Author Interview, Catina Haverlock & Angela Larkin, Beyond
How do you write a teen romance ghost story? Definitely not by yourself! Two authors have teamed up and launched their debut novel, learning that writing a novel takes sacrifice, especially if you have demands (ie, children) that require most of your attention.
Check out their Author Interview below! Then when you're done, be sure to check out my video interview with them!
1. List the titles of your published books (include publisher and year published) plus your author website/Facebook page links.
June 13, 2017
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from? Include the synopsis.
Angela: I first started writing to fill a need. I was obsessed with The Twilight Saga, and Pride and Prejudice. Those love stories consumed me - had me fixating on the characters for weeks. I couldn’t find another book that made me feel that way, so I started writing YA romance to fill that void.
Catina; I was also obsessed with the Twilight series and longed for a saga that entranced me the way Edward and Bella’s love story did. I played around with some ideas that focused on forbidden love. The idea for BEYOND first came about in 2007. I had a dear friend who unexpectedly lost his wife. He told me that he could feel her presence near him for several days after her death. I started thinking that if spirits could choose to linger after death, would they? And why?
Beyond - Synopsis:
Presley Hale has no idea the guy she just told off in the school parking lot died in a drowning accident four months ago. Why would she? It’s not like she knows she can see the dead. Stunned by Presley’s sixth sense, Landon Blackwood rethinks his planned departure and begins tracking her to find answers to their mysterious connection.
When their complicated relationship turns dangerous, they learn that tampering with the boundaries of death comes with consequences. Can Landon save Presley from the insidious spirits who have marked her for death, or was their love doomed from the beginning?
3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
Angela: Aside from the time commitment required and having small children and giving birth to two additional babies during the writing process, the hardest part was overcoming self-doubt. Could a mom like me really write a book? A book people would pay money to read? Was I kidding myself? Was it just a pipe dream?
Catina: The time! I have four children and one with special needs. The story was there – but the time was not. I finally admitted that if I ever wished to share this story with the world, I’d have to sacrifice sleep, some family time and most everything else extracurricular until it was finished.
4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?
We immediately began the query process. It took us a good year through trial and error to write a great query. We learned to pace ourselves and not send out a huge batch of queries at one time. P.S. Writing an awesome query letter is much harder than writing the novel!
5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?
Angela: I wasn’t sure what to expect. This was the first project I’d seen through to “The End.” I learned that revisions and editing are much more work than telling the story in the first round.
Catina: The editing process was invigorating and exhausting. I learned that your first draft doesn’t have to be your perfect draft. That’s what the editing process is for.
6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?
Revisions and re-writing became such a labor of love because by this point we had put so much blood, sweat and tears into BEYOND that we couldn’t stand to settle with “good enough”. If there were plot holes, we had to fix them. If the emotion of a scene wasn’t quite right, it had to be re-done. It required a lot of feedback from readers. A lot of re-reading from us. Taking breaks from it to reset our manuscript blindness.
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that?
We did use about ten beta readers. They proved invaluable. They didn’t hold back. The showed us honestly the weaknesses in our story. We wouldn’t dream of submitting another story without first using the keen eyes of our beta readers.
8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?
To us, the cover is SO important. Neither one of us will pick up a book if it has a bad cover. It’s what draws a reader in. Our publisher has graphic artists on staff that designed our cover. We were pleasantly surprised that they asked for our detailed input. We wanted to incorporate elements from the setting on the cover and a monochromatic color scheme. We were against showing any faces on the cover and we wanted a very modern, simple design. They even let us choose a matte or shiny finish. Our designer came through with something that was even better than we imagined.
9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?
We queried for a little over a year. We wanted to be traditionally published. It was a dream of ours. The rejections were tough. Some agents and publishers were very kind and offered encouragement. Some were very cold and dismissive. We had to learn to keep trying even though we had no promise of success.
10. How have you marketed your first book?
We have done our best to learn all we can about marketing principles. We try to engage with our fan base in a meaningful and genuine way. Neither of us wants to feel like sales people. We want to give helpful information that helps the reader decide if our book is a good fit for them.
To help spread the word about BEYOND, we’ve utilized giveaways, live Facebook events, picture quotes on Instagram, engaging on Twitter and sharing when we have successes like when our book reached four #1 spots on Amazon.
We also ask people individually to leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. In almost every instance, readers have been eager to help once they know how they can. We’ve had to learn to be fearless. We walk into book stores with our sales sheet and ask for signings. We call TV news stations and podcasters and ask for interviews – some say yes!
11. How was the initial feedback from readers?
People have been so supportive. We’ve been blown away, honestly. People post reviews, recommend our book to friends, share pictures of our book and are already asking if there will be a sequel!
12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?
Sales have been great and BEYOND hasn’t even officially released yet. In fact, recently while in Utah for a writers conference, we stopped by our publisher warehouse to pick up some books for a signing event and they only had eight left from the first printing. They had to do a rush print because they were so surprised they’d run out so quickly. No one was more surprised than we were!
