Before I start my (very awkward) own interview today, I need to tell you the reason I'm doing it. Today would've been the interview with the 9th author in the anthology, Lara van Lelyveldt.
Lara, unfortunately, is in hospital and hadn't been able to complete the interview yet. As soon as she is feeling up to it, I will post Lara's interview. In the meantime you can follow Lara on Instagram:
Tell us about your writing career
I never had any aspiration of being an author. A chance meeting in New York in July 2016 with a young Jersey rugby player and reading a terrible rugby romance on the long flight back to South Africa, had been the catalyst, however. I thought I could do better than that book. Hah! I was in for a surprise. But, by the time the plane landed in Johannesburg, I not only planned one book, but a series of five. That Monday I seemed to unpack the muse along with my dirty laundry. I must admit, my first drafts were as terrible as the book I read on the plane. I persevered, though and by the time I attended a Romance Masterclass in Cape Town, presented by my writing coach, Sarah Bullen in May 2017, I had about seven or eight completed manuscripts. For three months Sarah coached me, and by September I submitted my debut novel to about 60 publishers. I got 9 rejections, but then got a 3-book deal with a New York based publisher. My debut novel, Eye on the Ball, was published in April 2018. I soon realized, however, that the traditional publishing process is way too slow for me. In May 2018, I self-published Taste for Coffee, the first book in the Taste for Love series. I never looked back. Even before the publisher could publish my second book, I asked for my rights back. I since then published 15 English books. I’ve re-written some of my English books into Afrikaans and have now published 8 of them and another one is due out soon. I also have written one book only in Afrikaans in the Pad na Glorie series, which will be published soon after 'n Man soos Pierre.
Why did you choose to write romance?
I fell in love with romances when I was ten years old. I devoured all the Afrikaans romance books in our local library and by the time I was 15, I switched over to the English section. Therefore, romance was an easy choice for me. Who doesn't like a Happy Ever After?
What is the name of your story in the anthology?
Best friends shouldn’t look like Lia Moorcroft, nor should they make you feel things like she does. Jesse Summers realized it the moment the girl he knew, since she was in diapers, crashed into him after disappearing for eight long years. He needed a little time to get used to the new Lia. It isn’t too much to ask, or is it?
Things never turn out the way you imagine them to. Soon, Jesse and Lia find out that Lia will be Jesse’s new intern. Both treasure their friendship and will do anything to protect it, even burying their growing feelings.
But how long can they do that?
What was your inspiration for this story?
I always knew I wanted to write Jesse’s story. Jesse is the twin brother of Angie, my heroine in Eye on the Ball. He had to have a story. I knew it from the beginning, but didn’t know what it was. I actually started writing this story in 2018 for my then publisher’s Fall Anthology, but never submitted it. I love the friends to sweethearts trope and I knew Jesse would be ideal for it.
What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning this story?
Google is my friend. 😀 When I wrote Eye on the Ball, I wanted to send my South African character to New York. I’ve been to New York. I don’t know how it happened but Jakes ended up in Denver. And then I had to research Denver as I’ve never been there! (I still want to go). I’ve done a lot of research then so I could use that information for Chances. I also had to do research about public relations and the media for Obstruction, and ballet for my Afrikaans novel ‘n Man soos Pierre, which I could use for Chances too.
How long did it take you before you began writing this story and then, how long did it take then to complete?
I’ve written the story in 2018, but when I realized I’m only six weeks away from my deadline of submitting, Chances was the one story from all the half-completed ones which spoke to me. In the end I only kept a few scenes from the original story and it took me two weeks to submit it to Kathy, my lovely editor. I might elaborate on the story later on, though as I feel there are too many scenes still begging to be written. For someone writing 80000-word novels, writing a story in 15000 doesn't come easy.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I have a few methods but I research a lot of baby names for a specific country. For my rugby series I create a list of names of international rugby players and their surnames and mix and match them until I find The One. As I have already visualized my character’s look, the name should fit the face. And then, if it is a female, the name and surname should match her maiden name and my MC’s surname. Jesse was Jesse, right from the beginning. One look at his face, and he was Jesse. I didn’t even have to research it. Lia, however, was a different matter. In my original story she was Amelia Jane Moorcroft but everyone calls her Amy. Only Jesse called her Twinkletoes (because she is/was a ballerina). However, my editor pointed out that Angie and Amy sound too alike. I couldn’t change Angie as she already made her appearance in the first six books in the Playing for Glory series so it had to be Amy. I liked the ring of Amelia Jane so looked for something similar and found Cecilia Jane Moorcroft had the same tone. And because she had a three-letter nickname before, I chose Lia as her nickname.
How do you like to collect and organise your ideas?
I usually dream up my ideas. Really! I sometimes wake up at three in the morning, get up and go to my study to write the scene and go back to bed. Often I dream for weeks about that scene and new ones that came along and every time I just go and add it to the story. Most often I don’t even have a name for the story or know which series it will fit in. I will save it under the first few words I’ve written. You don’t want to see some of the names I’ve stored the files under! When I recently went back to a file and read the scenes I’ve written, I realized I had an almost completed 55000 word novel. All I had to do is re-arrange the scenes and add a couple more! If I can’t get to my computer, I will make a note on my phone for later use. I have written many scenes on my phone on long road trips or waiting in a queue.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am neither a plotter or a pantser. I am a planser! Yes, apparently there is such a thing. I plan a series, and I create most of the characters in that series. I may even assign a trope to a specific character and create a timeline, but that is about it. Then I sit down and write whatever the characters want to tell me. Sometimes I have to drag it out of them, like Richie, in Wrecking Ball. He was one stubborn Scot! Only then, after they told me what they want to tell me, I will plot and often need to do more research. I used to do the plotting in Word, but since I’ve discovered Plottr, I’m in love! Completely and utterly in love. I’ve even plotted two stories from the beginning. (I may shock you, Sarah!) I love that I can create series bibles and have all my characters and timelines together.
I must admit that when you write the seventh book in a series, it is a lot easier than the first one or two. By then you have a fair idea of where the other characters are going and where there love interests lie and as you can use the scenes in the first stories as a basis, it makes it so much easier. In the Playing for Glory series, I have for example, one scene where seven male characters are present. I use that same scene in each of the seven characters’ stories but just re-write it from their point of view. There is another scene where seven women are together. Six of them will have stories in the Playing for Glory series, and the seventh, Hannah, escaped to the Blue Mountain series. And, of course, there are other events you can add to later stories, for example the wedding of the characters in the first story.
(Plotting in Progress)
When romance author Francine Beaton is not reading or writing about love and Happily Ever After, she’s most likely busy painting or taking photos of everything that catches her eye. It’s easy to figure out why her debut novel, Eye on the Ball, as well as the series, Playing for Glory, has rugby as a theme. During rugby season, you’ll find her either next to the pitch or in front of the television, following her favourite teams. Francine loves to write series and self-publish in both English and Afrikaans.
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