So, another week has gone by and we are nearing the end of our Tour. Funny, in an interesting way, how quickly time passes by when you are counting it out. At the beginning of this tour, I remember thinking that the end was so far away. And yet, here we are just two weeks away from the final post. We have met several authors on this tour and have read their insights on writing, character building, publishing, promotion and marketing. They have all been published authors with at least one book under their belt, and most have had several. And although our next author, Leslie Conzatti, has been writing for as long as she can remember, the `Princess of Undersea` will be her first book. I share in her enthusiasm. Seeing your work in print, and holding it in your hands, never gets old. Let`s meet her shall we, and see what insights she has to share.
Leslie Conzatti is an avid reader, a passionate writer, and a committed lover of all things fantasy. A native of the Pacific Northwest, she has been running the blog “The Upstream Writer” since the beginning of 2013, to promote her own writing and as a medium for interacting with readers. In addition, “The Upstream Writer” is an “indie book blog” as well, since Leslie willingly uses it as an excuse to get free books. (to review, of course!) Leslie’s “day job” is a staff assistant at a local elementary school. She is currently in the process of publishing her first novella, “Princess of Undersea.” It is a fairy tale based on The Little Mermaid. She hopes to be ready for release by the fall!
Leslie’s Insights on Writing
How long have you been writing?
I have been making up stories since I first started reading. As soon as I learned how to form letters I started writing these stories down. When I learned how to type, things just went a whole lot faster, and you could actually read it when I was done. Short answer: as soon as I knew what stories were, I began making my own.
What genre do you write in?
Mostly fantasy, whether urban or high fantasy. I also do some sci-fi of the cyberpunk variety, and some contemporary romance, but mostly its fantasy.
Do you hand-write or use a laptop/PC when creating?
Well, nowadays it’s mostly tapping out ideas on my phone with my thumb, since my handwriting is crap and notebooks run out too fast. From there it’s easy to transfer to the computer, where all my drafts go. Sometimes it’s easier to type on a keyboard too. So yeah, I’d say computer.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I enjoy coming up with story ideas and tying up plot holes and bringing a story from premise to completion. Coming up with cool little details is super-fun!
Do you have any advice to share about writing?
Your first draft is never your last one. You WILL rewrite—several times—so don’t get too attached to any one scene. Pay attention to the story; if the scene contains necessary information and it fits the narrative, you can keep it. If it’s just a “fun part” but it really doesn’t add anything, or there’s a better way to say it, then the scene is just taking up space and it has to go.
Leslie`s Insights on Character Building
How in depth are you when you create your characters e.g.; background stories, favorite foods, genealogy?
The initial creation of the characters is usually pretty basic, just things like appearance and the main personality trait that sets the events of the book in motion. It’s as the story progresses, and I spend more time thinking about the character that other things come out and develop.
Who is you favorite character to write for e.g.; protagonist, villain, sidekick etc.
I like writing the sidekicks, mostly. Those are the characters I gravitate toward in other people’s stories too. Something about the way they are instrumental in shaping the main character and providing help or conflict that spurs growth in the other characters. It’s really fun.
Do you have a favorite character that you have created, and why is she/he/it your favorite?
Well, currently I am incredibly attached to a character from my most recent project, “The Water-Man.” [https://www.wattpad.com/story/49585258-the-water-man] His name is Celian (See-Lee-Ann) and he is a shape-shifting cryptid called a Leonie (my own invention; kind of like a selkie, but a unique kind of sea creature.) He’s been on land before, and he fell in love with this woman he saw, but he was never human, so he could never communicate with her. He was able to become human with the help of a young girl, and he’s kind of sweetly awkward about it. The longer he keeps the human form, the more he understands, but at the same time, there is much that he doesn’t understand. It’s really fun to write his scenes.
If you could be any character from your book/s who would it be and why?
Um, probably Laurel, the “Impure” Elf from one of my first stories, a high fantasy inspired by Lord of the Rings. She is regarded as Impure because her mother was a half-Elf, but mostly her appearance is Elvish, with only slight differences. This mixed-blood gives her a nagging sense of displacement, as it were—and I kind of relate to that. Plus her world is so unique: her race came as refugees to a human kingdom, so they live in a medieval-style “ghetto”, while the humans have progressed to a more Victorian-style city, so two vastly different eras forming side by side would be fascinating, to say the least!
If you could meet any character from your books who would it be and why?
I would want to meet Celian. He’s been such a wonderful character, and his physical quirks (such as the fact that he is about seven feet tall!) have been fun to imagine, but I would love to witness it in real life!
Do you have any advice to share about character development?
You can either have a teenager or you can have a self-taught expert. The one thing that makes me mad when I read a book is when the sixteen-year-old is better at a particular profession than the adults who have been doing it since before she was born. Also the Pious Polly’s, the ones who are so immaculately behaved that they won’t dream of standing up against injustice, and they always do as they’re told and they’re always so saccharine and happy… so all that’s left to them is to wait for the truth to come out while the villainous character has his way and keeps bringing the pain—and at the last moment, the VERY LAST moment, everything is cleared away and Pious Polly is vindicated and Pious Pete goes free. THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE. Granted, I can’t stand those books where the character’s life is nothing but crap, but putting your character through tough times is necessary, and they MUST respond as the average reader WOULD, not as the writer WISHES they would. Let it come natural. Put yourself in their shoes; how would you feel/react/think in that same situation?
Leslie`s Insights on Publishing
Are you a self-published author or are you represented by a traditional publisher?
I am currently contracted with a small-press publisher, Endless Press. [www.endlesspress.org]
If you have a traditional publisher what do you like most about it?
I like it because it’s less for me to think about, and I know my work is in good hands. There’s somebody taking care of the process who has done it before, rather than me, who has second-guessed herself for the last three years, and still has little idea of what would be the “right” thing to do.
Do you have E-books and/or hardcopies?
My novella will be available in both formats.
Leslie`s Insights on Promotion and Merchandising
Do you think it is important to have merchandise, (besides your books) at promotional events?
Yes! Posters, postcards, and bookmarks are great, because those are things people don’t mind having, while they might not quite be ready to buy a book just then. Anything to remind people of the book and encourage them to buy it down the road is great.
In a short paragraph tell us about your book.
My novella, The Princess of Undersea, is based on The Little Mermaid. Ylaine is a princess and her father is a widower who misses his wife and blames the humans for her disappearance. She was given the gift of enchanted song by fairies at her birth, but her father mostly uses the hypnotic power of her song to coerce the royal council into agreeing with his plan to wage war on the humans. Through a discussion with her godmother, Ylaine decides that if she and her father could become human for the day, she could prove to him that the humans aren’t violent and evil and he doesn’t have to fight them.
On the surface, Prince Nathan is facing an arranged marriage of necessity with the princess of the neighboring kingdom, but he isn’t ready to be king yet.
A storm brings the two royals together, and they must unite, a common enemy is working to use their struggles with their parents against them and overthrow both their kingdoms in one fell move.
What is up next for you?
Well, after the final edits for Princess of Undersea, I’ll finally have something to market and sell, and perhaps there will be more published books from me in the future! If you want to read more things as I write them, just check out my blog, where I frequently post excerpts from different projects and whatnot.
Leslie, thank you so much for joining me today, I wish you all the best with your writing. Please provide our readers with your contact information and links to your work.