Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Lara Zielinsky, and I’m 49 years young. *smile*
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in Orlando, Florida in the United States.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m educated as a writer. Specifically, I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism. I’m married, and my spouse and I have one grown son, now in college. From the outside I live a pretty typical middle-class lifestyle. After work during the week, we retreat to our small single-family home in the suburbs of the cityand like to walk the city parks with our 8-year-old Pitbull mix, Rocko, on weekends.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am so excited to be back to writing after a long stressful hiatus. My third novel We Three: One and One and One Makes Three is coming out February 1, 2019. We Threemay be my third novel, but it feels like my first in many ways. We Three is more relevant to me, my situation. The female leads, Jess and Elena are both bisexual, just like me.And their third partner is Elena’s husband Eric, who is fully involved and supportive.My first two published novels were more “conventional” romances where other relationships end and the happy ending is just the two main characters (women) partnering up.
We Three: One and One and One Makes Three is also has significantly more explicit erotic scenes than my first two novels and the various sexual adventures really drive the romance. I would say my first two novels were “soft romances.” While the sex was on the page (I am not a “fade to black” writer), it marked emotional turning points in the relationship, but didn’t necessarily drive the overall plot.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing fiction since I was in my early teens. I turned from hobbyist writer to wanting to publish around 2000. I challenged myself to be published by the time I was 30. Over the next few years, I sought out writing communities, enrolled in a creative writing workshop, and started thinking about ideas that could be developed into novels. I finally hit upon an idea in 2001, and from April to September of that year I wrote like a madwoman, morning, noon, night, every spare minute. Just after September 11, I had a completed draft of what would be my first novel (and half of my second).
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always considered myself a writer when I was writing. I’ve struggled to believe that when I went through “dry spells,” but finally I think I can say that I’m a writer all the time, even when I’m not currently immersed in writing down a particular idea. True writers do look at the world through a different sort of lens.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
That’s something of a long story. My first book was drafted in 2001, which feels a lifetime ago (and is for some people I’m sure reading this). The world was very different in its views and handling of LGBTQ issues.
I was pondering how a person discovered they were non-hetero when completely immersed in a heteronormative world. There was the “gay” world and the “het” world, and it seemed that there was no way to exist in both. You entered one and left the other.
While bisexuality was an identity, it wasn’t generally agreed that it was anything more than “a straight person playing at gay” or a “gay person afraid to come out of the closet.” There were charges from people that bisexuals were trying to “claim straight privilege” by keeping their opposite sex attraction “as an option.”
I was watching television and movies and engaged in fandoms that celebrated same-sex relationships that were not scripted – called “subtext.” My first female slash fandom (shorthand “femslash”) formed around Xena: Warrior Princess charactersXena and Gabrielle.Writing stories that took these characters into intimate relationships I began to recognize the dichotomy of an ancient world that saw nothing unusual about same-sex relationships and the straitjacketing being thrust upon modern men and women who sought same-sex relationships.
Those early years of the 21st century also witnessed several “coming out” announcementsby celebrities and other public figures. I had an idea to write a story, to get a close POV perspective on this struggle. Setting: Hollywood. Trope: older actress and younger actress. I didn’t know how it would work out in the end, until I was nearly there. Publicity, divorces, children, all served to complicate Brenna and Cassidy’s burgeoning relationship. On top of that, neither had considered themselves even “hetero-flexible” (another modern term), so they had inner journeys too.
This draft eventually became two novels, Turning Point (first edition, 2007) and Turn for Home (1st ed.,2010).That publisher folded in 2012. The second editions are available through Supposed Crimes and include ebook formats.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title for my first book was immediate. I was exploring a major turning point in the lives of two women, so it seemed a no brainer. Titles for other books have been similar. I think about the theme, or the major action or setting and think about the phrase that would have the most meanings connected to the story:
- So Many Ways (a collection of short stories all about romances between women, but varying settings and types of sex)
- The Queen’s Gift (a pirate story where a female pirate steals away a woman being sent to the English queen’s court.)
