Please give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.
I’m L. A. Witt (also Lauren Gallagher), and write erotic romance. I’ve just returned to the States after three years on the lovely island of Okinawa, and will now be shifting my reign of terror over to the unsuspecting Midwestern city of Omaha, Nebraska for the next three.
As far as a list of books, for the sake of space, I’ll just link to my two backlists: Hetero romances by Lauren Gallagher and Gay romances by L. A. Witt. My newest release by Lauren is Disengaged, a contemporary romance from Champagne Books. As L. A., I have two books coming out in November: The Closer You Get (the sequel to The Distance Between Us), due out from Samhain on the 15th, and A Chip In His Shoulder, a vampire/cyberpunk novella from Riptide Publishing on the 14th.
How do you usually come up with a story idea? Dreams? Writer’s journal? Eavesdropping on conversations? Newpaper?
Sometimes they just come out of nowhere. My mind starts wondering (when is it NOT wandering?), and trips over a plot bunny. On the rare occasion I can’t think of anything to write about, I’ll look at a bunch of pictures of random people until I start seeing characters among them, and from those characters, the conflict just kind of emerges on its own. I have been known to get ideas from eavesdropping, billboards, movies, conversations with friends, you name it.
Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?
Time off. My biggest problem is burn-out, so I find that if I just can’t come up with anything, or write on my current project, then I need time away. First I take time off the current work-in-progress. If that works, then I’m either burned out on that project or there’s something wrong with it. Either way, I revisit it later, once I’ve had a break. If I find I can’t work on anything at all, then I take a week or two off from writing altogether. Usually by the end of that, I’m chomping at the bit and dying to write.
What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?
I can’t really speak much about writing workshops because I’ve never been to one. I’ve been in Japan for the last three years, so wasn’t able to attend workshops, conventions, etc. Ask me again in a few months. :D
Do you play music when you write? If so, what kind? Or, do you have to have silence or background noise to set your writing muse free?
I always have music playing. I can’t concentrate without it. I listen to a pretty wide variety, and I’m forever buying more music because I get bored. When you listen to the same playlist every day for hours on end, even a list of 2,500 songs gets repetitive. As for what I listen to, well, anyone who’s ever been around me for more than five minutes won’t be surprised to learn I am a huge 30 Seconds to Mars fan. I dare say I’m a bit of a fan girl, but don’t tell anyone. I also listen to a lot of Breaking Benjamin and Awake! Awake!, both introduced to me recently by Andy, my loyal Minion. Beyond that, I have tons of country, trance/dance, Europop, American pop drivel (don’t judge me), and…well, pretty much anything.
Do you read in a different genre than you write? If yes, why? If you read in the same genre that you write, do you feel that it influences your writing in any way?
I mostly read science fiction and fantasy just because I enjoy it. I do read romance and its various subgenres, too. I enjoy them, but I also like to keep up on what readers like and what they don’t.
What is your process from idea to first draft?
I figure out who my characters are (the basics: name, age, occupation), and nail down the conflict. Then I come up with a loose outline, which will invariably change about 300 times before the story is finished. Once I have a basic outline, I start writing. I usually write the first chapter first, but then start bouncing all over the story, working on bits and pieces of scenes and chapters until they come together as a cohesive narrative. Once it’s done, I print it, give it an edit, and it’s finished. (I edit as I go, so the manuscript is usually reasonably clean by the time it’s fully written) Then I send it off to the land of betas and editors. This process takes about a week to 10 days for a novella, 2-4 weeks for a novel, 4-8 weeks for a large novel (110-120K).
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
The single biggest thing for me was related to Static, which is a SFF novel about a person who can shift genders at will and loses that ability. I’d recently learned a great deal about transgender and genderqueer issues, and that book was my way of processing all of that. A few months after Static came out, a reader e-mailed me and said the story resonated with them very deeply, and caused them to rethink their views about their own gender identity. Nothing in the world tops that moment when a story reaches someone like that.
If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money? Would give any of it to charity? If so, which one?
Probably buy a large chunk of property with a house in the middle and no neighbors nearby. Reclusiveness, FTW! And as for charities, I would definitely donate some. Not sure to which ones…I’d probably end up dividing chunks of it between wounded veterans, battered spouses/children, and LGBT charities.
What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?
Write. Write. Write. And when you’re done, write some more. Be persistent. Be patient. Oh, and write.
If you could choose an animal for a mascot, what animal would it be? What do you admire about this animal? Do you feel you have qualities similar to this animal? If so, what are they?
A cat. Cats are both evil and lazy. They’re like supervillains on sofa cushions. I’ve got the evil part down pat, and I aspire to be able to sleep like a cat (hell, I aspire to be able to sleep at all).
If money, education and fear factors were set aside, what three careers would you like to attempt other than writing?
Film directing immediately comes to mind, but damn if I can’t think of any others. I’ve been writing full-time for the last three years, and this has always been what I wanted to do when I grew up (well, not that I’d ever grow up), so I haven’t given any thought to other careers in a long, long time.
If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?
Put on a backpack, buy a one way ticket to some remote place (Komodo, Easter Island, Bhutan). Check it out. Then buy a one way ticket from there to some other obscure place. Continue until I’ve checked off every place on my bucket list.
What characteristics do you like to instill in your heroes? What characteristics do you feel are necessary for a good heroine?
A heart and a spine. I don’t find assholes endearing, and nothing annoys me more than wimpy characters. Everyone has their weaknesses, but I don’t like reading about – or writing about – insufferable jerks or complete doormats.
If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?
I would eliminate stupid and douse everyone with a serious helping of common sense. Maybe those two are the same thing, but still.
If could have a super power for a day, what would it be? Why?
The ability to function without sleep. As my good friend Aislinn Kerry often says, the body’s need for sleep is a serious design flaw.