Indie Author Interview With Luna Saint Claire

Friday, 5 February 2016

Next up to be interviewed is indie author Luna Saint Claire. Read on as she talks about why she writes and her latest book The Sleeping Serpent which is available on the amazon kindle store now.

Why do you write?

I wrote a bit of tortured poetry in high school but since then I have been a painter, potter, dancer, and costume designer. The Sleeping Serpent is my first novel. I found writing to be the most creative expression of my lifetime. Unusual circumstances led me to write this book and the Zen disposition captivated me. 

When did you decide to become a writer?

I was working in Hollywood as a costume designer. My husband is a philosophy professor. I never wrote tortured poetry any longer because I couldn’t have been happier. I can see now how everything happens for a reason. A new yoga studio opened, and the teacher was a young handsome charismatic Argentine. It was pretty obvious he was charming all the girls. I was middle aged, and I felt my time had come and gone…and this yoga teacher was flirting with me and made me feel like anything was possible. I became infatuated and entangled in his life. I never became a romantic partner, but unwittingly I compelled, and had become part of his cult. 

When I escaped his seduction, the words flew out of my finger-tips and onto the screen—tortured and painfully revealing like my high school poetry. After three years of writing and editing, I published The Sleeping Serpent -- a woman’s struggle to break an obsessive bond with her yoga master. 

What genre are your books?

The Sleeping Serpent is my debut novel and it is a dark erotic psychological fiction. 

What draws you to this genre?

I wasn’t sure I would be good at writing erotica. I had read several of the popular series but I found the story lines shallow and almost comical. I decided to write erotic scenes into the story for two reasons. Female readers consume erotic romance voraciously and because Nico, the protagonist driving the plot, is a charismatic sociopath who compels women using his mesmerizing sexuality, I felt erotica worked for the story. The Sleeping Serpent is not a “happily-ever-after” romance, but it is about unconditional love. I am intrigued by combining sex and psychology—by what compels us and drives us to make the decisions we do. 

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

It was therapy for me. I suffered from anxiety. A friend suggested I write the book, I decided to give it a try. There were many other characters whose experiences I wanted to reveal, therefore I wrote in the third person point of view, not in first person, as a memoir.

Do you write full-time or part-time? How is your day structured?

I write full time. For this book, I remained sequestered in my darkened room in front of a desk top computer with my headphones on for at least eight hours a day, every day. I wrote continuously in a stream of consciousness. I listened to Liquid Mind on Pandora non-stop. In one year I had completed a trilogy.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I believe I have developed enormously. I worked with an editor, Virginia Bowen. She was a great coach. She didn’t get stuck in the weeds. She told me to just keep doing was I doing, and called it ‘the brain dump’ and I would hand in my work to her daily. She often fixed the errors I had made in point of view, and grammar, but early on she did not correct the content. Later, I learned it was because she didn’t want to thwart my creative process. She said I was unusual because I let it all flow very naturally. As I worked I continuously improved. I am fortunate her style allowed me to be expressive to the story and we worked on context and structure much later.

What have you written?

The Sleeping Serpent is my first novel. I have just started a prequel that will explore the main character’s development. 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?

For The Sleeping Serpent, I made an excel spread sheet as an outline and timeline. It was an enormous help. I also created a bible of all the characters in Pinterest called The Sleeping Serpent. That was fun to collect their fashion style, music preferences, car they drive and interests. But I would often write scenes and let the inspiration carry me forward. At the end I reorganized it, and edited for flow and continuity.

How do you market your books?

Right now, it is all social media. I use Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. I use them all individually, and tailor each post to that audience. I also belong to dozens of Facebook Groups for book promotion, and blogs. I get reviews, book blitzes, and blog tours, as well as run Giveaways and other promotional events on Facebook. 

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?

No, but I would like to know one that is guaranteed ;) 

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future?

I am not sure yet. I was apprehensive about putting all my eggs into the Amazon basket, so I decided to use Book Baby to do file conversion and distribute to the other retailers besides Amazon. But I don’t sell many books on B&N and iBooks (Apple). I will see what the politics and advantages of Kindle Select and the Kindle Unlimited platform are in the future. If that is the only way readers are remaining engaged, then I will unplug from the others. Unlimited has continually reduced the amount they pay authors. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I am so new to this that I am not sure what advice would be meaningful. But maybe the best thing to suggest is to let the book flow out of you without trying too hard. Don’t over think and spend time trying to make a beautiful sentence or worry about grammar. That can always be done later. Don’t get too attached to my words or characters. When the time came for me to cut that book down from a trilogy to a stand-alone, I was able to just drag entire scenes into a ‘out-take’ box. This ability may have come from my years in the film business and it was certainly a blessing. 

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she/he do that is so special?

The main character does not have to be the protagonist. Luna is the main character, and it is her journey we are on. Nico, the protagonist drives the story forward. Without him, Luna would not be on this journey. 

There is a thrill that comes with a relationship with a narcissist. When Luna Saint Claire meets Nico Romero, a charismatic yoga guru, his attentions awaken her passions and desires. Dangerous, but not in a way that scares her, he makes her feel as if anything is possible. The Sleeping Serpent is about a woman’s obsession with a spellbinding guru and the struggle to reclaim her life. Luna’s desires clouded her higher self. Luna always had what she thought she lost and needed. The wizard behind the curtain, was an imposter. The Sleeping Serpent is a painfully beautiful exposition of unconditional love that makes us question what we truly want.