- Book’s Pass (a historical western adventure taking place in… you guessed it, the fictional town named Book’s Pass)
- We Three: One and One and One Makes Three (a novel about three people growing from a swinging arrangement to a polyamorous relationship)
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My style focuses on the emotional journeys of characters and techniques that draw readers into their heads and the motivations behind their actions.Yes, there’s place and situation, but what really fascinates me as a writer is the characters’ responses and what they learn about themselves.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My current novel We Three is far more a reflection of my experiences than my first one. The world has changed, and so has my own life. It is “permissible” to be bisexual in a way that it really wasn’t just ten years ago. In my first novel, Turning PointI ended the heterosexual marriage within the story. My characters “crossed over” into the “gay” world, because that was the “requirement” I received from both the heterosexual and homosexual communities at the time. In We Three, the marriage never even tested; it is stableAND supportive of the relationships being formed. It’s Anais Nin’sHenry and Juneon some levels, but it’s also much more than that.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I do write stories with a sense of place and time, but I don’t travel extensively to build those places. I use photographs, internet searches, Google Maps street view and the like. I fill in the rest with experiences from the small towns and cities I visit within my home state of Florida.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The covers of my first two novels were an in-house artist, though I suggested elements I wanted. However, for We Three, the images I “mocked” up were approved with only tweaks suggested. I made those tweaks on my own so the cover is all my own creation.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The things I hope people take away are probably not new ideas but perhaps my story will “reinforce” this idea: swinging and polyamory are not mutually exclusive and, practiced ethically with consent and open communication, both are valid and beautiful ways to form love relationships.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I’ve been reading a lot of different writers right now (I’m judging a contest), so I only have one representative work from each author, but one thing that makes me look up other works by an author is a clear story that has a well-executed, compelling concept at its heart, and characters that are portrayed authentically.
I am very critical of authors and need to read stories where they get a characterization right. Characters must sound and act their “age” and accurately reflect on-page history, setting, and experience. If there are a lot of anachronisms, contradictions — yeah, I know people can contradict or act in ways opposite to the way their personal history suggests — but more often they don’t and it is revealed in small ways whether or not the author really comprehends how experiences shape actions and point of view on a wide range of issues.Sometimes characters behave as though the author collected together a bunch of intriguing traits off a list without thinking about how they can or can’t mesh with, or intensify, other characteristics.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I have fans from my earliest fanfic writing days who are still with me on this journey and that is amazing and wonderful. I get e-notes all the time from these people who are so happy to “find you again” or “glad to see you’re still writing” or “I have never forgotten X story you wrote,” etc.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Now I do, but I had to break through a mental wall constructed when I was a teen from others who insisted “writing will never be able to make you a living.”
I’ve worked over the years to reconstruct my thinking more positively and I am a happier person when I am writing, so I need to write, regardless of whether it makes me a living.
I’d love to make writing a career, which would be getting back into non-fiction for steady employment: article writing, research writing, advertising, public relations, copy writing, that sort of thing. Also editing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
In my latest, no. It’s too fresh. Ask me in ten years. Because yeah, stories I wrote ten years ago… yeah, there are a few things I’d do differently. But I also moved on from them. Everyone grows, if not in talent at least in experience, which will always cast stories in a different light. Early works and later works show that growth.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
During the writing of We Three, I became more aware of the sibilance of language: how sounds create and reflect moods and emotions. There are a lot of words available to describe sex, sex acts, sexual parts, but choose words that reflect the emotions felt by the point of view character using those words, well…that can add everything to a scene.
What I’m talking about here is choosing among synonyms for describing the same thing. Poets do this, and I will profess immediately I am no poet, but the sounds of words carry emotion. Hard sounds hit our ears and feel coarse, even rude, or derogatory, in certain situations. In other situations, our emotions are base, so the harder-sounding words chosen are plosive reflections of our emotions. When you start to think and feel soft emotions toward a person, you want to express that soft emotion in every word. So you not just think nice words, but you think of the nicer sounding words. It’s subtle, but it happens. Being thoughtful as an author about a character’s word choices can be signposts for tracing the emotional development of relationships.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I don’t think I’d like any “big” names to star in a film of We Three. A big celebrity might overshadow the others rather than share the spotlight. The bookonly works when portrayed withthree equals. It’s not Professor Marsden and the Wonder Women. It’s not a love triangle with “winners” and “losers.” It’s not Henry and June structurally either because it’s more than just one person’s point of view.
