#ASI: Laura Ag #Wattpad #author

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 
So I’m a second year Biochemistry student at Warwick University in England. I have always loved science. In fact, I am not at all artistic or creative apart from with literature. I think that’s probably because I immigrated from my family to the UK from India in 2000 when I was 5 and I picked up English quite quickly. Other than that, background wise I’m pretty average. My immediate family consists of my mum, my dad and my younger brother and I have a typical humongous extended Indian family. So I suppose it’s also the slight lack of privacy growing up that meant ‘me’ time was in a book.

Discuss your newest book.
So right now, I’m working on my book ‘Cafe Rouge’ and as many of my reader’s know this started out as a ‘One-Shot’ (ie. a single chapter story) but then due to popular demand I decided to extend it into a book.At first I was only thinking of making this into a small short story to wrap things up nicely with a big, pretty pink bow but then as I started writing I started to want to intricate more things into it. I wanted to explore the characters and this concept of family loyalty more. Now, it’s over 200 pages on my Word document and still not over, so I guess that ‘short story’ concept is blown straight to pieces.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I think any good author will tell you that their favourite place in the world is probably a library. I absolutely LOVED libraries as a child and my parents would take me each week to take out books. That’s really where it came from. Reading books and growing to want to emulate these authors who’s stories you loved so much. From that it was a leap of faith to writing. Of course, my English lessons at school caused me to write a lot and before they got too serious and focused on exams it was a lot about creative writing. I truly enjoyed those lessons and when those lessons did stop, I carried on by myself. Then it became about wanting to share my passion and that’s where writing for an audience came in. So my interest in writing was never sudden but rather a slow burn, who’s origin I cannot exactly pinpoint, that turned into a fire of passion.

What are your current projects? 
So currently I’ve got ‘Cafe Rouge’ to finish and after that I’m still considering what I want to do. I have some ideas but it’s really a toss up. It’s either going to be a romantic, magical type story with elements of supernatural in or I may start another series of books. Or it may not even be any of those.
Other projects are of course, the endless job of editing and while that’s on hold at the moment, when I get more time, that’s also a priority.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Ohhhh, that’s a tricky question. I think every book you truly read, good or bad influences you and your writing; whether it’s ‘I’m never going to write like that’ or ‘I love how this author has done this’. Books that have truly influenced me and inspired me are psychological thrillers and romance. As strange as both those sound in the same category it’s true. I feel the thing they both have in common in the exploration of the mind. Sometimes in both cases the character’s mind may not be working rationally and I love having to think like them, to figure out what makes them make their decisions and how they react to situations emotionally. Now at least I read a pay less attention to the author and more on the book, unless there’s an author I truly loved.
When I was a teenager that person was Meg Cabot. Her ‘Mediator’ series was my all time favourite and I still to this day have the entire collection. The thing that struck me was the main female character was so strong. Strong but in a subtle way and I loved it. I loved everything about that character.
I also enjoyed a lot of her other books and I think that’s where I grew to love romance stories.

What inspired you to write your first book?
To be brutally honest, it was seeing other people doing a terrible job at it. My first series of books are BDSM featuring books and seeing abuse written as BDSM was not right. Not only because it’s wrong and no impressionable young person should be taught that being forcibly taken and smacked (no matter how hot the person is) is not BDSM unless it’s consensual or agreed upon beforehand. So immediately I wanted to write the community in a true (or truer) sense. But I wanted the stories to have actual storylines with character and relationship development as any other story would. So providing a more representative view of a BDSM relationship between character’s that could be seen as realistic was my target for writing my first book.
Which surprisingly people enjoyed and where I spanned it into 3 more stories.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
So my main character in ‘Cafe Rouge’ is arguably Carlos Castellano. Carlos is a conflicted man who’s father runs the local mafia and who he is expected to predecease from. But Carlos isn’t the same cold, blood killer as his father and when Lola (the female protagonist) finds this out she challenges him on it. Thereby making him question his family loyalty and how far he’s willing to sacrifice himself in the process of making his family happy. So really the thing that he does which makes him special is a juggling act where; he wants to protect Lola, wants to protect the shreds of his humanity that are left but at the same time also wants to honour his family and stay loyal to them.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
The message is (I think) really a question for the reader. How much would you sacrifice of yourself for your family? How loyal would you stay to them, even if what they’re asking is compromising your integrity and your conscience?
Although it may seem like it, I’m exactly trying to say that love will make you turn on your family but more that you need to respect and love yourself enough to be able to stand up for yourself, even if it is against those who love you (or claim to).

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? 

Ah-ha. This caused a bit of controversy for ‘Cafe Rouge’. Unlike for my other books, I never had even a vague casting idea for the characters. I simply went by descriptions and in all honestly, I have yet to find actors/actresses that match (what I feel) are my character’s descriptions. When I asked several of my reader’s they all had very different answers and in fact, many said they just go by imagination too.

When did you decide to become a writer? 
I honestly don’t feel like I’ve ‘DECIDED’ (in definite) to be a writer at all. Although I write stories (and I suppose that therefore makes me a writer) I don’t think of myself as a ‘real’ writer. I still consider this my hobby and at the moment I’m happy with that. So to be honest, I haven’t decided to be a writer at all.

Why do you write? 
I think there’s many reasons. Firstly, for excitement. I live (what I consider to be) an average, boring life. I mean, sure I go out on the very rare occasion and let loose with my girlfriends but it’s not the same. And while I am grateful for the hand that life has dealt me so far, writing and reading are my sources of adventure and excitement. It’s my way of living another life, one that you may never be able to experience and this is pretty exciting.
Another reason for me is a sick sense of playing God. It’s pretty darn cool to be able to control ‘lives’ and control what you’re characters do. It’s like a far less cool, geeky, weird version of Sims. Seriously?!? I’m thinking we might have been separated at birth. 🙂

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? 
Again, it was partly stemmed from the whole writing a good BDSM book but also because I latched onto an idea which I started testing out and I got really excited about it. And there’s nothing to loose, people like the story or they don’t. So I just started writing. And because I liked what I was writing and was interested in it, I was able to get more and more written generating more and more interest in the story.

Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part-time, definitely. No, actually, I think a few times my reader’s will probably say less than part-time.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
The most frustrating part is demotivation. Sometimes it just hits you and you just can’t force yourself to write even one sentence, even though you may have ideas about where the story’s going. So I try and think of something else I’m working on in the meantime and come back later to it.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? 
I’m not an action writer yet despite that I want action in my story so it definitely very difficult for me as more of a romance writer to incorporate those bits of action in, even though it’s not my strong suit.

What is the easiest thing about writing? 
There’s nothing easy about it. But it can bring a lot of satisfaction. Especially when you can get two characters to fall in love and grow that relationship. Then to share it with readers and watch them getting attached to your story brings about a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

What book are you reading now? 
Right now, I’m reading a romance novel called ‘Me Before You’ since that is being produced into a film starring Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Charles Dance, Jenna Coleman etc. And my friend leant me the book. It’s a light read as I consider most romance novels are so I tend to read a psychological/crime thriller along with it, to keep my interest on both stories and the psychological/crime thriller I’m reading right now is: Alone in the Dark.

What is one random thing about you? 
Argh, I’m so bad at these. I’ve never had acne. Even when I was going through puberty, I only ever had one or two little spots on my face. I would consider myself pretty lucky for that if I didn’t have eczema.

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?
Computer. I’m a touch typer so as much as I like good ole’ fashioned pen and paper, I use it enough for my revision and if I wrote my entire story on pen and paper it would be considerably shorter. Typing I find I can just keep going and pad out my stories a lot more. I also use an online thesaurus and auto-correct is a life-saver so I’m afraid I’ve joined the 21st Century when I say I definitely prefer writing using a keyboard on a computer. Nothing wrong with going New School.

What does your writing process look like?
I would argue there is a process even if it looks like there isn’t. I tend to start with a basic story starting idea. So X and Y characters do this and they meet like this. Then I like to explore the background of X and Y, think about what makes them unique and compatible. Next I go through basic situations (or ‘scenes’ as I like to think of them as) between X and Y which will solidify their relationship and take them through to the end of the book. Usually these will only be 3 or 4 scenes at the start and I’ll have a definite vague idea of an ending I’ll want. Then I start writing and because I write in short stretches, when I’m in the shower or lying in bed, I ponder over the story and the next scene I want happening between the characters and slowly the story starts to build.
So there’s some structure to it but because many other things in my life are so structured, with writing I like to let it flow more organically. As I write the characters I get a better sense for them and what they would do, how they would react to certain situations and therefore, things tend to naturally build in my writing, taking me to places and scenes I may never have thought of at the start.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? 
Not particularly. When writing I often can’t just focus on typing since I tend to find I get more antsy so I write less. That means that as I’m writing, I tend to also listen to TV shows, occasionally glancing up at it as I’m writing, or listen to music. Most of my writing happens in bed where I’m more comfortable and relaxed too, so no shower writing I’m afraid. LOL

How important are names to you in your books? 
They’re important but I don’t think they’re a great focus of mine. Different people tend to have different connotations to names anyway. I chose ones that I feel sound right for my characters (taking into account their ethnicity and heritage), but I’m not particularly one to look into deeper meanings of names unless it relates to the story.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
The most challenging parts are background research. It’s a pain but it’s important and it’s really what gives the story more realism. When an author sounds like they know what they’re talking about even if they don’t, to most reader’s that’s good enough and they will accept that. Especially because I like to set stories in the US and I grew up in the UK, there are gaps in my knowledge of the US government factions, politics etc. so for me research (although challenging) gives me the information necessary to make a realistic character. Research can be a pain, but it pays off in the end.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? 
I’m very into my motivational quotes. I have a rotating background on my laptop of motivational/inspirational phrases on pretty backgrounds to try and keep me focused. If pushed my favourite one has to be: This too shall pass.

