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Q&A with Lorrie

What is your writing routine?

When my kids were small, I’d write after they went to bed for the night at nine p.m. and before they got up in the morning at six. I don’t know how I did it, either! As soon as my youngest was in pre-school, I grabbed those hours, too. Now, I’ve the luxury of writing when the kids are at school, and even when they return. There are still the fun distractions of kid activities, so I’ve given up the notion of a particular sacred writing time.

How do you stay motivated to write?

I really can’t imagine doing anything else. I believe we all gravitate toward what we are naturally good at, or at least above average. From practice, we improve. That itself provides motivation. Aside from that, I make myself show up for work. Pretty much the same way I trick myself into exercising!

Where did you get the idea for Equilibrium? Is the novel based on a true story?

I started with a widow and her children, and asked a lot of questions. How had the husband died? What was the impact on the family? How were they going to process the trauma and move on with their lives? What lessons did they need to learn? For some unknown reason, bipolar disorder had recently hit my radar. That became the reason for the husband’s suicide, and worked on many story levels.

The novel isn’t a true story. I made it up. However, I discovered after having written the first of many drafts, that serious mental illness does run in my family, and the first-hand hard-to-handle impact. For family support and education, please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I highly recommend their local Family-to-Family classes.

Do you research your novels?

Yes, always. Research fuels the stories. I read extensively, and then find experts to fill in the gaps of knowledge. For What’s Left Behind, I interviewed an innkeeper and a landscape architect. For Equilibrium, I consulted with a psychiatrist who specializes in treating bipolar disorder. For other manuscripts, I consulted with an attorney, an OB/GYN, an EMT, a church funeral director, and a victim of a violent crime. I’ve found people to be incredibly generous with their time and expertise.

How did your search for an agent and publication go? Do you have any advice for writers who aspire to be published?

How did it go? It went for about eight years, so sit tight. I always say, if someone can get there faster, I applaud him/her. I wrote three novels, and weathered innumerable rejections before finding a great agent and publisher. No, you do not need to know someone in the business. I sent out queries, entered contests, and pitched to live agents at conferences.

I recommend joining a critique group and writing organizations to learn craft and garner support. I belong to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. While searching, I used the Agent Query database, and devoured the advice at the BookEnds blog. The blog is no longer active, but the information will stay up indefinitely.

I recommend reading a lot of novels to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

I recommend never giving up.

Whether you’re published or pre-published, nothing beats the thrill of creating a scene that works. Enjoy the journey.

Who are some of your writing influences?

I have a jam-packed favorites bookcase. Jodi Picoult, Lisa Gardner, and Lisa Unger get their own shelves. The bookcase also contains the novels of Barbara O’Neal, Lisa Verge Higgins, Amy Hatvany, T. Greenwood, Elizabeth Joy Arnold, Megan Chance, Alice Hoffman, Elizabeth Berg, Jenna Blum, and many more.

Is there any significance in the pictures in your website header—cherry blossoms, heart-shaped stone, lilacs?

Yes! A cherry tree was planted in the yard many years ago, but never blossomed until my daughter was born. My husband and I say it must’ve been waiting for her, and we consider the cherry tree hers. For that reason, we’ve since had to plant trees for the boys.

The lilacs remind me of my nana. She loved them, too. Plus, it’s my state’s flower.

The heart stone has a special story. After tearing up an old wooden deck, my husband discovered the heart cast into cement below it. If you look closely, you’ll see Lor-Lor etched onto the heart. I learned from my neighbors that the daughter of the home’s previous owner and I share the same name, and we’re around the same age. My husband was replacing a cement patio with brick. At my request, he lifted the heart, reset it flush to the new patio, and cut the bricks around it. Many years later, I met the woman who’d raised her family in my house, and she was delighted to know we’d saved her daughter’s heart.