Interview with L.L. Tremblay – Author of Seven Roses
Peter: LL, your book ‘Seven Roses’ is a beautiful and haunting story of a young girl becoming a woman, with a very special gift of seeing the dead. It is spiritual, loving and dangerous, and really stirs emotions. I would like to congratulate you on writing it and I am delighted that we have the opportunity to conduct this interview. Many thanks for making the time available.
Peter: What was the motivation that drove you to write your first novel ‘Seven Roses’?
L.L.: First, thank you for your kind words and for the opportunity to shine a light on the story of Seven Roses, it means a lot to me. This story has been part of me since the age of seven, and it continued to develop over time. In the book, each rose and butterfly—seven of them—have a tale. There are several intricacies in the story, many of which are based on my own experiences. It took me years to connect the dots between the living and the dead, and to understand the mystery around the number seven. A long time ago, a close friend of mine listened to me narrate the story around a campfire at her cottage. She found it intriguing and fascinating. She inspired me to write it, but it wasn’t until much later that I mustered the courage to do that.
Peter: As this was inspired by real events, that you yourself experienced, what was the most difficult part to write? What was the most important aspect to convey, and which was the most challenging?
L.L.: I’d say recounting the tragic incident that started it all; the emotions are still raw. Describing the ghostly events that followed definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. The ability to see spirits is a gift that can be downright terrifying at times. Also, writing about the callous attack in the forest was extremely challenging. I tried to give readers just enough descriptive details to imagine the scene, without going overboard; I didn’t feel it was necessary. As a child, you can’t possibly process what is happening to you during such a despicable act. While you eventually learn to toss it to the back of your mind, you never forget that moment when monsters robbed you of your innocence. I wrote this part from a place of vulnerability, and much to my surprise it was extremely liberating.
Peter: I have at times of major difficulty, prayed to my dead father and while I have never witnessed an apparition, I have felt an internal strength that has given me confidence and determination. Do you connect the apparitions in your story to any aspect of spirituality and if so, how has this helped in your life? Do you feel that everyone has a guardian angel, even if we cannot see them?
L.L.: When I was a child, I use to think that something was wrong with me. I saw ghosts but I couldn’t openly talk about it. Just the thought of it made people uncomfortable; they didn’t know how to deal with it. I am definitely spiritual and I consider myself fortunate to have the ability to see spirits; I call them my guardian angels. It has helped my life in so many ways, especially in difficult times. I shared examples of that in the book. My belief is that everyone has one of more guardian angels watching over them. They can manifest in various ways, whether you can see them or not. It can be a feeling, a scent, or a thought. Often time people chose to ignore those signs, perhaps because of self-doubts and fears.
Peter: I have to ask about the dark presence that appeared in the novel. How upsetting and frightening is that to experience and how difficult was that to convey in the story? Do you feel benevolent spirits help in overcoming that fear? Do you feel that in having that capability of seeing spirits, you open the figurative door to encounter good and evil?
L.L.: It was undeniably difficult to write. The dark presence is a real entity that terrifies me to the core. When writing about it my fear was that it would come back to haunt me. I’m extremely intuitive and sensitive to the energy of the living and the dead. I’ve become very protective of my own after experiencing the appearance of dark spirits. This can happen when our psychic channels are open to receive. I had to learn how to block the dark ones from entering my space, and to rely on benevolent spirits to protect me. It may sound like an idiosyncratic belief, but it is real to me.
Peter: There is a close friendship throughout the story between Ellen and Vicki. What did you enjoy about developing this relationship and did you ever wonder what would have happened to Ellen, if that friendship had ended?
L.L.: Vicki’s character is based on a mix of three of my friends from childhood, adolescence and adulthood. There is an irrefutable trust and bond between the two. Vicki helps Ellen manoeuvre endless challenges throughout the story; she’s her rock. Without her, I think the story would have taken a whole different turn. Every character in the book was carefully developed. They all play a significant role, good or bad.
Peter: What do you hope readers take away from this book? How would you like it to be remembered?
L.L.: That it is possible to live a normal life amidst the chaos. I hope the story brings people hope and comfort to know there is always someone watching over us, from above.
Peter: Do you use storyboarding or mapping processes to develop your plots and interactions, or do you go with the flow and follow your instinct and gut feeling? Would you, therefore, describe yourself as a plotter, pantser or plantser?
L.L.: Ah! Well… I started as a plotter. I did some research prior to writing my first book, and all seemed to point to the benefit of scripting an outline but, I quickly found it too rigid – it staggered my creative flow. I landed somewhere in between; I became a plantser. I let the story flow and it channelled itself through me. Even the name of the characters popped out of the blue. They literally jumped out of the manuscript and shouted their names. It was an esoteric experience!
Peter: Have you ever experienced writers block, how disruptive is it, and do you have any tips for addressing the problem?