What is your favorite book and why? 
That’s a horribly unfair question but I will try my best to answer it. I love a lot of books. A lot. And although I have bookshelves stacked with them, I don’t really tend to read a book (even ones I love) more than once. Well…maybe only the hot scenes in a few. But one book I absolutely adored and read completely more than once is Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. It’s such a conflicting, though provoking book on your own morals, where there’s no character that’s completely ‘good’ or ‘pure’. For me, the psychology of it was incredibly deep and I loved unravelling it. I love unravelling it each time I read it. So in that regard, it is definitely my favourite book.  One of my favorites as well.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you want. This is a world you’re free to explore and worrying about things like the number of ‘votes’ and ‘comments’ in my opinion only lower your freedom as a writer and the quality of your writing. New genres will always pop up and if your writing doesn’t fit neatly into one or the other, don’t worry about it. Alternatively, if yours does fit solely into one then that’s fine to. It’s about finding what you love to write, writing it and then being able to proudly share it, even if there are some people that don’t like it. Good advice!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? 
Reading is the obvious one. But I also like to play netball with my university’s society team. When it’s summer I love going on long walks with my mum and since we live in the countryside, it’s absolutely beautiful. Shopping of course is another favourite love of mine and when I can get into the mood, I love cooking too.

From where do you gain your inspiration?
Sometimes, I’ll pull little bits in from other books I’ve read or want themes similar to them. But generally if it’s character behaviour, much of it is from the people around me. But I like to mix and match and try out different combo’s in my mind before committing it to a character. Mostly, inspiration for me is through going through scenarios of the books and character’s in my mind until I click with one and run with it. It takes a while and it’s not instantaneous but for me, that’s just how it works.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Well, if I ever get published I’ll let you know 😛

How do you market your books?
I’m a crappy marketer. I don’t market at all. I like writing and that’s what I do. I don’t do PR and Marketing but since I’m only on Wattpad as a small time writer and doing it as a hobby, it’s fine. I do the minimal amount of placing awareness on my books and frankly, I’m shocked myself as to why people have actually followed me giving my lack of marketing, though I am grateful. The writing speaks for itself.

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
A person’s opinion is their own. I don’t tend to allow good or bad reviews to go to my head. And unless those bad reviews have constructive criticism on which I objectively look at and agree with, I would dismiss it.

Which social network worked best for you?
Again, crappy marketer-don’t use social media for my books.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Oh that’s a loaded question. I’m one of those weird, liberal people who doesn’t really have a role model. I mean, don’t get me wrong I am in awe of many people’s accomplishments and certain inspirational characteristics they have, but no one person is perfect and I don’t believe in idealising them to be. So my choice of wanting to meet Marilyn Monroe isn’t because she’s my role model or anything but it’s a well known fact that the girl knew how to have fun (maybe a little too much), and to have fun with Marilyn Monroe in arguably one of the sexiest Hollywood era’s.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
I warn you now, this is a cop-out answer. But apart from my ‘favourite’ book Lolita, I don’t know which book I’d want to be the original author of. I’ve have a few ‘great’ books that I truly love like Before I Go To Sleep, Thirteen Reasons Why, 1984, Ender’s Game, Room (to name a few). Though I enjoyed them immensely, they’re not ‘me’. In that it’s not my writing style or tone so I can’t imagine having written anything like those incredible books and frankly, I’m damn glad I didn’t even try because their respective authors did awesome jobs on them. I don’t think that’s a cop-out. It’s one of the best answers I’ve had.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 
Learn yourself. Don’t be afraid to explore once in a while but really try and get to grips with what you enjoy writing and finding your ‘voice’. Keeping at it and persevering is also important as in any task you do. It may not be as easy as you first thought it would be and you may not be brilliant in the first book you write but as long as you keep at it, the only way is up.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? 
Check out my Wattpad profile with all my works for free on there

Published by Courtney M. Wendleton

I'm an author with an associate's in psychology. Interested in a lot of different things, and love controversy. The more controversial the better, but that's not all I'm interested in. Can be a bit confusing at times, but that's normal!

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