Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hellish Haven by L.K. Below--a Dystopian Multicultural Romance

HELLISH HAVEN: A Dystopian Multicultural Romance
by L.K. Below

Two lives. Two realities. But only one truth.

The Senator reigns all-powerful in a manifested picture-perfect world. No worries. No wars. Only the unspoken threat of oblivion if you step a toe out of line. On the other side of the divide, the rebels face a debilitating war against an invulnerable robotic army. Every day is a struggle to earn back their freedoms. Freedom to feel. Freedom of speech. Freedom of thought.

Sergeant Grant Baker is pivotal to the war effort. But ever since his wife’s abduction, he’s been walking around in as much of a daze as the Senator’s brainwashed citizens. Then Eva reappears—without memories of him or their son. And he’s willing to do anything to keep her. Even if it means jeopardizing the war.

Eva doesn’t know which side to believe. Her predictable life as a single nurse, or the man claiming to be her husband. All she knows is she needs to discover how to end the war, quickly. If she doesn’t choose sides soon, she may lose the man—and the life—she never knew she wanted.

INTERVIEW with L.K. Below

When did you first begin writing?

The first time I can recall putting pen to paper to craft a story was in the third grade, for a school project. Needless to say, I loved it, and from that moment forth started keeping notebooks with stories and worlds of my own.

What was the first story you ever wrote? Did it teach you anything relevant to your writing today?

The first story I wrote, for that school project in third grade, was about a pet dinosaur named Kooky who I lost and later found in my sock drawer. At that time, my friend had challenged me to write the most pages, a challenge which I lost. But I also continued the story past the natural stopping point. If I had ended the story upon finding Kooky the first time, I would have had a full-fledged short story with a beginning, middle, climax, and ending. Instead, I forced more story out and the story ended up being worse than it could have been if I wasn’t simply trying to write pages.

It was an important lesson for me. Not every story will be as complex as a full-length book. I write a lot of novellas now, not only because I love reading them (they’re easy to fit into my busy schedule) but because I don’t force a story past its natural stopping point, no matter what the length happens to be.

What was your favorite book as a child?

As I child, I loved many books. When I was ten years old, I used to sit under a tree at recess and read Tamora Pierce books. To this day, she is one of my favorite authors. When I was younger, my dad and I used to read to each other before bed; we devoured the Chronicles of Narnia that way. We also read a few adult fantasy books about dragons.

Which author did you read growing up who inspired you to become a writer?

There is a magic in books that I’ve loved ever since I learned to read. Tamora Pierce wrote some excellent fantasy books that I’ve read and re-read so many times, they’re now dog-eared. If I had to point to one author in particular who opened my imagination to other worlds and stories, it would be her.

Why do you think reading is important, especially while young?

Reading shapes who you are as a person. I believe this strongly. By reading, you open yourself to other possibilities. It’s important not only to read widely, but to read books about people whose situations are different from your own. One of the books that stuck with me strongly is John Peel’s The Secret of Dragonhome. I loved this book because the main character was a vegetarian, like me. Unlike the negative attention I was getting for making that choice at fourteen, the book presented it as a perfectly rational lifestyle for the heroine to live. The book, largely about a war between countries and the fear of people who were different, promoted the message that we are all the same at heart. When the main character crosses the border into enemy territory, she doesn’t find differences, she doesn’t find monsters. She finds a people who are the same as she is. This book shaped my outlook about inclusivity and guided me into becoming the person I am.

Who was the biggest influence on your writing?

While I was in high school, around the time I started writing seriously, I had several wonderful people who encouraged me to write. My parents were one, though my mom didn’t like fantasy and my dad didn’t like romance. My English teacher, who founded a writing club in the school with me, also contributed to my love of books and of writing. Last but certainly not least, my best friend from high school was a bookworm just like me and read everything I wrote, though she herself never wrote a book past its prologue. I remember once writing a book and handing it to the boy I liked to read, who also loved books. Support systems are essential, and I had ample encouragement and motivation to continue in those days, which was vital to spurring me on to this path.

What advice do you have to those who have kids interested in writing?

Read, read, and read some more. Find people who also like reading, and get feedback. Write the books that you would love to read. Find a writing club, if you can. Don’t do it alone, and don’t give up.

Why did you decide to become a published author?

In high school, the only thing I could think about doing was writing. I had books in me and they had to come out. I’m also a practical person, and upon graduating high school, when I didn’t have the money up front to go back to school, I opted not to put myself in debt. While I worked, saving money, I also wrote. I read books, and got positive responses to my own work. I decided I wanted more people to read it. I want to keep writing, and my dream job was to be able to do only that, writing. So I took the plunge, and here I am.

How do you celebrate the completion of a book or a sale to a publisher?

Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate. Maybe a little wine, too.

What is the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in your career?

My biggest obstacle was a lack of support at home. My late husband didn’t approve -- and went out of his way to actively discourage my writing. For the two years prior to his death, I wrote in secret for fear he would find out, and didn’t end up writing much at all.

What inspired you to write romance?

My best friend from high school was a bookworm like me. Only, instead of the fantasy I read (which she still liked occasionally), she was a romance junkie. She slipped me a Sherrilyn Kenyon book to show me how my love of fantasy could translate to her love of romance. I loved the book, and from that moment forward, started to get my own ideas. I wrote romance, she and my mom read it, and I haven’t looked back since.

What was the first romance book you ever wrote? Was it published?

The first romance I ever wrote was a paranormal romance about a demon who falls in love with a ballet dancer. It was not published, or ever sent out on submission…to be honest, I find the concept a little bit corny. But I am still proud to have written it. That’s how you learn.

How old were you when you read your first romance book?

I was fifteen or sixteen when my best friend slipped me a Sherrilyn Kenyon book. From that moment, I had to read all the rest of the Dark Hunter series. Can you blame me?

What is your writing process?

I am in no way a plotter. I’ve tried it, but I prefer to write the first draft of a book as though I’m reading it for the first time. Once the book is all the way down on the page, I use it to form an outline and discover if there are any holes I need to fill in, or unnecessary scenes that need to be taken out. Then come revisions, revisions, revisions, some feedback from my cherished critique partner, and more revisions before I send it to my editor.

How long does it take you to finish a book?

I like to finish the first draft of a book in a month. Sometimes I write faster, sometimes books need time to sit and ferment. Editing takes me another month, if not more, before the book is ready to be seen by someone aside from myself.

How do you find the time to write?

I don’t find time. I make the time. Days can get incredibly busy, especially if working a day job. I take a few moments for myself in the morning before my day begins, in order to write. On days I have “off,” I usually devote to writing as well.

What is the hardest part of writing?

The hardest part of writing, I consider to be maintaining the discipline to finish a book. I have so many new ideas bouncing through my head at any given time that I’m always tempted to stop what I’m doing and start something new. It’s partly why I try to write so fast, so I won’t set aside a project until I reach “The End”.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is a funny thing. I commonly get ideas while sleeping or doing yoga, something that quiets the mind and lets me think. I also get ideas from things I see in real life, or even by reading over old stories. The book I’m currently working on started out as a half-finished book from 2010…until I decided it would work much better this way. Now it has new characters, a new setting, and a new plot line…so it really isn’t anything like the old version at all.

Do you write from experience?

I write wherever the characters take me. Sometimes that is from a place I’ve experienced. Sometimes I need to research to know exactly what would happen. That’s the beauty of books: anything can happen. 

Do you have any advice for a budding author?

Writing for publication takes persistence. You have to keep going when things don’t seem to be going your way, whether the rejection letters are piling up or you have poor sales numbers or you read a bad review. You have to keep going because otherwise, you fail. This game is all about persistence and sticking with it.

What’s next for you?

One thing you’ll notice if you read my books is that I like to write in a wide range of subgenres. I follow where the characters lead. I recently finished a historical romance with a spunky protagonist and I’m working on a romantic suspense at the time of writing this. The best way to know what I have next on the radar is to check my website,, or follow me on Twitter @LBelowtheauthor.

1 comment:

L. K. Below/Lindsay Below said...

Thanks so much for having me, Karen!