Interview with Laila Blake
OBVB: Welcome to Offbeat Vagabond, Laila! To get the ball rolling, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
LB: Of course, Diana. Thank you for having me! A most writers, I would imagine, I don’t lead the most exciting life. As Neil Gaiman once so accurately said: “My people, we stay indoors. We have keyboards. We have darkness. It's quiet.” It’s really nice!
I teach English and I translate to pay the bills and I live alone in a tiny one-room apartment in Cologne/Germany with my cat Nookie. I write a lot and I skype a lot with my best friend and writing partner to stay on track. I also read a lot, both books and articles and essays – I’m interested in politics, feminism, equality, human rights and even if that depresses me a lot of the time, I just have to keep soaking it up. And then I go write novels and escape reality for a while. As reward for work done, I then plunge into music and tv-shows that I love and squee about beautiful actors and actresses.
OBVB: When did you catch the writer bug?
LB: At a very young age. I actually don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. During my teens I wanted to be a doctor, too, but that was because I was a voluntary paramedic and read a lot of murder mysteries written by doctors and I always had this idea that I’d be a writing doctor. But then I did an internship in a hospital and realized I was far more suited to the imaginary world of sick people than the reality.I once got a D in primary school because we were supposed to write a short essay about a pet of ours and that just struck as terribly boring and before I knew it, I was writing an adventure story in which I rode on the back of a dolphin finding treasure. Writing was always my foremost form of expression and escapism.
OBVB: What first attracted you to Epic Fantasy?
LB: I would say the same that attracts me to all of speculative fiction. I love world-building and imagining different places, different cultures, different systems as well as different kinds of people, with different abilities and weaknesses. It is a place where you can make the rules and the sceneries, where it all unfolds in your imagination, unhindered by reality.
OBVB: What authors influenced you when growing up? Who is on your nightstand right now?
LB: Growing up in Germany, I very much grew up with German YA literature, foremost among them the immortal Michael Ende (The Neverending Story) and Ottfried Preußler. Both loved fantasy elements in their writing and that is something that fascinated me as a reader for many years – as it still does. I loved Harry Potter from the first time I found the first book in my High School library, long before if found world-wide fame, and as a teenager quickly caught up on Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis and all the others.At some point I moved more towards lit fic, classics and mainstream. And the authors who now have the most influence on me would be Haruki Murakami, Ian McEwan, W. Somerset Maugham, Isabel Allende, Christa Wolf, Nick Hornby, Kasuo Ishiguro, Hanif Kureishi and many others. I like reading international books, delving into different cultures and different people and I find that incredibly rich and inspiring.On my nightstand at the moment – or to be more honest, on my kindle, are a really great manuscript written by a friend of mine and John Green’s Looking for Alaska.
OBVB: By the Light of the Moon just released on April 8th. Can you tell us what it is about?
LB: Apart from what the blurb says, which I won’t bore you and repeat here, By the Light of the Moon is a story about people who find themselves in between places and ancestries. It is about people looking for a place or an identity to call their own, people struggling with their inane feeling of alienation. It is also about love of course, courtly forbidden love as well as family love, about prejudice and depression, self-harm and family. By the Light of the Moon is about a lot of things and I hope there’s something in there that will touch people.
OBVB: What was the most challenging thing you had to face when getting your book published?
LB: That’s a difficult question. Do you that mental effect that when a challenging part is over, it doesn’t feel that bad anymore? So in a way, the most challenging is always the present challenge. Like right now, awaiting its reception with little panic attacks in-between and dreams about failure. But right now is also incredibly wonderful and exciting so it can’t be that bad.I think in the end, I’d go with editing. Editing is challenging because you have to learn to distance yourself from your work and cut things and change things and it hurts and it’s not fun at all. Also I’ve been writing all my life but editing is a different skill set that is more new to me. So I’d go with that. :)
OBVB: How did you celebrate when your book was published?
LB: I called my best friend and started to cry. Then I called my family and similar emotional reactions followed. I didn’t have a big party – I always push that off like I’ll have a big party when it’s actually out. Or I’ll have a big party with my first book-earned money.I wanted to get a tattoo at the release date – but now I’m hopelessly broke so that’s off the table, too. I think I mostly celebrate inside and also, this entire time, I have been terribly scared that somebody made a mistake or that everybody will hate it and actually celebrating feels like jinxing it. You can probably tell that I am not superstitious at all.
