Sunday, March 23, 2014

Indie Author Interview: Lorraine Pestell


Indie Author Interview with Lorraine Pestell - Author of the Contemporary Fiction / Romance Series A Life Singular.

Lorraine Pestell is a British & Australian author writing a six-part serial dealing with celebrity, tragedy and most of all love. Having been fascinated by celebrity since a young child who loved to listen, watch and make music, she began writing a love story with a showbiz theme.

A Life Singular is a novel in six parts - A Life Singular tells the story of a successful celebrity writing his autobiography. In essence a love story, A Life Singular is about triumph over mental illness, the choices we make between right and wrong and how one affects the other.

Interview with Lorraine Pestell

Author Lorraine Pestell
Author Lorraine Pestell
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Lorraine Pestell: I have been writing for as long as I can remember, although only in a semi-professional capacity for the last five years or so. I was blessed with dogged, inspiring English teachers at both primary and secondary school who instilled a thorough understanding of language and a love for the power of words.
Although I made Information Technology my career, writing has always played a significant part in this so-called success. I have earned a reputation for creating imaginative business cases and the ability to bring a systems specification to life! Personally, my writing began in my bedroom, as an introverted child with a fascination for the human backstory behind news bulletins and celebrity gossip.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
Growing up in London, I was exposed to French, German and Spanish at an early age, growing up reading Goethe, Camus and Molière, among others. I love to lose myself in the philosophical challenges which test the human condition, particularly turning frailty into triumph.
In consequence, I typically list my favourite authors as from the last few centuries of European history; namely Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Eugène Ionesco and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. These authors, along with Paulo Coelho from the present day, have influenced my writing greatly. My novels are long, involved and inward-looking, most of which are applicable adjectives to these provocative authors.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I come from a creative family; my mum loves anything craft-related, my sister is a professional singer and my brother makes haute couture from reject clothing. I used to sing and play the guitar in school bands. None of us has ever made a living from our talent! Unlike my sister, who turned her dream into a career, I took the view that creativity needed to remain a hobby while I sought a more lucrative way to pay the mortgage!
I still don’t really consider myself a writer, and don’t fully understand the difference between writer and author. I am a longstanding sufferer of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and all the symptoms that go with it, and writing is an important part of my therapy. Hence, I write because I have a story to tell, and my goals are twofold: first, to inspire fellow sufferers of mental illness to rise above their symptoms and make a success of their lives; and second, in the hope of increasing tolerance and understanding among non-sufferers to include, support and even love us in our efforts to live a “normal” life.

"I love the accessibility which social media affords authors to their readers, but the price is paid by reducing our time to write!"

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
Yes, I definitely have a writing routine! Necessary evils such as work, meals, grocery shopping, laundry and, until recently, walking my dog all need to take priority over writing. Everything except cleaning the house, in fact! As soon as these things are done, however, the PC turns on of an evening or at the weekend, and I work through my social media obligations: Twitter, e-mail, Facebook and my blog. I love the accessibility which social media affords authors to their readers, but the price is paid by reducing our time to write!
I always listen to music while I’m doing all this pre-writing preparation, but as soon as I’m free to get back to my books, the music must be switched off. Depending on the time of day, I will always have a cappuccino or a glass of Tempranillo on the desk, and a liberal dose of chocolate on Saturdays and Sundays!

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?

I am fortunate never to suffer from writer’s block! In fact, I find it very easy to pour out initial drafts of chapters and am a very relaxed “plotter”, probably due to the structured approach needed for IT deliverables.
There is still an element of “pantser” in me too though, in that I’m often surprised where my characters take me. I often read paragraphs I created in earlier sessions and often have no real memory of having written them!
Hardest, without question, is knowing what to leave out. In my case, when I’m trying to convey a serious message through an entertaining medium, there’s always a fine line between the old adage of “Tell ‘em once, tell ‘em twice and tell ‘em again for luck” and boring people to tears. I hope I strike the right balance, but am keep for feedback from readers on this topic!

