I had the pleasure this week to interview someone I’ve admired from afar since discovering her blog earlier in the year.
Author of romance and ‘chick-lit’ novels, the next guest of my #Reid2Write series is very open about her own writing process and the lovely task that us indie authors struggle with – carving out a niche and finding our target market.
I’ve learned a lot from her marketing strategies, lessons I adopted to shoot to the top of the Amazon Bestseller List. So without further ado, I’d like to introduce Liz Durano!
Hi Liz. What is your background and how did you get into writing?
I grew up in the Philippines and always loved reading. I’ve been writing since high school and I would write stories for my classmates and one of them got me into so much trouble. It was about a much older woman called Adrienne and a young man named Adrian (yes, I was very creative lol). It was in a play format, and I typed it on legal sheets of paper and distributed them loose-leaf to interested “readers.”
I guess it was so titillating that classmates were reading and passing around the pages during Homeroom and the teacher confiscated a page, read it and had me sent to detention… and counseling. The principal then told me that if I promised to be pulled out of Drama Club and transferred into Poetry Club, she wouldn’t tell my mother. Poetry Club was for nerds but I didn’t want to get into trouble, and so Poetry Club it was, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I majored in Journalism and Broadcasting in college and worked as a radio newscaster for a year but when I moved to the US, I ended up taking nursing courses, and then got myself certified in Massage Therapy. I thought having a private massage practice would allow me to write more but I ended up building my private massage practice and cutting down on writing for almost ten years. That changed in 2012 when I decided to shift it back to my original idea, and here I am.
How would you describe the theme of your books?
I like writing about relationships, and within those relationships, I like exploring identity – who the characters are in relation to their environment, their upbringing, culture, and events. I like starting out with a character who has no idea how strong she really is inside and finding her way to discovering that innate strength.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Making up these worlds and meeting new characters.
What’s the worst thing?
Watching my butt grow bigger from all the writing I’ve been doing. I need to create a bicycle-writing table – oh wait! I think I can buy one!
What does your writing process look like?
I’ve always been visual. When I was much younger, I drew my characters and then wrote about them. These days, I look at pre-made covers by my favorite designers and use those covers (I buy them first, of course). Sometimes it takes time for the characters to come through but they do and from there, it’s just me listening to them tell their stories.
Why do you write?
I always wrote to figure things out in my life that I could not understand. I’m not good with vocalizing myself when I’m emotional because I don’t make sense after awhile, but the moment I have a pen and paper in my hand, or a keyboard, I’m off. That’s when I make sense to myself the most, and mostly through my characters.
Where do you get your ideas?
I’ll never forget listening to Ray Bradbury talk so many years ago. I got to listen and then meet him twice, and always, he said the same thing. It’s like it was so ingrained in him that whether he was in front of an audience or in private company, he was consistent. I remember him saying that he always finds something to write about. All it takes is asking the question, “what if?” And that’s how I write.
I see a picture or read a phrase or hear of an experience from someone else, and I ask myself, “what if she took the detour instead of going straight home?” or “what if a highly successful woman is really broken inside?”
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve read/heard?
It’s the same thing from most every writer I admire and read. Keep writing. As an independent author, I’ve had to force myself to look to the indie writers for inspiration. How do they do it all – write, promote, engage with their readers? And this before they get big enough to hire other people? How did they amass that loyal following? – and the answer is, “Keep writing.”
Which of your books are your favourite? What is your favourite book of all time?
Of my books, my favorite is the current one I’m writing now, In Love With A Young Man. It’s three months away from launch (or that’s what I tell myself) but this is the story where I see myself growing as a writer the most. I’m no longer afraid; I’m using my maiden name and not hiding behind a pseudonym.
On the technical side, it’s tighter in narrative (until my editor gets a hold of it!) and I get to explore my own fears more openly through the main character who’s older than most heroines out there. She’s 40, and it’s not easy to find books featuring older heroines. It’s like they’re invisible, but not in my books.
Asking me to pick one favorite book of all time is cruel! But I’ll pick the first book that inspired me to write, one that a 12-year-old probably shouldn’t have been reading, and that’s Harold Robbins’ The Adventurers. It’s so 70’s and is so written from the male POV but tells a good story. I blame my mother for hiding his books in my bedroom shelf.
What are you working on at the moment?
In Love With A Young Man. It’s the story of transplant surgeon Harlow James, who finds herself successful at forty, but alone. She goes off to Taos, New Mexico and meets Dax Drexel, a master woodworker. He’s handsome, rough around the edges, and way too young.
Liz can be found on: