Today, I have the distinct pleasure of presenting the first of a two-part spotlight on author and poet Lori A. May. Ms. May is the author of the suspense novels, The Profiler and Moving Target. She recently penned her first book of poetry, stains: early poems.
Part one of this fabulous spotlight is the following interview with Ms. May, and be sure to pop back tomorrow for my review of her volume of poetry, stains: early poems.
An Interview with Lori. A. May:
Q: Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
A: Sure! I’m a novelist, poet, and freelance writer so I always have something new on the go. I recently moved from Ontario to Michigan, where I am editor of The Ambassador Poetry Project. In addition to fiction and poetry, I’m also a part-time college writing instructor, which is a very rewarding component of my portfolio. It’s so much fun working with emerging writers, so I also present sessions at conferences and festivals where I can hopefully share some encouragement with others based on my own experiences as an author, instructor, and editor.
Q: How long have you been writing? Did you always desire to make it your line of work?
A: My earliest memories include dreams of what it would be like to write for a living, so it’s always been a part of me. As far as writing as a profession, I would say I have been at it for more than a dozen years now, maybe closer to fifteen. Like most writers, it was something that I loved in my youth and I just stuck with it and kept at it all this time. Not everyone starts off writing at a young age and everyone has their own path, but the one consistency amongst those who write for a living is that it takes a great deal of dedication and persistence, no matter when you start.
Q: Can you tell us about your latest book?
A: My latest is perhaps a surprise to fans of my crime fiction. As a multi-genre writer, though, I am very pleased with the release of stains: early poems. It’s a collection of some of my earliest poems, some dating back more than a decade. Since I have a few new poetry manuscripts ready to go out the door it was the right time for this introductory release to be available to readers. My voice has grown a bit and my style has developed with more experience as a poet, but I am really proud of the work in stains and I hope readers will enjoy its quirky nature, innocence, and themed chapters. For fun, the collection also includes ‘stained images,’ a collection of experimental black and white photography I hope readers will view as an enhancement to the poetry within stains.
Q: Do you prefer to write suspense fiction or poetry? Do you find it difficult to switch genres?
A: You know, I write almost every day and it all depends on what sort of mood I am in, but overall I love both equally. There’s something to be said about watching characters react when faced with challenging circumstances within a novel, but then there is such beauty to be discovered within the constraints of poetry. I can’t imagine giving either up so I just enjoy the love of both and will continue to write both. Since I go with my mood (or deadline!), I don’t find it difficult to manage both. It’s a great way to keep from getting bored and I love the variety each offers.
Q: Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?
A: I wouldn’t say I have a routine so much as I make a commitment. When I know what I plan on writing – such as a new novel or a collection of poems – I set goals for myself of how that will be accomplished and when I will work on the project. I find that keeps me in line without making hard and fast rules. I do try to write each day, or at least work on plotting, planning, or outlining. Once I get deep into research and outlining, it’s not long until I am at my chair, dedicated to the project for the long run. Ideas can originate anywhere and inspiration comes when least expected – during long drives or right before falling asleep – so I just try to keep my mind open for clues as to something that may take root. Some days, ideas come slower than others and when that happens I take a break, ask myself a lot of ‘what if’ questions, and see where that leads me.
Q: What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
A: Never having enough time to do everything I want in a day. While I think I manage my time wisely, the day just goes too quick when you consider the writing duties in addition to marketing, promotions, media, and networking with others. Each day I reference my to-do list and inevitably some things are transferred over to the next day, but I suppose that’s what it’s like in any job. At least I am never bored and always have something on the go. But what I wouldn’t give to have an extra few hours – without compromising sleep and a social life!
Q: How do you research your books?
A: For my novels, the research is in proportion to the subject matter. The Profiler required some intense research into serial murder, sociopath behavior, and religion and for that I read a lot, interviewed a number of individuals, and created a good number of files to organize my findings. Moving Target was part of a continuity series my publisher put together, so there was a lot of reading prior to even thinking about creating a storyline. However, sometimes research plays a much smaller role, as is now the case with my new work-in-progress, a suspense novel for teens. The YA market is more about keeping up the pace in storytelling than it is about focusing in on intricate details that may slow the pace.
Q: What advice would you give beginning writers?
A: Have fun. Writing can either be a hobby or it can be a dream that turns into a professional career and both should be an enjoyable experience. Most writers write because they love it and can’t stop thinking of stories or poems so I think it’s important to remember why you started writing and to hang onto that joy. Once the business side takes on more of a role, it’s easy to lose sight of that personal enjoyment. Yes, writing is work, but it should be one of the things you look forward to most when you wake up in the morning. Since it is a business, remember that there are two sides to it: what can be controlled by the writer and what cannot be controlled or predicted. Read everything (in and outside of your genre), write regularly and as often as you can, and be open to opportunities. You never know what will work until you stumble upon it, so keep the determination, persistence, and motivation alive and you’ll love what you do, no matter what you do, so long as you do it for yourself.
Q: Who has inspired you as an author?
A: For poetry, I am a big fan of Molly Peacock. She is such a wonderful writer who has an amazing career story, from her modest beginnings to now being one of North America’s most recognized poets. Molly has an incredible voice, is wildly encouraging when it comes to inspiring emerging authors and is a wonderful poet to listen to at readings. In fiction, I have always been a fan of the classics like Sylvia Plath, Hemingway, and Dickens, but in current times I get so much inspiration from new authors who find it impossible to share their excitement. That’s why I read so many magazines and journals – for the discovery of new voices. What I do find incredibly inspiring, and highly recommend to emerging authors, are the non-fiction and memoir books about writing like Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Carolyn See’s Making A Literary Life. I recommend each of these to writers of all stages in their career.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Currently, I am working on a couple of young adult projects with suspense and drama at the forefront. These should appeal to my adult fans, too, so it’s not a complete diversion from my usual work. I’m also editing the final draft of a mainstream crime drama my agent is eagerly awaiting, tentatively titled The Name of the Game. Of course, much of my time this fall will be devoted to promoting stains: early poems because I hope it won’t be long until a new poetry book is announced. I also welcome readers to visit my website and blog, www.loriamay.com, to see where I’ll be doing readings and booksignings, presenting at festivals and conferences, and sharing all sort of other news.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my latest news, A.F. It’s been a pleasure!
About the author:
Lori A. May is a poet, novelist, and freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications such as The Writer, Two Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and anthologies such as Van Gogh’s Ear. She is the Founding Editor of The Ambassador Poetry Project and The Western Literary Review, a college writing
instructor, and an advocate for emerging authors and artists.
stains: early poems is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com
You can also check out The Profiler and Moving Target at Amazon.