Madison Lake, you have published three books with FriesenPress so far. Tell us a little bit about these novels?
The first two books published with FriesenPress stand alone and are not part of a series or trilogy. They are contemporary romantica novels. My third book is drawn from the more classic style romance novel, set in England at the turn of the century. My fourth book, the one that will be published next, is a sequel to the third, and at some point I will write a fifth book, which will make those three a trilogy. I have enjoyed writing a series because I get taken away to another place and time and the journey goes on and on. It doesn’t matter how much is revealed in the first book of a trilogy because there is always another direction the story can take in the second and third.
How did you get inspired to write these stories?
Apparently I have a very vivid imagination! I also love storytelling. But truthfully, I had never written, let alone read, romance novels. I had read about romance novels, and it usually wasn’t very flattering. But years ago, several literary colleagues remarked that I had a knack for sensual, erotic description, hence the beginning of writing what is called “romantica” (romance with a touch of erotica). I’ve always loved Anais Nin’s erotic short stories so I think her work inspired me to write in this genre. I also wanted to reshape the ‘idea’ of the romance novel so that it might be taken more seriously.
Lots of romance writers write their books under pen names, why do you think this is happening?
Probably because writing or reading romance novels has always been frowned upon. Romance novels are often considered silly, trashy, or unworthy, and readers of romance novels lacking literary taste. It’s usually thought of as a waste of time. I think many romance writers, even well known authors, simply want to enjoy writing the genre without the label that goes with it, without the judgment, so they write under a pseudonym.
I am trying to change the reputation of the romance novel, while still catering to a large romance reading audience. My website says Madison Lake’s Modern Trash, but it’s not trashy, it’s a play on words. Not all writers need to produce profound literary work (all the time). There’s such a thing as writing (and reading) for sheer pleasure.
What is it like to write a book series?
I had not originally intended to write a sequel or series, but after I finished my third book I conferred with my editor and web team and then it just unfolded organically. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. What I found most interesting was, rather than carry on the story from where it left off, I chose to focus on one character and create the sequel around her. There are plenty of references to the first book, but it’s written around this one character and her experiences. I found it easy to craft a new story this way because the narrative wove through a divergent landscape with characters from the first book and an interesting batch of new ones. All eventually integrated back into the original storyline.
How do you keep an audience engaged through a series?
I think it’s important not to repeat too much. I believe as a writer you have to expect some people may not have read the previous book(s) so there is a certain amount of back story that has to be considered in order to create the new story. However, don’t get trapped into re-writing more than necessary. I discovered that once I started writing, the backstory fell into place quite naturally. I was aware I needed to deliver something fresh, still keeping in sync with the essence of the previous book. Making accurate references back to places, dates, situations, and people is very important, and ensuring your timelines match. Having a skilled editor helps with this. Of course, to keep any audience engaged, a writer has to create a clever yarn, add believable characters, provide descriptive settings with enough drama, excitement, intrigue, romance, to keep readers coming back for more.
What are the things that you need to consider when publishing multiple books, especially when you are self publishing a series?
First it’s coming up with a good enough idea for a series, one that will attract a following and weave a clever enough story that readers will be waiting for book two and three. This will end up being a valuable tool for marketing your books as well. The author/editor/publisher relationship is a big factor to consider. Like any partnership, it takes time to develop a solid working relationship with an editor and publisher, where they really begin to know and understand you and your work. Unless there are major unresolvable issues, I feel it is of great value to stick with the same team. Fewer problems will arise and communication, which is key, becomes second nature.
Explain your experience with FriesenPress
My experience with FriesenPress has been great. The staff are available to talk about any issue that may arise, as well as trouble shoot and brainstorm via email until a question is answered or a problem resolved. Again, in multi-book publishing, the team really gets to know you, which makes it so much easier. You’ve already worked together so they know how to communicate with you. My publishing consultant at the time, answered any and every question I had, offered endless advice, and liaised between different people or departments on my behalf. On a couple occasions there were issues with layout, font, or dialogue in my books, but the design team stuck with me beyond the call of duty to ensure they got it right. That’s what keeps me coming back.
Any advices for other budding authors?
Write, write, write. That’s about it. Whether it’s writing a blog, a journal, or office newsletters, the more you write, the better you get. And read. Read about writing, read articles, and read romance novels :-)
Visit Madison Lake's official website: www.madisonlakepages.com
Interviewed by Rasanga Weerasinghe