Sunday, March 26, 2017

Meet S. J. Lem - Author of The Waterfall Traveler

Author S. J. Lem's debut book "The Waterfall Traveler" is touching market on April 19th, 2017. Let hear from her about her book.

Can you tell us about your education?
BA Digital Media Technology
What were you like at college apart from studies? 
Honestly, I was a bit of a workaholic. On top of going to school full-time (sometimes taking 18 credits or more), I also worked full-time. I had to pay for my education and housing myself, so I took it very seriously.
What are some day jobs you have held?
Currently I'm the Manager of Digital Design Direction for a large company that I've been with for the past thirteen years. But while in high school and college I held various jobs, from waiting tables to retail to freelance design. I also try to volunteer when time allows, and have done everything from volunteer gardening to dealing blackjack at a healthcare fundraiser.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I do try to read as often as I can (though with raising a baby, work, and writing, it's been difficult to read as much as I'd like to lately). My taste in books is rather varied, and there are way too many to list, but here's a few: True Grit by Charles Portis, Watership Down by Richard  Adams, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and 1984 by George Orwell. Now that I'm a mom, I've been revisiting many of my childhood favorites as well, including: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, The Serendipity Book Series by Stephen Cosgrove, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice  Sendak.
When did you start writing?
About four years ago I started writing as a hobby. Shortly after that, I joined a writing group with some incredibly kind folks who helped me learn how to improve. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to attempt a novel. After many rounds of revisions--and countless cups of coffee--I completed The Waterfall Traveler.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I'm not sure there was a specific moment when I had this thought. It was just something that felt natural to me, so I did it.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Ultimately, I would like people to read my book and enjoy it. Delivering a quality book for readers has always been one of my top goals. My other goal, and also a definition of success I think, is to do something that I love. I fell in love with writing and look forward to creating new worlds for many years to come.
Do you have a special time to write?
I have a 45-minute train commute to and from work each day, so I write rough drafts on my phone. I try to squeeze in time during my baby's nap to work on polishing those drafts.
What genre are your books?
Give us an insight into your main character.
Ri has spent most of her life caring for Samuel, so she is a very caring person. However, this has also isolated her to some degree, so while she is curious about the world beyond her village, she has not experienced it. In this story, she is swept away from her homeland and must confront not only dangers, but emotions that are unfamiliar to her as she grows close with her new companions. At times she sees things very black and white in terms of what's right and what's wrong, and at other times she makes impulsive decisions based solely on emotion. She is strong-willed and at times stubborn, and does tend to remain that way throughout the book. However, her understanding of the world, friendship, and love evolves throughout her adventure.
Where did you get the idea for this book?
The general idea just came to me, but it changed over time as I learned more about my characters, their past, their challenges, and the forces against them.
How much research did you do for this book?
A lot! Since this is my first novel, I read many books on all things related to the craft--from how to develop characters to how to write vivid fight scenes. I also wanted to write dimensional characters, with believable flaws and motives, so I also read a few psychology books. I like to have as much hands-on research as possible, and have taken classes that range from fencing, to hatchet throwing, to wilderness survival.
Who is your favorite character and why?
It's a toss-up between Carter and Mallory. Carter is a womanizing con artist, but he changes drastically overtime, and the reader learns that there is much more depth to him. I enjoyed writing him as he has some great, witty lines throughout the book. Mallory, on the other hand, is a madman with a vendetta against the gods. When Ri first meets him, he is an uncaring jerk obsessed with revenge. However, once his past is revealed it humanizes him, and he becomes almost a mentor to Ri. He has bone-chilling lines throughout the story.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
I think getting over self-doubt. Often I would write a scene, only to reread it and think it was terrible. But, I joined a critique group and the encouragement I received from other writers helped me get past this hurdle.
What are you working on at the moment?
In between marketing initiatives, I'm in the process of outlining the second book in the series.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don't doubt yourself and just write. Learn as much as you can from others by joining a critique group.
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