MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR WINTER LAWRENCE!
The name’s Winter Lawrence. I’m a science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance author.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
Eve 2.0: The Ultimate Gaming Experience is a YA Action Adventure Romance about a girl who gets trapped in a top-secret government simulator. The idea for the story actually came to me several years ago, when my daughter and I were gaming. I remember thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if we were in the game. From there, I slowly developed a strong female lead who could handle nearly anything the computer threw her way, but who was totally lost on romance and the idea of two guys fighting over her affection.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
When I was a kid, I didn’t have access to YA books, partly because of life circumstances and partly because the industry wasn’t nearly as big as it is today. So I read a lot of adult novels, like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, John Saul, Jackie Collins, and V.C. Andrews. Those were all awesome reads, of course, but they definitely weren’t age appropriate, so as I got older I realized that those were the kids I wanted to write for — the ones who love the magic of all those genres combined, but in a fun, age-appropriate way.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
The very best kind — I gamed! My daughter is amazing at first-person shooters, but I’m more of an RPG kind of girl. Tomb Raider and Silent Hill games make my heart happy, but I’m also a huge fan of “cute” games. My favorites are the classics, of course, and I have a Duck Tales and Shrek game that I have memorized! I’m a huge Little Big Planet and Cuphead fan too!
It’s my hope that my passion for gaming comes across in Eve 2.0: The Ultimate Gaming Experience. Gwen, the main character, and the other kids initially get “pulled into” a kids’ game, then they morph into a first-person shooter, and then into a horror survivalist game called Desolation Peak, and lastly, they finish off the book in a cool RPG.
Can you tell me about your Series?
Eve 2.0: The Ultimate Gaming Experience is the first book of The Gamer Series. Book two, Eve 2.0: Night Terrors will wrap up the kids’ adventures.
Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
I love them both, but if I had to pick one, I would have to go with book two, because that’s where the reader really gets to know the characters. The second book also dives into Ryan’s point of view, Gwen’s love interest, and shows the reader the world through his eyes.
Was it always meant to become a series?
This is a great question because when I initially storyboarded Eve 2.0, I had sketched out the ending of the story — the aftermath, if you will, of the love triangle between Gwen, Ryan, and Pete, so the first book actually became a labor of love! I knew where I wanted it to get to, but I had to build an entire world from scratch. It wasn’t easy, but I enjoyed every minute of it and I’m super happy with the outcome.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Like most writers, I have an “official” Monday-through-Friday job, but I make sure to treat writing as my second job. Having a schedule is very important, and since I’m a morning person, I’ve found that waking up early and spending at least two hours writing has been the key to my success.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I’m currently working on Fireflies, a YA paranormal romance series about a brother and sister cursed to relive the story of Cain and Abel. It’s been a lot of fun doing the research for the book and of course, I love writing about the angels and demons and all the teen angst, romance, and drama!
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
Names are very important to me, especially in The Gamer Series, because Gwen, the main character, actually prefers to be called Teddy! In her case, her father calls her one name, while her mother calls her another, and since she and her mother aren’t on the best terms, she favors Teddy over Gwen — the problem, of course, is that everyone in town knows her as Gwen, so she begrudgingly goes by both.
Where do your ideas come from?
Life! I’m always watching and listening to everything that’s going on around me and I’m always inspired by it! For The Gamer Series, my daughter and my passion for gaming were my inspirations.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
In The Gamer Series, I experimented with point of view a lot. In book one, I use emails and offset chapters to describe what’s happening in the real world while the kids are trapped in the virtual world. In book two, I take that a step farther by giving Ryan his own first person point of view chapters and by really pushing the limits on pacing and leaping.
As for experimenting, I’ve always wanted to write a story in the second person point of view, but I haven’t gotten around to it . . . yet!
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The toughest part of writing, at least to me, is all of the other stuff that comes along with it — the queries; the marketing and promoting; the touring. Don’t get me wrong, those things are all super rewarding, and while I’m a self-proclaimed introvert and public speaking isn’t my strong suit, I do love getting out and meeting people. However, if I could just sit at home all day and crank out books, I’d be as happy as a beaver in a dam!
