First Sale Stories: Lori Handeland, "D.J.'s Angel," "Blue Moon," "Hunter's Moon," "Dark Moon," "Crescent Moon"
Lynda: What are the names of your books?
Lori: D.J.'s Angel was the first paranormal book I wrote. Blue Moon is the first paranormal in the Nightcreature series. Crescent Moon is the first book in the trilogy set in New Orleans.
Lynda: When were they published?
Lori: D.J.'s Angel came out in September, 1995; Blue Moon, October, 2004. Crescent Moon will arrive February 7, 2006.
Lynda: What are the books about?
Lori: D.J.'s Angel is a guardian angel story about a flaky angel who watches over a tough cop. Blue Moon is the first of a trilogy set in northern Wisconsin. The heroine, a no-nonsense small town cop, is confronted by werewolves run amuk. She must solve the mystery with the help of a gorgeous Native American professor. Crescent Moon is about werewolves, werewolf hunters, zombies and New Orleans.
Lynda: What was your inspiration?
Lori: I got the idea for D.J.'s Angel by wondering what it would be like to pair a woman who doesn't believe in love with a man who believes too much, and throwing in a little paranormal help. I'm not really sure where Blue Moon came from. I'd wanted to write another werewolf book since I'd written my first, Full Moon Dreams, in 1996. I was also interested in writing a book in the first person. Blue Moon was the result. Crescent Moon came out of a conversation with my editor and a trip to the Crescent City.
Lynda: What do you like most about your main characters?
Lori: I enjoyed the contrast of the character types in D.J.'s Angel. In Blue Moon, I really liked Jessie as a person. She was smart, tough and funny. She said all the great lines I think and never voice. And she got to fall in love with Will Cadotte, who is very, very hot. In Crescent Moon, the characters are adventurous, fearless, intelligent and interesting.
Lynda: What's your favorite aspect of your books?
Lori: I always look back with fondness on D.J.'s Angel as being the first book I wrote that had a lot of humor. I love Blue Moon because it's sexy, funny and scary.
Lynda: How long did it take to sell your book, from the time you finished your manuscript?
Lori: For D.J.'s Angel, I sold the book on a one-page synopsis; Blue Moon was sold on 3 chapters and a synopsis. They both sold in a few months.
Lynda: How long have you been writing fiction?
Lori: 15 years.
Lynda: How many paranormals have you written?
Lori: Crescent Moon will be my 30th published novel, with five more in production. I've written probably 10 paranormals.
Lynda: Is paranormal your main focus?
Lori: It is now.
Lynda: What attracts you about your paranormal characters?
Lori: I've always been fascinated by wolves and the idea of becoming a beautiful wild creature for just one night.
Lynda: Thinking about the notion of "It's always darkest before the dawn," what was the lowest point in the process for you?
Lori: Right before I sold my first book, everything had been rejected. I wasn't aware my agent has sent the manuscript to one other house. She'd forgotten about it, too. And they bought it.
Lynda: Was there a time you almost gave up?
Lori: Many times--both before and after I was published.
Lynda: Did you have an agent when you sold your book?
Lynda: Do you recommend that a pre-published writer focus on finding an agent first, or do you think it's OK to submit directly to the publisher?
Lori: That depends on what you write and which house you wish to sell to. Some don't accept manuscripts without an agent, some do. I've never enjoyed that aspect of writing, so I've always had an agent.
Lynda: What was the process of revisions/rewrites like?
Lori: Sometimes difficult, sometimes easy. Depends on the book and the editor. I've never minded revisions because it's easier for me to fix what's already there rather than create something from a blank page.
Lynda: Did your agent suggest changes?
Lori: I've had 4 agents. Some want changes, some don't. Depends on the book, the agent and where you'll be sending it.
Lynda: What was it like, working with the editor at your publishing house?
Lori: My editor is the best. We work together wonderfully. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have publishing my work.
Lynda: Do you have any words of wisdom for us about revisions/rewriting, etc.?
Lori: Do them. Sometimes editors just want to see if you can, or how easy you are to work with. This is a business, we're creating a product. Our job is to write it, the editors job it to edit. Let them do their job so we can continue to do ours.
Lynda: Do you get a lot of help with marketing your book, or do you have to do most of it yourself?
Lori: St. Martin's does some marketing, I do the rest. I also have a personal publicist who helps.
Lynda: Did you have input about your cover?
Lori: I do now. I didn't in the beginning.
Lynda: Have you done any events or book signings? If so, what was that like?
Lori: I've done a few. Some are good, some are bad. I always enjoy meeting and talking with readers.
Lynda: If you could go back and do something differently, what would that be?
Lori: I would probably have stuck to one genre in the beginning rather than writing all over the place just to help fill my publishers slots. It helps to build a following in one thing before moving on to something else.
Lynda: What would you do exactly the same way?
Lori: Keep writing. All the time, no matter what. Eventually you sell and then you have a lot of books done. You also learn something with every book, so even if they don't sell, no time writing is wasted.
Lynda: Tell us a little about your next book.
Lori: My next manuscript is the second in the New Orleans trilogy of Nightcreature novels, Midnight Moon. It takes place mostly in Haiti. A very spooky place. In it we'll meet a brand new Nightcreature.
Lynda: What advice are you willing to give to all the pre-published writers out there?
Lori: Don't give up. The only way to fail is to quit.