MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR LICHELLE SLATER!
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Hello! I’m Lichelle Slater, and I write in multiple genres. My current series (Sirkus av Magi) is a YA scify/fantasy mash-up. I also have a clean Hallmark-style romance (NA) called “Secret Santa.” In October I’ll be releasing my first paranormal romantic comedy called “Love Bites,” and in November I’ll be releasing another Secret Santa book called “Accidental Secret Santa.”
Can you tell me about your Series?
Where to even start? Haha! You can read the blurbs, but know that it follows a teenage girl named Crystal that got an “act first, ask questions later,” personality. In “Step Right Up,” she wants nothing more than to be like her dad and follow in his footsteps rescuing slaves. But after her dad tells her she’s not allowed to see the circus, she sneaks off and returns home only to find he’s been killed. Book 1 is her trying to find his killer and meeting the performers of the circus, which are all magical creatures—a dragon firebreather, the animals are actually a shape shifter, the trapeze artists use vines they create, and so on.
The second book, “Come One Come All,” starts after Crystal tried to get off the ship with all of the performers. She’s made into a human marionette for the show, discovers she has magic, and struggles with figuring out how to control it. Oh, and the ringmaster is starting to remember the truth about her past, the Shadow Magician has forgotten who he is, and Crystal discovers there is a captain running the ship no one knew about.
The last book, “Prepare to be Amazed,” takes a fun turn when Crystal’s crush—the shape shifter, Koda—gets taken from the ship when they kick the captain off and the Shadow Magician has been sold to a massive slaver. Crystal finally gets to step into her dad’s shoes and run her first rescue mission to get Koda back, and then everyone on board the circus ship, the Sirkus av Magi, tries to help get her dad back.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
I once hard someone say the current book an author is writing should be their favorite at the time (or something along those lines). I’ve actually been really enjoying writing the third book. The first book was a lot of fun because of discovering the world, but now the world and characters are established, I’ve been having a lot of fun with the third book.
Where did you get the inspiration/idea for your series?
I had been attending a writing conference called Utopia Con in Tennessee, and last year, 2017, was their last year for the conference. I decided I wanted to write a book to their theme, “Step Write Up.” I had been reading “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and got the idea to mash up circus with something different, and decided to make it science fiction. And that’s how I got that idea! For “Secret Santa” I teased my mom for watching the cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies and told her I could write a book like that easily. So she told me to do it, and I did.
With my “Love Bites” novel coming in October, I absolutely LOVE vampires. I bought a cover and to me it read as a funny romance story, then got the idea to make her a sorority girl and it blossomed from there.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Man, I’ve had to do a LOT of research for my circus series. I’ve watched videos/documentaries about circuses (like how Cirque du Soleil auditions people for their shows) and magic shows (like Penn & Teller’s Fool Us). I’ve researched what sizes of Star Wars ships look like in comparison to real ships on earth. I’ve had to figure out how fast light speed actually is and how long it could take to get from Earth to Saturn and beyond. I’ve also had to do a lot of different kinds of research about other solar systems and planets that could actually be habitable. There are some fun little pieces of research I’ve done for seemingly insignificant things too.
Was it always meant to become a series?
Yes. When I finished the first book and started writing the second, I really wished I hadn’t made it a series, because science fiction has turned out to be difficult for me to write. However, now that book is done, I’ve been really enjoying it again.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I work full-time as a special education preschool teacher, so I have to be at work between 7:30-8:00 until 4:00 (or later, depending on the day). I find I write better in the mornings, so I have to wake up at 5:30/6:00 and write before I go to work. My writing goal is to work for a minimum of an hour before I go to work. I can sometimes get up to 3,000 words written a day. I have my writing desk in my bedroom, though I wish I had my own office. I try and keep the desk clean, light a candle, turn on some music, and let myself write. Revisions are a little harder to measure, but I still try and get at least an hour in a day.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I can’t WAIT to work on “Love Bites,” my paranormal romantic comedy. First, because it’s a romantic comedy, second, because it’s vampires, and third, it’s a stand alone with the potential of having other books in its world.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
It honestly depends on the character. Crystal’s name came because I wanted something that used to be popular, it’s simple, and there is a potential for people to actually have that name. I wanted readers to be able to connect with her. In “Secret Santa,” Bell is named that because my favorite Disney princess is Belle and I wanted a Christmas-like name. In contrast, the guy she ends up with is named Drake because I put dragons inside of EVERY story I write, no matter the genre. So that was my way of putting a dragon in.
Where do your ideas come from?
