Friday, January 11, 2008

Interview with author Lori Devoti

By Lonnie Cruse

Today's post is an interview with author Lori Devoti. I first met Lori at a mystery writer's conference and was intrigued when I learned she'd been published in another genre. I asked her to chat with me about that here, and about her writing in general.

LC: Tell us about your books? And what was your inspiration?

LD: My dark paranormals are set in the modern world, but as if Norse mythology is real and operating in the background. My heroes so far have been shape shifters--hellhounds and garm. Both come from Norse myth, but I tweaked them. Neither were shape shifters. One was just a spectral hound and the other a massive wolf. My basic inspiration came from a book that had information on demon dogs, but each book has its own inspiration too. I start with a basic set up or conflict and things just build in my mind until I have a fairly complete idea of what is going to happen.

LC: You started out writing in the mystery genre and now write romance and nocturnes. Why the change? And which is easiest for you?

LD: I read all three of the big genres--romance, mystery and scifi/fantasy. I started with a mystery manuscript because that was what I was reading at the time. I moved to romance because I didn't want to get stuck trying one thing that might not work for me. I actually have romance, fantasy and mystery proposals out with editors right now.

LC: I know what romance is about, (married over 44 years, hehe) but what are nocturnes?

LD: It is a newish line at Harlequin/Silhouette. Two books are released each month in the line and most places if you don't get to the store in that month, the books will be sent back to the publisher. Some bookstores seem to be keeping the Nocturnes around longer though, and all of them are available to order either through some place like Amazon, or a local bookstore even months later. Nocturnes specifically are all dark paranormals with alpha heroes and sensual action-driven plots.

LC: Tell us a bit about Lori Devoti, what you read,what you write, where you hang out.

LD: As I said earlier, I read all the commercial genres. I'm not much on literary fiction though. I pretty much hang out at my house or the Y where I take spin class and a class called power pump--group weight lifting. On the Internet, I'm everywhere...MySpace, Bebo, Crimespace, Facebook, Linkedin, and Shelfari (my favorite).

LC: How did you find your publisher?

LD: My first publisher I sold to at a conference. My second, I had an agent, but it was my decision to try for a Nocturne. My first two books were light contemporaries and Nocturnes are dark paranormals--quite the change for me. However, I loved reading dark paranormals and really wanted to try and write one. To my surprise everyone took my proposal seriously.

LC: Do you work with an agent? If so, how did you connect?

LD: My current agent used to work for my previous agent. My previous agent and I had already parted ways, I was in the process of finding a new one, when Holly (Holly Root, Waxman Literary) left Trident (previous agency). I loved Holly when we worked together at Trident. I always said she was the person who would catch whatever you knew was wrong with your work, but hoped no one else noticed. I loved that. Anyway, when I heard she had started taking on her own clients, I contacted her.

LC: What sends you running to the computer to write? And what makes you bang your head on the keyboard in frustration?

LD: I don't think anything sends me running to the computer to write. That sounds horrible, but writing is hard, especially after you start getting paid for it and know other people are going to be judging it. My first manuscript was a breeze to write--it probably stank to high heaven, but it was darn easy to write. Now I know more and I want every book to be good--not just okay, good--the kind of book someone loves and is upset when it's over. What makes me frustrated is when I don't have the book (or more often the characters) thought out well enough and am just trying to force my way past that. It doesn't work. And it makes me sick to my stomach.
LC: How do you promote your books? What works best for you?

LD: Nothing works. :) (I say that and I'm an ex-advertising person) I honestly think the best thing an author can do for themselves is try and write the best books they can and then try to get as many out in a year as they can without compromising that quality. I do, however, probably do a lot more promotion than many authors. I have a web site and a blog. I'm on all those social networks. I have bookmarks, book plates, virtual bumper stickers and other things personalized for my books. I do a few group signings and I sign stock when I can. Basically, I do what I enjoy and what doesn't cost me an arm and a leg. I do not believe in spending a big chunk of your advance on promotion. I heard a NY Timesbest-selling author once say you'd be better off taking every penny of your advance and buying as many copies of your book as you can, than spending that advance on promotion. I haven't done that, but I believe her. Sales get publishers attention--not contest wins, or good reviews. And sales get you another contract and another chance to build your audience--until you have that base audience I think $2,000 spent buying your own books and maybe giving them away would be a lot more productive than buying a full color ad in some magazine.

LC: What else would you like our readers to know about Lori Devoti?

LD: My web site is or readers can find me on one of the social networks I mentioned. If you are on Shelfari--find me! I love roaming people's bookshelves. :)
LC: Thanks for dropping by, Lori. See you at Love Is Murder next month.


Darlene Ryan said...

Welcome Lori. I'd like to hear what it is about the darker side of the paranormal world that appeals to you when you're writing.

Lori Devoti said...

I like creating places and I like tying those places to the mythology. In Unbound I created an underground world for a character from Norse mythology. It was much more modern than the original, but it was fun to work that out.
In Guardian's Keep I got to create my favorite place to date--Lyngvi. It's also from mythology and not a place that has been described a lot so I got to run wild with it and with thinking up what kind of creatures might exist there!

Sandra Parshall said...

Lori, after two books I've come to the same conclusion you have -- spending a lot of money on promotion brings few results. These days being active on the internet is the best way to reach readers, and heaven knows I'm active on the internet. I'll always do bookmarks, but other items are a waste of money. I still have about 300 ballpoint pens with my name and the title of my first book on them, if anybody wants some. I thought people always needed ballpoint pens, but apparently not...