Our author spotlight features Lily Byrne.
1. How long have you been writing? And what genre?
I’ve been writing as long as I remember, even as a child I wrote stories about school, or pets.
I continued to write, the stories becoming more about my life as I grew up and I started writing romance stories.
As an adult I have written contemporary drama, and historical romance… so far. I don’t know what other genres might crop up that I’d want to write about in the future!
2. What inspired you to become a writer?
I have no idea. I have just always liked writing stories, I seem to have been born that way. I can’t imagine not writing, I’d die of boredom.
3. What is the title of your latest work?
The last book I had published was Ragnar the Just, about the Danes and the English in tenth century Britain. It’s the third in a series set in that era, each book is about someone who doesn’t fit into that society.
The first book, Ragnar the Murderer, is about a half breed Dane, i.e. Ragnar, who isn’t seen as a ‘proper’ Viking due to one of his parents being Oriental. He falls in love with an English girl and is then accused of murder…
The second, Ragnar and the Slave Girls, is about various misfits, generally slaves, who get caught up with a very dangerous person and end up doing terrible things in the name of freedom. Apart from one slave, who takes a different route…
And the most recent book, Ragnar the Just, is about the loving relationship between two of the Danish men, which was a terrible crime in those days. Due to the reaction of the townsfolk, a murder is committed, but who and why?
4. How did you come up with your characters?
Generally they come out of my head, but sometimes friends influence me. Before I wrote Ragnar the Murderer, I wrote some Victorian romances, and then was looking for a change. I have two friends—both authors—Richard R. Jones (or Reggie to his friends) and Ryan Spier, who are both tall, red haired, like heavy metal and drinking themselves silly. It’s funny because they’ve never even met each other! But they seemed rather Viking-esque to me, so a story about Ragnar, the Viking, was born…
5. What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Ragnar the Just was difficult because I challenged myself to write a gay romance to see if I could. I love my characters, and they often tell me things about themselves I never realised. I never intended the hero of the book, Kjartan, to be gay, but he just is. So I wrote in a boyfriend for him, and explored the Danish culture’s attitude to homosexuality—they were notoriously homophobic and intolerant so it was very interesting.
6. Why did you choose to write in this particular genre?
My first book, Descending and Surfacing, just came out of my life at the time—what would really happen if a teacher had a relationship with a student? I used to work as a teaching assistant and there were always rumours about teachers and students, whether true or not. So I explored what might happen if one of these rumours was true—no hearts and flowers endings there!
The historical romance was just a bit of fun at first, I love researching historical periods. But then my publisher took a liking to Ragnar and said ‘more books in the series please’, so off I went.
7. What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Getting time to write! I feel like I’m always ‘on call’ to daughter/ husband/ mother so have to grab writing time when I can. Also, getting your beloved book, which you’ve worked so hard over, scorned by reviewers is hard, but I have toughened up to that quite a lot.
8. How do you balance writing and family?
I write during the day when my daughter is at school and my husband at work, when I’m not editing or proofreading other people’s work, for money. If inspiration strikes at an inconvenient time, I write ideas down on paper, my mobile phone memo app, or speak them into my Dictaphone.
9 What have been your three main struggles?
Lack of money, looking after a sick daughter, not having local author friends to bounce ideas off—they are all online.
10. How can readers get in touch with you?
Twitter @lilybyrnewrites; my blog http://lilybyrne.wordpress.com/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Books-by-Lily-Byrne/
11. What would tell other aspiring authors?
Keep going. Don’t let anyone put you off. Read as much ‘how to write’ advice and other novels in your genre as you can. Try out a few genres until you find out the one you’re best at writing. Learn how to edit your own work but then invest in a good editor to help you polish it to perfection.
12. Any last words, and upcoming projects.
You’ll have to wait and see for my upcoming projects!!