One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. This year I’m taking part in the competition as an advisor for Fantasy Book Review’s judging team. I decided to offer a spot to the authors in our group and will post them throughout the year. To see all of our content regarding the competition, check out my SPFBO page!
Lauren McNeil is a copywriter and author of fantasy novels. She published her debut novel, Moroda, in March 2017, with the sequel out in 2018. She is an introvert, petrolhead, foodie, thalassophile, and hopes to one day own a cottage by the seaside!
Welcome to the Asylum! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!
Thank you very much for the invitation, how kind! I’ll stick with a nice cup of tea, if you please! 🙂 Something about myself? Gosh… I live in a tiny village in Oxfordshire with my partner and dog, I have a degree in Psychology and am fascinated with people-watching and MBTI.
Say, you can live in the fantasy house/lair of your dreams. What would it look like?
That’s a tough one. Some days I’d love a little hobbit hole that’s all warm and cosy and hidden away from the world (and full of good food and a crackling fireplace). Other times I’d like a castle fortress with a moat that’s guarded by dragons. I guess it depends on my mood!
What is your favorite fantasy creature and why?
I know that’s cliché, but they’ve always been my favourite.
There’s something so wonderful about them. They can be cute and charming (Spyro), they can be intimidating and intelligent (Smaug), they can be a force to be reckoned with (Drogon), or a blend of any of these (Toothless)!
For me, dragons epitomise fantasy and escapism. (Plus, they look awesome!)
Why did you decide to become an author and how did you end up choosing self-publishing?
I’ve loved reading and writing since I was very young. I was always one of those kids with my nose in a book, and growing up I wanted to write.
I’m fortunate to make a living from writing (I’m a copywriter), so I spend all day writing for other people and then all night writing for myself!
I chose the self-publishing route because I have much more control, things can move faster, and I can create and sell all sorts of additional bookswag without it being approved by someone else first.
Having also worked in marketing for several years, I felt I could give self-publishing a good go, rather than hope one of the gatekeepers of traditional publishing would give me a chance.
One of the best things about self-publishing for me is being able to meet readers at conventions and book signings!
Which author would you say is your greatest influence as a writer?
It’s hard to say. I’ve always written stories, they were my escapism growing up. But I do remember reading The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe when I was very young, so I imagine disappearing to other worlds probably helped me create my own (even though I might have been too young to realise that)!
If you could go back in time and offer any advice to a younger Lauren prior to releasing Moroda what would it be?
Don’t panic so much. What will be will be.
I spent far too long stressing over things that really didn’t need to be stressed over, when I could have spent more time productively.
What SPFBO means to you? What do you hope to gain (fame and wealth aside)?
SPFBO is a fantastic opportunity to meet other writers, expand my TBR, and be part of the writing community.
Knowing you’re not alone and that you can talk to others about your struggles and successes is really motivational. I find what other authors have done truly inspirational.
It’s great to be able to ask questions, follow their stories, and generally bask in their glory!
What inspires you/your world?
I’ve always loved the Final Fantasy series and portal worlds like Narnia. I’m always inspired by the storytelling and characters of those worlds. But equally I love people-watching. Sometimes seeing how someone moves or speaks – a partly-overheard conversation has triggered everything from a scene to a whole character!
Also, music is a HUGE influence. I listen to Classical music for the most part when I write, if not various film scores and gaming soundtracks. The best pieces give me goose bumps and help me “see” events, battles etc. as they unfold, which are a lot of fun to write!
Which character of your book do you identify with the most and why? Who would you like to live with in an asylum?
It’s difficult… I suppose there are parts of me in all the characters, and others are more greatly influenced by people I know.
I’d probably go with Amarah. While I’m not as brusque or hard-nosed as she is, a lot of her motivations and drives are the same as mine.
She has a fierce loyalty to her allies, is competent at what she does, and she’s incredibly motivated. I suppose I see a lot of myself in her while also aspiring to be like her.
Does that count?
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the good or the bad ones?
Yes, I do. I probably shouldn’t! I think there’s something to be taken in all reviews, positive and critical, and I can learn from those. The positive ones give me warm, bubbly feelings, and the critical ones point out the things I need to work on.
Are there any books that have been/ are being released in 2018 that you are excited to read?
Quite a few! I own some of these already, but other than a number of SPFBO titles, I can’t wait to read The Waking Fire – Anthony Ryan, A Time of Dread – John Gwynne, and Arm of the Sphinx – Josiah Bancroft.
While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?
I’m going to say the Malazan omnibus (the whole series in one book on Kindle!) – if I’m locked here for eternity, I’d have plenty of time to pick it apart and figure it out!
Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*
Thank you so much! I’ll just finish my tea. You’re coming back to let me out, right…? Right?
If you’d like to get in contact with L.L. McNeil, you can find her on social media:
Get Moroda by clicking on the cover: