Lynn Kurland Interview – part deux

Hi!  J here to bring you the second half of our exciting interview with 3 time RITA Award winning, New York Times Bestselling novelist Lynn Kurland!  If you missed the first half, click here to check it out.  Lynn, thanks again for talking with us!

How do you battle the Doubt Monster?  We define the Doubt Monster as: the nagging feeling while writing that your prose is terrible, your plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.  Does the Doubt Monster trouble you?

That’s a perfect description of him! Sadly enough, I’m not sure you can ever banish him entirely. I’m now on book 32, looking down the long barrel of book 33, and still when I open up that blank first page, I think “oh, crap, this is it–this is the book where it finally comes out that I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing.”

The only thing that works for me is continually reminding myself that no matter how much I wish it would be different, my first draft is going to be absolute garbage. Rewriting is easier, but the truth is, writing isn’t for the faint of heart, is it? If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that it’s okay to protect your creative mental space. I don’t read Amazon reviews, rarely read *any* reviews unless someone sends me them in the body of an email and I can’t avoid them, and don’t EVER google myself. Good reviews flip me out just as much as bad ones, so I decided long ago to do the Paul Newman thing and just not read anything about what I’m doing. Because in the end, all you can do is write your little books your way and hope there are people out there who will enjoy what you’ve done. You can have ten different opinions on the same book, but which one is the “right” one? And once you start listening to what other people want you to do with your stuff–and changing it to suit them–it’s no longer your stuff, is it?

It also helps to point sternly toward the scary under-the-bed spot used by all creepy things and tell Doubty to get back there. Then write your book the way you like. If he doesn’t make too many noises you can let him back out to help you with the editing.

Author Jane Haddam says that anyone who seriously annoys her gets bumped off in her next book.  How do you incorporate your real-life experiences into your stories?

Hmmm, let me check with my lawyer on the advisability of answering that in order to avoid any potential character defamation suits . . .

Just kidding. My friends live in fear! The only people who are really crappy to me haven’t yet figured out that they will absolutely figure prominently in my next book–and not as the hero or heroine. Whether or not composites of all my former boyfriends may have and might yet continue to wind up in print is something that will remain shrouded in mystery.

What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

Probably not being more aggressive with marketing myself. I’ve avoided Facebook like the plague, I probably should have done a few book tours, and I should have hired an assistant to help me manage the business side of things. I hate to fly, I’m actually a very private person (shy isn’t the right word, but homebody probably is), and I really wanted to spend all my time with my kids while they were little. But I’ve gotten to stay home with my kids, avoid planes, and still make my publisher happy with a couple of list appearances. Life is very, very good.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?  Improper conjugation of verbs, it’s when you mean its, and the word “like.” Like, because it really, like, drives me, like, nuts. Grrrr.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done? In high school riding in an 1965 MGB at lunch with a guy who was loaded. Stupid, stupid, stupid. He took a corner too fast and I swear angels took that car and put it back on the road instead of allowing it to follow its natural trajectory off the road, down the bank, and into a very rocky river. That colossal act of stupidity was followed closely by subsequently stuffing seven of my closest friends in *my* MG midget and going to Wendy’s for lunch. (Why does it always involve an MG?) Since I had kids, I’ve become Mother Paranoid and the riskiest thing we do is get on the freeway in my tank of a volvo.

What is your guilty pleasure? {Remember: this is a ‘G’ rated blog! 🙂 } Long Sunday afternoons with my family and the entire A&E Pride and Prejudice series in one shot, a fire in the fireplace, either something to knit or quilt, and the latest in Eddie Bauer pajama fashions to curl up in. Maybe some chocolate fondue with bananas, strawberries, and some angel food cake to dip in it if I’m feeling particularly adventerous. Am I the most boring person in existence, or what? No wonder I write. Someone’s got to have some excitement!

Whose story will we see next May?  Isabelle, maybe?  Or Philip? You introduced some fun “next generation” side characters in Zach/Mary’s story.  Might they be in the offing? 

Next May’s book is ALL FOR YOU and will star Peaches Alexander, the sister of Tess (ONE MAGIC MOMENT) and Pippa (ONE ENCHANTED EVENING). I will definitely get to Isabelle and Phillip, and there are so many cousins in Mary’s generation who are impatiently waiting to be set up. Can’t disappoint really gorgeous medieval knights!

