Interview with Lydia Sherrer

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Though it wasn't quite the first story I ever read, it was way back in the grey muddle of my early childhood. I grew up on Tolkein. My mom read The Hobbit to me for the first time when I was about six, and I was completely enthralled. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy followed soon after, and I ate it up. Our family was so into Tolkein, that by the time I was 13 we made a family audiobook of the whole series, recording and producing it ourselves. I did the voices of Pippin and Gimli.

Tolkein's writing, its detail, worldbuilding, mythology, vocabulary, and quality set the bar for every book I've read since, and it inspired in me the deep desire to discover and explore far off lands. When I couldn't find too many of those around me out in the farmland of rural Kentucky, I started creating my own! The rest is history.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Haha! I love how Smashwords, correctly understanding that you should never ask an author what their (one) favorite book is, set the cap at five. Well, I don't really have five favorite books, I have about twenty. But I guess five is better than one.

The Bible (various authors) - No joke. I am not shy about who I am, and my belief in Jesus Christ has literally saved my life on multiple occasions. I shudder to think the kind of person I would be without my faith. It gives me strength to go on, and to love everyone around me unconditionally, no matter what they think, do, or believe.

The Return of the King (JRR Tolkien) - because it is the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and this is where everything really hits home. Every time I finish this book, I cry. It's just so darn sad to leave Middle Earth! Tolkien's worldbuilding is unsurpassed, and it has inspired me to be the writer I am today.

Lady Knight (Tamora Pierce) - because I was obsessed with the Tortal books when I was a teenager. They taught me that a woman can be both strong, and weak, a warrior and a nurturer, and it's okay. Lady Knight is the best of them, and encapsulates everything I wanted to be when I was a teenager. While my desires and life goals have changed since then (I realized that the reasons behind my teenage life goals were skewed and shallow), the spirit of Kel still lives in my heart, and reminds me to be the best woman I can be.

Sunshine (Robin McKinley) - because this is the most innovative, original, and captivating take on vampires/urban fantasy that I've ever read. Ever.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling) - yeah, yeah, cliche, I know. But seriously, Harry Potter shaped my childhood. When you really dig down, this series is about how love conquers all things. And that is the most powerful message in the world. I love Rowlings books, I love her message, and I love what she is doing for our world (did you know she is the only billionaire that has donated so much money to charity, it has bumped her down from billionaire to millionaire status? Check out her foundation Lumos helping poor, disabled, and minority children).
When did you first start writing?
When? No idea, but the first story I kept record of was written at ten years old (read it here: http://lydiasherrer.com/milestones-the-first-story-i-ever-wrote/). In my teenage years I started a few fantasy novels that never went anywhere. At that age I didn't have a "plan," I never thought I'd be an author or publish my works, I just wrote because it was a biological imperative. When you're a voracious reader, it is a natural progression for your imagination to concoct its own stories, and that inner muse just has to be heard! If you're a writer you write, not because you want to but because you have to.
What do your fans mean to you?
They are my family! At the core, I do write for myself. Every writer does. I write because I have the need to create, and at the beginning it is purely selfish, fulfilling a psychological need. But I PUBLISH for my fans. The only reason I dare to let my works lose in the world is because I believe stories are important, they shape culture, and I want to do my part in making the world a better place, one story at a time. So my fans are everything to me. They inspire me, they bring me joy, they push me to greater heights, they help me become a better writer. I do everything I do for my fans. I love you guys.
If you had to a favorite character out of the ones you’ve invented, who would it be and why?
That is a terribly difficult question and you are cruel for asking it! I love all my characters, for different reasons, so I guess I'll just go with which character is most fun to write. In my Lily Singer Adventures series, the main character, Lily, is a wizard and she has a talking cat, Sir Edgar Allan Kipling. Sir Kipling is huge fun to write because, being a cat, he can say whatever the heck he wants. He is not constrained by human social mores or the silly ideas that cloud the minds of humans. It is incredibly refreshing to write a cat, and being a cat lover and cat owner myself, it is very fun to write into the story all the adorable and hysterical things my cat does, and would say, if she could talk. And, just like the human characters of the book, Sir Kipling is based on a series of cats that I have owned/known throughout my life.
Describe your desk
Messy! Always messy. I try and keep it neat, but life is so overwhelming and jammed with things I need to do, my desk is constantly covered in papers. If I don't leave them there on my desk, I'll forget I need to take care of whatever it is (taxes, registration renewals, bills, networking contacts, finances--all the boring stuff adults have to deal with basically).

One day I dream of having a special room all to myself to be my writing room. The walls will be covered in bookshelves, I'll have a comfy chair and a nice sound system, and there will be gigantic windows letting in lots of sunlight. My desk will be big, with a section just for "to do" stuff, where I can organize it and lay it out, but still have elbow room for my creative muse. Oh, and there will be room for a cat bed, because if my cat isn't all up in my business every second of the day, she gets cranky.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love shooting my recurve bow, mostly at bales of hay, though fleeing, screaming humans make much more amusing targets. Now, don't call the police. I promise I only shoot at humans with padded arrows when I'm LARPing (live action role play). I'd hate to get blood on my nice, hand-made wooden arrows. They'd be permanently stained!

I'm a musician as well, and love to play the ocarina, as in Zelda Ocarina of Time ocarina. It is great fun playing well-known video game and movie themes at conventions. People turn and stare, and I can play the theme songs for some of the cosplayers, who get excited and start acting things out. My favorite is to find all the Darth Vader and Storm Trooper cosplayers and follow them around playing the Imperial March. You can hear my ocarina music on my youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/c/LydiaSherrer

If I have any time after all the writing, reading, shooting, and ocarina playing, I occasionally get obsessed with costume making. They are mostly my own, original designs. You can see pictures of some of them at http://www.lydiasherrer.com/about. I also enjoy hiking, camping, bird watching, insect collecting, traveling, and not-cooking. Wait, I'm not sure that last one is a hobby, but I definitely enjoy it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The biggest thing was control: I like doing things myself and having creative control over my own work. But it also fits me better. I'm a natural entrepreneur, and I saw no point in waiting around for an agent, and then a publisher, to tell me my work was good enough for the world when I already knew it was, and knew I could publish it myself just as professionally as a traditional publisher could. And so I did.

I love being an indie author, and I'm proud to be one. I plan on always publishing some titles on my own, but just because I love being indie doesn't mean traditional publishing is bad. It gives you the advantage of a big name and marketing reach, whereas indie publishing gives you more control and a larger percent of the profits. I think the smartest route is to do both, if you can, and cross market. I plan on seeing if I can get my second series picked up by one of the big five (publishers), so we'll see how that goes.
How do you approach cover design?
Professionally. I research what traditional publishers are doing, look at bestselling covers in my genre, and model my style, composition, and formatting after them. I'm also a big believer in having your characters on your cover. I've read many places that books with people on the covers them sell better, probably because it gives the reader something to connect to emotionally. I view my covers as a way to introduce readers to my characters, though ultimately covers are there to immediately convey the genre and theme of the story. As long as your cover does that in a professional, clean way, what is on them is up to you.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I've had a Facebook page since 2007, and I have over 1000 friends on it (I use it solely for networking, I don't put any personal information on it I wouldn't want the world to know). So Facebook has been a really good networking, and therefore marketing tool for me because I can easily reach a lot of people, I have a lot of a acquaintances who know and like me and are willing to spread the word about my books. I'm on a couple other social media platforms, but Facebook is what I use to stay connected with everybody, and everything.

Besides social media, I've found in-person interactions very useful. I attend a lot of conventions, book fairs, workshops, etc, and I always make a point to meet people, shake their hand, take their card, and chat with them. I volunteer, do panels, teach workshops, and offer to help in any way I can. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for me and expanded my social reach by quite a bit.
What are you working on next?
Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus is a fun, light-hearted, and humorous series. I started writing it after I'd spent eight years working on a very dark, urban fantasy novel about vampires, unconditional love, redemption, and many sticky moral quandaries that make my life as a writer interesting. My premises was: if the only person in the whole world you'd ever cared about disappeared, what would you do? How far would you go to save them? I was about 3/4 through the first book and felt burnt out, so I switched tracks, wrote a shorter, fun series to start publishing, and now am eager to eventually go back and finish my first series. Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus books 3 and 4 come out in spring 2017, if all goes well, so you might see this other work after that, maybe spring 2018. If you want to know more, check out my website for details: http://www.lydiasherrer.com/my-writing
Published 2016-10-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: A Study In Mischief (A Lily Singer Adventures Novella)
Price: Free! Words: 20,980. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
(4.50)
Wizards are born, witches are made, and they mix about as well as oil and water. So when circumstance forces a conscientious wizard and a troublemaking witch to band together against a common enemy, there’s no telling how the dice will fall. A prequel to the Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus series, this meeting of opposites—and the mischief that follows—is a roller coaster of laughs and life lessons.