Author Spotlight Interview: Lauren Smith
Today’s interview is with multi-genre, and multi-pen name author Lauren Smith who also writes as Emma Castle and Daphne Hunt. She shared with us her journey to publication and the challenges she has overcome. It was a pleasure getting to know more about her writing style, and life outside of writing!
HG: How would you describe yourself to somebody who isn’t familiar with your writing yet?
LS: I write romance, historical fiction and cozy mysteries under the names Lauren Smith, Emma Castle and Daphne Hunt. All of my writing has a timeless feel no matter the subgenre. I’m an attorney who now writes full time.
HG: Fantastic. You’re both traditionally published and self-published. Can you explain to readers what that means for an author and how it differs when it comes to the publication process?
LS: I first started out in my career publishing with a small publishing house that let me have a lot of content control and input on covers and marketing which was wonderful. Then I began to self publish novellas at the same time that I sold books to Hachette and St. Martins (two large NY houses). My experiences with the big houses were far from ideal. I had less control and I was less impressed with the quality of editing. There was no ability to market my books and the marketing the house promised had broken links in emails and tiny almost invisible covers which made it impossible for readers in the house newsletters to even learn about my books let alone buy them. I transitioned to fully self-published going forward in order to retain product quality control and marketing control. I enjoyed being a hybrid for a while because it gave me breaks in my schedule to write different things, but now that I’ve transitioned fully indie, my schedule is whatever I chose to make it which makes publishing anything I wish to much easier.
HG: Good for you! Thank you for sharing your experience. What have been the challenges you’ve faced in your publishing career?
LS: I’ve had editors who’ve moved to different houses and abandoned me. When editors leave, you’re transitioned to an editor who doesn’t care about your work nearly as much. They just inherit you and you get dropped to the bottom of their priority. I’ve had to change agents several times over the years because they fail to sell books and then wish to collect royalties on those same books when I self publish, or agents who get to sign a deal that they didn’t even bring to the table and the terms weren’t the best for me as the author. I’ve never been given an advance for any print book despite having sold 9 books to NYC publishers. Once you’re labeled an ebook only author it’s nearly impossible in some houses to transition to mass market or even trade paperback. I’ve faced just about every setback and have had very few lucky breaks. All of my hard work, determination and the ability to write well and court a loyal readership over time has made my relative success what it is and I’m proud of that. Writing and wanting to make a career of it isn’t easy, but if you love it it’s worth the work.
HG: You’ve truly persevered. Is there anything you’d do differently? Advice to aspiring authors?
LS: I would tell authors that they need to focus on three things 1) learning to write a good book first; 2) figure out the niche market that your book fits into; 3) market your book with a cover and blurb to the readers of that market. If you can do these three things, and still enjoy writing the books you’re writing, you will likely do well.
HG: Lovely advice. Thank you. Tell us a little bit about your actual writing process. Does it differ depending on whether you’re writing historical or contemporary? Do you have a routine for where and when you write?
LS: I am a little crazy and a little old school in my process. I use college ruled notebooks and some smooth-flowing brand writing pens and I write my entire book from start to finish in a notebook. I know that I average around 375 words for a front page of a notebook and can therefore guess how long my stories need to be in notebook pages to get me to the word count range I desire for a particular story. Then I dictate the chapters into my computer using Dragon Dictation software. After that it goes to a content editor and then a copy editor and typo proofer. I love to write anywhere where people are. I need the energy of other people to work. Silent rooms by myself often lead to me taking a nap! So I often end up in my local libraries, coffee shops and restaurants to write. While I was an attorney, I used to write in courtrooms while waiting for my cases to be called.
HG: Oh, I love that! Tell us a bit about your books. What can readers expect? What feeling do you hope readers are left with when they finish one of your novels?
LS: My novels are adventure stories with love in them. I think that makes the best romance novels. The story should be strong enough to withstand not having steamy scenes, but of course, I love to write those so my stories always include them. I want readers to read my books and feel like they are rooted in reality, and by that I mean, do my characters react realistically, even in wild scenarios. I want relatable characters and fun stories that last in the minds of readers long after they’ve finished them.
HG: Wonderful! For fun, if the Unlikely Heroes series were turned into a movie or limited television series who would you cast? What about some of the main characters in The League of Rogues? Currently 17 books strong!
LS: So there’s a fun story about my Unlikely Heroes series under my Emma Castle name. I actually had a movie deal pending for the book A Wilderness Within and we were ready to ink the deal in Feb 2020. However…that book was a pandemic/contagion romance and we went into lockdown all over the country right as we were finalizing paperwork. The producers got worried they wouldn’t be able to get anybody to watch the movie if they made it because my book was eerily accurate as to how the pandemic ended up unfolding. ( My book was written in early Feb 2019 and published in June 2019- several months prior to the November Covid situation in China.) So the realistic nature of a wetmarket influenza virus spreading across the world in early 2020, because of course I set my book into the future, matched the timeline for the real pandemic. I honestly can’t believe that happened, and I had a lot of emails from readers asking if I’d somehow known that the pandemic was coming. I didn’t of course, all I did was read about 15 books on viruses and epidemiology and make logical assumptions. But I could understand why producers didn’t want to go forward with the movie. I always thought good casting would have been Jennifer Lawrence for my heroine and Chris Evans for my hero. Wishful thinking I know!
As for the League of Rogues series! I would love for Henry Cavil to be the star of the first book. I am rarely inspired by real people when dreaming up characters, but he was definitely the best Godric I could possibly think of when I wrote that first book.
HG: Oh my goodness! What are the chances?! Love your casting selections though. What can you tell us about any other projects you have in the works?
LS: I am currently working on a few fun historical romances, one regency, one 1700s pirates, and then I’ll be working on a sort of Labyrinth movie retelling for my next Emma Castle book where a dark fae prince falls for a woman and in order to escape his realm she must solve a maze every night to find her freedom.
HG: We’ll be on the lookout! Switching gears, what do you enjoy doing when not writing?
LS: I’ve got two crazy terriers that love long walks and squirrel chasing so we do a lot of that. I also really love traveling. I try to fit in a cruise every year because I swear I was a mermaid in another life and being near the ocean soothes me. I love touring Europe and getting inspired by the history of foreign places for good book ideas.
HG: Awesome! Tell us, what was your last 5-star read?
LS: I’ve been on a crazy western romance kick lately and have been binge reading Linda Lael Miller’s entire backlist. Her McKettricks series was simply amazing. Definitely got a five star rating from me on all of the books in the series.
HG: Linda Lael Miller sure does know how to do western romance! If you could ask your author idol one question, what would it be?
LS: That’s a hard one to answer. I have quite a few author idols so choosing which one is hard! So perhaps I’ll go with the silliest. I love the Twlight books, and I have no shame admitting that. I would love to ask Stephanie Meyer what inspired her to make vampires sparkle?
HG: I love that question! For fun, before we wrap up, let’s do a fast five! First one…cookies or cake?
LS: Trick question, the answer is a “cookie-cake” you know those chocolate chip cookie cakes with frosting? My absolute favorite.
HG: Brilliant! Movie or book?
LS: Both. Both mediums of storytelling when done well are essential for me.
HG: Pool or ocean?
HG: Introvert or extrovert?
LS: Extroverted introvert. I can handle people in small numbers quite well.
HG: eBook, print book or audiobook?
LS: Audiobook. Hands down this format. When I sit still I have to work on my own stories. So I’ve gotten great at listening to audiobooks while cooking, folding laundry, running errands, car trips, even in the shower (water proof speakers are amazing).
HG: For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
LS: Definitely check out my websites where you can find all of my other links:
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