I’d like to welcome back author Laurel A. Rockefeller
Please recap briefly about your books. What has changed since you last visited? Tell us your news! A lot has happened since we last spoke thirteen months ago. For one, it has now been two years since I released the first edition of The Great Succession Crisis (“GSC”) which I have since taken out of print in favour of the extended edition from January, 2013.
Also when last we spoke, I had just released the QR interactive editions on both GSC and its sequel, The Ghosts of the Past (“Ghosts”).
Today, those are still the only two Peers of Beinan Series novels, but in 2014 I added to the series two novellas (The Poisoned Ground and Good-bye A672E92 Quintus), another companion book (The Lost Tales), and the flash fiction story, “The First King.”
In March, I started a new series of short biographies for the entire family called “The Legendary Women of World History” (LWWH). LWWH came about when I discovered that over 95% of Americans cannot name even ten women from history – including contemporary British royals.
LWWH aims to inspire and educate with the true stories of women who have made a difference, offering positive role models to girls and young women especially. I researched, wrote, and published book one “Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni” in March. Book two “Catherine de Valois” came out in June, just as audio production on Boudicca with gifted UK actor Richard Mann commenced. I am pleased to announce to everyone that by the first week of September, “Boudicca” will be live on audible, itunes, and listed with its kindle edition on Amazon websites worldwide.
Finally, Yahoo discontinued Yahoo Voices in July. Across the last five years I wrote around 160 articles for YV. Across July, I transferred the best of that content to my new blog, http://peersofbeinan.wordpress.com/ where I also have some really nice posts designed to guide independent authors through ACX.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think this is starting to change over the last few months. A year ago I believed that traditional published authors had a credibility edge. It is interesting that Fifty Shades of Grey has helped independent authors by showing that traditional published books can be poorly written and very poorly edited. Traditional published works no longer have this edge.
What they do seem to have over independent authors is access to marketing resources. Traditional publishers have their own little cliques, a network that they work with, that is more difficult for independent authors to access.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Sometimes. Most of what I read is non-fiction as part of my research for my books. So if I find a great independent non-fiction writer writing on a subject I’m researching, I absolutely will look at the work.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Commenting on reviews rarely works in the author’s favour – not that I was not tempted when a UK reviewer gave Boudicca only three stars simply because the book (which is typically found under juvenile fiction or non-fiction) is short. Yes, that bothered me because I think it was not fair to pick on a children’s or young adult book for being focused on the needs of that demographic.
I didn’t post a comment however because the point of reviews is to offer honest opinions, opinions I am bound to disagree with sometimes. Readers too can see through critical reviews or fewer stars, deciding for themselves if they think the review’s remarks are appropriate or biased.
How helpful reviews are really depends on the review. Ultimately, it’s a matter of trusting the process and trusting your readers to recognize quality
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Always.
Looking back what do you wish you’d known when you started writing? Ask questions before you sign a contract or agreement of any type and don’t agree to anything until you fully understand everything. There is a lot of fine print and dizzying legal jargon in these things that most of us have difficulty understanding in full. But if you don’t read and fully understand it all – or you just forget some of the finer points—it can really get you.
Do you have any unpublished novels under the bed/in a folder anywhere which you thought were awesome at the time, but now will never see the light of day? As a teenager I wrote a lot of fan fiction. When I found those again on a visit back to Nebraska to my mother’s house, I promptly destroyed all of them, along with my diaries from my teen years.
What I have kept are most of my poems dating back to the 1980s & 1990s. I also have both my student screenplay called “Daughter of Starlight” (based on my Dungeon’s and Dragons character – the last time I really wrote fantasy) and my student one act play, “HuangDi Eve” which was written before I took any Chinese history classes or studied Chinese language at the University of Nebraska. Both I hope will never see the light of day – but I might trust a close friend to flip through.