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
By far my greatest joy in writing is the ability to shed the fake skin I have become accustomed to wearing for the outside world. As someone with perennial mental health issues, being able to express myself honestly through my writing is the only place that feels like home.

A Life Singular - Part One (Lorraine Pestell)
Click to Read an Excerpt

Lorraine, please tell us a little about your Contemporary Fiction/Romance Series ‘A Life Singular.
Thanks for the opportunity to tell your readers about my six-part serial! It has been my life’s work for the last five years, but in truth 38 years in the making. The original story started out as a cute love story between a rock guitarist and a pop singer, to assuage my fascination for the music industry and how celebrities typically face challenges in their private lives.
As my life took some unsavoury twists and turns, leaving me with debilitating mental and physical scars, I gradually turned this contemporary romance into a study of triumph over our own mind and the power of love to help sustain us on the journey. As mentioned before, I have two goals for my books, and seek the broadest audience possible via the universal themes of love and succeeding against the odds.
“A Life Singular” is a book within a book. It follows the protagonist through the process of writing his autobiography, after the love of his life is killed by a jealous gunman. The serial retraces their spectacular celebrity life, both in front of the cameras and out of the public eye, telling the story behind the story.
The first two parts were published in 2013, and I am to have Part Three finished by June this year. The remaining three parts will be released at six-monthly intervals. As the story spans almost fifty years in total, Part Six is set to end contemporarily in 2016.

What inspired you to write the Series?
My inspiration to write the serial was born out of the stigma and exclusion my fellow sufferers and I endure as a result of symptoms that are no fault of our own and often beyond our control. I wish to encourage readers to realise that we are people too, with qualities, feelings and ambitions that can easily be fulfilled with the right opportunities.
All six parts of the “A Life Singular” serial follow the fate of Jeff Diamond, a successful rock star who endured a violent childhood and used his fame and fortune to improve the fate of other disadvantaged people. His guardian angel, Lynn, came from a privileged background and carved her own niche in the popular music world. Destined to be together, Lynn is somehow able to see through the nightmares, phobia and addictions with which Jeff’s trauma has plagued him, and together they fight for their love.
By providing a backdrop of their jet-setting lifestyle and exciting experiences, I hope to attract readers who would not normally enter the world of psychological dilemma and personal struggle. According to early reader feedback, it appears that I have succeeded, which gives me great joy!

A Life Singular - Part Two (Lorraine Pestell)
Click to Read an Excerpt

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the books?
Because the “A Life Singular” serial is essentially a love story, I initially assumed my readers would be mostly female romance fans. However, I have been pleasantly surprised to receive positive reviews from men and from others who would normally not be attracted to romance.
Some of the books’ themes are deeper and substantial than a typical love story, probably appealing most to those who are interested in social justice and insights into the human condition.
Sales proceeds from my books go to two Australian not-for-profit organisations which provide services for children in need, The Smith Family (http://www.thesmithfamily.com.au) and the School Volunteer Program (http://www.svp.org.au). These organisations benefit most if readers purchase the books from my website - http://www.ALifeSingular.net. They are also available on all regional Amazon sites.

A Life Singular - Part One - Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00I2CQAX4 ; US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I2CQAX4; UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00I2CQAX4

A Life Singular - Part Two - Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00HAVJEMC ; US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HAVJEMC; UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HAVJEMC

What makes your series special?
I have been very encouraged by reader feedback about the first two parts of the “A Life Singular” serial, which confirms the uniqueness of my story and the fact that it touches on issues which are seldom voiced in mainstream fiction.
My aim is to express honest emotions and provide an insight into a world which is as fascinating as it is challenging, with the complexities of a poisoned mind juxtaposed with feelings that everyone has experienced.

"Amazon’s policy of restricting book reviews by region is not helping to increase awareness of authors..."

