Sunday, August 11, 2019

An Interview with author Lara MacGregor

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Author on GoodReads

Why did you start fiction writing and what genre(s) do you like to

I started writing at a young age because I have an artist’s soul. I needed to create things. Writing, music, and art always gave me a good way to express myself and maybe bring some happiness to other people.

As for genres, I like to read and write several types, but my favorite to write are historical fiction, romance, a dash of sci-fi, and some paranormal—especially time travel, but other types as well.

Why this/these genre(s)? What attracts you to them?

I’m a history geek, and it’s fascinating putting the values of two different eras side-by-side to see what wackiness becomes of it, hence, my love of writing time-travel novels. It’s also fun trying to come up with different methods of time travel.

As for sci-fi, I can’t get enough Star Trek and all the off-shoots. I’ve watched it all my life and love some sci-fi for this reason. That new show Orville is great. I love that I get to see a Star-Trek like setting but also get to laugh. In my time travel series Romeo Vs. Juliet, Descendants of Time, and especially in the second book of the series, The Questrist, I bring in more sci-fi. However, I prefer, overall, the way the romance genre deals with time travel over the sci-fi genre because I love happy endings.

As for paranormal, I had an unusual upbringing. Because of my mother, I saw and heard about mystical things. I learned about supernatural stuff. I grew up in a large Victorian house behind a mortuary.
Generally speaking, what is the driving force behind your characters?

My characters have to learn something. I strongly believe in life-long learning, but character growth is important too. The characters may be flawed, but the protagonists should have noble motives.

Have any of your characters changed in dramatic way from what you
imagined at the start during the writing process?
My characters have sometimes driven the story in a different direction than I had intended. That happens more often than the character him or herself changing dramatically. Sometimes I use character arcs to plot their discovery or growth.

I did have one character who comes to mind as being somewhat different than originally conceived of. In my contemporary romance, The Mask of Truth, the main character, Cory, is a prince banished to America as a boy for a crime he didn’t commit. Originally, he was darker and more cynical than he ended up being by the time the story was published. His bad experiences in his home country had tainted him. He was also the eldest brother in the original conception of the story. Now, he’s the middle-born prince, and is much more centered in comparison with what was first intended. I’m happy to say that Wings ePress has put out the first book and is due to release the second book of this series this July.  

What do you find the most difficult in finishing a story and approximately how long does it take for you to write a story?

I hate that I find loopholes sometimes after the story is done. Then I have to go back through the whole book to fix things and the things those things affect. I also hate cutting “brilliant” scenes because they don’t further the plot but would make awesome anecdotes to tell one’s friends about if they were real.

As for how long it takes to write a story, that varies widely. The quickest novel I ever wrote happened for a wild reason. I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school and all, and said my share of Rosaries and Novenas. Once, the Archangel Raphael was the focus of my prayers. Shortly after, I got inspired like I had never been inspired before that or since, and wrote the novel that got me my first book deal, The 12th Kiss, put out with Wings ePress. I had studied the Regency era in England for some time before that, the novel’s setting, but suddenly, a new story came to me. I typed it faster than I ever had done before. The story came out of me in a matter of weeks—it just flew from my fingertips. I named an important character Raphael in gratitude. I put the manuscript up with a critique group for a year or so to tighten it up before submitting it for publication. Most of my novels started as shorter stories and took much longer to finish, sometimes several years. But not that one inspired novel…

Are there other types of writing you do such as non-fiction, or short

Yes, I write flash-fiction to full-length novels, and some is non-fiction. I have also written academic history papers and wrote a thesis to top off earning my master’s degree in history. I had a giant hole in my knowledge of American history: The War of 1812, so I decided to write my thesis about that. Specifically, I compared the patriotism of American, British, and Canadian participants in the war. Some of the stuff I came across while doing research was startling.

I’ve also written history papers on subjects as varied as the Civil Rights Movement in America, The Mexican-United States War of the mid-nineteenth century, Middle-Eastern Christian immigrants to America (in honor of my family), and making a cat museum, which would highlight history through the lens of humans’ relationship to cats—there are some good stories there! My first master’s paper was a historiographical paper analyzing the writings of five-hundred years worth of historical ponderings over Richard III of England. Was he guilty of murdering his nephews, the Princes in the Tower? After sorting through those centuries of writings and reading books on the Wars of the Roses, I don’t think Richard did it. I made it the focus of my novel, The Questrist, and had my character go back in time to warn Richard about the Battle of Bosworth. History changed, and Tudor England was wiped off the map of history.

In my undergrad years, I wrote papers as varied as French cuisine in the south of France to analyzing symphonies (My B.A. is in modern languages with a minor in music).

Has your writing affected you in any way and what would you recommend to someone wanting to start writing fiction?

Writing and music are my driving force and keep me hopeful in this life. They allow me to be inventive and feel gratitude for being given the gift of loving them so much.

To someone just starting out, read and read a lot, and read different genres and styles. I’ve read books from different centuries and from different countries and languages. Books allow one to widen their perspective and dream. Write and join a critique group. It’s how I went from someone simply good with language to someone who understood the rules of fiction—well, I’m continuously learning. I’m lucky to have a great editor—thank you, Jeanne!

One other thing…don’t let harsh critiquers get you down. You have stories in you that no one else does, and the world would benefit from hearing them. Even if your weakness is in the execution, in other words, presenting that story, be happy about that. That’s the easiest hurdle to overcome, far easier than having to overcome a lack of imagination developed enough to write stories in the first place.


Michael Embry said...

Excellent interview, Lara! Thanks for sharing your insights on writing.

Rhobin said...

The 1812 essay sounds interesting! Enjoyed your interview. We share similar interests.

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Thank you for dropping by! I appreciate your time and comments, Michael and Rhobin.

Ken Levise said...

Great interview. You honor your mother and father with your writings.

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Thank you very much, Ken. What a wonderful thing to say.

OffRhoades said...

Nice interview. Looking forward to tracking down some new reads!

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Thank you very much for taking the time to drop by and read the interview!