You guys, I’m pretty excited about this. It’s a momentous occasion. My first author interview! As you’ll (maybe) recall, I recently reviewed debut author Liz Long‘s book, Gifted. It’s a unique and exciting story about a circus full of people with superpowers, and I was itching to pick her brain when I finished.
She was kind enough to provide answers to my extensive questions, and I think you’ll enjoy her answers!
Where did you get the idea for Gifted?
I’ve always had a weird obsession with fire (I’m not an arsonist, I swear). I’m an Aries/Fire sign and while I certainly read and love supernatural stories, I wanted to write something that didn’t have vampires or witches. That’s not to say, however, that they don’t exist in the Gifted world, by the way…
How long did it take you to write Gifted? What was the writing process like?
Technically, I started sketching the outlines when I lived in Nashville, so start to
finish it was about three years. But I sometimes let life and junk get in the way, so
I’d probably round it down to a year and a half if I cut out the lazy times.
The process was sort of strange, really. I’m a pantser writer, which means I
write whatever comes to mind whenever it hits me. I don’t write scenes in order,
which typically results in a copy/paste chaos, then I go back and connect the dots.
(I’ve anticipated this from now on by purchasing, using, and falling in love with
Scrivener. So. Much. Easier.)
You chose to go with indie publishing. I know you go into your reasons in detail on your blog, but can you give me a nutshell version about why indie publishing was right for you?
Oh gosh, I kinda love this question. I wrote a blog article about this, actually, but
honestly, I’m sort of an impatient soul. It wasn’t about rushing to put my MS out
there, but I believe in it so much and feared it sitting out there in limbo forever.
With full control over everything (editing, cover art, marketing, etc.) I really like
knowing that I’m the driving force—I’m not afraid of a little hard work. Plus
the indie community is just phenomenal, I can’t say enough nice things about
I loved the circus setting in Gifted. What kind of research did you do to make the
Donovan Circus come to life?
There’s an incredibly interesting PBS 6 hour documentary series called “Circus” that follows the Big Apple Circus around for a season. It’s not only about the show itself, but behind the scenes with the employees and living circus life. I watched and re-watched every episode, taking note of the general circus feel and how they work (like the way they set up their living area is similar—obviously they don’t sit in a town for weeks at a time, but the grounds are laid out in a similar fashion). Since my characters all have powers, though, it’s obviously tweaked—workers may exist in both worlds, but mine have a little extra strength or my acrobats can literally fly so there’s never any risk of them hitting the ground.
I also saw the Ringling Bros. show when they came to visit my civic center
last year. Sort of a last minute fluke thing (I got tickets because I worked at a
magazine), but it was great to see costumes up close and get an idea of how they
ran the floor.
Then there was the research I did online for things like show terms. “First of
May” and “Jonah’s Luck” are real deal vocabulary, for example.
What’s next for Lucy and the Donovan Circus crew?
Well, Lucy still needs to figure out what the heck her father’s history is, which
essentially means she needs a family tree lesson. This is going to take her on an
interesting path on how she uses her own gift.
Then there’s the fact that Sheffield’s got so many enemies. Lucy’s got a huge
target on her back now thanks to her firepower. Lucy doesn’t quite understand
just how much her world clashes within itself. There are some pretty evil gifted
beings out there, let’s just put it that way.
Plus, it’s time to move to a new city. There’s definitely new stuff within each new
Can you tell me a little bit about the YA series you’re working on?
Oh I’m so excited about this one! Currently titled “Super Nova” (not totally
set on that), it’s about a 17-year-old girl named Nova. They live in a fictional
city, Arcania, that’s being taken over by criminals. A supremely bad guy named
Fortune kills her little sister, sending Nova on a quest for justice (or revenge). The
catch? Nova’s got her own superpower. It actually is set in the gifted world, but
completely different characters and storyline. So the readers will recognize the
world and certain traits, but be taken on a totally new adventure.
What’s the most exciting thing about being a newly published author? The scariest thing?
The most exciting is definitely hearing so many nice things from everyone.
Because I’m new to it, I’m pretty much a nervous wreck, but hearing how much
people have enjoyed reading Gifted is just so nice to hear.
The scariest thing…gosh, there’s a few! Haha, um, I guess it’s the waiting game.
