Today on Booktastik, we’re interviewing Australian romance author, Len Webster. Len is from Melbourne and has just completed a Business and Commerce degree, and is putting her awesome talents into penning romance novels. She currently has nine books out, and today we’ll find out what she’s working on next.
Welcome, Len! Great to have a fellow Aussie on Booktastik. I’m going to start with an unusual question. As an Australian, you use British English. When you write, do you follow US English conventions or British English, and why?
Hello! I’m so happy to be here, thank you so much for having me on Booktastik. I love that we’re fellow Aussies. I’m so excited for this interview!
As an Australian, my native writing style is British English, and that does show in my writing for several reasons. The first being that my books are set in Australia and it feels more authentic to write natively. And secondly, it feels more natural to me and the story if I write in British English rather than American English. Plus, I love adding and seeing ‘U’s and ‘S’s in words like ‘colour’ and ‘realise’. But that’s not to say that I will never use American English in a book. I’m all about trying to make the story, the setting, and the characters real and believable. And I do believe the style and format of the writing is key to achieving that.
Do you set your romances in Australia or in other places?
So far, all my books are set in Australia. I love this country, its diversity and people. I have had my characters visit other countries like America, England, and Thailand, but they always come back home.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
Ah! Great question. I’ll answer this as honestly as I can. And that is: no. I haven’t always wanted to be an author.
How I became an author kind of happened by mistake, really. See, when I was eight, I wanted to be a journalist, but my mother told me that being a journalist (I wanted to be a world reporter and travel the world) meant being put in dangerous situations. I was eight and didn’t like the idea of being hurt. So I changed my mind and went through high school preparing myself for law school. But I would never make it into law school. Instead, I actually ended up applying for one of the world’s leading business schools—my alma mater is so proud of that title.
But as fate would have it, I would forget about that title and find myself kind of lost in the middle of my bachelors. Sometimes your life implodes and you have to take a real good hard look at yourself to find yourself. I did that. Turns out, I didn’t want to be a marketer or manager. I had an identity crisis because I had no idea who I was at nineteen and what I wanted. I felt restricted in university. I didn’t feel creative anymore. And that was a horrible feeling. Because being creative made me happy. And during my second year of university, I wasn’t happy. I was utterly miserable.
So one day, I stumbled across an article about people writing online. Some were even successful at making it their career. For me, I just saw writing stories as my way of having an outlet. So I was inspired to just put words on paper, even if they were rubbish, just to give my mind a break from the pressure of university and life.
Word after word, that pressure slowly stopped feeling like I was being suffocated.
Writing a story about two people falling in love made me feel okay to continue with my degree and appreciate my life for what it was, and what it is.
Which I will say, is a good life that I am very proud of.
What’s been the most difficult part of your writer’s journey?
For me, the most difficult part of my writer’s journey is myself.
It’s actually my mind. I am my own worst critic. I know that I let my mind run wild with doubt and insecurities, and that has really held me back from so much. But I’m working on trusting myself and surrounding myself with the best support system—who make writing a little less lonely.
It’s so great that you’ve battled on regardless, and I bet having loyal readers really encourages you to keep writing.
Do you stick to a routine with your writing, or do you only write when inspiration hits?
I now have a routine which helps me stay focused. My routine is not for everyone. I normally write from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. until I reach 10,000 words (though, my everyday word count goal is 3,000 words) at least five times a week until I finish the book. It normally takes me about nine days to write a book, but I give myself a month to write it. Then I’ll take the following month off, and the month after I will write a new book.
But when I do have inspiration, I will drop everything to write. Because those moments of inspiration will always be my best work.
Wow, that is a massive daily word count. I wish I had that drive.
I love your covers. Do you do them yourself or do you employ a cover artist?
Oh! I am so glad to hear that you love my covers. I’m biased. I love them, too. I might be good with words, but I am terrible at anything visual. I can’t design. So I have the most amazing cover designer who has designed every single one of my covers. Najla Qamber of Najla Qamber Designs has made my life so much better for what she does. I’ll send her rubbish ideas, and she’ll send me the perfect cover the first go, every time.
In such a competitive industry, they say never judge a book by its cover, but some do. Some will look at covers as an indicator of quality. When I get asked for advice, I always tell authors that finding a professional cover designer is key to having a successful book release. It’s about capturing that reader’s attention. But I also tell them that they should aim to have a professional and friendly relationship with their cover designer, as it will be an addition to their career they will realise is so important. My cover designer doesn’t just work for me. She’s also my friend. And she’s able to dissect my vision and make it a reality.
Can you tell us about some of your novels?
My novels are very different from each other. Let’s see, they’re all set in Australia. Most of my novels are second-chance romances. I’m a lover of angst, so that is a common necessity in my novels. Some are definitely ‘ugly cry’ novels. Some are infuriating. And some take you on a journey. But putting it simply, it’s just about two people coming together and finding that despite everything, they’re meant to be. My books might not be the steamiest romances you’ll ever read, but the intimacy and passion is there.
If you ever get stuck for ideas, what do you do to get them flowing again?
Normally, I don’t get stuck for ideas because I have like six books happening at once in my head. The only time I ever get stuck is when I’m writing and know that I have to get to specific point in the book, and I’m not sure just how to get there. And it takes some time to figure out how my characters will get there. It’s a lot of problem solving where I have to think of the consequences and outcomes of the journey to get to that point. When I can’t quite figure it out and I’m so frustrated, I turn to TV or music to get my mind off the problem.
Do you think your Business and Commerce Degree helped with your writing, and would you recommend extra study for new authors?
This is a tough one. University was an experience for me. A positive and fulfilling experience. The things I learnt, saw, and did, helped shape the person I am. And the person I am today went through a lot of personal battles during her bachelors degree. So yes, my degree helped me get perspective of who I am in this large world and gave me the chance to be that person. The education part, that’s another story. I learnt a lot that would help me in the publishing aspects—so marketing and management. But as for the writing part, I think in order to write my best book, my most real book, and even my rawest book, I don’t think what I learnt in my degree helped me write these books. Sure, adding details to my books about the career I was supposed to have, did help. But when it comes down to it, my experiences and what I know and have felt was what helped my writing.
Extra study for authors is a personal choice. I’m glad I did my bachelors. I’m so thankful that I had the chance to go to university and graduate with the chance of doing my Masters if I chose to. I think further education is always a positive to enriching someone’s life and knowledge. But my advice to new authors is to keep reading. Educate yourself through other authors. Learn from them. Go to workshops and conventions. Pick up a few guide books—I, myself, have a few. But the best way to further develop your writing skills is to read and write. To keep reading. To keep writing. And to give yourself the ability to open your mind and be brave enough to write your best book.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’ve just come back from Europe. So I’m a little torn between two books. While I was in Europe, I did finish writing a book. So as of now, I’m on a small break getting over jet lag. But when I return to writing in a few weeks’ time, I hope to write the next book in the Thirty-Eight series.
What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished an amazing new release called ‘It Ends With Us’ by Colleen Hoover. Definitely recommended. Colleen Hoover is my idol and everything I wish I could be. I met her at the RT Convention in Dallas, Texas in 2015, and it was incredible. I once thanked her in my acknowledgements. She’ll never read it, but I felt as a reader of her work, I had to thank her. Actually, I felt compelled to thank her.
What do you love most about being an author?
The freedom to get lost and to be found.
It might sound tacky, but I’ve learnt so much by being an author. I’ve learnt to be brave and to be fearless. I’ve learnt things about myself that I was scared to discover. I also found ways to heal from old wounds. Being an author, no matter the ups and downs, has made me a better person. A more understanding person.
Another part I love about being an author is being able to let my words touch another person’s life. To have my sentences and paragraphs change someone’s world and perspective. I love being able to give someone hope. That’s my favourite part. My readers, are and always will be my favourite part of being an author.
Do people you’ve just met treat you differently when they find out you’re an author?
Umm yes and no. A lot of people I just meet don’t expect me to be an author. I was once told I don’t look like an author. Sometimes, there’s an awkward moment after I tell them and they have no idea what to say. But so far, everyone I have met has been wonderfully sweet to me about being an author.
What have you got planned, book wise, in the coming months?
At the moment, I’m having one of my books edited very soon. Besides that, I don’t have any cemented plans for any book releases in the coming months. I have three completed novels just waiting for me to make a decision. Having released my debut novel and its sequel during my final university exams a few years ago has me slowing down. I’m enjoying taking my time to publish my books so that my readers get to read my best book.Read previous articleRead next article