Totally random places. My first series came to me while reading Miss Peregrine’s Home…, I got the idea for a paranormal series coming out next year (2019) from going to a Halloween ballet, and I get a LOT of ideas from dreams.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I really experimented with science fiction, and that was a stretch for me. I am really excited to delve into fairytale retellings (because they’re a big deal right now) and paranormal (because I freaking love vampires and witches).
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
There’s a moment, as an author, where you think you’re terrible and no one will ever read your stuff. Maybe you have a book release and your mom was the only one to buy a copy of your book that day. Why keep going on when no one reads and appreciates your hard work? That’s a really difficult mindset to get over.
Also, another difficult part is inspiration ebbs and flows. It’s really frustrating when you’re in the flow of writing and you get interrupted, or when that inspiration dries up and you know you need to work and you have the idea, but no desire to actually sit down and do it.
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I had one for my first book, but haven’t used one since. I enjoyed making it, but I don’t really see them so I don’t use them.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
I was nominated as Best Debut Author at Utopia Con because of “Step Right Up.” That to me is my best accomplishment right now.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
When someone comes up to you and tells you they read your book and loved it, maybe even asking you to sign something for them. I write my books because I love sharing my worlds with other people, and THAT is the most rewarding thing.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m totally going to be a NYT best selling author. And I’ll be able to write full time because of it.
Have you always liked to write?
Yes! I even got a BS in Creative Writing because I love writing.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
1) The most important thing I would say is to network. I know a lot of authors are introverts, but you really REALLY need a good “tribe.” You will hear authors use that word all the time. Surround yourself with people who support you. There are days being a writer sucks and you need to lean on people for support that will never tear you down.
2) Your book needs to go through more than one revision to be polished, and your readers will thank you for it. Get a good: developmental editor, proof reader, and beta readers.
3) Also, pay for a good cover and formatting. In spite of the saying, “Never judge a book by its cover,” readers always judge books by their covers.
4) Just get the first draft written. That’s half the battle. Someone out there needs to read your words, your story. Don’t give up!
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I actually always wanted to be an astronomer or paleontologist. So if I had to go back to school, I’d do any of those.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I go and read the 4/5 star reviews. I accidentally read one on Goodreads that broke my heart, but I had to remind myself everyone has their own opinions. So I try really hard not to read them now.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
Marketing. I hate that I have to spend my time setting up ads, reaching out to people, asking others to share my book, etc. when I would rather be writing. But I know it’s part of the job, and I want to be successful.
What are you working on now?
Finishing my first go-through of personal revisions on “Prepare to be Amazed,” and I just finished plotting out a detailed outline for “Love Bites.”
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Oh and the vampire thing? Yeah, I had to figure that all out on my own. You don’t want to know what happens to your body when you’re turned into a vampire. It’s like a period on steroids. I was sick for a good week, just chalking it up to a bad reaction to my new birth control, or the stress from moving away from home, being at a new school, all that stuff. I finally told myself if things didn’t get better by Monday, I would go to the doctor.
I was fine by Monday, other than the insatiable hunger. I devoured everything in my apartment’s fridge—including my roommate Jaci’s food—and was still hungry. Yes, that’s: a gallon of milk, two cartons of eggs, fruits, vegetables, lunch meats, I even ate the white bread. All in a day.
And this is a case I can use literally and not have some grammar nerd roll her eyes at me. You know who you are.
Jaci met me for dinner at Leo’s Café, and it wasn’t until I walked past the kitchen, I finally smelled something that felt like it grabbed my stomach and pulled me toward it. I followed my nose into the kitchen and spotted the raw hamburger meat.
That is what my body wanted.
Yeah, raw meat? No way.
I wasn’t going to eat it.
But my mouth watered like it never had.
Here’s the thing about turning into a vampire. According to some people, a person has a window of time to eat blood and transform fully into a vampire. Since my sire—the guy Demitri turned me and is apparently now my sire—didn’t share any of that with me. I just knew I was starving for the red meat.
So I got a hamburger.
Didn’t satisfy my craving.
Jaci knew something was wrong. She begged me to go to a doctor. I’m really grateful I told her no. Could you imagine what a doctor would do if they found a real life vampire? I didn’t want to end up a science experiment. Instead, I called my dad and asked him why I could be so hungry.
“Be careful not to gain your freshman fifteen.”
I had a pounding headache and just wanted to crawl into bed and die because my whole body hurt and ached. Instead, I got dolled up in my favorite glitter tank, shorts, and heels. Club or not, girls have to look good. I did know enough about clubs to know I needed to pin my hair up.
