Please join us in welcoming author Wesley Rivers to TNA today, to share a little bit about herself and her latest novel, Letters to Laura. We’re so pleased to have Wesley here with us today, and I hope you enjoy getting to know a bit more about her and her work.
Q: What made you want to start writing?
A: Everyone has a need to be heard. Writing is my way of exploring the vastness of my own voice, completely oblivious to whether I’m the only one in this exploration and at the same time, displaying that voice loudly in the ears of all that will take a listen.
Q: What things have you read that have especially helped your writing?
A: I have always been highly influenced by the works of powerhouses like Edgar Allen Poe (anything by him really), C.S. Lewis (‘Til We Have Faces and The Screwtape Letters), Watership Down by Richard Adams, but I would actually say that I am more inspired and motivated and influenced to write by visual stories. Certain TV shows, a lot of anime, even certain movies and songs inspire me. I get story ideas from lots of media and I find that these story ideas tend to come to me in a similar manner as one might get a script idea. I wouldn’t say I’m a writer first. I would say I’m a storyteller who dabbles in writing.
Q: What’s the hardest thing about writing for you?
A: Thinking I’m any good. haha I love to write, yet I find myself doing it less than anything else for a good 6 months out of the year. The other 6 months, I send all the excuse-coated insecurities that kept me from writing the first 6 months away and then I write two full length books/novels. I’d like to take credit for some kind of mind-shattering display of discipline, but truth is I’m always evolving.
Q: What do you wish you knew before you started?
A: How damn long it was going to take LOL!
Q: Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
A: How do you balance telling your friend about the time you thought you saw a ghost and recounting from memory the instructions on how to build a bottle rocket to your niece? It’s all just different aspects of life. That’s what genres in books are (or in art or music for that matter). They’re just different aspects of chosen lives, both realistic and fantastical.
Q: Where did your love of reading & writing come from?
A: My love of storytelling has always been something very innate. As for reading, I had to cultivate a love for reading because I struggled with dyslexia. I had to train my brain with different memory techniques; I found that memorization helped me get better and better at reading.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Well I was a songwriter for a while, so I have been writing music since I was a little girl. I worked in Nashville a little. But ultimately I’d had a love of writing stories when I was even younger than that (won some state competitions and such). So, after my love affair with music started to cool down, I returned to writing stories and realized that was at the heart of why I even wrote songs. A lot of my songs were storyteller-like songs. I still write music, but my number one squeeze right now is writing novels.
Q: What does your “writing cave” look like?
A: I do not have a cave; who has a cave? When did I miss this? lol
Q: Do you use music as inspiration? Can you tell us about what type of music inspires you?
A: Yes! I am heavily inspired and influenced by music when it comes to my writing. I create playlists for my characters (what kind of songs would they listen to, what songs define their personality, etc.). I create playlists for the story in general, almost like a soundtrack for a movie. And the genres, much like my own writing, range from K-pop to jazz, to rap, to rock and roll, to indie, to punk…to Josh Groben and Aurora (who get their own categories because they are my favorites), and so on and so on.
Q: Must have beverage and snack while writing?
A: No snacks, but the beverage depends on what stage the writing is at. From the beginning to about 80% of the book, it’s one of my favorite teas in a fancy teacup that makes me feel pretty and elegant in some strange archaic way. Then, from 80% to completion, that tea gets replaced by a strange mixture of espresso and alcohol. 😉
Q: What brought you to write Letters to Laura?
A: My own story. The first time I ever fell in love (and it really counted). I had dedicated so much of myself to seeking outward validation that this one relationship in particular held a combustible emotional gunpowder of sorts. When everything exploded, it propelled me to make a decision about how I wanted to treat me for the rest of this life. From those hard lessons came Letters to Laura.
Q: How long did it take you to write the book?
A: I wrote this book over the course of a few months. The editing was a different story of course, but the actual story flowed pretty easily.
Q: What are you trying to achieve with this book?
A: World Peace. jk lol But in honesty, I’m achieving the natural human state of story. Everyone has stories, shares stories, discovers stories. I’m just sharing one of mine. As Richard Wright said in American Hunger (1977),”I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.”
Q: What got left out in the final draft?
A: Everything unnecessary. Distractions that might deter the reader from connecting or relating to the messages the letter writer was feeling.
