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Author Interview - Lanna Webb

Hey, folks! One thing I've noticed lately is that a large number of folks I grew up with ended up becoming writers. This young lady surprised me with her book, a western frontier romance, and I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share her work with y'all. She really paints a vivid picture of life, love, and faith in historic Texas, so if that kind of thing is your bag, look no further! Here she is...

1. When did you write your first story? What was it about?

My first story of any real length came in the fifth grade and was about a unicorn… I was really into unicorns.

2. What do you use to write; pen and paper, computer, table, or maybe a dictating device?

I use a computer to write, but I plan everything out with pen and paper and do corrections with a pen on printed out pages. I need to get my hands on it in order to arrange and rearrange and emphatically mark out horrible passages.

3. When did it dawn upon you that ‘this writing thing’ might be for you?

Honestly, not until I was over halfway done with my first novel. I had ideas. I wrote. All the sudden, I realized had a book.

4. What inspires you to write?

I get my inspiration mostly in other authors; Louis L’Amour and Tamera Alexander are two I truly love. I see elements of their superior writing mimicked in some lesser sort of way in my own. Aside from literature, my ideas are largely inspired by my faith: I believe in a God who loves us, and I want my stories to show his love.

5. What is a typical writing day like for you?

My writing days are often nights. When I can’t sleep, I like to entertain myself with my stories. Sometimes, I can’t get back to sleep because my characters won’t shut up. Otherwise, I like to write sitting on my office floor with my sister; we keep each other accountable almost as much as we distract each other.

6. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

I get WAY TOO distracted to sit in the middle of anywhere to write – my office just happens to give me the least trouble, so usually I’m there. Unless it’s the middle of the night, then I write in bed, much to my husband’s frustration. I can’t count the nights I’ve heard, “Can your computer get any brighter?”

7. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?

I did that for a while, but honestly, it created a lot of anxiety for me. I prefer to make goals for longer periods of time. I generally start with a goal that sounds something like, “by the end of the year, I want to have half the book done, so I should write so many words by the end of the month to stay on target.”

8. How much of your story do you know for sure when you start writing? Are you ever surprised by plot twists that emerge during the process?

I’ll answer the 2nd question first: All the time!! It is a phenomenon that amazes me, to have characters I created surprise me by things they say or do. Before I started writing, I heard authors talk about being surprised by the way a scene turned out, etc. and could not comprehend. Then, one day while writing, I heard myself laugh and say, “I cannot believe he said that!” So, yeah. I do, however, have a plan when I start a story. I usually know where it is going to go, but I constantly plan and re-plan and outline and re-outline. I enjoy that part of the writing process almost as much as I like putting the words together.

9. What are some of the most unlikely things that inspired ideas for story elements?

Generally I wouldn’t say another reader’s advice would be considered unlikely, but my dad told me that a good book should always have the death of a character. I don’t agree, but the advice was so random I thought I’d use it.

10. What, according to you, is the most challenging aspect of writing?

Putting enough words together to make a novel. Seriously. I literally don’t know how it happens. When I start a new story, I feel overwhelmed by the idea of stringing enough words together to make the story into a novel.

11. What would you say is your favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite thing about being a writer is getting to give the characters in my head a voice, and then to get to see other people meeting them is a bonus.

12. Have you ever been stricken with Writer’s Block? If so, how did you deal with it?

YES!! I abhor writer’s block! One of three things has helped me combat this insidious disease: 1) I sit and stare at the screen and pray for words to miraculously bubble forth. 2) I switch to another work I am writing. Sometimes, just being away from a story and then going back and rereading to catch up with where I am will get me off and writing again. 3) I read – I pick up a book in my genre and read. Often, something in the author’s story will break loose something in mine.

13. Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I read a lot, but not nearly as much as I’d like. I teach English, so most of my reading revolves around lesson plans. However, when I do get the time, my favorite authors are Louis L’Amour and Tamera Alexander. They have totally different writing styles. My own style falls somewhere between the two of theirs; I find I get a lot out of reading each one.

14. Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?

Wow. So. Much. I guess, in a literary sense, I would tell myself that I really, actually, seriously am able to write a novel and should get started earlier in life. In a general sense, I would say, “Don’t overwork yourself; seriously, don’t overwork yourself.”

15. Was there a particular book that inspired you to begin writing?

There was. Uhm… Actually, it was a book by a popular Historical Fiction author I’d rather not name. I read it and hated the ending. Hated. I decided I would write a book about a similar couple but with an ending I liked.

16. Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers?

Hmm. I have no idea. A reader said “fun yet eloquent.” That sounds pretty good. But I guess I would say my writing style is fairly straightforward. My stories are short on long descriptions, probably because I have ADHD and can’t concentrate long enough to read them much less write them. I prefer dialogue to lengthy description, and like to write stories that are plot driven or center around relationships.

17. Do your novels carry a message?

Lonesome Wolf certainly does. It is a message of hope and acceptance and faith. I have other stories that are mainly just for entertainment, but I think we can find a message in pretty much everything we read.

18. How much of yourself do you put into your books?

I put a lot of myself into my books. I’m not sure how a writer would go about NOT doing so. Plus, I like to explore things about myself through my characters.

19. Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

In one of my novels, a character has lost a brother and, years later, deals with trying to grieve properly. I’m still trying to figure that process out myself, so it was interesting to explore it from another’s point of view, so to speak.

20. How did it feel when your first book got published?

Surreal. And weird. And freaky. And scary.

21. Was there a point when you really felt like you had ‘made it’ as an author?

Not yet. ;)

22. Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

I teach high school English. I love the ah-ha moments when a student realizes he understands something, and I love looking at student writing at the end of the year in comparison to that of the beginning of the year. But teaching is a devourer of time and mental energy. It leaves little to no time to read much less write, and forget having time to market.

23. Does your day job ever get in the way of your writing?

Almost every day. I am working on making some serious changes to my daily schedule in order to rectify the issue. It’ll take a while, but I think it’ll be worth it.

24. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

I’m too chicken to even try! I self-published because I’m a big, fat chicken. Plus, the process terrifies me.

25. Do you enjoy book signings?

I look forward to my first book signing. The back cover should be ready soon, so I can get the paperbacks published. And then I’ll then let you know.

26. What was your favorite interaction with a fan?

I had a reader create a bookmark for me and email it to me. Amazing!

27. Which of your books would you most like to see adapted as a movie?

Definitely Lonesome Wolf. I have a Western I think would be cool, but I love the characters and message of Lonesome Wolf.

28. Have you ever written a character based on yourself in some part? Someone you know?

I’m not sure how interesting a character based on myself would be, but I like to choose an aspect of myself to include in each heroine. Plus, in a critique, I was rather snottily told that having a redheaded heroine was overdone considering the percentage of redheads in the population. So, all my heroines have red hair.

29. Are you working on something new at the moment?

I am currently working on the next in the Klein Creek series after Lonesome Wolf. I also have a series of Western novellas planned; I’m about halfway done with the first. Also, I have a contemporary romance in the editing stage. Did I mention I’m ADHD?

30. What advice would you like to give all those aspiring writers out there?

Read! Read! Read! Then get on a computer and let the words flow; you can go back and fix grammar later. Then read some more.

Thanks for answering my questions, Lanna! Keep up the great work!


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