18 December 2008

Interview Time with Lillian Cauldwell!

It's Interview Time again, and today's guest is the vivacious Lillian Cauldwell! Lillian is a bit off the beaten track for my interview slots, but it was a real breath of fresh air. The lovely lady writes tween books for Star Publish and with Publish America.

If you use a pen name, how did you choose it?

I use my grandmother’s name because there are very few Lillian’s who publish young adult books. Then I added a “u” to Caldwell to distinguish me from the thousands of other Caldwell’s out there in the media world. The result my pen name L S Cauldwell.

How long have you been writing? How long have you been published?

I started writing 10 years ago with three books to my credit. I tend to write slowly and do many drafts before I release a book to a publisher. That’s why I have only 3 books at the moment. I’ve been published since 1996.

How long did it take you to publish your first book, once you started looking for an agent or publisher?

For my first book, it took me about six months before I found a publisher interested enough in my non-fiction book, “Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent’s Guide.”

How long does it take you to write a book?

If I add in the research, it takes about two years. The first draft can take anywhere from one to 12 months depending on what else is complicating my writing schedule.

Do you write one book/story at a time or multiples?

I tend to write multiple stories at a time.

What is the most books/stories you've had WIP at the same time?

Three is the magic number so far.

What is the highest number you've actively been writing on at the same time?


What genres do you write?

Paranormal mystery, historical science fiction, psychological thrillers, and non-fiction

Are there any genres you'd like to try but haven't?

I would like to try writing fantasy, but it’s very difficult to construct a world and stay true to it.

Are there any genres you'd never consider writing in?

I’ve found that writing romance isn’t my strong point. I’m not sure if it’s because I married for practicality or that I’m just not a romantic at heart, but every time I tried writing romance, even my characters get bored and go to sleep.

What's your writing process? (i.e. pantser/organic writer or plotter or mix? write on the computer? longhand? mix? how many passes? etc.)

Compose the first page in head while exercising. Come home and commit to paper. Sit down at computer and translate onto screen.

Sometimes, in bed, I’ll come up with an idea. Write idea in longhand on paper, and then try transcribing it the next morning.

The strangest place and/or time you've written something?

At a funeral, I came up with a terrific idea and on the back of the program, I wrote several paragraphs.

What's the strangest thing you've had happen to you at a public appearance? The most disturbing or amusing?

At the last school I visited, I spoke to a group of 3rd and 4th graders. The feedback from the teachers wasn’t pretty. They said I cursed two or three times (damn and hell) and it was offensive to the young sensitive ears that I spoke to.

What's the strangest way you've sold a book/story (either to a reader or to a publisher/agent)?

I used my Campbell’s alphabet soup to illustrate a scene from my young adult book. That caught the teen’s attention immediately. Of course, the teen was scolded by her parent for playing with her food.

What's the strangest way you've SEEN someone else sell a book/story (either to a reader or to a publisher/agent)? Do you think it would work for you?

My good friend, Janet, takes a large bag filled with books, flyers, brochures, postcards, and everything in between with her whenever she goes out somewhere. She sets up her book on the table in a restaurant in such a way that people see it when they go past her table. Janet stands out on street corners and hands out her flyers and book’s business cards. If you ask her what time of day or what’s she doing, she’ll always mention one of her books while giving you the answer in an indirect manner.

What authors inspire you? Who are your favorite authors?

Rowena Cherry, Anne Perry, Daphne du Murier, T. H. White, Kenneth Roberts and Madeleine L’Engle inspire me.

My favorite authors are: T. H. White, Tolkien, Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Edward Allen Poe, Mark Twain, and Alexander Dumas.

If you could choose two authors to be seated between at a signing...or to have your books shelved between in the bookstore, who would they be?

Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder

What authors would you most like to meet, past or present? Shakespere, T. H. White, and Mark Twain.

How many books do you read in the average month? e-Book or print or both?

I do book reviews. For pleasure, I read maybe 2 or 3 books. To review books, I do around 5 to 10 books per month.

What is the funniest or strangest editor/crit request/comment you've encountered?

The editor asked me not to use curse words because it wouldn’t be age appropriate for tweens 9 to 13. When the book came out, all the curse words appeared as they were previously written by me.

What is your ideal location to write a book, if you had the money to live there or sequester yourself there?

My ideal place to write a book is at the exercise building where I go to get away from the house. For some strange reason, I do most of my creative thinking and plotting when plugging away on the epilateral.

If you could have a book signing anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?

To England.

What would you like to own/have that would make your writing faster or smoother? (Yes, you can name everything from computer programs to a personal maid here.)

An additional brain, fingers, and plenty of classical music.

Introvert or extrovert?

I use to be quite shy. My spouse and kid laugh at me when I tell them that. So I have a split personality. One side of me is, the writing side is an extrovert and the other side of me, the one that needs to market and promote is an introvert.

What's the strangest/worst job (outside of publishing) you've held?

I worked as an administrative assistant with minimum pay because I didn’t hold a bachelor’s degree.

If you could choose your dream job, besides writing, what would it be?

