Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Lauren Adler, author of the adult Sci-Fi novel The Codex of Desire. Below you’ll find her answers to questions about her writing process as well as her books and upcoming projects.
C.M. Fritzen: Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
Lauren Adler: I only feel like it’s a curse on those long, late nights when the Writing Machine™ inside my head just will NOT shut up, and I can’t stop thinking about plot, character, publishing, and marketing. The rest of the time it’s the most amazing gift I can imagine: who wouldn’t want the ability to create whole new worlds, and to tell those stories to others? I feel truly blessed as an author. ☺
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Well, marketing, but technically that comes after writing. In terms of the writing process itself, I find that I tend to be REALLY wordy in the first draft, which means a LOT of cutting and tightening in the editing stages. It’s a challenge that I know how to deal with, but when I sit down in the first editing stage, do the first full read-through after letting the novel sit for a few months, and see ALL THOSE EXTRA WORDS that have to be dealt with… yes, I sigh. A lot.
Now, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing? What would you do differently the next time?
Actually, the writing process for “The Codex of Desire” (my recently published adult sci-fi novel) went pretty much as smooth as cream. I did just the right amount of outlining at the beginning to streamline the writing without choking out character development; the chapter-by-chapter planning kept me on track; and my strategies for getting the first draft finished (National Novel Writing Month, then the “First Draft Finishers” group over on Scribophile) worked as well as I could wish. I intend to follow the same format for my next novel, “Where Darkness Falls”.
Who are your favorite authors?
Richard Adams (“Watership Down”, “The Plague Dogs”), because of his lyrical, poetic, yet sometimes brutal writing style. Robert Graves (“I, Claudius” and “Claudius the God”) because he has a knack for making the past come alive. And Stephen King, because the man is a brilliant psychological storyteller
Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you?
Alas, no — I read a LOT of books when I was a child! All I know is that my mother said that she first took me to the library at the age of 4… come to think of it, the first story I ever HEARD was “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which my mother read/sang to me while she was bottle feeding me and rocking me to sleep. To this day I have an excellent sense for rhyme and rhythm, which I attribute to that early expo
sure to poetry.
What motivated you to become an author?
Stories well up inside me, like water from a spring. If I don’t tell those stories, I feel profoundly unwell both mentally and physically. Long before the Internet, I was writing stories and putting them in my sock drawer; in my teens and early twenties, I created fanzines; and when the Internet came along I found a large audience through sites like Archive of Our Own.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a science fiction story about a golden wolf (I loved wolves at the time) who travelled to different planets in a rocket ship and had many adventures.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
The original premise for “The Codex of Desire” was inspired by a nonfiction book: “Ninja: 1000 Years of the Shadow Warrior” by John Man. In my initial premise, a warrior from the Samurai culture was captured by the Ninja culture and fell in love with a Ninja singer — and all the characters were intelligent talking feathered dinosaurs.
When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
My characters initially have roles that advance the plot, but that plot grows out of my intuitive sense for who those characters will turn out to be, so it’s a bit of a circular feedback loop. However, I definitely lean more toward the “let them develop as I go” side — in that sense I’m more a gardener than an architect, but I always set up trellises for the flowers to climb.
Out of the protagonists you’ve written about so far, which one do you feel you relate to the most?
That’s a tough question to answer, because if I didn’t relate to my protagonists, they wouldn’t BE my protagonists in the first place. But I’d have to say that the one who’s probably closest to me in terms of personality type is U’nur, the Chief Cook in “The Codex of Desire”. Like me, he’d test as an ENFP, and he’s a bit too compassionate and tender-hearted for his own good.
Where is your favorite place to write?
In the home studio that I share with my husband, at my 2009 21” iMac, with a Scrivener document open in front of me. ☺ The space looks a bit like an explosion at a storage facility (including action figures on the bookshelves, posters on the walls, and various little writing talismans in front of me), but I find it comfortable and homey. A little bit of clutter helps me, creatively speaking.
What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors?
I recently enrolled in a free set of five-day webinars with Kristin Spiers over on the “Authors in the News” FB group, and during that working week we worked hard on our publicity releases and discussed ways to get them in front of the media. So far, the well-crafted publicity release we came up with has landed me a radio interview plus a book launch at a local “big box” bookstore, as well as some blog features. So: a good solid publicity release, and knowing where to find contacts in your local and Internet news media.
Below you can find links to Adler’s book and author pages on Facebook and Twitter. Adler also has some interviews you can catch coming up in September. Thank you to Lauren Adler for her time and for answering my questions!
A live interview coming up on “Femisphere” between 8-9 AM CST on September 20th (can be listened to as it happens or picked up later in the station’s online archives): https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/femisphere
And an upcoming September 10th blog interview on “written butterfly… let romance take flight”: https://bethdcarter.blogspot.com