If the chosen actors and actresses have equal chemistry – I am so there for any and all screen tests, LOL – then that’s who should be cast.
That said, while writing I did have three particular people in mind and made collages of their pictures for inspiration. However, I had put away their pictures by the time the story revealed it had more emotional lines and wasn’t about physicality.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
My advice for other writers would be to write a truth that matters to you. I’m not a fan of “churning out” books to the market. Don’t write only to make sales, but write stories that you crave to read, that can’t be found anywhere else. And read widely enough to know what else is out there. In the end, that’s what will make what you do “a life” and not just “a living.”
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
To my readers, I am so grateful you’ve found pleasure in my words for so many years.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Currently I’m reading several books judging for a contest, so I don’t feel I should talk about those. However, a recent book I finished that I would recommend is Edge of Nowhere by Felicia Davin, which is a science fiction novel featuring LGBTQ characters. The story is not a LGBTQ “parable”; it’s just really well written adventure and mystery set in an interesting space tech setting.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book was somewhere around age 4 that I read on my own, so I’m going to answer this a little differently.The first bisexual book I read was Switch by Carol Guess.I loved the style of storytelling, very fluid back and forth in time and place.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I wish I laughed more, but I’ve been enjoying dog and cat viral videos. I don’t cry a lot, either, though my family tends to rate how “good” a movie or film is by how many tissues I needed to get through it.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’m more of an observer than a “meet-er” so I’d rather be present “fly on the wall” style to an event rather than necessarily talk with someone from history. The person/event I’d like to observe is the early days of women seeking suffrage (the right to vote), maybe attend the Seneca Falls conference in New York.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I wish I did have hobbies other than writing sometimes, when the writing is difficult. I’ve heard “do something else” so many times, as a way to recharge, refresh, break the block, you know? But literally, I got nothin’. I don’t do gardening. I don’t do crafting, crocheting, or other forms of creative presentation. I’m not an antiquernor do I do furniture restoration or anything like that. I do exercise, walking, biking, even occasionally I go to the gym, but I’m not dedicated to exercise. None of these things are “my thing.” When I’m not writing, or working, I’m usually reading. But then I don’t even do a lot of “documenting” my reading. I don’t put out everything I read on Goodreads or review every book. It’s just my personal time. I don’t scrapbook or keep journals. I’m very weird when compared to other people, and I’m growing slowly more comfortable with that.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m dedicated to watching Jeopardy!. But as for the rest of television, right now, I have no prime time, first run series, on network or cable/streaming TV, that I watch. Recently I did cut my cable and replaced that with Netflix and Hulu subscriptions. I’m rewatchingThe West Wing off and on, Sliders, Frasier and some favorite older movies from my teens. I did recently watch several “Christmas” rom-coms over the holiday season, a bit of a “guilty pleasure.”
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I’m currently on a low-carb, low salt diet, so my favorite foods are simple meats, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits. I do like a good stir fry or stew. And I love sushi, anything with ginger or garlic, and miso soup. My favoritecolors are purple and mulberry/magenta. I prefer jazz music over almost anything, though I go through phases when I want to nostalgically indulge in my young adulthood: late 80s music. Mood music for writing Elena’s point of view in We Three was latin jazz.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Honestly if I am no longer writing, I better be dead and buried, because there’s nothing else. Since entering the work of making money for a living, I have worked many kinds of jobs. My off time has always been spent writing or working with mine and others’ words as an editor.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
If money is no object, I’d go find a quiet island and pass the day listening to the surf and talking with my loved ones, and writing a story about it.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Just my name. I’ll live this life and then move on to the next.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My website and blog can be found athttp://larazielinsky.blogspot.com. There are story excerpts and information about all my books, and information about my editing services.
Authors Amazon Page USA https://www.amazon.com/Lara-Zielinsky/e/B003B29TV0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1547835407&sr=1-2-ent