I should probably clarify, most clubs require a legal age of 21 to enter, because of the drinking age and whatnot. I was three years away from that age, and my mom had found and shredded my fake ID. However, in a college town they often have one place for us underage kiddos to go, and that’s where we headed.
Now, I love Jaci even still. She’s a straight wire if there ever was one. I talked to her about getting a fake ID for the two of us, and she gave me the most horrified look. I found out that day her dad is a detective. The idea of a fake idea went out the window fast.
Back to the club, we had a great time. For some reason, being in the room with other people seemed to really help, but deep in my stomach I was still hungry. How does that song go? Hungry like a wolf?
Finally, a guy put his hands on my hips, and I could see he was totally into me. So I did what any respectable sorority girl would do—I kissed him. I was at college for more than a degree. As Demitri had so ineloquently put it: I wanted a mate too. Maybe he’d rubbed off on me just a little bit.
As soon as I tasted the guy’s lips, though, I couldn’t break away.
The taste of him sent a tingle down my spine, and I thought my stomach was going to reach out of my body and grab onto him, like something from Alien.
Instead, I pushed him back against the wall, my kisses becoming more needy. I do admit I was a little worried. I had nothing against kissing on the first date, but this was different, and it was like someone else was controlling my body.
I finally broke from his lips and heard him gasp for air. My kisses ventured up his jaw, to his ear, and then down to his neck and collarbone, then back up.
My lips touched his jugular, and I felt my body press to his tighter.
“W-We can leave, if you want,” he panted.
I didn’t want to leave. Something about his neck…I ran my tongue over it and felt something tingle all over my body, like when your foot goes to sleep and you shake it awake, but it was all over. I could feel his heartbeat through his jugular against my tongue.
I don’t remember biting him.
I just remember the taste as his blood trickled into my mouth. It almost made my toes curl. Finally, something that satisfied me! I licked his neck, lapping up every last drop I could get, until I felt him stagger, and I finally broke away.
“I don’t…feel so good,” he grumbled.
He was pale.
And then everything dawned on me. I’d just drunk his blood. I had bitten his neck, and sucked from it like a straw.
I did what any respectable Sigma Fi Kapa sister would do.
When I made it back to my room, I was horrified and looked at myself in the mirror. Yes, I still had a reflection. That’s so cliché.
Yes, I had fangs.
Not your Supernatural kind of fangs that descend down over your teeth, but like Anne Rice vampire fangs. My canines were long and pointed, as was the tooth next to it, only less long.
And that’s when I realized I am a vampire.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
I sort of write like I read—all over the place. (Don’t ask me why I chose to do science fiction as my first series. While I love scify movies, it’s been an interesting beast to try and conquer.) Personally, I prefer to write fantasy, because I love the world building and magic. I’ve always loved fairytales too, so writing things like that are just fun to me. I also absolutely love vampires & witches, so I’ll be writing those as well.
Where did your love of books come from?
It’s been ingrained in me my whole life. My mom used to take us to the library I swear every week, and she used to read to us all the time. And then one time my dad read “The Hobbit” to us and had a different voice for each of the characters, and it ignited a passion for stories.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I’m really into J.R.R. Tolkien right now. Obviously, Harry Potter too. I also really love, “Phantom of the Opera,” “The Book Thief,” and others.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
In my scify/fantasy series, I have a little character named Ite I absolutely adore. He was meant to play a rather minor role, but he snuck into Crystal’s backpack in “Step Right Up” and has been part of the books since. He ends up being a big part of book 3 too.
Also, for “Love Bites” I have a character who I guess is a part of me I wish I’d been able to be during college. She’s got a lot of spunk, is smart, and knows she can do what she wants. I’m loving getting to know her.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both, depending on what kind of scene I’m writing. I get super energized by intense scenes, like fighting scenes or scenes where the characters take over. I get exhausted by really emotional scenes, and if I write at the end of the day when my brain juices are already gone.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My dog, Facebook, my phone, and family interrupting me.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I’m very much not the type of author to do what everyone else is doing. Heck, I wrote a series about a circus that’s literally a spaceship performing in outer space. The main character is a teenage girl that doesn’t need to rely on a guy to help save the day (I guess that’s a common writing trope right now). But at the same time, I also deliver things they want, like Crystal having a romance interest.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
My closest author friends are Tara Benham, Jaci Wheeler, Katy Webb (K. T. Webb), Bridgette O’Hare, Layla Venturini (whose more of an everything for her author husband, Zachary Chopchinski), Shantele Summa Martin, Amy Fortenberry, Cathie Desurne, and Christina Walker. Just to name a few…
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
A Comedy of Errors… (only it’s already been taken)
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview