Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Then Comes Winter Blog Tour: Interview with Erin Lopez!

Hello! Today I am very happy to have on of my fellow writers from the Then Comes Winter anthology visiting! Please welcome the lovely Erin Lopez, author of The Unexpected Gift!

Hello, Erin! Welcome to Songs & Stories! Please, take a seat and make yourself comfortable. Would you care for a drink?
    Thank you for having me! Normally I would ask for some herbal tea (Tazo Wild Sweet Orange with sugar, please). However, since this is virtual space and that means you have virtually everything, I'll have Crio Bru. It's cocoa beans that have been roasted, ground, and brewed in a french press, exactly like coffee beans. If you love dark chocolate, then you'll most likely love this drink. I take mine with stevia sweet drops (around six or seven please) and a splash of almond milk.

Mmm, that sounds lovely! I think I shall try one as well.
To start, how about we get a couple of basic Austenesque questions out of the way, just to see where you stand on certain crucial matters:
Firth, Macfadyen, or both?
    Firth. Oh my goodness, Firth Forever! I discovered Pride and Prejudice through the BBC version in middle school. While my friends were fawning over The Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC, I was lamenting over how much older Firth was than me.
Do you prefer to travel by foot or on horseback?
    Well, I am an excellent walker and I've only ridden a horse a handful of times. The last time I rode a horse was in high school. While we were going down a hill, the horse tripped and slid a bit. The horse recovered, but I screamed because I seriously thought I was going to fall off. I'm pretty sure the horse did not trust me after that, and I was very glad to get off. I'll walk or ride a carriage, thank you very much.
What drew you to JAFF?
    You mean besides my love of all things Jane Austen?
    I was in college, actually, when the Kiera Knightly version came out and suddenly my interest and love for Austen's works started to renew. I had roommates who read Harry Potter fan fiction and I thought, “I wonder if anyone has written P&P fan fiction.” Well, I looked and was amazed at what I found. Shortly after that I was browsing a bookstore and ran across Pamela Aidan's Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series and became extremely excited to see published fan fiction. Since then I've been hooked.
What was the most challenging part of writing The Unexpected Gift?
    Honestly, it was the fact that I was sending it out to be judged. Up till then, I'd only shared a handful of stories with a select few. Deciding to participate in Meryton Press's contest meant getting completely out of my comfort zone. I knew I needed to do it to advance myself as a writer, but that didn't make it any easier. I ended up writing The Unexpected Gift with this looming pressure that it would be critiqued, judged, and likely hated. That was the first time I wrote anything under that sort of pressure, so it was a whole new experience for me. It was good for me because I edited and polished that story like crazy.
    I probably rewrote the opening paragraphs ten times before I was satisfied. Also, the conversation between Darcy and Georgiana was reworked many times because I wanted to strike this balance for Georgiana and Darcy's relationship that I found difficult. Darcy is almost a father figure for Georgiana due to their age difference and his guardianship over her, yet she still gets to tease him like a sibling. Also, she's barely sixteen, so while she's mostly grown and mature she's also a bit childish and idealistic. In the end, I worried about that conversation the most.
Do you have any plans for future writing projects, or perhaps something you are currently working on?
    Right now I've been working a full length P&P variation novel. I have the first draft finished but it needs a lot of work. My goal for the next year is to clean it up enough to give to beta readers, clean it up some more, and then submit it to Meryton Press. I have my fingers crossed they'll like it enough to publish it.
    Other than that, I've been trying to pound out a short story a month just to work on my craft and experiment with different styles. Not all my stories are Austenesque romances. For example, my last short story I wrote was a children's story about a little girl defeating a monster who eats stories. The one before that takes place during a zombie apocalypse. I jump genres to whatever I find interesting or amusing. I do have an idea for a full length sci-fi novel that I want to write eventually.
I have heard a rumor or two that you could maybe possibly be considering writing a longer version of or sequel to The Unexpected Gift; is there any truth to these rumors? *makes hopeful puppy-dog eyes*
    Haha! The short answer to this is: YES!
    However, I'm sure you want the long the long answer, which is: it's complicated. You see, when I first wrote The Unexpected Gift it wasn't meant to be a P&P variation. In my mind it was a behind the scenes, untold snippet to Austen's original. I didn't see it as anything other than something easily sandwiched into Pride and Prejudice canon. We don't know much about what Austen's characters were up to during December and I thought of this as a fun missing scene. I figured a continuation of the story would be to hand someone the original novel.
    Since the biggest complaint about my story was it felt unfinished, I did try to add more scenes to make it feel wrapped up. However, it didn't come together as I imagined. The more I wrote, the more wrong it felt. I kept adding scenes and snippets, trying to find the missing piece, but I ended up feeling more lost. I'm a firm believer that if your writing doesn't feel right then you need to step back and find the problem. Eventually, with the help of my editor, Christina Boyd, I was able to add on the last few sentences to at least make it feel more wrapped up, even if it wasn't “finished.”
    Then something miraculous happened during Thanksgiving week. I'm in the middle of this huge move and trying to set up our new house when suddenly I get a very vivid line of dialogue from Darcy. He is extremely upset about something and the image was powerful enough that it startled me a bit. I was driving by myself at the time, so I stayed a few extra minutes in the car while this whole new scene fell into place. I almost couldn't believe it because this was so unexpected, but worked perfectly. It wasn't until a few weeks later, when life finally started to settle, that I was able to get it down on paper. I'm really excited about this turn of events because it means the story will continue. I'm not sure if this is just the other half of a short story or if it is the beginnings of a full length variation. Either way, I do plan on following it to the end.