Professional speaker on a cruise line.

What's your dream car? Your favorite car you've ever owned?

My dream car?

Leave the driving to someone else!

The #1 holiday or birthday gift to purchase for an author is...

Every day is a good day to purchase something for an author or an illustrator.

Your favorite leisure activity or vacation spot?

My favorite leisure activity is walking or watching the waves roll in.

My favorite vacation spot is the Rocky Mountains in Vancouver, Canada.

Have you ever included a real experience of your own in a book? Did anyone who knows you notice it?

In “Sacred Honor,” I had a migraine headache, but was scheduled to get the draft in at the end of the week. I wrote the character in with a migraine headache after something she attempted to do, failed. I don’t think anyone caught it, but thought it was part of the character’s behavior.

Have you ever included someone who irritated you in the book? As what, and what comeuppance did he/she get?

Not yet, but I’ve been tempted.

Where do you get your character names?

From the phone book or cemeteries.

Where do you get your inspiration for a book? How do you get your ideas?

Reading, listening, watching television, and talking to people.

What is the best reader or reviewer comment you've ever received?

“I fell in love with your characters” and “I read the first two chapters and I was hooked.”

What does your family think about your writing? How, if they do, do they support you in your writing endeavors?

My spouse is very supportive. The rest of my family is indifferent.

If you write with small children around, what agreements or rules have been made to preserve your writing time?

Don’t have small children. I raised my kid to go away and he did.

When and where do you do the bulk of your writing?

I do the bulk of my writing at my desk in my studio. Mostly, late at night when things go bump in the night.

Do you have animal companions while you write? How do they help or hinder the process?

Pudding, the cat bonded with my spouse. The only time he visits me is when he’s hungry or needs a rubbing. He spends a lot of time sleeping on the keyboard or in the chair with me sitting on the edge of the chair.

What's your favorite part of being a writer?

Creating a new world and peopling it with characters larger than life.

What's the thing you wish you could hire someone else to do or wish you didn't have to do as a writer?

I hate editing my manuscripts. That’s what editors are for.

Do you use any special software to write? Voice to text? Audio edits? etc.

Nope, I use my head, fingers, a keyboard, and electricity. It works out most times.

What advice would you give a new writer?

Read, read, read. Write a first draft non stop.

Write a second draft out loud and have someone go over it.

Keep rewriting it until it’s tight, consistent, and believable.

Have an editor go through it with a fine tooth comb.

What are your writing goals? Where do you want to be in a year? Five years?

Finish my series and start another one.

My first book becomes nationally and internationally known.

Making money so that I can quit one of day jobs.

Do you belong to a crit group or other writing group? How helpful do you find it?

Nope, don’t have the time to crit other people’s work. I often found that most writers are insecure, and don’t want their manuscripts gone over and told what’s wrong with them. I’ve learned how to handle that problem. I leave the room when my editor starts in and I don’t come back until they’re finished.

What online lists or forums are your favorites?

Don’t have any at this time.

What book, if you have written several books, is your favorite and why?

The Anna Mae Mysteries: The Golden Treasure. It’s for girls who need to know that they’re okay the way they are. It’s the rest of the world that’s out of whack.

Which of your own characters would you like to meet in real life, and what would you do?

Anna Mae Botts, she reminds me of me.

Zora Kingsley, she reminds me of my grandmother who took out a bag snatcher in downtown New York City. My grandmother almost clubbed the purse snatcher to death with her pearl handled cane. The police had to restrain and drag her away from the poor slob who was unconscious and lying face down on the concrete.

Do you prefer to think of yourself as a hero/heroine or villain/villainess and why?

I prefer to think of myself as all of the above. It’s harder writing a hero/heroine because no one is that perfect – that good. Villains and Villainesses, I like better because they’re more rounded in their beliefs and emotions. They are who they are, and they’re not about to change just because the status quo doesn’t approve or like them.

If you could have one magical power, what would it be and why?

To heal myself so that I could go on writing books without chronic pain.

If you were the overlord of the world, what would your first decree be?

Adults treat their children with love and respect because once upon a time parents were in the same position as their children now are.

Give us your backlist... with all publishers...

Don’t have much of a backlist.

“Sacred Honor” I’m waiting for it to get out of print so I can place it with another publisher.

“Teenagers! A Bewildered Parent’s Guide” out of print. The publisher went out of business in 1998 because Atrium went bankrupt and took out this publisher.

Tell us about releases you expect within the next year...

I’m working on the second book of The Anna Mae Mystery series: Solomon’s Ark.

The Black Hat Society – young adult psychological thriller

Vampire Turf Wars – young adult vampire story set in South America.

Tell us about your current release...

Three ‘tween sneaker-toed sleuths find Jefferson Davis’ lost gold with help from a disembodied Black fist and divining rods.


Give us your URLs (web site, MySpace, Facebook, blog, etc.)


1 comment:

Jacquie Rogers said...

Nice interview, Lillian! I'm in the midst of Anna Mae's first book right now and enjoying it. :) Keep up the good work!