What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I’m a huge fan of book trailers, especially when they’re done up with all of those cool graphics! I don’t have one for Eve 2.0 yet, but I’m definitely going to look into them.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
I’m definitely proud of Eve 2.0. It’s been long in the making and having it published really has been a dream come true. I’m eternally grateful to Caroline and Nancy at Fire and Ice for finally giving it a home!
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Having the opportunity to make someone smile! As a writer, I want people to enjoy my work, but I think the most rewarding part of my job is that I can transport someone to a cool, faraway place and take their minds off their lives, if only for a moment. There’s something magical about getting lost in a book and I’m honored to have the chance to offer that to someone.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I know I’ll still be writing and I’m hoping that it’ll be a fulltime job by then!
Have you always liked to write?
Yes! And depending on the day, that’s both a blessing and a curse. The issue always rests in the validation that writers crave from an audience, because at the end of the day, we love to write, but if there isn’t someone reading what we’ve penned to page, it still feels as though we’re missing something — that our job isn’t complete, so do I love to write? Yes! Do I love that urge to be published? Not so much, because it can be overwhelming and it can overshadow our passion for the craft, so the key is to always focus on the joy we receive from writing. That’s what truly matters!
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Keep at it! Writing, as with any skill, is something that improves over time. The key is to write often and to share your work with others. This is crucial because as an author, you have to learn to receive feedback. It isn’t easy — in fact, some will argue that it’s the toughest part of the gig, but listening to constructive criticism and then applying that to your work is vital to your success. I would also recommend reading as much as you can — mostly within your genre, but also about the craft, read about writing, and be sure to take plenty of breaks; the distance from your own work will help more than you know!
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I think, intrinsically, all writers are editors! When I’m not writing, I love helping other authors, either by editing or reviewing their work, so if I stopped writing, I would definitely go into some aspect of the publishing industry. Books, after all, are my favorite things in the world, so I couldn’t imagine life without them!
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
My book isn’t due out until Spring 2019, but as reviews begin to trickle in, I’m always up for reading them. I think there’s a lot to learn about what others think of your work, whether it’s good or bad, and I think that something positive can be taken from both. The key is to focus on those things that will help improve your craft.
Why did you choose to write in your genre? If you write in more than one, how do you balance them?
I actually write in multiple genres! Young adult is definitely my favorite but I do love a great short story and flash fiction piece, and I have several adult romance novellas and novels that I hope to publish in the near future!
Where did your love of books come from?
I was born and raised in an inner city, so we weren’t allowed out much, and my family was always financially strapped for cash, but one of my mom’s friends always had a ton of books handy, so I’d grab whatever I could get my hands on. I loved escaping to all of those cool, faraway places, and it’s thankfully a joy I’ve never outgrown. In fact, I think I love and appreciate reading even more now!
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I’ve always found this to be one of the hardest questions to answer because a million names and books spring to mind. I love so many different authors for so many different reasons that it’s hard to nail down just a few. If I had to pick though, I’d say that King, of course, is king in my world — The Tommyknockers holds a special place in my heart. Koontz is also dear to me — The Door to December changed my life. I reread Johanna Lindsey and Nora Roberts as often as I can! Lois Lowry. John Saul. Pablo Neruda. Anne Rice. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Kate Chopin. Every single thing by Stephanie Meyers — seriously, I cannot emphasis how much she inspires me! Ernest Cline. Jason Segel. Vivian Vande Velde. Douglas Adams. Kat Falls. Eve Silver. The list goes on and on, but I think that’s the way it should be for a writer — we should love other books as passionately as we love our own!
Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
Sure! Here’s the scene where Gwen and her neighbor Ryan test out a mysterious disk they’ve discovered, which inadvertently pulls Gwen into the simulator and brings her face-to-face with Eve, the artificial intelligence program that runs the D.O.D.A.I.S:
Ryan hits the power button.
The auto-safe mechanism is engaged to preserve subject’s health while processing.