I can handle a poor review (I know not all books are for everyone—there are
people who didn’t like Harry Potter for crying out loud, so I know I’ll have a few
haters), but it’s literally just waiting for bloggers and others to read the book.
I don’t want to hover or annoy, so I’m kinda sitting and twiddling my thumbs
waiting to hear on a review. (Just kidding-I’m writing. But also a little twiddling.)
What have you learned during the writing and release of Gifted? How will it change the way you approach future books?
Less pantser approach, more plotter involved. I’ve done a much better sketch for
the next couple books and I’m trying to get it all well-established before writing
too much. I got in way over my head when I had so much going on in Gifted—I
had to remember that I could save a lot for another title. I’ve also learned a couple
lessons as far as the release. Actually publishing/printing will be easier because I
understand the formatting as well as making a cover and the order of how things
have to be done. Self-publishing is way harder than just uploading a document
and throwing it on Amazon.
What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Don’t give up. You can get distracted, you can get lazy, but don’t give up. And
indie publishing is not as untraditional as it sounds anymore.
Gifted falls into a relatively new category of books: “New Adult.” What the heck is New Adult?
Oh I so hope this becomes a thing! New Adult is sort of the in-between for high
schoolers and adults, think 18-24 range. I love the idea, because as someone
who read older books as a teen, but at 27 might now roll their eyes at some of
the high school/teen stuff, that intermittent stage is a great balance of watching
someone figure out their journey but still manage to land themselves in some
And now for some frivolous and ridiculous questions:
Lucy compares herself to Pyro from X-Men. Who’s your favorite X-Men character?
Oh my gahhh. If I go by the gray I keep finding in my bangs, it’s Rogue. But
technically, I’d have to go with Jean Gray, aka Phoenix. She’s such a great
character and she’s incredibly powerful. Plus she’s willing to make sacrifices for
the greater good, which is always admirable.
Lucy also says Star Wars was her dad’s favorite movie. Who’s your favorite Star Wars character?
Han Solo. No question. He’s smart, he’s capable, he’s a lone wolf until suddenly
he realizes maybe he can do some good against the Empire. And if you wanna
argue or throw down, be my guest. I’ve poured water over my best friend’s head
and got into shouting matches with my husband.
If you were Gifted, what would you want your power to be?
Argh, there are so many! I’ve learned from Sookie Stackhouse I’d never want to
be a Telepath. No way would I want to be a Firestarter. I think I’d want Bianca’s
Transporter gift most—the ability to be anywhere you want in an instant is pretty
In Gifted, Lucy’s decision could really go either way, but are you Team Gabriel or Team Keegan?
I love them both for different reasons. I’m afraid I don’t want to say because I
don’t want it to reflect back to Lucy’s choices. Sorry!
Chocolate or vanilla?
Tea or coffee?
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Wars, but I’ll watch Chris Pine as Kirk all the live long day.
Batman or Superman?
Batman’s far cooler. He’s got gadgets and is actually human enough to get his
butt kicked and make us fear for him. (Dark Knight Rises, anyone?)
Gale or Peeta?
If it’s the books, Peeta all the way. If I’m looking at that cute Hemsworth kid
from the movie, Gale.
Harry Potter series. I’m in sheer amazement at the smallest details she included
from start to finish. She’s just a genius. I can talk about it for hours, as a reader or
as a writer!
Again with the toughies! Geez…I love so, so many movies. I’m a huge fan
of Indiana Jones (really anything with Harrison Ford as I have an unhealthy
obsession). I also love all the geek movies—Iron Man, Star Trek…I need to stop
before I rattle off 20 titles. Though I suppose now I’ll say: The Avengers!
Favorite TV show?
It’s a toss up! I watch too much TV for someone who wants to write novels. 30
Rock is my go to (everyone calls me Lemon or LL), but I also adore Parks & Rec,
Modern Family, and Grimm. Oh and Game of Thrones (it makes me want to write
a ridiculously epic battle scene every time I sit at my computer). I can’t pick just
I’ll go with pizza, since I tend to eat that about four times a week. Just kidding.
And finally, since you wrote a book about characters with superpowers and that makes you an expert, give us your review of The Avengers movie in 10 words or less.
Visually stunning, chill-inducing, cheer-worthy, perfect superhero flick. (I love
being an expert on stuff!)
Thanks so much, Liz, for agreeing to let me interview you! I enjoyed your answers, and look forward to reading about the future happenings in the Gifted world!