Sunday Spotlight- Sharon Lipman
A huge fan of the paranormal romance genre, Sharon Lipman started writing in her teens. It wasn’t until she was in her thirties that she found a story she was desperate to share. House Blackwood was born and Bound to Blackwood is her debut novel. She was born in west London and grew up in leafy Surrey in south-east England. A lover of all things British, except the weather, she now lives in Almeria, southern Spain with her husband and an ever growing collection of dogs.
How did you get started writing?
About five years ago, my husband and I moved to Spain. We packed up our two dogs, and everything we owned and found a villa to rent. Although I was still working full-time from home the first year was a bit of a holiday really. After that, we found an old cortijo (farm house) in need of total renovation. So we bought it. Since I didn’t feel like I had enough to do with working full-time, renovating a house and learning a new language, I thought I’d write a book!
In all seriousness, I’ve always been quite creative. I enjoy painting, digital art, crochet, and cooking. I’m also an avid reader and a massive paranormal romance fan. I read so many different takes on vampire lore, I honestly didn’t think there was much more that could be done. An idea kept tugging away at my brain though and it just wouldn’t go away. Yes, the timing probably wasn’t brilliant in terms of what was happening in my life, but when the muse speaks, one must listen. It may have taken me a bit longer than I anticipated (the same could be said of the house renovation), but I got there!
What books do you currently have published?
Bound to Blackwood is my debut novel and the only one I have published at the moment. It’s a stand alone novel, but it was always intended to be the beginning of a series.
Ali’s note: You can buy Bound to Blackwood on Amazon for $3.99 or free for KU subscribers.
What was the inspiration behind Bound to Blackwood?
I love paranormal romance and vampires. The inspiration for Bound to Blackwood came from reading but also from a desire to create a new approach to vampire lore that could be believed. I found a lot of the books I was reading were based in the USA. I’m British, from London originally, and I really wanted to write something set in the UK. We’re steeped in history and mythology in the British Isles and I wanted to combine some of that history as well as geography in my story.
Do you have any current works in progress? If so, would you be willing to tell us about them?
I am working on the second installment in the House Blackwood series – Stranger to Blackwood. The story centres on Ryver, the best friend of Lena, the female lead from Bound to Blackwood and Ria, a shy, unassuming human woman. She’s always known she was different, but she’s about to discover exactly how different she really is.
What is your favorite part of writing?
When the muse is in full flow and I just can’t stop writing. Discovering new ideas and traits to characters is just brilliant. When I write that one scene or even just one scene and think, “nailed it!”
What part of the writing process do you struggle with the most?
My editor thinks I’m comma phobic. She’s probably right. I also had to make a decision about whether I used British or America punctuation and grammar. Spelling wasn’t really up for debate in my mind since the story is British, I’m British, the characters are, for intents and purposes, also British. I think in the end, my editor helped me find a happy medium that will satisfy readers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The other biggest challenge, which might seem odd for a romance author, is writing sex scenes! Good sex is incredibly hard to write (no pun intended) and there is always a danger you’ll stray too far into erotica, or worse, sound awkward, cringe-worthy and ridiculous. I hope I struck the right note with my writing. Readers tell me I have, but take it from me, it wasn’t always easy!
Do you have any favorite authors you aspire to be compared to? (i.e. the next Nora Roberts of romance?)
If anyone even mentioned me in the same sentence as J.R. Ward, I think I’d die a happy woman. That lady is the queen of paranormal romance and her Black Dagger Brotherhood series is one I can read over and over again. She is just brilliant.
What are your thoughts on traditional vs self-publishing?
I like being an indie author because I’m in charge. This is my book. This is my story. I got to choose the cover (which I designed myself), I get to choose where my book is sold, and for how much. I keep 100% of my royalties.
There is still, unfortunately, a lot of snobbery in the publishing industry. Self-publishing has been synonymous with badly written, poorly edited rubbish, pushed out by authors who don’t seem to have any standards. It is often seen that being published by a “proper” publisher is some kind of validation that the book is good. It’s not. I’ve read some brilliant indie books, and I’ve also read some awful traditionally published books.
The downside of self-publishing is that you have to be author, manager, marketing team and publicist all in one. Nowadays though, this is also true for some traditionally published authors. There are very few publishers who are willing to bet huge advances and massive marketing budgets on an unknown quantity.
Self-publishing can cost a lot of money – both in terms of actual pennies as well precious time – to get your book out there. There are plenty of unscrupulous people willing to take your money too – and you most definitely don’t always get what you pay for.
I do get an enormous sense of satisfaction and pride from seeing my book out there and I’m lucky to have been given some amazing reviews. Long may it continue!
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Just write – the first and sometimes second and third drafts are nearly always word vomit.
An editor is worth their weight in gold – if you can’t afford an editor, save up or join some of the cooperative groups on Facebook and find someone willing to trade. I belong to the Creative Services Trading Group and it is a godsend.
Get a professional cover – the cover is the first thing people see. “Don’t judge a book by its cover” maybe suitable advice in some instances, but when it comes to books, readers do exactly that. If your cover looks unprofessional, readers assume the inside will be unprofessional too.
Polish and polish again – just because you’ve typed the words “the end,” it doesn’t mean you’re finished. Make your book as good as it possibly can be before you publish.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
July 1st 2016 marks #IndiePrideDay, a day when the Indie Authors of the world unite to to offer a real alternative for readers and lovers of books by offering special discounts on their books. There is a huge Indie Author community out there and they’re determined to take indie books mainstream. What does this mean for you? Well I’m offering Bound to Blackwood for free the weekend of July 1st! Yes, that’s right, a great book, totally free. A proud indie author myself, I’ll be supporting the movement on July 1st, and you can too. Download your copy of Bound to Blackwood now and follow the trend on twitter for some more amazing indie books and discover some new-to-you authors. You won’t regret it!
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