“Balls.” I whisper, my voice shaky. “That can’t be good.”
Superficial temporal artery injection successful. Activating nanobots.
“Nanobots!” Ryan squeaks. “Does that really say nanobots?”
“Yeah . . . yeah it does.” I’ve never been in shock before, but as I point toward the power outlet, I suddenly realize that I must be since I can’t seem to formulate any words. “Plug!” I finally manage to blurt out. “Unplug the —”
But that’s all I can get out before my vision blurs. I fall forward, but I don’t feel the impact of my body crashing onto the floor. Instead, everything goes dark and I suddenly feel weightless. Then a blinding light flashes, like a bolt of lightning, and opens into what I can only imagine is a wormhole. I try to steer away from it, but the relentless and overpowering current tugs me toward the vortex. I scream as I plummet farther and farther into the abyss at breakneck speeds, my hair whipping around so wildly that wisps of it slap against my face. When the light disappears and total darkness consumes me, I scream, which somehow makes the already harrowing descent worse. Then a sensation of being squeezed overcomes me, and just when I think I can’t take anymore, I’m jerked upward and land on my feet.
Breathless and trembling, I look around the sterile white room and stare at the huge monitor before me. A message is asking if I want to continue with the mission in progress or if I want to begin a new mission. I ignore that though and turn slowly, taking in the small, empty room for a lingering moment before I go back to staring at the monitor.
Holy moly. Is this . . . ? Am I in the game now?
The thought is so ridiculous that I actually laugh, but the hysterical-sounding chortle actually makes me feel ill. My stomach ties up in knots and a sudden case of vertigo overwhelms me. I stumble forward several steps before I drop onto my hands and knees. Then I puke. A few moments pass before I’m able to get back onto my feet, but I’m still unsteady. I close my eyes and take several deep breaths. When I finally feel well enough to stand straight and take in my surroundings again, I notice that the puke is gone, and so are the gloves and goggles. Instead, my hands are bare and there’s a thick, black band around my left wrist. I study it for a moment then peel back a protective layer of Velcro, which exposes a small computer screen.
Customize dashboard is blinking on the monitor.
“Holy moly.” I look around the room again. I’ve played VR games before but they’ve never been this realistic. “This can’t be real,” I mutter, still in shock.
“Welcome, Guinevere,” a female says, her accent an odd mix of Scottish and British.
I spin around and scan the small space. “Who said that?”
“If you would like to use voice commands,” she says, her accent a bit whimsical, “please follow the prompts on your computer to enable that feature. If you would like to use the keypad, then please confirm on your unit.”
Dumbfounded, I search around again even though there’s nothing but the monitor on one of the four white walls. No furniture. No windows. No doors. “Where are you?” I finally ask.
“I am everywhere,” she states matter-of-factly.
I gulp, since that disquieting statement is the most petrifying thing I’ve ever heard.
“Shall I enable voice commands, Guinevere?”
I’m suddenly getting the feeling that this computer can run circles around Siri and Alexa. “What’s your name?” I ask her.
“Would you like to disable the manual-input option, Guinevere?”
“Ah . . .” I nod, “yeah. I guess.”
“I do not understand your question, Guinevere.”
“Um . . . disable manual input?”
“Disabling manual-input option,” she confirms.
An eerie silence hangs in the air.
“What’s your name?” I ask again.
“My name is Eve.”
Well that isn’t very original, I think to myself, but decide that it’s probably best to keep my witty comebacks to myself. “Where am I, Eve?”
The large monitor goes dark for a second, then the letters D.O.D.A.I.S appear on the screen vertically. “You are within the Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Simulator,” Eve says, the corresponding words filling in horizontally by its abbreviated letter.
As I stare at the screen, a sudden sense of clarity dawns on me, bringing with it a sensation of complete dread. Holy moly. How had Pete managed to get a hold of a government program?
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Eve 2.0: The Ultimate Gaming Experience is due out Spring 2019. Fans should check in often for the official release date, giveaways, short stories, author interviews, and other random fun!
YouTube: Eve 2.0: The Ultimate Gaming Experience Soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/playlist