OBVB: Who was your favorite character in the book and why?
LB: Well, I feel closest to Moira, of course. I know who she is, and her chapters are the ones that are written the fastest, almost without having to think. I understand her and like her and I also feel empowered by writing her journey into the strong and independent woman she dreams of being.I also harbor this great fascination for Maeve, though. Especially now writing the sequel. She always surprises me and she makes me cry and she’s one of those gems I didn’t expect when I started writing the book.
OBVB: Do you have any muses for any of your characters?
LB: Personality-wise, no. Not directly. Of course a lot impressions of people can end up in writing but nobody is exactly any of the characters. But I do have visual impressions of who they look like, feel like a lot of the time. I almost don’t want to share this though, because I want the reader to be able to imagine them themselves. Maybe I am too obsessive, but I have very negative visceral reactions to certain actors and if a writer told me they had them in mind while writing a character I think I’d have a much harder time liking that character. I also kept especially Owain purposefully vague in terms of his looks because I think everybody should be allowed to fill that gap with what they find attractive and not be forced to read about what I like, you know?But okay, because you asked. For Moira, I always imagined the singer Alison Sudol from A Fine Frenzy, especially her early pictures when she still had red hair and was around Moira’s age. Owain, in just my personal feeling of him, is a mixture between John Krasinski and Richard Armitage – not quite as sweet looking as the former and not quite as angled and intense as the latter. And there’s this particular picture of Eva Green in Kingdom of Heaven which felt a lot like Maeve to me. But again, those are very gross approximations and anyone is free to have their own ideas of what they look like.
Here are pics of the characters:
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OBVB: If you could write a book outside of your genre, what would it be and why?
LB: I actually wouldn’t call romantic fantasy my genre. I don’t really have one (yet) – I enjoy writing all kind of things and haven’t really settled down with any one of them. I just finished a collaborative first draft that was a sweet, modern bdsm romance and am now working on something post-apoc. I also have plans for a YA novel – so… yeah, at the moment I can’t imagine settling down to one genre. I think I would get bored. I like chasing the new and then returning again. It’s fun and exciting!
OBVB: Is there anything you must have or do when you are writing?
LB: Not really. I like to be comfortable and usually silence helps (although at times I absolutely need music) – and a couple of hours off just so that I don’t feel rushed. But in general, just a computer, something to drink maybe but anything else is secondary.
OBVB: When you are not writing, what do you do in your free time?
LB: At the moment, mostly answering emails and interview questions, figuring out my website or guest blog posts, and all the stuff around writing that is really important but takes up a lot of time. Otherwise, I really enjoy photography and music I spend a lot of time with my cat. I also love going to small singer-songwriter club concerts and seeing my family.
OBVB: Last but not least, are there any other projects you are working on? Any updates on the sequel in the Lakeside series?
LB: Oh yes, almost too many at the moment, really. I’ll try to break it down.1. At highest priority is indeed the Lakeside sequel. In my head, it’s called A Taste of Winter, but that’s just a working title. I’m actually working on the last few chapters right now and hope to finish it soon that so that I can let it lie for a bit and edit in May. It continues Moira and Owain’s story after their happy-for-now ending and gives their relationship greater depth while the antagonists keep on plotting.2. Together with my friend L.C. Spoering, I’ve finished the first draft of a sweet, modern bdsm romance. We’ll go into editing that soon and then start shopping it around.3. With her I am also working on finishing a NA post apoc story about a young British woman, her adopted son and a Southern army med who saves them. It’s full of fun angst and emotions.4. I also try to get into erotica by writing a lot of erotic short stories at the moment and submitting them to submission calls. I’ll be featured in two Cleis Press anthologies later in the year.And then there are all the ideas of what I’d like to do after I finish the sequel and a few ideas are still fighting for that next prime spot in my attention span. We’ll see!
LB: Thank you so much! It was my supreme pleasure! Thank you for having me and for checking out my book!
Author: Laila Blake
Number in Series: 1
Format: ARC ePub
Release Date: April 8, 2013
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal Romance/Fantasy
Synopsis from Goodreads
Withdrawn and with a reputation for her strange, eccentric ways, young Lady Moira Rochmond is old to be unwed. Rumors say, she has been seen barefoot in the orchard, is awake all night in moon-struck rambles and sleeps all day. Some will even claim her ghostly pallor and aloof manner are signs of illness, of a curse or insanity.
