Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Author Interview: LORI L. LAKE

Author Interview by A. J. Llewellyn

1. Hi Lori, welcome to the Dark Divas den! First of all I have to day how jealous I am that you got to do a book tour with Victor J. Banis…you even got to touch him. You…you hugged him! Was it as wonderful as it looked?

~Victor is a delightful man – full of love and light and humor. We had so much fun that night in Madison. I just wish we’d had more time. I’m hoping to meet up with him again at another event in the near future. From the moment we first “met” online, we hit it off. I’m not even sure why we clicked so readily, but perhaps it’s because he’s a kind soul who is open to anyone trying to flex creative muscles. I’ve had the honor of editing two of his projects, Come This Way and Angel Land, and he was a joy to work with.. That latter novel is brilliant. He *so* deserves awards for that. I hope he gets shortlisted for a Lammy.

2. I read and reviewed Angel Land and loved it. He is really amazing. Now back to you…your sixth book Snow Moon Rising is a consistent seller for you and has also won some significant awards: 2007 Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award Winner, the 2007 Golden Crown Literary Award Winner - Best General/Dramatic Fiction, the 2007 Alice B. Readers Award Winner, and the 2007 Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Award Winner. How do you top this?

~Good question. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to top the experience of walking up to the podium in a giant banquet hall to receive the Ann Bannon Award from Ann Bannon herself! I am so very content about the accolades I’ve received. I feel very blessed.

3. Content? Man, I’d be delirious. Did you find support from other authors…or a lot of jealousy?

~I’ve found only support. I’ve always spent quite a bit of time serving as a resource for other writers and doing whatever I can to help writers network. Other authors seem to recognize that, and no one has ever begrudged me anything. People have seemed quite happy for me and celebrated with me like crazy.

4. That is heartening to hear! Lori, I really like your “Gun” books. Dez and Jaylynn are a dazzling duo and very believable characters. How much research did you in the area of police enforcement for this series?

~Thanks! I did a lot of research and continue to expand my knowledge base about all things related to police, firearms, and crime. For the “Gun” books, I had cop beta-readers. I spent a lot of time with women officers and went on several ride-alongs with both male and female cops. I’ve participated in a Citizen’s Police Academy and also worked hard to understand firearms and become a decent marksman. I even wrote an extensive, 3-part series for writers about guns at retired police officer Lee Lofland’s website:
Part I - Guns, Guns, Guns
Part II - Outfitting Your Sleuth(s)
Part III - Outfitting Your Crooks - and Yourself

5. What surprised you most about the ride-alongs? I ask this because I did one in San Matteo County, CA and was surprised this tiny force has five cops who are a bit like the blokes out of Mayberry. However these guys deal with consistent cases of robbery, shootings…stuff I wouldn’t associate with small town life. I was also surprised in one day we dealt with three different guys recently released from prison who were out doing stupid stuff again.
What about you? How was your experience?

~I’ve ridden along with cops from the big city (Saint Paul, MN and Ann Arbor, MI) and also with a woman officer in a Minnesota town of 20,000 which had only about two dozen officers. For a couple of years I also updated the website for the Minnesota Association of Women Police, so I was able to tap a lot of information there. I think what surprised me the most about every ride-along was the level of professionalism and knowledge that the officers possessed.
Each had his or her own personality, but they really knew their jobs, the area, and a lot of the people we ran into. Cops practice a lot more restraint than anyone ever gives them credit for. After my experiences with them on traffic stops and in highly charged confrontations, I really respect the fact that there are, statistically, not very many shootings by police after all. They get into some highly stressful circumstances with tense and fearful people, many of whom lack brains, and they defuse those situations with real skill. I don’t think people realize how hard a police officer’s job can be.

6. Absolutely! Can we look forward to more books coming out in the "Gun" series?

~Yes, I hope so. I have an entire contemporary mystery series in mind for Dez to investigate. I’ve got about 9,000 words written on a 4th as-yet-unnamed "Gun" book. I just have to get back to it and focus.

7. I know you have some stories in two upcoming anthologies…can you tell us a little about these and what else are you cooking up there in Minneapolis?

~The amazing Earl Kemp, who first published all those pulp novels in the early days of gay fiction, posted a memoir piece I wrote (http://efanzines.com/EK/eI42/#reason) at his e-zine. And I also have a short story called Den of Iniquity coming out in a print publication from Nodin Press. I just got word about that recently, so I’m not sure about the details yet or the name of the anthology. But a bunch of Minnesota crime fiction writers will be featured.

Also, I’m teaching some classes here pretty quick:
Novel Writing from Start to Finish
True Colors Bookstore (formerly Amazon Feminist Books)
Thursdays - 8 Meetings: 6-8:00PM
April 9 - May 28

Novel Writing from Start to Finish
The Loft Literary Center
Wednesdays - 8 Meetings: 6-8:00PM
June 17 - Aug 12 (no class July 1)

Writing "Queer" Fiction
The Loft Literary Center
Saturdays - 6 Meetings: 1PM-4PM
July 11 - Aug 15

I love to teach! And I welcome anyone who can get to the Twin Cities area.

7. You have some famous kin. You are fifth cousins of Orville and Wilbur Wright, but is it true you hate to fly?

~Oh, yeah. It’s so incredibly uncomfortable and claustrophobic. I hate those lousy tin cans. The train is more comfortable. When I flew in January, the man ahead of me put his seat back, and I’m not kidding when I say I could have licked the bald spot on the top of his head. Flying is just awful.

