Lea Nolan writes the kinds of stories she sought as a teen—smart paranormals with bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She holds degrees in history and women’s studies concentrating in public policy and has spent nearly twenty years as a health policy analyst and researcher. She lives in Maryland with her heroically supportive husband and three clever children.
Thanks so much for having me here at I’m a Reader Not a Writer. It’s a true pleasure to be back to discuss ALLURE, the second installment in The Hoodoo Apprentice Series.
Describe Allure in 5 words
What made you decide to write in this genre?
I write young adult fantasy because it was my favorite genre to read when I was a teenager. I loved escaping my real life to journey to strange new world where people could use their powers to overcome impossible odds. I’ve got an idea for a new contemporary story, but I suspect I’ll never stray too far from fantasy.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
Tough love. I don’t let myself use it as a crutch and force myself to plow through. When words are coming slow, I often write a little note that says BICHOK and put it next to my computer. It stands for butt in chair, hands on keyboard. It’s a good reminder to stick with it, keep typing, and believe what’s coming out will be good. But that said, there are times when I know what I want to write, but the words are fighting me, or the scene is just not coming out right. That’s usually a hint that something’s not working and I need to take a step back and rethink what I’m doing. When that happens, a good night sleep usually fixes everything.
Do your characters really talk to you?
They do! But it’s not like we have conversations, it’s more like I eavesdrop on their thoughts or their conversations amongst themselves. Sometimes I’ll be doing something pretty mundane at home, like vacuuming or loading the dishwasher, or especially when I’m driving, and I’ll hear a little snippet from one of them. It gets me thinking about where they are, what’s happening to them, and why they said/feel that way. Before I know it, I witness the whole scene and am ready to commit it to paper.
Do your friends or enemies ever find themselves in your books?
LOL! This one made me laugh. Yes, I think aspects of both my friends and enemies make their way into my books whether I like it or not. Sometimes I’m not even aware of it. For example, when my husband read Conjure, the first book in the series he pointed out that Miss Delia, the elderly Gullah root worker was the very embodiment of a dearly departed friend of mine. I was totally shocked because I hadn’t realized it as I was writing. Now, Miss Delia makes me smile even more because I feel like my friend’s spirit is with me.
Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
The more books I write, the more of a plotter I become. In order to write fairly quickly, I need to know the bulk of what happens in the story ahead of time. So I usually start out with a lot of solo brainstorming, sketching out the major story beats, plot turns, and ending, and then often follow up with a marathon plotting session with some great writer friends to help flesh out any problem areas. Then it’s just a matter of doing some background research and jumping in to pound out the story.
How do you come up with the characters names/personalities?
I don’t come up with them so much as they come to me. I start out with a little idea of who they are, their first name, where they live, what their circumstances are, and then I start writing. Their last names, characteristics, and personalities usually just start to flow. The more I write the better I know them, so I’d guess that I’ve got their personality down pretty well by the time I’m about a fourth of the way into the book.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Music plays a huge role in helping me plot out my books and set the emotional tone for the story. When I wrote Allure, I had Adele’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love on repeat. It perfectly describes how Emma Guthrie feels about Cooper Beaumont and what she’ll do to save his soul.
About how long does it take to write a book?
All told, a full length, standalone novel like Allure takes about three to four months, start to finish. I need to learn to get faster, though because my goal is to write three a year and that leaves almost no downtime for vacations, holidays, and family related stuff.
What is on your “keeper shelf” of books?
All of Stephenie Meyer’s books because they changed my life. I never would have tried to be a writer if I hadn’t read Twilight. So the host and all the books in the Twilight Saga will be on my keeper shelf forever. Aside from those, I’ll never, ever part with my copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, any of Maggie Steifvater’s books, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, or any of the huge (and growing) stack of personally signed books I’ve collected.
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?
Holding the first copy of a book in my hand. It’s like cradling your baby for the first time in the hospital after giving birth. Except it doesn’t smell as nice and isn’t quite as cute.
Thanks so much for having me! This was a lot of fun!
Alure by Lea Nolan
Worst. Summer. Ever.
Emma Guthrie races to learn the hoodoo magic needed to break The Beaumont Curse before her marked boyfriend Cooper’s sixteenth birthday. But deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry, dark, mysterious forces encroach, conspiring to separate Emma and Cooper forever. When Cooper starts to change, turning cold and indifferent, Emma discovers that both his heart and body are marked for possession by competing but equally powerful adversaries.
Desperate to save him, Emma and her twin brother, Jack, risk their lives to uncover the source of the black magic that has allured Cooper and holds him in its grip. Faced with the horror of a soul-eating boohag, Emma and Jack must fight to resist its fiendish power to free Cooper long enough to join their strengths and face it together, before it destroys them all.