I had occasion to sit down with Eve Lopez, Author of Sex, Drugs and Psychiatric Wards via email recently, and she was gracious enough to grace us with an interview so that we could get to know her a little bit better. Later on this week, she will be a guest blogger here, and I will also be posting a giveaway for a Kindle copy of this book as well.
So, without further adieu, here are the interview questions and her answers!
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m in my mid-30s and I’m currently living in the L.A. area. I just got back to the U.S. after spending about 18 months teaching and traveling in Asia.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I love to read and watch movies.
3. Is there anyone who has influenced/encouraged you to write? Who and how/why?
I think when I went to journalism school, having positive feedback from some of my professors really helped. In particular, an instructor named Leslie Layton was kind of my mentor and she helped me get my first essay published in a local newspaper.
4. Can you give a brief synopsis of your journey to publication with your first piece of fiction?
I wrote the first draft several years ago for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It was your typical shitty first draft. One year ago, I took it out and started the long and torturous process of rewriting and editing it. I gave myself a deadline – I wanted to publish it before I came back to the U.S. And I hit the “publish” button literally the night before my flight from Asia back to Los Angeles.
Just Another Rabid Reader says: I have attempted NaNoWriMo several times, but have never been able to finish. That in and of itself is a feat!
5. Do you have a day job as well?
Well, not currently. Since I just got back to the states last month, I’m currently unemployed. But I worked as an English teacher in Korea last year, and also, I’ve been writing and editing professionally for websites for about 10 years.
6. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
If you don’t count the month I spent writing it for NaNoWriMo, it took about one year to rewrite and edit. But that month I did NaNoWriMo was at least seven years ago. So really, it’s been at least a seven-year-long journey.
7. How did you choose the genre you write in?
I didn’t really choose it; it kind of chose me. When I first started writing, I just bled all over the pages, just like that famous quote. Now that I’m marketing the book, I still wonder exactly what genre it is. Is it women’s fiction? Is it dark chick-lit? Is it mature YA? From the feedback I’m getting, it seems like it’s a crossover.
8. Where do you get your ideas?
Most of my ideas come directly from personal experience or observation. A lot of times, when I’m in social settings, I’m just sort of watching what happens and writing the scene in my head to put down on paper later.
9. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
One of my journalism professors told all of us: There is no such thing as writer’s block, only laziness. And as harsh as that sounds, I truly believe it. So, I would say that I never suffer from writer’s block (since it doesn’t exist), but I constantly suffer from laziness.
10. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I just write.
11. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” influenced me in a big way. I read it when I was a freshman in high school and I just got it. Stephen King is a big influence, too, even though our genres are completely different, I really respect the way he develops his characters. Growing up in the L.A. area, I was also influenced by Joan Didion and Bret Easton Ellis.
12. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
No, I don’t think so. I could not have rewritten the novel seven years ago when I finished the first draft. And I always knew I didn’t really have the patience to send out dozens of query letters to publishing houses (though I may indeed do that in the future). My only goal was to finish the damn thing and I can’t say I could have or would have done it any other way.
13. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
So far, I haven’t done a whole lot of marketing. I’m still learning as I go. I have a blog and I’ve been contacting book reviewers and bloggers. But marketing is a huge job on its own. I don’t know what the best avenue is yet. I hope to find out.
14. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No, I’ve only written one novel and during the last year of working on it, I always intended to self-publish.
15. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
My next book is actually going to be a memoir based on my experiences as an English teacher in Moscow, where I worked in 2009.
16. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
What I did with my book is take a few memories of my college experience, and then exaggerate the hell out of them and take them to the farthest extremes I could possibly imagine.
17. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite chapters were the ones where my main character has female-bonding moments with her best friend in the book. There is one short chapter called “Mushrooms and the Moon” and it was a pleasure to write it. It was a pleasure to see this scene so clearly in my head and for one moment, be able to write it exactly as I saw it. The chapter is really short – just a few paragraphs – but it’s one of my favorites because it shows how even in a drug-daze, there’s real love and friendship between these two young college girls.
18. How did you come up with the title for your current novel?
I honestly can’t remember, but there’s a lot of titles of songs and movies and books and so forth that play off of “Sex, Drugs, and …” A couple of early readers thought it was a bit much, but since I think the book’s a bit much, I just went with it.
19. What project are you working on now?
Besides working on my upcoming Moscow memoir, I’ve just been blogging and enjoying being back in the states. I’m thinking of putting together some short stories and essays into a few 99 cent Kindle books (I have one collection of short stories on Kindle in addition to my novel).
20. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
If I do, it will just be a very short book or two. Just a few essays rewritten from blog posts, or short stories.
21. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
A couple of readers of “Sex, Drugs, and Psychiatric Wards” are asking for a sequel. That really blows my mind! I’m really happy that people have connected with my main character, but I have absolutely no idea where she would be right now! That being said, the issues of women, relationships, love, mental health, and addiction are always themes that will interest me, and I’m sure I’ll continue to write about them.
22. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
Since I’m a brand-new author, I haven’t gotten any really tough criticism yet, but I’m waiting for it! The best compliment has been reviewers saying the novel was realistic – that it read like a diary or memoir. One of the things I worried about, when I was writing it, was that it was TOO outragous and scandalous. I’m so thrilled that it seemed very real to readers.
23. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, read, and then read some more. Then and only then will you be able to write well.
24. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you so much for reading my book.
Eve Lopez is the author of Sex, Drugs, and Psychiatric Wards: A Novel. It’s available on Kindle and as a paperback. It is currently part of a Goodreads giveaway ending on April 25, 2012. Five winners will receive autographed copies of the paperback. Visit the author at http://thingsevewoulddo.blogspot.com or on Twitter @eveoverseas
© 2012, lisapottgen. All rights reserved.