Lori Culwell is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. Not only is she an author, she’s also a blogger and a Marketing Consultant! She can do it all!
If you’re the kind of person who needs to get to know an author before reading one of their books, well I can help you with that – check out this awesome interview I did with Lori! I particularly love the answer to the last question where she tells us about a weird bus experience! ENJOY!
Lori, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to stop into MMSAI! It’s always a joy to review your novels, and I’m really excited to pick your brain about them!
Thanks for inviting me! It’s my pleasure to be here.
You have two Young Adult novels out currently, The Dirt which was released November 2011 and Hollywood Car Wash, which came out March of 2007, as well as a self-help book called Wealth from Within and a marketing book called Million Dollar Website. Put simply, you really cover a lot of different areas in your writing. Which of these genres do you enjoy writing the most and why?
That’s a tough one! I love writing novels because it gives me the chance not only to make up stories, but to use many wacky things people tell me in the course of my daily life. I am the kind of person who remembers weird things (in fact, I have a whole blog dedicated to it! http://funnystrange.net), and it’s fun to put all of those weird things into a story. More on that later.
On the other hand, I totally also like writing the “practical” books, because I really love helping people solve problems. I think I am pretty good at explaining concepts in “plain English” (or at least that’s what I’ve been told), and teaching/ writing non-fiction books helps me to understand things better. So, I guess it depends on what I’m reading most at the time, but I really like writing both.
Hollywood Car Wash is about a Midwestern teen who gets the chance of a lifetime to star in a TV show. We follow along as she is thrust into this new world and watch all the transformations she makes trying to fit in. What inspired you to write this book?
As I mentioned, I totally love it when people tell me weird stories. I grew up in Southern California and have several friends who are in movies/ on tv/ etc, plus my husband is a voiceover actor, so we are always coming into contact with working actors, and they tell some of the greatest and strangest tales you will ever hear, just about the industry and the people in it. We were in LA for a few years, and I heard so many of these stories, I thought it would be fun to turn them into a novel.
What was your research like for HWCW? Did you have any “insider” help, you have a lot of very specific details and one can only wonder if this is what it could really be like. Is the book based totally on fiction, or is there some reality thrown in there too?
I did! I have a friend who was on a popular show back in the nineties, so I sat him down and grilled him about every step of the process, from the audition to the callback to getting the part to actually doing the show, so (and I’ve been told this) the actual story is very realistic about what it’s like to be on a show. Then I mixed in the crazy stories, and voila! Novel.
Your second YA novel, The Dirt, which I described in my review as The Skulls meets Mean Girls, is a really intriguing look into a life of privilege and wealth – what inspired TD?
I love that description! Short answer-- I grew up in Palm Desert (where the book is set). It’s kind of a strange place because it’s a resort community and a regular town mixed together, and it happens to also have a lot of celebrities, politicians, and wealthy people who live there. So, it’s a little abnormal—just the kind of story I like to write.
Let’s talk covers. Hollywood Car Wash has 3 covers I have seen, two for the US version and then the Korean cover. Of these three which is your favorite?
Good question! I think I like the second American cover best (the Touchstone one), though I was super excited about the Korean version.
What are you working on now? Any more great YA novels in our future from you?
I might do a sequel to “The Dirt” eventually—people have been saying they want to see what happens next with that character and her family, so that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I’m working on a book right now that will help writers market their work, though. That’s going well and it will be coming out soon!
Speaking of writing, what kind of a writer are you? As I try to pen my first YA novel I find that inspiration and words can be slippery little buggars that get away from me for more often than I would like. Are you more of a planner or a pantser? Take us through your process.
I find that I have to be interested by a situation or a character enough to want to stick with them for 250 – 300 pages, so I start by writing whatever interesting scenes or situations that come to mind at the moment. I wait until I have about 50 pages of those types of scenes, then I write those scenes on white notecards and move them around until I’ve got a plot. Then I write fill-in scenes, like “how does the character get from point A to point B?” Also, and I think this is pretty important, I throw away a TON of writing. For me, the only way to get control of those slippery words is to just write so many of them that you end up with a decent book by process of elimination. You have to have something on that page, or you will have nothing to edit. For first-time novel writers, I highly recommend going through the process of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). http://nanowrimo.org. I have done it three times, and it really does help you push past any “writer’s block” or stress you might have about writing, and get to the actual characters.
What advice do you have for all the aspiring authors out there?
I would say just read as much as you can, and write. A ton. More than you’re used to, and more than you think is even reasonable. You have to give your characters a chance to develop, and you absolutely must write enough to silence that “inner critic” that plagues all writers.
Here on MMSAI, every person interviewed gets an “off the wall” question, something that doesn’t really have to do with the books or writing – here’s yours: I see you live in New York and are from California originally, both places are rather know for having colorful and sometimes crazy people – what’s the craziest person/situation you ever saw?
Oh wow—I don’t even know where to start with ranking “weirdest situations I’ve ever heard of,” to be honest with you. Between the entertainment industry, living in San Francisco, LA, and New York City, and writing the Funny Strange blog, I probably have heard everything once.
One of my favorite things is when a normal situation turns completely absurd, and no one knows what to do. For instance, I was riding the bus home from work once in San Francisco when this guy got on dressed in a purple velvet suit, holding a cane with a gold lion as the tip. The bus was really full, so he looked around, cleared his throat, and said:
“Yeah….could someone give me a seat? I’m a pimp.”
And someone actually got up and gave him their seat. I actually wrote a whole story about this, which you can read here if you are so inclined.
Lori, thank you again for stopping in. I know I am waiting anxiously for your next novel! Don’t keep us waiting!!!
I do have another book coming out soon—that one is called “How to Market a Book,” and I have a website all about book promotion, (http://bookpromotion.com) so all of your readers who are also writers should totally check that out!
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