change for the original name I’d chosen when the story was still a work in progress. I didn’t intend it to stick, but it just did. I pronounce it as if the ‘y’ is an ‘i’. It’s actually Greek for rage or madness, which is a great pity considering it’s such a pretty name!
The title of the story came from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – one of those fanciful oxymorons Romeo tends to favour. I’m so glad you like it.
Great interview. In Loving Hate is a must read for me. I read The Apple Tree and loved her writing, so I am really looking forward to reading her new book.
Thank you so much, Kim – you are very kind.
Lynette develops very real and interesting characters. Love to hear she’s continuing to produce books regularly.
Thank you for dropping by and for your kind words, Bonnie.
These articulate answers tell me Lynette Sofras is a marvelous writer!
What an interesting interview. I’m looking forward to reading one of Lynette’s books.
Great interview. Your new book sounds very interesting.
Carlene, Vicki and Kim – thank you all of you for your kind words. They are much appreciated.