Interview with Lila Veen

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Other than my really boring day job as a data analyst (yes, really), for FUN I participate in community theater musicals. I have a dance background so I'm usually an ensemble dancer in a production. I will never say "just" an ensemble dancer because the ensemble does most of the work and gets none of the credit! I also have recently taken up flying trapeze classes, and love to learn a new trick for each class. My two kids keep me busy, but if I have actual free-free time, I am a huge television junkie. I love to read, obviously, but sometimes I really just need to turn my brain off and binge watch some TV series.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I pay close attention to what people are hyping on Goodreads and Twitter. If a lot of my friends are reading something, I'll probably download it and get to it pretty fast. I'm a huge series reader, and love a good twisted family saga, so if anyone has read one of my favorite series and loved another one, I'll check it out. While I like to read what's popular, I also enjoy looking for something undiscovered and obscure as well. I'm not too particular about what I read, as long as there's a great plot and well developed characters.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I had my first job out of college, I had a lot of downtime when I mastered my daily tasks. I had taken a fiction writing class in college and loved it, but really just wrote a lot of erotic blurbs about what I'd actually done in high school, because I had to get it all out of my head somehow. I'd been on a three year hiatus from writing anything, and I discovered the online communities that were writing fanfiction - specifically, VC Andrews fanfiction. I read through a few and wanted to try it immediately. I wrote my first series and made a few friends - one of them is still a friend online, and that was well over ten years ago. Getting feedback on my writing really encouraged me to try it more.
What is your writing process?
Usually I let something build in my head for a few months before committing to an actual project. There are dozens of beginnings or concepts in my head that could possibly go nowhere, so I don't want to devote myself to it until I know it has a beginning, middle, and an ending. I've outlined before but mostly I just hammer out a really loose synopsis with a brain dump. After I've got that and some character definitions, I begin writing. I've thought about writing scenes in no particular order and pasting them together, but I'm terrified that the scenes won't fit in with the complete story and always write from beginning to end. After I've got the story out without stopping, I go back and read/revise/add. Usually at this point, I can't see anything else that needs revising because I've stared at it for too long, so it goes into editing. I receive comments from a group of editors and execute those as I see necessary. Once that's complete, I'm ready to release.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm really not a visual person in terms of what's great design and what's not, so I leave cover design to someone else. My first cover for "Killing Kate" was created by a great friend and I love it, though it's incredibly different from any other covers on popular ebooks, it suits the story well. The Blackwater series covers were designed by Create Imaginations and are less dark but more fantastical. I haven't yet succumbed to the picture of naked embracing torsos on any cover, which I've noticed seems really popular lately. I always think about the days I used to ride on the El with a book and people would ask me about what I'm reading. While I'd be annoyed that they'd interrupt me, I'd usually be very conscious of what my covers looked like so that I wouldn't get embarrassed. Thankfully, ebooks have really changed that, so you can read whatever you want without anyone really knowing what it is, from the Bible to erotica!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
In no particular order....

Titus Groan/Gormenghast - I loved these books because they really taught me that fantasy doesn't have to be about unicorns and elves.

Flowers in the Attic - This book and all of the VC Andrews books, inspired me to write. Period.

Outlander - SUCH a great series. It's got time travel, romance, and history.

The Poldark Series - I dropped out of my master's program to read these books. I think they track one of the greatest romances I've ever encountered. My heart ached at the end of each book.

Clans of the Alphane Moon - This is a really obscure Philip K Dick book I've read at least ten times. I love PKD as an author but this one has always hit me in a weird way, and the story seems new to me every time.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I own a Kindle, which is probably one of the first models, but I usually read everything on my phone, because it's always with me. I don't mind the small print because I'm horribly nearsighted.
Describe your desk
It's messy. Really messy. If you clean it, I'll be mad at you.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Chicagoland area, which means a suburb in the vicinity of Chicago. I started off in the North suburbs and then lived in actual Chicago for ten years, and when I got married I moved to the South suburbs. I work in the West suburbs. There are no East suburbs because we have a lake, so basically, I've covered the entire Chicagoland area. Most of my stories take place in Chicago, with the exception of Blackwater. I'd love to write a story that takes place in New Orleans, because I'm obsessed, despite the fact that I've never been there. Since I know Chicagoland so well, I usually base everything I write around there.
What do your fans mean to you?
EVERYTHING. I use an analogy about Mike Mulligan when I talk about my fans. Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Ann, always dug a little faster and a little better when people were there to watch them. When I get any kind of feedback from my fans, it encourages me to write a little faster and a little better. I love hearing feedback, getting all kinds of reviews (good and bad), and having people tell me what they enjoyed and didn't enjoy. I take all comments into consideration for my writing because not everyone likes the same things, but it's all good to hear.
Who are your favorite authors?
In no particular order...VC Andrews, Orson Scott Card, Philip K Dick, Jean Auel, Winston Graham, Mervyn Peake, Michael McDowell, Diana Gabaldon, CJ Roberts, Abbi Glines, Vladimir Nabokov....I like a bunch of genres, from romance to sci-fi to fantasy to gothic horror.
Published 2013-10-17.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Air That I Breathe (Blackwater, #3)
Series: Blackwater, Book 3. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 73,380. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal
(1.00 from 1 review)
“The Air That I Breathe” is book three in the Blackwater family saga, following "Drowning in a Dream". Leah, Olivia, Ash, and Theo try and escape their imprisonment and find their way back to Blackwater.
Drowning in a Dream (Blackwater, #2)
Series: Blackwater, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 83,520. Language: English. Published: July 9, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Erotic
“Drowning in a Dream” is book two in the Blackwater family saga, following "Burning for You". Leah Holt continues her journey to find her father and understand her craft.
Killing Kate
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 60,060. Language: English. Published: July 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
(3.33 from 3 reviews)
Jenna has a split personality. As Jenna, she's reasonable. As Kate, she's dangerous.
Burning for You (Blackwater, #1)
Series: Blackwater, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 89,070. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Leah Holt is a crafter who has the ability to control the elements.