L E FITZPATRICK
Hi LE, can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?
I’m a thriller writer with a twist. I’ve got a dark imagination and love sci-fi and fantasy, so I like to cross genre a little and play with concepts. The Reacher series I’m working on at the moment is a blend of crime thriller/dystopian sci-fi.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
Very unhelpfully for my publishers, I write cross genre books. Basically I write what I want to read, and that tends to be dark, fast paced stories, with a sci-fi twist.
What was one of the most surprising things you
learned in creating your books?
The most surprising thing I’ve found is how dark my writing tends to go. I don’t think I will ever be able to write an inspirational, uplifting tale.
What is the first book that made you cry?
The first and only book that ever made me cry was Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell. I was going through a classic reading phase and couldn’t put the book down… even at 2am when I was sobbing through the end. I won’t spoil it to tell you why.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
There are lots of traps and pitfalls for aspiring writers, but probably the one that gets us all is receiving feedback on our work. Whether that comes privately or publicly, it’s a tough pill to swallow and often can put a writer off for life. The trouble is you can’t avoid the feedback, so you just have to learn to deal with it.
What has your experience been like as a indie author? Bruises, highlights, lessons.
I’ve been incredibly lucky as an indie author. I worked hard – don’t get me wrong – and it’s not an easy process. There were some times when I wanted to quit, or felt like a failure, but eventually I achieved all the goals I set myself. I think, looking back, one of the main reasons for this was the people I met and befriended on the way. I’ve been part of several writing communities that support each other and run projects together, through these people I’ve been connected with publishers, editors, all sorts. It’s been a very positive experience because I’ve always tried to surround myself with positive people.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Good question. I think it depends on the writer. You should believe that you can achieve anything you set your heart on. But never believe you’re entitled to it. And never, ever, ever, think your work can’t get any better.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Once upon a time I used to say it was time, but actually I find I work better when I have less time to write.
Probably the thing that stops me writing is when I’ve got to binge watch a TV series.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I have written a few things that don’t tie in with me as an author under a pseudonym. But for my Reacher series, I am very proud to see my name plastered all over the cover.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything,
what would it be?
It will be worth it. All the hard work, the time, the self-doubt. Eventually it will be worth it, so don’t lose heart and
never give up.
If you could spend the day with a character from one of your books who would it be and what would you?
This is an easy one. I’d spend the day with Roxy.
He’s a singer, gambler, thief and general mischief maker. I’m sure we’d get up to no good.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Editing. If I had only one payment I could make it would always be to get my books properly edited. This has become easier since signing with a publisher, but it’s a service that often gets overlooked and it really is essential.
How do you balance making demands on the reader
with taking care of the reader?
For me, like I said above, I write what I want to read, so whenever I’m creating a book, or even a storyline, I’m always thinking about how to trick and manipulate the reader as well as how to tantalise them and give them what they want.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have one finished (yesterday) novel that needs to go off to the publishers soon. This is the third book of the Reacher series. When I write the series I also write background scenes to work out what happened “off camera.” I’ve published a few of these as short free stories, so I’ve got a few more of these to develop too. And then I’ve got my Dark Waters series, which is currently published, but which I’m hoping to revise this year, as it’s never seen an editor and I can’t preach to you about editing without getting that done.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
When I was a kid I wrote lots and lots of books which won’t be published. But nowadays I don’t tend to write without publishing in mind. For me it’s as much about creating something for an audience as it is creating a story.
What’s the best way to market your books?
There are lots of ways to market your books. Firstly, I’d say the easiest and cheapest is to approach bloggers and reviewers and get your book as many reviews and into as many places as possible. But I’ve had my best successes – including getting into the Amazon Best Seller list – using paid promotions like Bookbub. These sites can be expensive but very often the sales equal the cost of the service and the rise in the ranking is a huge help to surge the book forward.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters
from the opposite sex?
Most of my characters are men. I don’t consciously write them differently from how I write women. I don’t really think we are very different. Actually I’d like to think that the characters could easily swap genders without it effecting the plot.
What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
Mostly I write about adults and always have… even as a kid (which was a wacky idea of what I thought adults were like).
How do you select the names of your characters?
They come to me. Charlie Smith, the lead in the Reacher series, was originally going to be called Matthew Smith (the Smith is tied into the plot) but the first name was entirely open. Matthew wouldn’t work and I have no idea why. Perhaps I don’t select the names at all, I might just uncover them.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal
with bad or good ones?
I read my good reviews when I need an ego grooming now and again. Actually I find reviews quite useful, especially writing a series, to see what things are working and what aren’t. A constructive bad review is one of the best resources for any writer. An unconstructive bad review isn’t important.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only
a few people will find?
Yes, but I can’t tell you what they are. What I can say is there is an end game to my series that I’ve had planned from the start and when I write I put clues inside to hint at future plots. There are a few big reveals coming in book 4 and a lot of small seemingly unimportant scenes throughout the first three books that tell a much bigger story.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The hardest scene I’ve had to write was the last chapter of book 3. Charlie finally finds out where his daughter it, basically
what we’ve been building towards, and the tone, dialogue, setting had to be just right. It took so many rewrites I can’t even remember the original plan. Now it’s right. And hopefully the readers will like it.
Do you Google yourself?
Not really. Too many other things to google – like poisons, weaponry, decay rates.
What is your favorite childhood book?
This will say a lot about me as a kid. My favourite book was Pride and Prejudice. It still is one of my favourite books. I could read it every day and I was obsessed with Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
I’m so lucky to have a wonderful partner and son who actively support my writing career. They put up with an awful lot, as I spend every available hour typing and reading and when I can’t get quite snippy.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I wish I had been more confident. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I started to feel comfortable with other people reading my work and it’s such a shame because as soon as did that I gained so much more as a writer.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
On a good day it could take about six months. But book 3 has taken nearly two years. I’ve learned that books take as long as they take and you can’t rush them.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Absolutely. But often it’s a sign that there is something else wrong and you need to take a break and relax before hitting the keyboard again.