Author L.M. Davis sat down with The Write Life, to discuss her work, what motivates her to write, and her speculative fiction young adult series.
The Write Life: First, welcome to The Write Life! We’re thrilled to have you. I’ve read your first novel, Interlopers, and understand you are continuing the story. For those who aren’t familiar, tell us a bit about the Shifters Series?
L.M. Davis: The Shifters Series is about Nate and Larissa Pantera. They are fraternal twin, teenaged shapeshifters, were-panthers to be more precise, but they are not like other paranormal teens. Nate and Larissa have always known exactly what they are and they come from a family of shapeshifters. The twins think that they pretty much have the whole “shapeshifter-among-humans” thing all figured out, but when strange things start to happen in Interlopers, they discover that everything that they thought they knew, about who and what they were, is only the beginning of the truth.
TWL: Where did the inspiration for the series come from?
L.M.: The story for the series came to me while I was driving from Chicago to Minneapolis, where I was working at a university. I had decided to write a story that my cousin, who loves fantasy and sci-fi, would enjoy. I also knew that I wanted to write a book that was reflective of a the experiences that I saw growing up (i.e. not about an orphan, who struggles alone against a harsh, cruel world; but about siblings who come from a loving and supportive extended family, in which family histories and stories are so important). I wanted to write a book about the kind of families that I know. So, those were the basic parameters, and as I was on that long stretch of road that goes through the foothills in Wisconsin, the story just came to me. I wrote the first draft of Interlopers in about two months.
TWL: Your novel is considered Speculative Fiction. What made you choose that genre to focus on?
L.M.: I am a speculative fiction fanatic. Seriously. I grew up reading Madeline L’Engle, Mildred Taylor, Susan Cooper, and L. J. Smith. As a teen, I think that I read all of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice and John Saul (these guys are considered horror, but all of them have a speculative foundation and quality to their works), and I discovered Laurell K. Hamilton my senior year of high school. My first creative writing efforts, when I was in second or third grade were fantasy–I had one story that I wrote and rewrote for years about a vampire. I have written in other genres, realistic fiction, non-fiction, even romance (yes, I admit it), but fantasy is the genre that feels most like home to me.
TWL: Why did you choose young adults as your target audience?
L.M.: First of all, it is such a pivotal moment in everyone’s life. It’s when you make the decisions that will shape who you are for the rest of your life. Some of those decisions are deliberate and others are less conscious, but they all play a role in making you into the person that you will become. As a reader that moment is so important too. It is the moment when you stop reading because your parents say that you have to and you start reading because you love it. I want to write books that make people enjoy reading and keep them hooked. I know that for me, my early love of reading, stoked a desire to keep reading throughout my life.
TWL: Are there any particular challenges you face when writing a novel?
L.M.: I think that for me the hardest part is the description. My writing tends towards the spare in terms of details–it has a Hemingway-esque quality in that regard. I allude subtly, when I should be much more direct about certain details. As my drafts go out to readers, the response is always “needs more detail”. So that’s something that I am always working on, trying to add more detail and description with every subsequent draft.
TWL: What books are you reading now?
L.M.:I am always working on several books. Right now it’s Dhalgren by Samuel Delany, Escape from Beckyville by Nicole Sconiers, and Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.
TWL: What would you say to aspiring authors?
L.M.: Learn your tools, which are words, punctuation, and grammar. Learn them well. The better you know these things, the more control that you have over what you write. Writing is an art. It’s not just about putting words on a page. It is about using those words, that punctuation, that grammar, thoughtfully and deliberately, to produce a desired result. You have to know the rules before you can break them in a meaningful way. Also, read broadly. Read the stuff you love, but also read something that you never thought that you would be interested in. People who read a lot make for better writers, because when you read you are at the same time learning the art of storytelling–whatever kinds of stories you read.
TWL: Any last words?
L.M.: Thanks so much to The Write Life for hosting me on the blog. I look forward to our video interview!
Interlopers and Posers, released April 30, 2012, are available on Amazon.com and at L.M.’s website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.