L.L.: I sure did. I think every writer goes through that; it can be frustrating. It’s like your story is locked in a safe, and you lost the combination to open it. When that happens, I just get up, stretch, and pick up a book from my bookshelf and start reading. It puts me back in a creative mode. Often time I just continue to type… even if what I type makes no sense. As Neil Gaiman (one of my favourite authors) said: “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” I love it; it works!
Peter: Do you use software applications or utilities to support your writing activity? For example, Scrivener or Grammarly.
L.L: I tried a few, it does help a bit. I quite enjoyed Master Writer, a creative writing software program. It comes with many reference dictionaries, spell and grammar checking. But in the end, nothing can replace the work of a great editor.
Peter: What are the greatest benefits and restrictions to being a self-published author? Did you enjoy finalising other aspects of the book, for example, the cover design, narration, and the promotion of the book? (By the way, the book cover graphics are brilliant)
L.L.: Thank you for complimenting my book cover. I’m really happy with the final product. It took me a long time to nail it down. I had a vision in mind and I wouldn’t settle for anything else. I found the entire process exciting; especially where creativity was involved. As for publishing, the list of pros and cons of self-publishing is extensive but by far it is the fastest way to get your book to market. Nowadays it’s easy to publish your book with Amazon KDP. There are also many smaller publishing service companies that can take care of the process, without keeping hold of your IP. Though many of us authors dream of having our book published by one of the Big 5 publishers, the process can be long and discouraging. I’ve read so many amazing books by self-published authors, some of which I believe would make great movies, and every time I ask myself why aren’t the Big 5 all over it! Getting a publisher’s attention is a mix of having an amazing story, finding a great agent, or being a successful known author. Personally, I don’t have the patience to wait.
Peter: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
L.L.: Don’t let self-doubt get in your way of accomplishing your dream. If you have a great story, put it to paper. Don’t over think it. Also, get a great editor. And as the saying goes: great writers are also great readers. Read a lot of books, especially in the genre that you want to write, it will give you some ideas, but don’t compromise your own style. You are unique. Go for it!
Peter: How much time do you spend on writing compared to promoting your books?
L.L.: Though writing a book is a big undertaking, it is a small part of the process. With self-publishing made easy, authors are competing for readers time and visibility in an overcrowded market. Marketing and promotion are everything and by far the larger part of the process.
Peter: What authors have you most admired and have had an influence on your writing?
L.L.: In my younger years the first and most favorite book I read was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I developed a great appreciation for the imaginative nonsense of the story. As an adolescent, I plunged into the world of unrealistic romance books; I read a lot of Danielle Steel. In my adulthood, I developed an eclectic taste and expanded my horizon to include all kinds of genre. So long as the author has a flair for storytelling and the plot has enough twists to keep me engaged, I’m sold. Now – more than ever – I tend to buy books from the indie community. In 2020 I bought and read at least 12, and I have not been disappointed.
Peter: What is your favourite book you’ve read over the last 12 months? What one book jumps to your mind, as you think of your top 10 books of all time?
L.L.: Recently I read Catch The Moon, Mary. An original and brilliantly written novel by Wendy Waters. I absolutely loved it. Every word is a stimulus for the mind, and every sentence offers a window into the characters’ delicate and complex world. The author cleverly managed to bring 1st-century historical narrative events into the modern world; remarkable! And the book that comes to mind for my top 10 of all time is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. As I mentioned earlier, it was the first book I read and it stuck with me ever since. There are many other amazing novels sitting on my bookshelves, which I reread over and over again.
Peter: If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 personalities from any period in history who would they be and why?
L.L.: There are many significant figures in history that I’d like to meet, which would take more than one dinner party, for sure. I would definitely want to meet Jesus; I have so many questions for him. Also, Albert Einstein, I’d like to pick his brilliant brain about the theory of relativity. And Nikola Tesla, he had a fascination with numbers, and so do I. “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have the key to the universe,” he said in a statement. I would thoroughly enjoy a conversation with him about those numbers and the mystery of our universe.
Peter: Can you give us any insights into any future books or projects that you’re working on?
L.L.: I’m currently writing a sequel to Seven Roses. I’m excited about it because it will add more depth to Ellen’s story, and expose more struggles between good and evil spirits. I’m also over the moon happy that my book was picked up by a Hollywood movie producer who is currently shopping it to studios. I have to be patient as these things take time, but I am grateful that the producer immediately saw the potential in my book to be adapted for a movie. I still have to pinch myself; that’s not something I expected, but it certainly has been a dream of mine.
Peter: How can readers learn more about you and your work?
Peter: L.L., I appreciate you taking the time for this interview. If there are other snippets of information you wish to provide, please feel free. I would like to congratulate you on this wonderful book and I wish you massive success in the future.
L.L.: Thank you so much, Peter. It’s been a real pleasure!