Where do your ideas come from?

The Sleeping Serpent is fiction loosely influenced by my relationship with a narcissistic yoga guru. None of the people, including Nico and Luna, are real. I wanted to give the illusion The Sleeping Serpent is autobiographical, and so the author and character have the same name. But, Luna’s experiences are very different than my own, therefore on the cover, it reads ‘a novel’. I would say that many, if not most writers take bits and pieces of their lives and things they have witnessed or heard or even read, and make them their own. 

What is the hardest thing about writing?

For most authors I believe it is mustering the confidence to do it. And, from what I have read it seems that many writers have blocks. For others it is sitting down and doing it. For me, just now, it is splitting my time between marketing and writing another book. I find switching hats very jarring and not productive to either endeavor. 

What was the hardest thing about writing your book?

For me, it was letting it go. I wanted it to be good. I had no trouble writing it. I just wasn’t confident that it was ready to be released. There are many critically acclaimed, prize winning authors that take years longer than I did to release their work. But, most genre authors write a book every 6 months! 

Which writers inspire you?

Jhumpa Lahiri for her beautiful unpretentious sentences about ordinary people’s lives in which every simple scene is like a sacred prayer. Donna Tart for amazing characters, dialog, and delivering a revelation at the end. I must have read the end of The Goldfinch twenty times. Cormac McCarthy’s coming of age Border Trilogy for raw language and description that exemplifies the brutality and honesty of life. Ian McEwan for making us look at ourselves deeply and truly. Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa for the most beautifully crafted story and breathtaking sentences. I can go on….

What do you do to get book reviews?

I have been fortunate because I reached out in many groups to people that weren’t close friends, but friends of friends, and acquaintances who I knew were readers and whose reviews would be honest and well crafted. A big mistake is to assume your friends are your fans. Most of my friends don’t read. Their lives are overwhelming and they don’t make the time. I have also received reviews from people I meet in Facebook Groups that are for authors and readers. I also sold a few books and got reviews from the abuse groups on Facebook and followers on Instagram. I also asked a few therapists, survivors of abuse, and recovered addicts to be ARC (advanced reader copy) readers to get their feedback on Nico’s personality disorder, as well as codependency and addiction. 

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

I’m glad that I have twenty on Amazon, several on Goodreads. I need more, so I am always asking on the book promotion and review blogs. 

What is the current book you are promoting? 

The Sleeping Serpent by Luna Saint Claire.

You mentioned you’re writing a new story. How about a teaser?

Hmmm. This is the opening…not a spoiler alert!

“Luna listened quietly to the muffled voices coming from the kitchen. Her twin bed was positioned along the wall separating her room from the kitchen, and she pressed her ear against it straining to hear her father. The cold February moonlight flooded across the bare grey linoleum floor of her small bedroom from the two windows that overlooked the abandoned house next door. She hears only a few words, but they are enough to confirm what she suspected, her mother is dead.” 

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?

I love Luna for her compassion and empathy, and for how hard she struggles against her fears. 

Who is your least favorite character and why? 

Nico is a gifted healer, but like Anakin Skywalker he goes to the dark side for the force! 

If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast? 

Kit Harrington as Nico! For Luna I might choose Angelina Jolie. She is a striking beauty and looks the right age; as Luna is twenty years older than Nico. She is also part Iroquois, which is Luna’s tribal affiliation. 

What is your next project? 

I am working on a prequel that explores Luna’s history. I would like to show how our decisions are shaped by our childhood experiences, inner wounds, and paradigms? 

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

Claire in Outlander! She is smart and brave and having an incredible time traveling from the past to the future all around the world. And I’m hot for Jamie!

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? 

I wish this were a dinner party… Maybe Isak Dinesen for the life she led in Africa. And, Toni Morrison would be fascinating. She has so much wisdom, intelligence, spirituality, and is a brilliant writer. I picked an author since I could learn a lot if we had some time together. 

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?

I would not abolish religion. I would make it so that it never existed. Instead. I would replace it with the ancient spiritual teachings that are the underlying core principles of faith and humanity. 

How do you write your books? 

I think about a scene. Not necessarily in the order of the story. I write the scene without editing it. I begin another scene. The next day, I go back and I read and tweak the previous scene. I do this several times over a few days before filing it. 

Who inspires your writing? 

Other authors like Jhumpa Lahiri, Isak Dinesen, Donna Tart, Diana Gabaldon, Ian McEwan, Toni Morrison. There are so many…

Where do you come up with your stories? 

From my life, other people’s lives, and the things that perplex me about relationships. The motivation to write The Sleeping Serpent was easy. I was compelled to write that story. We will see how easy the next one is ;)

Who is your favorite author? 

I like a great many authors and all for different reasons. I don’t always read for story, I often read as if I’m listening to music. So I like Cormac McCarthy, Isak Dinesen, Donna Tart, and Ian McEwan. 

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?

That’s it’s during the process of writing from which I derive the most joy, not the outcome. 

What is one thing you hate about being a writer?

That when it’s over you have to do the marketing which leaves little time for write the next book.

Tell us something unique about you.

I was adopted as an infant and I am Native American.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am struggling now because I feel a duty to market the book. In truth, I don’t want to do it at all. But I am learning a lot, and the bloggers are so helpful, and great people!! They really are doing a wonderful service in this new age of self-publishing. Bless them!! 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Are you an author? Would you like to have your interview posted on my blog? If so join me on twitter here and send me a message letting me know your interest.

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