How have you progressed as a writer since you started? If you asked me to write another story like “The Great Succession Crisis” I honestly do not think I would be able to do it. GSC was written when I still held onto young adult romantic notions of happily ever after and the perfect, archetypal knight in shining armour. When I wrote its sequel, Ghosts of the Past, I had to access memories of a very dark time in my life. The writing process literally gave me nightmares the entire time I wrote that book as I confronted memories of unspeakable violence that I had long repressed from my childhood. I witnessed the murders of five or six other little girls sometime before the age of five along with the violence personally directed at me. Though the memories allowed me to create the dark, supernatural villains that readers really love about the book, I think going there in my mind took away some of my innocence and maybe some of my optimism regarding the intentions of other people towards me.
That said, I noticed my romantic heart still feels hope—the things that King Prasutagus says to Boudicca, the way that they love each other before his early death (no spoilers; you will just have to read and/or listen to the audio edition of “Boudicca” yourself) reflect what part of me still believes is ahead of me in my life. I believe in love, in the magic of true love’s kiss – even though I’ve never been honourably kissed in my life.
What aspect of writing do you least enjoy? Why might this be? I would rather write than promote, actually. I don’t like messing with contracts, legalese, and so forth and look forward to the day when I can just write then hand off the rest of the process to an agent and/or marketing firm. I’ve located a PR firm I really like in London and cannot wait for the day when I can delegate all the PR and marketing to them. I write; they promote! Problem solved!
What are your views on authors offering free books? Funny you ask that because all SIX active Peers of Beinan Series books are free on Smashwords through 31st August, 2014 with just one – the flash fiction story “The First King” permanently free.
To a lot of people this sounds nuts – why give away my hallmark series in full? Well let’s be clear: this is a two week free book promotion exclusively on Smashwords. On September 1st, everything goes back to regular prices.
The promotion is just that: a promotion designed to celebrate reaching the two year mark as a self-published author. It’s also all about back to school and my support of schools and school libraries. Literacy is important. With nearly all my titles age appropriate for the entire family, this is my way of helping families get their children and teens reading. So download all six books on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/2371, then check out my other books on my author profiles on Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/LARAmazon) and Smashwords (http://tinyurl.com/smashLAR).
In other words, it really does matter whether free is permafree or if it’s a promotional offer. The reason why The First King is free is because it is flash fiction and because it offers readers a no-strings-attached introduction to the Peers of Beinan Universe.
The First King is also set right in the middle of the novella Good-bye A672E92 Quintus (written later and structured to accommodate The First King as a separate title), so I’m hoping that readers downloading the story will enjoy it enough to want to read what happens before and after the action.
Do you have a favourite movie? Since my sight is limited, I prefer to watch movie adaptations to help me decide if I want to commit my limited visual resources to reading a book. I actually aspire to bring Good-bye A672E92 Quintus to youtube as a short film if the people I’m interested in hiring for the film are interested and have the technical abilities to handle the futuristic, science fiction elements to the story. So keep watching! I may pop up on the dying planet in a cameo!
As for existing films, I really enjoy a short film starring Richard Mann called “Shot in the Forest” (http://youtu.be/k2gPq5W4k0M). More commercially, I love a lot of biography films like “The Iron Lady,” “Lady Jane,” “Luther,” and the classic “That Hamilton Woman” starring Vivian Leigh and husband Laurence Oliver. I also love musicals and film adaptations of Broadway shows like Les Misérables, Chicago, Mamma Mia, Moulin Rouge, Holiday Inn, A Star Is Born (Judy Garland), and so forth.
If your book was produced as a film who would you like to see play the lead? Richard Mann, of course!
Seriously, sometime in June I stumbled upon a black/white photo of Mr. Mann from a professional website for actors. To my shock, Mr. Mann looked EXACTLY what I’d pictured in my head for Lord Knight Elendir of house Ten-Ar from the Peers of Beinan Series. Completely uncanny resemblance! So to me, Mr. Mann is the only person who can play that character.
