Welcome to the November episode of Couch Convos! Today we welcome new author LAS to talk about her book Chocolate Solstice. Let’s get started.
LWT: Welcome to Couch Convos! Let’s get started. How did you get the idea to write
LAS: The idea for Chocolate Solstice came from the concept of how we sometimes get in our own way of finding love, especially when dealing with issues from our past.
LWT: That is certainly what happened with this couple. In this book Daniel is such a complicated, but relatable guy. Can you take us through the process you went through to develop his character?
LAS: I wanted Daniel to be almost too good to be true. An attractive, educated, business minded, young man with commitment to family and his community. But I also wanted his secret to always be just under the surface, gnawing at him periodically. I wanted him to be attractive, someone that readers could visualize, smell and feel. After his aesthetic, I began to work on his love for his family (his mom and grandmother). I also wanted to show ways in which these women coddled him to some degree. Lastly, I focused on how his secret, which ties into his expectation of women, caused a conflict in his pursuit of Asha.
LWT: You certainly did a nice job of relaying your message. When I read the book, I felt as if each Asha struggled with intimacy issues. Why was this such an important element in the story line?
LAS: I thought Asha’s struggle was important to expose, because as black women I think we yearn for intimacy at our core level. I feel like we need it. When you’re trying to be a strong, independent and fearless woman, sometimes intimacy doesn’t have a place there. Asha avoided vulnerability and intimacy, as many of us do. In doing that, she risked her opportunity at a meaningful relationship.
LWT: When I write I have a picture in my head of who I want my characters to look like. Who were the muses for Daniel and Asha?
LAS: For Daniel, a muse that comes to mind is model/actor Travis Cure. My visualization for Asha was a curly haired Elle Varner. I just added light eyes for Asha.
LWT: I absolutely loved Daniel! What is your favorite thing about him?
LAS: My favorite thing about Daniel was his sweet relationship with his grandmother.
LWT: Do you identify with one character more than the others in the book?
LAS: I identified mostly with Maw, the grandmother. She did not play when it came to her Daniel. I see myself, my mom and aunts in her in terms of how we handle our sons.
LWT: Why was it important for Daniel to be so close to the women in his life?
LAS: Daniel had difficulty with issues of abandonment, though he tried his hardest to keep it under wraps. Because of this, he needed the women in his life to belong to him. He never really pursued this feeling outside of his mother and grandmother until he met Asha.
LWT: The book focuses on a couple, who in my opinion, ride hard for each other. They may have a tiff or two, but in the end they know they can depend on each other. Why do you feel it is important, especially for black women to read about these types of relationships?
LAS: I feel its important because women can become hopeless when looking for or waiting on a good man. It may seem unrealistic at times. Even though they were both flawed, as we all are, it is possible to have a loving and supportive relationship. The road may be a little bumpy getting there, but it is possible.
LWT: I love that. Now, tell me who are some of your favorite writers and why?
LAS: Some of my favorite writers include Margaret Johnson Hodge, Bernice McFadden, Carl Weber and RM Johnson.
LWT: How do you choose your book covers and who does them?
LAS: This was my first novel and I was stuck for some time when trying to decide on a book cover. Once I got the colors and idea into my head, I sent some mock-ups to a photographer friend who agreed to shoot the cover. Then I bribed another friend with free lunch to pose for the cover. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to create the cover which I still get compliments on.
LWT: Well kudos to both. They did an amazing job. Do you use social media and does it help with sales?
LAS: I don’t know how I would have gotten over 10 books sold without social media. It has helped me immensely with sales and marketing. Social media has also helped me to network with other authors and readers such as yourself. I think social media is a
Godsend for indie authors.
LWT: Tell us about your writing process. Do you need complete silence or do you listen to music? Do you have a drink or write sober? Etc. Inquiring minds want to know.
LAS: I enjoy writing to music it helps the flow of the story. Many times when I’m stuck I like to play music that I feel reflects the scene. Sometimes I’ll even take a dance break to clear my head and then sit back down to write. I’ve written while sipping and also while sober. But there’s always a drink involved whether its water, coffee, wine or liquor. I remember writing confrontational scenes while sipping on some wine, when I went back to read through, I had a good laugh.
LWT: What challenges have you faced as a new indie writer?
LAS: As a new indie author, I’m often hesitant about promoting my work. I want people to know about it, read and enjoy it, review it, tell a friend – all that good stuff. But, I never want to shove my work down someone’s throat. So, I’m trying to not to cross that fine line.
LWT: Have you or do you plan to attend any book fairs, conventions or signings? If so, which ones?
LAS: I attended Well Read Black Girl Fest in September and it was such a fulfilling experience. The energy of the brilliant beautiful women there and the gems they shared were incredible.
LWT: How did you choose your pen name?
LAS: My initials make up my pen name and is pronounced L. A. S. Some people have referred to me as LAS, I don’t mind.
LWT: Please give other indie writers 3 tips that you learned that help you to be successful?
LAS: 1)Push through that first draft. It will not be perfect but don’t give up.
2) Write anywhere and any time you can. Its hard to set aside time with life, family, etc. Keep a small notebook with you, write on your phone, tablet, whatever.
3) Invest in an editor. An editor is necessary, period. It will be the best money you spend in your journey to becoming published.
LWT: Those are all good tips. Share one unique thing you’ve done to market your
LAS: I’ve invested in promo items such as t-shirts, hats, tote bags, etc. to market the book. I wear them and I’ve given them to friends and family to wear and it sparks interest. When someone asks “What is Chocolate Solstice?” it opens up opportunity to promote the book.
LWT: Tell the readers the one resource you can’t live without as a writer?
LAS: Google Docs. Poor docs, its overloaded with drafts, rewrites, fallen plot twists, every and any thing pertaining to the story line. I wrote most of my first draft on my phone using Google Docs. It was easy to have my work saved and accessible to me once I had the time to actually sit at a computer and write.
LWT: What does success look like for you?
LAS: Success to me is someone saying to me (in reviewing, commenting, inboxing, DMing, texting, etc.) “Oh my God, this book!”
LWT: Well, please consider this book a success! What’s up next for you?
LAS: A prequel or sequel but its still brewing.
Well, I for one can’t wait! That brings us to the close of another episode of Couch Convos. Be sure to check out Chocolate Solstice. For more information about LAS hit her up on her social media accounts.