I’m so pleased and honoured to have met the extraordinary Liz Durano, to whom writing is not only a passion, but also a means to cope with a personal life changing event.
She’s the author of the contemporary fiction novels A Collateral Attraction, Finding Sam and the Loving Ashe Trilogy, and also of several short stories, including Barbed Wire and Accidental Christmas. While she is best known for her work as a novelist, we got to know that poetry also holds a very special place in her heart.
Today she will share with us not only some aspects of her writing process, but also some pointers about indie publishing and advice for those who would like to start writing.
Who is Liz Durano? How did you come to writing in the first place?
I have been writing since I was in grade school and in high school, I got in trouble for writing a NSFW play in class and almost got suspended. The principal proposed (after I passed all counseling to make sure I wasn't 'troubled') that I be transferred to the Poetry Club for after school activities and there, I learned all about poetry and loved it. I was introduced to Shakespeare's sonnets, Edgar Alan Poe and so many poets, even Rumi. I started writing fiction in 1997 and stopped in 2002 because life just got too hectic. In 2012, I resumed writing again after my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and after realizing that I could not write about how I was feeling, I turned to writing fiction as a way to deal with the overwhelming responsibilities and expectations of being a parent of a child with special needs.
Who are your literary influences?
Hans Christian Andersen is probably one of the first influences for me, through his fairy tales like The Little Mermaid, The Little Match Girl, and The Little Tin Soldier. There are also Marcel Proust, Edgar Alan Poe, Charlotte Brontë, Harold Robbins, James Clavell, Colleen McCullough, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Joan Collins, Rosemary Rogers, Diana Gabaldon, JK Rowling and Frank McCourt. I think I just dated myself!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration for me can come from anything. A song, a picture, a place, a memory or an emotion that takes my breath away. Also people. I also draw inspiration from my son, whose questions keep me on my toes. My latest short story was inspired by our trip to the Christmas tree lot, and even that short story will get expanded. I think because of him and my experiences as a mother, I seem to subconsciously add children to my stories.
What is your writing environment like? For example, do you play some music to set the mood or trigger some ideas?
I live in a small house and so it's filled toys and books and it's so small that when someone is watching TV, I can hear it from anywhere in the house. I write at the dinner table and I have to wait till everyone is asleep at night, or are still asleep or in school during the day to write. But I've also found myself writing snippets in between doing chores so I don't lose the idea. Sometimes I need music but mostly, I don't. To get into the mood, I need to listen to music, but once I start writing, I have to have silence (or whatever silence I can get with a 6-year old in the house).
Your books are now available for purchase. My perception is that indie publishing can be quite a challenge. Is it? What are the biggest hurdles one has to overcome?
Indie publishing is definitely a challenge. I learned through trial and error and am still learning, but among the things I've learned in indie publishing are these:
a. Don't rush to publication. Make sure your manuscript is as polished as can be. If you have to pay for editing, then pay for editing and get it as perfect as can be. While writing it may have been a creation of love for you, your art, once it's published, it is now a product that needs to be sold if you intend to make some money out of it, or at least get it read by others.
b. Set a budget for marketing and stick to it. Don't go over your budget. Publishing a book actually doesn't cost anything anymore, other than editing and paying for a good cover (first impressions count), and whether the output is an ebook or a paperback, it's free (Amazon and Createspace as examples) to get it out there. But to have people actually know you have a book will cost time and money.
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
I'm still working on the balancing part of marketing and writing/editing the next one. It has been a struggle to find the perfect marketing/promotion fit for me, because the more I spent time marketing a certain way that works for some people, the more I hated writing because I was no longer writing what I wanted to write. My writing started being dictated by my perception of the market, which ended leaving me miserable, and my writing not authentic. I'm actually taking a break from the marketing so I can return to what I love doing the most, which is writing my books and blogging, and also writing my poetry again. I also have to remind myself to take a break and spend time not writing and living life beyond the page.
What is your message for those who would like to start writing?
For fiction writers, ask yourself why you want to write, and how far will you go to keep on writing. Do you only write when you can find the time or can you make it a vocation, a career instead of a hobby? Writing is an endeavor where you can sometimes put out so much time and effort for little or no instant return so you have to love writing in order to keep doing it in the long term. And whether it's a vocation or a hobby, keep writing anyway. Write for yourself, first of all, and then worry about what others think after you're done. Also, read books, whether in the genres you like and even the ones you don't like. That second part just might end up opening new worlds you never realized you actually enjoy. If not, it's always good to learn something new.
Thank you so much Liz. I wish you the best of luck in your writing carreer.
Liz Durano's Official Website
You can also find Liz on FACEBOOK, TWITTER and WATTPAD.