A lady who has broadened the concept of historical fiction making it to the bestselling author from her debut itself. Living in the base of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, she enjoys gardening, hiking and of course, a glass of wine at the end of the day.
Jibran had a chance to interview the most amazing Luanne G. Smith. She is the author of The Vine Witch, The Glamourist and the forthcoming book of the Vine Witch series, The Conjurer.
Let us check out what she has to say.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Luanne: I was probably fifteen years old. I took a lot of high school literature classes and found that I connected to that world in ways I didn’t with other subjects. I began writing poetry and short stories around that time and worked on the school’s literary magazine.
2. What is your work schedule like on any typical writing day?
Luanne: I tend to work in shifts. If I’m feeling behind, I will write first thing in the morning for about an hour. Otherwise, I use that time for social media and catching up on emails. I do the bulk of my writing in the afternoon between 1 pm and 4 pm because that’s when my dog takes his nap. As long as he’s snoring I can get an uninterrupted writing session in. And then I will often go back to work for an hour after dinner to finish up for the day. I tend to edit as I go, so my writing output isn’t generally very high for the day (perhaps 500 words), but the pages are usually keepers because I don’t move forward with the story until I’m relatively happy with what I’ve produced.
3. How did you get your idea for your first book ‘The Vine Witch’?
Luanne: I had written the first chapter and set it aside because I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the story after that. I felt like I needed something to make it stand out from all the other witch books out there. And then one day (maybe a year later) I was watching a documentary about winemaking in France. The only woman winemaker they featured began talking about the effect of the moon on the harvest and it struck me that there might be a little magic involved in making wine. I started writing about twenty pages of notes after that and the rest of the book came soon after.
4. What was the process like when your first book was published?
Luanne: The Vine Witch was the fourth novel I’d written. I’d spent over a dozen years writing and trying to get my previous stories published and had met only rejection. And, in fact, The Vine Witch was going to be my last novel if I couldn’t find an agent to take it on. I was quite discouraged. But once I sent out query letters for The Vine Witch to a handful of agents, I got immediate requests to see the manuscript. I signed with my agent within two weeks of sending out those first query letters, and two weeks after we went on submission with publishers we had a deal. So it took a long time for publication to happen for me, but when it did, it happened fast. Feels like it hasn’t slowed down since! They say publishing moves slowly, but that hasn’t been my experience. I’ll have published three books in fourteen months come January 2021.
5. Your book has a strong female character. What is the idea behind that?
Luanne: Well, the idea is that women have their own amazing stories that need telling. And their stories are just as heroic and interesting as any adventure featuring a man as the lead. Women have always been strong, though perhaps our strength is more often shown through resilience, cunning, and a deep desire to protect those in our care.
6. What are common traps for aspiring writers? Any advice for them.
Luanne: One common pitfall of beginning writers is thinking that first ideas are good ideas. If it is easy to come up with an idea for a story, then it has almost certainly been written a dozen times over. You have to find a way to clear a new path with your storytelling either through the emotional resonance you create, or the characters imagined, or the quirky dialogue exchanges you dream up. And the best way to unearth that kind of originality is to take a deep dive inside and discover how you truly look at the world. Everyone is unique, so there’s something inside you that is different than everyone else. Your job as a writer is to discover that voice and bring it to life on the page.
7. How did the idea of the plot for your second book ‘The Glamourist’ emerged?
Luanne: Ah, Yvette’s story was born in quite a different way. I wrote The Vine Witch as a stand-alone novel, so I hadn’t really made room for sequels when I finished writing. It was only after I had a publishing deal for that book that the request for more came up. The most appealing choice to me was to continue with the stories of the three women featured in the first book. And I’d already hinted at Yvette’s desire to know more about why she couldn’t do proper magic, so that seemed a logical thread to follow. Answering that question led me to some interesting story choices.
I’m not really a plotter (I write by the seat of my pants for the most part), so when I came to the end, even I was a little surprised by who and what Yvette turned out to be. And a lot of that came from studying the art of the late 1800s, particularly that of Gustav Klimt. He isn’t French, yet I took inspiration from his works all the same and incorporated it into the novel simply because his artwork had the right emotional texture for Yvette’s history.
8. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Luanne: I took a Shakespeare class in high school taught by someone who truly understood the material. The idea that words could be more than merely a means of communication–that they could have double meanings, express ideas in metaphor, and stir emotions just by the way they were presented–had never resonated with me like that before. Finding a way to express myself and my ideas with words became a powerful elixir for me after that.
9. Do you Google yourself?
Luanne: Ha! I’ve been known to look myself up before. Who hasn’t? But there are absolutely places on the internet that I avoid looking. I don’t look at reviews, good or bad, once the first few come in and I get a feel for how the book is doing because it’s just too emotionally uncomfortable. Other than that I have Google alerts set up to let me know if anything major pops up. I’ve been notified of a few trade reviews that way. 🙂
10. Which is your favourite season to write in, and why?
Luanne: I have to say it is wonderful to sit home by the fire on a snowy winter’s day and simply daydream.