13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?
We aren’t sure. Because BEYOND hasn’t released yet, we haven’t received detailed sales reports at this time. Also, our ebok just now became available for pre-order, so we don’t have a track record to analyze.
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?
Our publisher and retailers set the prices, but we do have some input. For example if we want to run a special on ebooks for a marketing plan, they will work with us.
15. What made you decide to write more books? How were those experiences (writing/editing) compared with your first book? Did you do anything differently?
Angela: I couldn’t stop writing if I tried. Too many stories waiting to be told! After we finished BEYOND, I began work on a contemporary romance on my own. The process obviously goes much faster because I don’t have to run anything by a second party. I was surprised that the first draft was completed in four months.
Catina: Writing has become a part of my identity. I have so many stories to write. And it’s fun! For me, creating a universe with diverse characters and settings is as fun as reading about them, and I love to read! I’m currently working on a contemporary YA Romance and a contemporary Middle Grade adventure.
Co-authoring is an entirely different experience than writing solo. There are pros and cons to each process. One great thing about co-authoring is that we NEVER suffered from writer’s block. If anything, we had too many ideas!
16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?
At this time, we only have one book published.
17. When did you consider yourself a "writer?”
Angela: I had been paid in the past for my writing and that felt good, but it was nothing compared to getting that letter that said Cedar Fort wanted to publish BEYOND. I had never felt more validated in my writing. All I could do was cry and say “Are you serious? Are you serious?” over and over and over. At that moment, I knew I was really a writer.
Catina: I wrote my way through college at my university’s newspaper and TV station, as well as Las Vegas’s CBS affiliate. But those were news stories and not nearly as fun as writing a novel. I think the moment we received an offer letter for BEYOND was the pinnacle moment for me as well.
18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?
Angela: I write late at night. Sadly, I’m not a very disciplined writer. With four kids and a husband to care for, I don’t have a lot of predictable free time. I grab my writing sessions in snatches. Often they will happen in large chunks. I’m much more likely to write for five or six hours straight than to write for an hour each day. I find myself most motivated by little explosions of ideas. Songs, images, dreams all give me ideas. When the inspiration starts flowing, I have to sit down and capture it before I lose it.
Catina: I do most of my writing in my head, and then when I sit down at the computer, the chapter flows easily. I travel alone frequently from my Southern California home to Las Vegas which is such a luxury for fleshing out my stories. Much of Beyond was created in my head during those drives, and put to paper when I got home. The same is true for my current projects. Also, ideas come to be all of the time in the middle of the night. I have a notebook on my bedside table, because if I wait until morning to write it down, I will inevitably lose it!
19. What do aspiring authors ask you?
Angela: People wonder about the ins and outs of publishing, how to get noticed, how to improve their writing so it will be good enough for publication. Some people who have a desire to write but haven’t started yet ask me where to begin. I like to refer them to Faulkner quote: “Don’t be a writer. Be writing.” Just begin. Write and write and write until you have something you like. And don’t be surprised if at first, it stinks. I’ve learned that writing isn’t some magical gift that just flows out of a newbie at the first keystroke. It’s a skill and a craft every bit as much as a brain surgeon has to develop. It takes lots of work and time. I know I’m just beginning to learn about writing.
Catina: People are very curious about the publishing process. How does one find a publisher? Where do your ideas come from? I advise aspiring authors to tap into their emotion. I first learned that my writing resonated with many people when I started a blog to deal with the grief of having a child regress from perfectly typical to severely autistic. For me, when I’m raw and honest and fearless, I write the best. I encourage other authors explore on a conscious level, what they are passionate about and sit down and start writing. Even if there isn’t a complete story there, sit down and write.
20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?
Angela: Two words: Unbending Persistence.
Ok, ok more words than two. (I am a writer after all!) I recently sat in an author forum with one of my favorite romance authors, Amy Harmon. She shared a lesson she learned from Shannon Hale. When writing, just cut lose. Let it rip. She used the term, “shovel the sand”. Shovel that sand furiously into a huge pile. Don’t worry about crafting and smoothing and shaping the sand into a perfect castle in the beginning. You’ll burn yourself out before you even begin. You have to shovel (write) like a mad person. And then finally, after you have something to work with. THEN it’s time to start shaping and molding that story into perfection. And P.S. you’ll never think your writing is perfect. Ever.
Catina: Write the story that’s in your heart – the one you are passionate about and that keeps you up at night. Don’t write for the market and current trends – they change all of the time. Don’t look at agent’s wish lists – those change too. Write the story you are meant to tell. Take time to learn your craft. Publisher and agents most often read until they have a reason to say, “No.” Don’t give them that! Attend writer’s conferences to learn from the best, read books on how to hone in your ability (I highly recommend The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and Don’t Sabotage Your Submission by Chris Roerden). Lastly, get involved with a writer’s critique group! Feedback from other authors can be invaluable.