The hopes of the peaceful succession to her father’s fief lie in an advantageous marriage. Moira, however, has a hard time attracting suitors. When one does show interest, her family pushes for a decision.
Almost resigned to the fact that she has no choice but to play the part she has been given in life, Moira is faced with Owain. A member of the mysterious Blaidyn creatures and a new guard in her father’s castle, specifically tasked to keep her safe. He is different from other people she knows and when one night under the full moon, she makes the acquaintance of the wolf who shares Owain’s soul, she starts to trust him and seek his presence. As he becomes one of the few individuals who doesn’t make her want to hide and retreat, she wants to learn more about him and they grow closer until they share a kiss one night under the moon.
Faced with feelings and desires that overthrow everything she thought she knew about herself, Moira knows non-the-less that they have to be kept utterly secret. However much they try, however, they continue to be drawn to each other until one night, Owain discovers something about Moira that shakes him to core.
By the Light of the Moon is a story about a young woman named Moira. She is a lady, but she hates it. She feels like she is in a prison and tried whatever she can to leave. People think she is quite strange because of how she doesn't act like what they think a lady should. Not to mention, her appearance is sort of ghostly and she has dark marks under her eyes. There are men who are interested. One in particular, Sir Deagan Fairester, is very desperate to have her so he can get her father's land. But due to Moira's little walks, her father hires a Blaidyn named Owain. Owain is a warrior and a werewolf. Everyone is afraid of their kind, but he must watch over Moira. She is careful around him, but she finds that she can trust him. But can he trust her?
Wow, what a beautiful read. I really enjoyed this book a lot. I didn't really know what I was getting into, but I am glad I got into this. I really liked Moira. I did feel sorry for her and her situation. She was an independent spirit that was being held against her will. I loved that she didn't want to be Miss Pampered. But she was a great character and I was rooting for her. I really liked Owain. There are different stories about his kind, so at first I thought he would be a bad guy. But I loved him. I loved the slow build up between him and Moira. The chemistry between them was great. I loved the connection, it was just beautiful to me. The villain in the book, Fairester, was interesting and quite diabolical. He wants Moira, but he only wants her for her father's kingdom when he dies. I loved Moira even more for this because she wasn't blinded by Fairester's good looks that he used as a weapon. He even admits that he uses his looks to get what he wants. Moira felt uneasy around him and knows there is something slimy about him. Everyone else around her keeps telling her how great he is, but Moira knows better. And let's not forget Maeve. Again you don't know whether she is good or bad, it is great trying to figure it out. She is also a great character.
I loved this story. It was quite a mystery uncovering why the Fae want anything with Moira. We are also trying to uncover if Owain had an agenda. The Blaidyn had such a great history in this book. I would like more on them besides Owain. The Blaidyn are warriors specifically created by the Fae to fight their wars for them. It was great. There are some great twists in this book that definitely left my mouth hanging open. Boy oh boy Blake, you are awesome.
I definitely recommend this to people who love magic and mystery. The story was very intriguing. I loved it. Owain and Moira romance was definitely a favorite for me. Some may have issues keeping up with the characters since we do get a lot in a short amount of time. But it gets ironed out after a few chapters. I will definitely keep my eyes open for the second book in the Lakeside series. Make sure to add Blake to your authors you must keep your eyes open for list.
*This book belongs to the following challenge*
BCC's 100 Books In A Year Reading Challenge 2013!Under The Covers Book Blog 2013 Immortal Reading Challenge!
BCC's Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance Challenge 2013!
BCC's Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance Challenge 2013!
About Laila Blake
Laila Blake, born in 1985 in Cologne/Germany, is a bi-lingual author and translator. She has an MA in Specialized Translating and has worked with several research projects in Applied Linguistics and language acquisition. Teaching English to adults is still paying most of her bills.
Growing up with a love of stories, she started her first epic fantasy story at the age of 13. It didn’t grow past a few chapters and since then, she has gone through a myriad of ideas and beginnings, both in English and German, has learned a lot and lived a lot and dreamed of being a writer.
In 2013, Crimson Romance picked her debut novel for publication and she has been working on its sequel ever since. In the meantime, she has also gotten short-stories into several erotic anthologies to be published later this year, and has been working on other projects and ideas.
“By the Light of the Moon” will be released on the 8th of April and constitutes her very first novel. The second book in the Lakeside Series, tentatively titled “A Taste of Winter” will follow later the same year.
Follow Laila Blake here:
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