If Good-Bye A672E92 Quintus is produced, as I very much desire, I also want to cast Mr. Mann as the lead, Lord Malvyn.
Of course it is also my desire to continue to work with Mr. Mann on more audio books. I actually wrote some of Catherine de Valois with Mr. Mann’s voice and abilities in mind. For example, knowing now that he fronts the tribute band “Rolling Stones Now” as Mick gave me the confidence to put music into Catherine’s story; she sings “Veni, Veni Emmanuel” one Christmas morning. Hearing him sing that is likely to be amazing if the videos from RSN concerts are any indicator..
What are your plans for the future? When will we see your next book? Tell us about it. Keep writing, of course! I really want to do more audio editions over the next twelve months with Mr. Mann because he is so talented and conveys my literary visions skilfully. As a low vision person, I tend to close my eyes when I listen to a book so I can really attend to the voice. His is the voice that I most enjoy listening to of all the narrators I’ve heard.
Beyond that, I really want to travel to England in 2015 on a sort of working holiday for my writing—and of course, finally meet in person my British friends. I also aspire to immigrate to the United Kingdom once I satisfy the requirements for doing so—hopefully very soon because I love England so much and feel this inevitable pull to be where so much history happened, history I am sure most people born and raised in the United Kingdom never learned.
Next book? Make that BOOKS!
I have FOUR books in process right now! Ambitious, I know!
Princess Anyu Returns (part three of the Legacy of Princess Anlei Trilogy) is still on hold, in part because I’m meticulous about my world building and need to do more research with it. The other reason for the delay is that I’ve re-written it about eight times and is one reason for the Lost Tales volume where I offer readers material that did NOT make it into the book. I haven’t been idle with the book; just picky about the direction the story goes and picky about the quality of my writing.
Book three of the Legendary Women of World History Series is about Empress Wu Zetian, the only woman to rule China in her own right. I hope to finish this before the end of the year. The prologue is already written, set in 1861 in the British Concession in Beijing.
A third series focusing on American history is in the works. I am currently working on (tentatively titled) Charlotte’s Vote which is about the women’s suffrage movement and told through the life of Charlotte Woodward Pierce, the only signee at the Seneca Falls Convention (1848) to survive to see women cast their ballots in 1920, even though she herself was too ill to vote.
Finally, I’m working on a non-fiction book called “American Poverty: Why America’s Treatment of the Poor Undermines Its Authority as a World Power.” This is a somewhat intentionally controversial look at poverty in America. Controversial because for many Americans, a frank talk about poverty is taboo. Somehow the 99% are not supposed to mind their living conditions nor want things to be better.
This book is structured in three parts. Part one is a collection of five essays, most of them written for and published by Yahoo Voices, looking at real experiences living in poverty. In part two, I take each essay and offer analysis and suggestions for how we can make the key issue (like empathy and prejudice against the poor) better for those living in similar situations. Finally part three looks at the larger issue of how parts one and two affect how people in other countries look at the United States and the whole question of America’s sphere of influence. This is of course a hot-button issue and the one that really set this book into motion in early August 2014 after watching it debated on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” So I’m jumping in feet first and really hoping to get a serious international dialogue going. As I always say, “we can and must do better.”
I hope to release American Poverty by the end of October at the absolute latest.
Finally and more personally, I plan on playing with my cockatiels (I have a new baby bird named Arwen), watching some great BBC programs I’ve found, and getting to know my friends and colleagues across the Pond better. I want to immigrate, earn UK citizenship, buy a nice house with a garden, and enjoy all that life has to offer—live theatre included. And of course, I want to see Rolling Stones Now in concert. I think that would be a gas, so to speak, lots of fun!
Find Laurel here:
Amazon author page: http://tinyurl.com/LARAmazon
Smashwords author page: http://tinyurl.com/smashLAR
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Laurel-A-Rockefeller
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/laurelarockefeller
The Peers of Beinan Series website: http://www.peersofbeinan.com/
The Legendary Women of World History website: