Today, I had the pleasure of talking with writer Lynn Vroman whose forthcoming book Into the Hollow will be out later this year. So, Lynn, tell everyone who doesn’t know you a little about yourself and what you’re working on!
Let’s see… Well, I live in the Pocono Mountains with my husband and four awesome kids. Our house is in the woods, where it’s quiet and we get a lot of deer, bear, and turkey roaming our yard. It’s pretty cool. I write mostly young adult. As far as genre, my present focus is realistic contemporary, but I’ve written fantasy too. My forthcoming book will be out later this year with the amazing Owl Hollow Press, and it’s my heart book. Here’s a blurb:
The hollow was the perfect place to hide.
Or so Free’s dad thought. His plan: flee California with Free’s five-year-old brother illegally in tow, hide out in the mountains of West Virginia, make fast cash during ginseng season, then escape to a nicer place where the law can’t find them. Free isn’t thrilled about living in a holler alongside drug dealers and thieves, but she’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her family safe. Unfortunately, with their father disappearing into the woods with increasing frequency, Free and her brother exist largely alone. Until their neighbor Cole appears with lots of questions.
Cole’s spent his entire life in the holler—and his entire life working out a way to leave his druggie mother and incarcerated brother. As the editor of the school newspaper, he’s an expert at getting to the bottom of a story, and he’s determined to crack Free—who seems un-crack-able.
When the family she was desperate to protect is ripped apart, Free turns to Cole for help, the only person willing. But while her plan escalates, Free can’t deny the pull she feels toward the boy with too many questions—and who holds just as many secrets. As they become closer, she finds that Cole might need her help as much as she needs his.
Sounds intense! Will be adding it to the to-read pile. With the project nearing the final stages, can you give us a brief overview of your writing process?
Oh man, I wish I had a cool story to give that made me sound interesting, but nope. Basically, once I start drafting, I treat it like a job. I give myself a word count goal to hit every day, and I don’t stop until I reach that goal. It’s not fancy, I know, but it’s what works for me. Now, revision is another story. When I’m in editing mode, I’ll start working as soon as I wake up until I go to bed. I usually have to set alarms to get the kids from the bus stop, make dinner, go to work, etc. This is the time when my family has to remind me to brush my teeth, among other things. Gross, I know. But I’m a woman on a mission!
And you want that mission accomplished! So, going back to the beginning then, how much or what do you need to know about a project before you start writing it?
I need to know all the things. 😉 Seriously, though, my focus at the moment is realistic fiction for young adults, and most of what I write comes from personal experience or experiences of those I’m close to. HOWEVER! When I start a new project, I do research on where I set a book, which includes the culture and geography. Also, I do a lot of research on topics I’m writing about, making sure to supplement my personal knowledge and experience with facts. I’ve interviewed professionals, too, to make sure I’m as accurate as possible. In my office, I usually have a bunch of messy, handwritten notes tacked on the wall while I draft. It’s not a very organized way to do things.
But if it works for you that’s all that matters, and clearly it does. Is there something that you’ve learned thus far in your writing career that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
How to social media. I’m still not great at it, but social media is so important in the age we’re in to get the word out about your work. I’m comfortable being the wallflower, in the real world and the digital world. I know it sounds naïve—really, I do—but when I first started out I thought the hardest part was writing/revising the book. Nah. For me it’s the dreaded self-promotion that must be done to get your work noticed.
I’m right along side you with social media, it is by far from my favorite thing. But you’re right, it’s something that needs to be done in order to be successful. Aside from the social media aspect, what has been the most challenging part about writing for you? Is there a piece that was particularly difficult to get through either due to the subject matter or just seemingly endless revisions?
Funny you should ask this since I’m on the last read-through for a project I’ve been working on for almost two years. Getting the story right is such a huge challenge! It’s never fun when you’re told an entire story needs to be rewritten, and it’s even less fun when you realize they’re absolutely right. It’s so daunting when you love a story so much but know something is clearly missing. It takes a lot out you emotionally until you figure it out. It did for me, at least. So many times I wanted to shelve it—or print it out just to watch it burn in the firepit in the back yard.
I promise I’m not playing with a lighter right now. . . Other than lighting things a-blaze, do you have a tradition for when you finish a project or have a piece accepted for publication? How do you celebrate?
Red wine. Lots and lots of red wine. 😉 But isn’t it such a weird happy/sad feeling when you finally finish a project? Happy it’s done but miss the characters?
I get that! I’ve put off finishing things, and not just writing projects but books, and television shows because I don’t want to say goodbye! So, if you had to choose between plot, dialogue, and pacing, what makes or break a piece for you? If a work has amazing dialogue can you overlook a poorly constructed plot?
This is a great question! Okay, so, I’m an editorial intern for a mid-sized publishing house, and after working with this amazing house, I’ve learned a few things. I used to say the most important thing to me was character, and it still is to some extent. I mean, who wants to follow dull characters for 300 pages? What I’ve seen in the last six months is that a writer can have the most complex characters, but if the plot falls apart, the characters aren’t enough to save the book. Here’s the thing, you don’t need to have a highly commercial plot for me to love a book—I adore those quiet plots that hit you right in the heart—but your plot has to come together organically and smoothly. What hooks me are a great voice and clean writing, which includes awesome, natural dialogue. What keeps me reading to the end is a solid plot.
Everything blends together in one cohesive masterpiece. Any projects currently in the works?
Yup! One I’ve worked on for almost two years writing and rewriting… and rewriting (see above). It’s another young adult contemporary that I HOPE has all the major kinks worked out. The subject’s a little heavy, about a girl who deals with the aftermath of her father’s heroin addiction, but I’m finally happy with the final draft. I’ll be sending it to my agent soon, so cross your fingers for me!
Best of luck with it. I’m sure it will find a home. Okay, so rapid fire time. Try to answer these without thinking. First thing that comes to mind.
Definitely coffee. Well, thanks for hanging for a bit. Best of luck with publication and your future projects! Leave us with some places people can get in touch?
You can find me all over the place!
Email: lynn.vroman1 (at) gmail (dot) com
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