8. That has happened to me…it’s icky…although I kinda get a kick out of you licking the guy’s head…ahem…I read a beautiful quote on your website: "That's what makes [writing] so painful. Eventually at some point you're cornered and you have to deal with all of those monsters you've awakened. So I always feel like with every book, I come out different on the other side. Of course, that's also how you make sausage, so you can draw your own conclusions." ~Libba Bray, American Young Adult author of Rebel Angels, The Sweet Far Thing, and A Great and Terrible Beauty.
It is so strange – well maybe not that strange – that I read this quote on a day when I had two books being released the same day and I felt as if pieces of my soul left me.
Do you ever feel this way about your work?

~Yes, I have. Not only do many writers deal with the monsters they awaken, but also we eventually must let go of the work and allow the rest of the world see it – even if we aren’t as ready as we’d like. I remember when I was working on edits and revisions for Snow Moon Rising, and my mom was dying. I’d flown out to Oregon twice in early 2006 to care for her, and then when I was working madly on the final revisions, she fell ill again. She died in September ’06, and the night before I flew off to her funeral, I stayed up until 4AM proofing the final version of the novel before it went to the printer. To this day, I still think I could have created a tighter, better book, but I didn’t have the time or the energy.

9. I am so sorry for your loss. I am really awed that you managed to turn your book out. Don’t you think though, seriously, we could go back and do ‘fixes’ on every book we write?

Every book poses problems, whether it’s with the actual story or with the living of our personal lives. They never turn out perfect. I’ve been lucky and have had the opportunity to do second editions on Ricochet in Time, Gun Shy, and Under The Gub, and while I wasn’t able to do full-scale edits, I did clean up typos and some awkward phrasing. Congratulations on your two books on one day – I hope you’ve recovered! By the way, you have a terrific website. I was so impressed with all the color and photos. You get around, too!

10. Lori, thank you. No wonder Victor loves you. May I ask a personal question? You recently ended a long relationship after 27 years, according to your website. First of all, may I say how sorry I am and secondly can I ask if this huge change in your life has impacted your writing?

~Thank you for your kind comment, AJ. I was in a committed, secure relationship for so long that this change really threw me for a loop in every way. I haven’t been able to write since before Thanksgiving. I haven’t been able to read either. Until just recently I’ve been so busy dealing with relocating and settling in and trying to get accustomed to a new home, a new town, a new everything that I’ve had no energy for anything else but grief. But I managed to get my office organized last weekend so that I can find things, and after four months I’m feeling like I’m bouncing back. So I’m finally managing to focus on reading and writing again.

11. Good for you, Lori. It is an achievement…believe me, I know. So, can you tell me a little about your writing routine – when you are in the groove?

~I’ve never had a very reliable routine. I’ve always had a lot of activities to squeeze in, including those that bring in revenue. Unfortunately, writing royalties are never enough to live on, so I have many other ways to earn my coin of the realm. When I’m immersed in a first draft, I tend to get up in the morning, work as long as I can, and try to plow through the whole book in three to four months. But once that draft is written, the subsequent revisions and edits I always have to squeeze in between a lot of other things: teaching, editing, working various part-time jobs and projects, taking care of my partner and the house, etc. Now that I’m single, I’m hoping to do a much better job with a regular routine.

12. Every writer I know hates edits. Are you one of them? (laughing)

~No, I don’t really *hate* editing . . . it just takes so long! And at that point, all the joy of discovery is gone from the process because the first draft is plotted and the story is pretty much told so it’s not as much fun. I’ve gotten a lot better about both editing and revising. I’ve learned quite a bit, and that has helped me be able to accept suggestions and edit advice. It’s an uncomfortable and hard process, but so very necessary. I always tell my students that if you aren’t prepared to grow a thick skin and take in diverse opinions on your work, you shouldn’t publish. It’s a long, hard process to go through, and you have to be able to assimilate quite a bit of information and parse out what’s useful and what isn’t.

13. Quick, I just made you Ruler of the World for 10 minutes. What do you do with your time?

~Only ten minutes? Hmm… I’m afraid that anything I’d do in those 600 seconds would be very quickly reversed after my ruling time ran out. I can’t lie though – maybe what I’d do is make sure my next several books would sell!

What a fantastic answer, Lori. On behalf of Dark Diva Reviews, I’d like to thank Lori L. Lake for stopping by today. I could ask Lori questions all day. To learn more about this talented author, please visit her links:

Author Website: http://www.lorillake.com/

Teaching Website:

Conference Where Lori Will Lead Workshops this Summer:

Articles Lori has Written:

Publishing Leads for Aspiring Writers:


Anonymous said...

Oh, Lori, gosh what a great interview - and, hey how could it not be? Lori and I have worked together on books and on tour and, honestly, what a privilege that has been for me. Thank you, A. J. for giving us a closer look at this wonderful writer (and, wonderful person) I am this woman's # 1 fan (okay I'm fighting for that position with Ann Bannon, and how do you argue with that?) Lori, I love you.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe how fast you jumped onto this interview, Victor! I didn't even have a chance to write to tell you it was there. YOU, my good man, have your finger on all the buttons! I love you back, Victor.

Anonymous said...

We're all part of your fan club, Lori... :)

Anonymous said...

Well, how strange, Lee.....because I thought I was in *your* fan club!

AJ Llewellyn said...

I must thank Victor for introducing me to Lori and her work and for Lori for giving me her time...I adore you both!