So, the month of May is drawing to a close. Blimey, where does the time go?
Anyway, time to post my least interviews of this busy month.
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing Lela Markham, author of ‘The Willow Branch’ and ‘Life As We Knew It’.
Lela is a fellow writer from the Breakwater Harbor Books clan and was one of the first to give me a warm welcome.
As per usual, I hope you folks out there enjoy the interview and will go support another excellent writer!
Here we go…
When did you decide that writing was the thing for you?
My mom said I told stories from the time I could talk, so I must have been around 2. Long winters in Alaska meant a lot of time hanging out in the basement, so I would make up stories to entertain myself and my friends. My 5th grade teacher made me write down one of my stories. I hated the process – way too contrived for me – but it ignited a passion that I couldn’t turn off. I’ve been a journalist, a technical writer, and an editor, but my avocation has always been storyteller.
I think long winters can be very productive for a writer
Tell me a little about your latest book.
Life as We Knew It is an apocalyptic tale that asks what would happen to ordinary if the United States were hit by nuclear terrorism, destroying transportation and communications hubs. The larger events of terrorism are the background for an intimate story of people trying to survive. This is Book 1 of the Transformation Project, which hit Amazon in March, so we will return to visit the people of Emmaus in about a year. Look for Objects to the Rear.
Out of all your characters, which one do you relate to the most?
In the Daermad Cycle (which Book 1, The Willow Branch, was published last year), one of the main characters is Ryanna. I modeled her physically after my daughter (a tall, strong, slender dancer, which isn’t me), but I realized recently when writing some scenes for her that I had unconsciously used a lot of myself in her character. She’s caught between two races, comfortable with both, not loving the prejudices of either, a woman of faith who occasionally argues with her god, a young fool who has grown In wisdom as she has matured. I’m part American Indian, raised to be proud of all of my heritage and I see both sides of my heritage as both good and bad. My faith is complex and I am still growing as a person even now.
Do you listen to music when writing? If so, what kind and why?
I do and depends on what genre I’m writing or what the tone of the scene is. For example, writing the Daermad Cycle (a Celtic influenced epic fantasy) I listen to a lot of Celtic music – wild tunes for action scenes, gentler tunes for more intimate scenes. Transformation Project has a lot of rock music playing in my ear phones. I try to create a mood in my head with the music that helps me to envision the scenes. Since I write at home while the family is living life sometimes in the same room, it also helps to screen out the distractions.
Yeah, music does help to screen out distractions. Sadly, it is only partially successful!
What novelty item would you like to see spawned from your novels?
Wow, I had never thought of that before as I’m not much of a consumer. There’s a novel I’m working on that is about grief, loss and guilt. It’s provisionally titled “What If … Wasn’t” and the main character’s full tag line is “I’m living in what is.” Coffee cups, t-shirts, plaques – if I wanted to teach the world anything about reality it would be that we ought to live in reality and stop thinking the world is fair, because it’s not. What if wasn’t … so let’s live with what is.
What motivates you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys)?
Characters show up from time to time to tell me their stories. I might as well write them down. If along the way, I can write about some of my beliefs in narrative form, then maybe I’ve made the world a slightly better place – or at least warned it about the messes that it’s making.
Which book do you wish you had written?
There’s a lot of writers I admire for many diverse reasons and I enjoy their books greatly, but I am comfortable with not being them or writing their books. If I had to name my absolutely favorite book – The Young Unicorns by Madelaine L’Engle. Every time I go back to read it, I am incredibly impressed with how good it is.
The best thing about being a writer is…
Writers live dozens of lives without ever leaving the comfort of their living rooms. That can be said of readers too, but writers get to create the worlds we visit. That’s what I love about it.
I couldn’t agree more.
The worst thing is …
The way non-writers really don’t get the writing process. Even readers who are very enamored of our books seem not to get that you don’t just sit down and crank out a good book as easily as they read that book. I have to suppress the eye roll when people ask “Are you finished yet?”
What next from Lela Markham?
I’m in Daermad Cycle mode right now. I’m working on Mirklin Wood, which is the sequel to The Willow Branch and also working on a short story for a Breakwater Harbor Books anthology that will be a stand-alone in the Daermad Cycle universe. That’s been interesting to write because it’s my first short story in 25 years, so it’s sort of like remembering how to ride a bike. Hopefully, I’ll be done writing both by August so I can start the editing process for Mirklin Wood, which I hope will publish by the end of the year.
Thanks for the interview, Lela!
Here comes Lela’s bio and links:
Lela Markham is a pen name. I grew up in Alaska in a house built of books. Long winter nights meant a lot of time in the basement curled up with books or acting out what we’d recently read. It was a great environment to breed a writer. I told stories from the time I could talk. A teacher made me write one down in 5th grade and that ignited a passion in me that has never gone out. Alaska is a grand adventure like none other with a culture that embraces summer adventure and winter artistic pursuits. I’ve been a journalist, worked in the mental health field, and currently work for the State of Alaska, but my avocation has always been storyteller. My husband is extremely adventurous, my kids are fearless so we spend a lot of time hiking into the woods where be dragons — another excellent experience for a writer.