Q: Where there alternate endings you considered? If so, what were they??
A: No. It ends how it should — by giving prelude to a new beginning — because that’s the way all stories end really.
Q: What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
A: I have another novel that is in the third or fourth stage of editing that I will be attempting to have published by August, 2016, called We Are Enough. I like to write a few different stories at the same time. I know a lot of writers think that’s incorrect, but I find it helps me to be more productive. That way, when I reach a place in a certain book that I’m working on where I begin to stagnate, I can check out of that story hotel and check into the other story hotel; get a breather from the other story line for a few chapters. Traditionally, I realize this method is not popular, and it can get out of hand if I try writing more than three at once, but I find that it works better for me. So I’m writing a few different stories right now.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A: Being honest. Staying honest as well. When it comes to topics like the ones you find in Letters to Laura, being honest with yourself is the hardest part.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
A: Just theorizing and asking questions and learning. I tend to add elements of self-discovery and inner growth in my books; every story has a message but I tend to include elements that are pretty strong teachers because I believe all writing should teach us something.
Q: What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?
A: One of the genres Letters to Laura fits in is Romance because it is a story about a romantic relationship between two women. This subject genre tends to see a lot of fantasy, which can be great. I think I however, enjoy writing romances with very realistic human perspective and I try to write them from the healthiest standpoints possible. Not all Romance genre books are smut. For example, Letters to Laura. With that being said, I’m known to treat myself to a little smut now and again 😉
Q: What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
A: Being an epistolary. And the person writing the letters is never named. She is only given little identifying labels. At first they are things she thought of herself as from Laura’s perspective. As the story progresses though, you see what she begins to see of herself. I thought this was a very important tool for the reader to be able to dig deeper and relate to the story on a personal level.
Q: What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.
A: I actually wish that no one would ask me questions about my book…just give me concise compliments and move along ROFL No, no. I’m just kidding. Truth is, I get a tad insecure and begin to ramble when answering questions about my writing…well about any question really. But only 6 months out of the year; I am a Gemini after all! 🙂
About the Book
Title: Letters to Laura
Author: Wesley Rivers
Length: 114 Pages (Kindle)
Category: Lesbian Fiction
Blurb: “Coming out of the closet, losing your virginity, and grieving your ‘first love’ are not supposed to all happen in the same year, but for me they did… and I am unbelievably grateful.” – A woman whose courage may help you heal
Letters to Laura is the story of one woman’s journey from heartbreak to healing. Told through a series of letters, this unique epistolary offers insight into coming out of the closet, losing your virginity, and learning how to genuinely grieve in the face of loss. People don’t have to die to leave us and when two women—madly in love—break apart, the leaving is all too real. In this inspiringly raw work, grief shows its true nature: that of a healer. How much pain have you shoved down into the depths of your broken heart? Perhaps the light needed for your darkness lies between the lines of one brave woman’s willingness to be exposed.
About the Author
Wesley Rivers is a no–nonsense individual with a strong disgust for fruitless endeavors. However if you point out how whimsical she can be, she will simply smile and reply: “but with a purpose.” Wesley never avoids being brash when it’s needed, determined to see herself through her own heart rather than anyone else’s. She finds staring into one’s own darkness to be very therapeutic and so shies away from stories, movies, or entertainment that hinges too heavily on formulas, trope–ing, or “feel good” material.
Wesley is enthralled with Asian pop culture, expressing her adoration for anime, K–pop and historical Asian folklore on a daily basis. Much of her inspiration comes from the various art forms of these cultures. She adores foxes and often times plays with the idea that she is indeed the reincarnation of a Kitsune (Japanese nine-tailed fox Yokai). Being part of the community herself, Wesley has strong ties to LGBT advocacy and social activism. She will also be the first to admit that she finds two men engaging in sexual acts to be too stunning for words, never hiding that she hopes to come back in the next life as a gay man “…in a better world of course.”
She is a dedicated minimalist, quoted saying… “The hoarding of things is death to all the experience life can offer.” Wesley Rivers adores the refinement of tea; she believes there to be more culture in a bag of tea leaves than in the entire world. Wesley sees no difference between children with fur and children without, having five fur–babies: two cats and three dogs. She believes all life matters and the idea that some matter more is primarily what’s wrong with the world.