How would you describe the success of your books so far?
Success as an indie author is hard to come by, particularly coming from a country such as Australia. We are a tiny population on a huge continent, which requires us to penetrate the larger markets in order to gain a profile. Social media is a great way to reach potential readers, along with book blog tours and opportunities such as this interview with Indie Author News!
Amazon’s policy of restricting book reviews by region is not helping to increase awareness of authors outside the US and the UK. Thank you for offering me this chance to reach readers in the “big, wide world” :)

How long did it take it to write the series?
As mentioned before, the original story for “A Life Singular” started life in the late 1970s and then had long dormant periods during my time at university and developing my career. My quest to publish only really started about five years ago, when I was awoken in the middle of the night by a tangential sub-plot. Since then I haven’t been able to stop the words from flowing out of my fingers and into the computer, resulting in six full novels.
I am almost halfway through writing the whole story, and all remaining parts are at varying levels of completeness. I have written “THE END”, so the overall structure is set in stone. I simply need to fill in the blanks to present “A Life Singular” in its entirety!

"I learned some hard lessons in my first attempt to self-publish through an off-shore company."

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
I am flattered to be asked to provide advice, since I still consider myself a novice. I learned some hard lessons in my first attempt to self-publish through an off-shore company. I found that they applied some archaic censorship rules based on a set of puritanical views aimed as protecting our moral values.
As someone who upholds common decency as a core belief, I was disheartened by such overprotective and outdated policies and attempted to exit from the contract. It was only after being told that their policy was “black and white”, followed by a lengthy debating about life definitely not being “black and white”, it took five months for the company to process my refund.
I have since found Amazon’s CreateSpace to be much cheaper, very simple to use and free from any censorship issues!
My only other piece of advice to people thinking about writing is to have the courage to write from the heart. If you think you have an important message to convey, chances are there’s a like-minded community who stand to benefit from your storytelling.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m currently about 60% through “A Life Singular - Part Three”, which I hope to complete by the end of June 2014. For readers who have read Parts One and Two, you will have been left wondering how Lynn and Jeff manage to get back together again after they were forced to separate. Part Three tells of the journey towards a momentous reunion and where they take their relationship from there.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I don’t believe that book stores will disappear, just like record stores haven’t totally disappeared. I believe that people deserve choice, even though some choices are forced to marginalise into specialist outlets. There are still a large number of people who prefer reading physical books, both young and old, and a book will always be more interactive than a record or a CD.
As a 30-year veteran of the IT industry, I have seen the evolution from simple documents which need to be read on a vertical screen, in monochrome and with only basic pagination, to sophisticated reading applications with the ability to annotate, bookmark pages and move from chapter to chapter very easily. I have no doubt that e-reader designers will continue to innovate, gradually winning the hearts and minds of the vast majority of print lovers.
Having said this however, I have to admit to being totally unprepared for the feeling of achievement and pride I felt when I received the first printed copy of “A Life Singular - Part One”! With an e-book, it is difficult to get an impression of the length of a novel, except from seeing the progress through in percentage terms or by watching the ball’s progress along the blue line on the bottom of the screen. With a printed book, the results of my effort could be measured in dimensions such as weight and size, which are far more tangible than their electronic equivalents!

What is your e-reading device of choice?
For reading, I love my Kindle Paperwhite for the ability to adjust the screen’s brightness to read comfortably in bed, and also its online connectivity for downloading from the cloud on demand.
In writer mode, all my proof-reading and editing is performed on my Asus Transformer Prime tablet, via the MoonReader Pro+ e-reader. This allows me to pretend to be a real reader, with my feet curled under me on the couch or sitting on the lawn, while still giving me plenty of nifty author-friendly features, such as highlighting grammar or typographical errors or the overuse of a particular word.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I would love to write full-time, but for the foreseeable future I will be working full-time as an IT professional and writing part-time at every opportunity! Hopefully, my serial will take off and I will find myself supervising the movie production in the not-too-distant future…
Time not writing is spent doing all those nasty life essentials which I mentioned before, along with sleeping. Until recently, my gorgeous dog shared my life, but as he got older, we spent less and less time walking. I hope to share my life with another Very-Important-Dog before too long.

How can readers connect with you?
I can be found in the following e-locations:
• Website - http://www.ALifeSingular.net
• Blog - http://ALifeSingular.com
• Twitter - @LorrainePestell
• Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/ALifeSingular
• Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7080596.Lorraine_Pestell

Thanks again for the opportunity to feature on your site. I wish you and all your readers G’day from sunny Melbourne, Australia!


Thank you very much for the Interview, Lorraine.



About the Series A Life Singular

Part One

A Life Singular - Part One (Lorraine Pestell)
Click to Read an Excerpt
What do you do when you lose the one who gave your life meaning? You write about it. You tell the world how amazing it is to love and be loved by someone so special, what love helps you achieve and how it makes you stronger.

Jeff Diamond had built a life of influence, adulation and wealth by making the right choices for the right reasons. He lived by the law of reciprocity, a lesson learned on the streets as a teenager with nothing but an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Plagued by the scars of a violent childhood, he created his vision and fought for it. And once he no longer needed to fight for himself, he fought for others.

Yet when Jeff’s dream girl was taken from him and their children by the ignorant act of a jealous misfit from his own home town, the millionnaire realised just how far he had come. Why had he succeeded when so many like him fail? It wasn’t complicated. The secret lay in the endless pursuit of love and wisdom; life’s two magic ingredients. Now Lynn was gone, he resolved to use his remaining days to account for their life in a way that would inspire young people to make his type of choice rather than García’s.

Then after their story was written, he would be free to go after her, to begin the whole incredible journey over again. Everyone has a life singular. One. Unique. Extraordinary.

- "This book gives us a glimpse into a happy family, until one of them tragically dies. It's a long read, not one that you will finish in an hour. There's a lot going on with the plot, so you will want to read when you have time to actually follow it! In a way, it's a journey as Jeff has to come with terms with the way his life once was... And what it has become." - Reader Review

Part Two

A Life Singular - Part Two (Lorraine Pestell)
Click to Read an Excerpt
Writing an autobiography on behalf of someone else presented Jeff with an interesting dilemma. Did he make assumptions about what Lynn would have included, or should he restrict her contribution to direct quotes from her letters and diaries? He had their kids to protect, and her parents…

As he worked through the huge amount of material available in the press about their life as it had taken shape, interlacing it with highly personal stories, the widower crafted chapter after chapter of memories, both happy and heartbreaking. If this was to be a true account of their partnership, he owed it to the memory of his beautiful best friend to cover so much more than what was already on public record.

When it came to adding his own reminiscences of those early months, about meeting someone he already knew intimately, Jeff had no difficulty in recalling every single, vivid moment. Entire conversations came back to him, sometimes word for word, rushing through his fingers and into the computer.

Photographs prompted him too, as did the treasured possessions that surrounded him, like the old leather jacket he had received on his twentieth birthday. Lynn had left him shortly after that, just like she had left him now. The pull of being together again was unrelenting, but Jeff hung on to the dream that their life singular would one day resume.

Once their story had been told.

- "A reader of romance novels will enjoy this intimate emotional odyssey.[...] He is living on the edge, suppressing a past he would prefer to stay buried. Is she safe with him? Her love is unconditional, and is shown to heal him of deep emotional scars. We all wish to believe in such devotion. We get a very real glimpse into his ongoing struggle with PTSD, and how he manages to find strength. The telling style is detailed and earnest, heartfelt, but liberally spiced with sex scenes." - Reader Review



Links to the Books

Link to the eBook A Life Singular - Part One with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook A Life Singular - Part Two with Excerpt on Amazon