Today I had the pleasure of doing an Author Interview with Lexi Revellian who has sold over 60,000 ebooks and spent eight months in the UK Kindle Top 100.
Tell me about yourself, Lexi.
I’m a jeweller/silversmith, urban cyclist, and live in central London. I’ve self-published five novels and a short story collection. I have a writing website and a blog.
When did you know you wanted to become an author?
Rather late. I’ve always read a great deal, and never thought I’d be able to match my favourite authors. Then my daughter suggested we write a fantasy novel together. She stopped, I carried on. It was huge fun – like reading a good book, but better. I can still remember the pure visceral pleasure of writing it. Everything went straight down on to the page, reckless POV shifts, authorial interjections, slabs of backstory; nothing got between me and the intoxicating sensation of story telling.
Is there a central theme to your books?
I don’t think so, though each book tends to have its own theme, which the reader may or may not notice. Remix’s is truth and lies, Replica is about identity and not letting people push you around, Ice Diaries is about trust. The WIP’s theme is money. Probably.
What books have inspired you the most in your life?
Mary Renault’s, because I love the way she writes. Her books are very good indeed, though I didn’t realize this at first because they are also hugely enjoyable. I constantly reread them. I picked up her semi colon use; she was very particular about punctuation, and wouldn’t let editors tinker with it.
What’s a typical day in your writing routine like?
Not sure there is such a thing. It depends how busy I am with my jewellery work. Sometimes I set myself a (modest) word per day target. At the moment, I’m getting into the new novel, always a painful process for me. I make a point of writing something every day, and think about the book before I go to sleep.
What is it that you do to relax?
Potter on my workshop balcony which is large and full of plants, or indulge my tempestuous passion for Adobe Photoshop 7.0. I make my own covers, and enjoy it a lot.
Do you use an outline or do you write organically?
I start writing once I have the what if? situation, the hero/heroine and a few other characters, and the ending. Though I changed the endings of both Replica and Ice Diaries, I need to know where the story is heading when I start. I make the rest up as I go along.
Have you ever had writer’s block and what did you do to push past it?
I get stuck quite often – I wouldn’t call it writer’s block – and fret a lot. I’m an expert fretter, though I fight it. I’m always happy when I’ve reached 60,000 words or so, as up till then I have no confidence the book will work out. When stuck, I try all sorts of different methods:
- Consider what each of my characters wants at this point, and what he/she is doing to achieve that – re-assess what’s at stake for each character
- Keep saying, “What would happen if…” until I strike gold
- Do some research into my characters’ interests, or where they live – internet estate agents’ sites and Google Street View are good for this
- Read a good novel
- Write a letter from each character to myself
- Write a scene between two characters who don’t meet in the book
- Dip into Jerry Cleaver’s book, Immediate Fiction, which is full of encouragement and helpful ideas
Is there a certain time of day when you are most creative?
Mornings in the bath when my mind drifts free. Driving on my own used to be a creative time for me, but these days I’m mostly on my bike. Walking’s good, too. I got lots of ideas for Replica when I had a broken shoulder and had to walk to work and back which took an hour each day. You can’t think while cycling as the traffic is too dangerous and you have to focus on not getting killed.
How many drafts do you usually write of a manuscript and what is your editing process like?
Just one draft. I’m a slow writer because I edit as I go, and won’t leave a chapter until it’s the way I want. The advantage is that when I get to the end, it’s nearly good to go. Ice Diaries took six and a half months from start to publication, averaging 400 words a day because of rewriting parts. I try to get my daughter to read chapters as I go along, and sometimes she tells me I’m heading in the wrong direction and I have to scrap thousands of words. She’s always right. When a novel is complete, I put the text through Pro Writing Aid to catch word echoes, then ask immediate family members to read it. My sister reads several novels a week, and is a stringent critic. (I don’t know why people maintain families only offer praise. My lot are ruthless.) Then I send it out to half a dozen beta readers, asking them to mark any bits they find boring or puzzling or out of character. You have to encourage betas to be critical, not polite. Then I make changes if I agree, or if two readers make the same point.
What do you think of the recent changes in the publishing world?
I think Amazon has, so far, been a force for good in the publishing world. I’m appalled that Big Publishing’s response to the success of self-publishers is to use Author Solutions to set up their own vanity presses, using respected brand names like Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins as a lure to rip off naïve writers.
It’s a pity that authors aren’t treated better; without them, there would be no publishing business. Traditionally-published authors receive only about 8% of the sale price of a print book – so people who didn’t write the book get 92% of the proceeds. That’s not fair, and means only top-selling writers can earn a living by writing.
Out of all the books you’ve written do you have a favorite, and if so why?
I admit to a fondness for all my novels. Perhaps Replica, since it was technically difficult to write, switching from first person to third in alternating chapters. Its heroine, Beth, moves from being a doormat to becoming assertive, a journey too many of us need to make – and I like that the hero, Nick, is flawed and readers have to decide for themselves what they think about him.
What are you working on now?
I’m superstitious about discussing the WIP, lest the life is sucked out of it. My lips are sealed until it gets to the magic 60,000 word mark.
Where can we buy your books?
…and if you are tempted by my early fantasy novels…