Thanks so much for the chance to chat. Happy scribing!
Thank you!

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29 thoughts on “Lynn Kurland Interview – part deux”

  1. Lynn, thank you so much for your response to the Doubt Monster. As the rest of the Scribes know, he is my personal nemesis and we do battle all the time. I really appreciate hearing you say – “once you start listening to what other people want you to do with your stuff–and changing it to suit them–it’s no longer your stuff, is it?”. I say that to others all the time, yet totally ignore it for myself. So from this point on, consider me reformed. Thank you!

  2. Oh, you have given me so much hope. The Doubt Monster taunts me every time I sit in the chair to write. “Who said you could write? Huh?” Perhaps I’ll keep a club beside my chair to play whack-a-Mole with him when he pokes his head out from now on.

    And I don’t think you’re boring. Your guilty pleasure sounds like a dream to me.

  3. So nice of you to join us and answer our crazy questions so honestly Lynn. Truly a fun interview. I’m at that point of “staring down the long barrel” of book number two. It’s terrifying to feel as if the next book has to be as good or better than the first one. How do you keep up the pace of producing quality books on demand?

    1. I had a gal ask me once how I dealt with my Muse. I said arily, without a cautionary thought in my empty head for karma’s potential retributionary powers, “oh, I don’t have a muse,I have deadlines!” hahahaha. And there followed a period of about 4 months of the worst (and first) bout of writer’s block I’d ever had. So, I’ll carefully and more humbly say now that deadlines are a great motivator, even self-imposed deadlines if you treat them seriously. I understand the “wow, this book’s got to be better than the last one!” feeling. And maybe it does, but maybe just a little. Or maybe it just has to be you, writing things that people tell you they love because *you* wrote them.

      I remember being tempted when I first started out 17 years ago (yes, I sold my first book at 12–isn’t that amazing??), oh, *that’s* a great idea, I’ll save it for the Really Important Novel I’ll someday write. Luckily I realized almost immediately that was a stupid idea and went ahead and put all my good ideas into whatever I was working on. And somehow more ideas seemed to magically appear.

      So the only concrete advice I can offer is to put fear and doubt both under the bed and just concentrate on whatever chapter or scene you’re working on. Keep doing that and pretty soon you’ll have book #2 in the can, then you’ll do the same with #3. You can’t control how it will be received. You can just control what you put down on paper.

      Sorry–I probably shouldn’t have started the morning off with so much chocolate. I’m verbose!

      1. Great advice, Lynn. I’m going to work on revisions to book two right now:) I’m trusting my muse for guidance and asking her to sit on the doubt monster for me. She’s gotten rather plump since her author’s diet of Redbull and chocolate. I make sure all the calories go to her and not me.

  4. Ignoring the Doubt Monster is my constant battle. New, or old books alike I hear his ugly voice creeping into my thoughts. I appreciate your honest talk about him, Lynn. Your words of wisdom to curb his attacks have certainly given me hope that I can beat him–or at the very least ignore him. Thank you!

      1. Yes, every writer would want one for sure. Although, I do need to practice typing with only my left hand, so I can keep my right hand at the ready to whack. That way, he doesn’t even slow me up. 🙂

      2. I was at the Big E (Eastern States Exposition–the combined state fair for Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire) last night, and I walked past the Whack-A-Mole game and couldn’t stop laughing. Scribes, we need to do something with this. Tee shirts, or coffee mugs. The visual is just too wonderful — and useful!

  5. OK girls…we were joking about creating an app for the iphone…I think we need to find someone to create the Wack-a-Doubty app….

  6. Thanks Scribes for having this interview and thank you Lynn. Good advice and at the perfect time for me … sitting here riddled with doubt. Love your replies.

  7. Thanks J and the rest of you scribes for having me. It was truly a pleasure and a delight to get to interact with you for a couple of days!

    I will be a faithful purchaser of the whack-a-doubt-monster merchanise when you get your line going! 🙂

  8. OOOOWhee, J, I loved your blog today with Lynn. I know I was smiling the whole time while reading Lynn’s peppery words. I loved her teenage confession about the mg’s. I loved pushing the doubt monster under the bed. Ah, the wonders of being a writer. Thanks for sharing.

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