Thank you so much for visiting, Erin!

About Erin:

Erin Lopez is a reader, writer, wife and mother—although not in any particular order. While she reads and writes in a variety of genres, she has a special place in her heart for Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice fan fiction. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where she met and married her own “Mr. Darcy,” and they lived in Colorado and Arizona for a time. During their stay in Arizona, they brought two delightful daughters into the world and adopted a small, fuzzy dog. They have since returned to the Bay Area.

Twitter: @writerlyerin
Instagram: @writer_erinlopez

WinterAbout the Book:
Then comes Winter with bluster and snow, that brings to our cheeks the ruddy glow... Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, The Four Seasons 

If you long for a toasty snuggle on a cold winter's night, this compilation of original short stories inspired by the magic of the holiday season-and more than a nod to Jane Austen-is fancied as a sublime wintertime treat. On the heels of the summer anthology, Sun-kissed: Effusions of Summer, and in concert with some of Meryton Press's most popular authors, this romantic anthology introduces several promising writers. With a robust mix of contemporary and Regency musings, Then Comes Winter rekindles passionate fires with equal wonder, wit, and admiration. 
Edited by Christina Boyd.
Stories by: Lory Lilian, Linda Gonschior, Suzan Lauder, Beau North & Brooke West, Sophia Rose, Natalie Richards, Anngela Schroeder, Melanie Stanford, Denise Stout, Erin Lopez, and Maureen Lee.
Buy Link: Amazon

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Then Comes Winter blog tour schedule
11/30: Guest Post & Giveaway at FLY HIGH
12/1: Excerpt & Giveaway at So Little Time…
12/2: Character Interview & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged
12/3: Excerpt & Giveaway at Jennifer Vido
12/4: Guest Post & Giveaway at Liz’s Reading Life
12/5: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
12/6: Guest Post & Giveaway at Delighted Reader
12/7: Review at Just Jane 1813
12/8: Review at Babblings of a Bookworm
12/10: Review at From Pemberley to Milton
12/11: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
12/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at The Calico Critic
12/13: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
12/14: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews
12/15: Author Feature at Songs and Stories
12/16: Author Feature & Giveaway at Tome Tender
12/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Chick Lit Plus
12/17: Author Feature & Giveaway at Skipping Midnight