Author interview 161 – Elizabeth Lavender


Elizabeth Lavender

United States

Age 44

Elizabeth Lavender is the author of the Sunspear series. The first book in the sci-fi/fantasy series is The Spinning of Deception, the second book is Deception’s Hold, and the third book is Shadowed Bonds. Originally from the Alabama coast, she currently lives in the Dallas area with her husband, Jeff, and her two children. She has a Master’s degree in counseling, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and a minor in English. She enjoys science fiction and fantasy and hopes to bring some of that same enjoyment to others. She also enjoys suspense novels. However, as long as the storyline is intriguing, she will give other genres a try. Her reading spans from Les Miserables to Shakespeare to the Percy Jackson series to anything written by Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti. She works full-time and has been at the same company for over twenty years happily. She is a huge football fan and has a decent throwing arm, despite what her oldest son says when he practices throwing the football with her. Although she enjoys Texas, she does love going home to Alabama to visit. Besides visiting family and friends, it is nice to be back near the water again and enjoy the amazing seafood.

With the fate of his people on the line, the truth is his greatest weapon…
 
Eighteen-year-old Dante refuses to let evil conquer the galaxy. And the fact that his own father acts as the instrument of a dark lord’s unrelenting destruction only makes it harder. But when Dante learns a mysterious warrior has strange visions of his family, he discovers she may hold the key to defeating his father.
 
As sinister attacks threaten more and more planets, he fears their purpose is to prepare for an ultimate showdown. But with clues scarce and the girl’s mission to help him turning deadly, Dante might be running out of time before those he swore to protect are doomed.
 
Can the young hero unravel the mystery and win freedom for the universe?
 
The Spinning of Deception is the enthralling first book in the Sunspear science fiction/fantasy series. If you like epic tales of the battle against darkness, intriguing characters, and dangerous adventures, then you’ll love Elizabeth Lavender’s star-spanning saga.
 
Buy The Spinning of Deception to fight for goodness and light today!

Romelia:   WHAT IS A SIGNIFICANT WAY YOUR BOOK HAS CHANGED SINCE THE FIRST DRAFT?

Elizabeth Lavender:    Most of the changes in the first draft were wording changes, eliminating/tightening dialogue tags, Grammar/Spelling, adding/subtracting scenes.  All these things helped with making a smoother flow to the read.  However, there wasn’t a change that was significant, in the way of changing the plot or direction of a scene.  I was clear in my first draft with what I wanted to happen in the scene and where I wanted to take my characters.

Romelia:   WHAT PERSPECTIVES OR BELIEFS HAVE YOU CHALLENGED WITH THIS WORK?  

Elizabeth Lavender:    I challenged the premise that Truth is unimportant.  Rather, my work shows that what is true is central, even life altering.  It can change the course individuals take, the choices they make, for good or for the worst outcomes.  When truth is twisted or the lie is believed as truth, the destruction it can cause is devastating not only to the believer, but to all those in their circle.   Another premise that is challenged is that you can always trust your eyes to guide your steps.  That is largely dependent on the source many times.    There’s more than one occasion in my story that characters find they see with their eyes, and they make decisions based on that rather than follow what they should have known to be true. The result is never good, ranging from bondage to near death. 

Another premise that is challenged is that the only struggles that count are the ones we see.  One of the main characters in the book, The Girl, has significant battlefields to conquer with her sunspear and she’s amazing in that respect.  However, her larger and more significant battlefields many times are internal that become manifest in the external. we see it played out in her bedroom in a struggle, after she has just suffered a major loss.  We’ll continue to see her wrestle with these internal demons.  She’s not the only one either.  It’s a thread that runs through the series, and it’s prominent with Dante in the second book in a major confrontation he has.  The message is there’s an unseen, equally powerful battlefield always at play in our lives and those struggles and how we face them shapes us as much as those we see. 

Another premise is we always see clearly about who we are.  Some people have an inflated sense of who they are, so that’s not accurate.  However, in the case of our story the problem comes from our characters seeing a distorted view of themselves and believing lies about who they are on the other end of the spectrum.  Despite efforts by others to convince them differently, this distorted view has taken root in their spirit and directs how they view themselves.   It also directs how they talk to themselves and even their actions.  For example, they take more risks with their lives because they see them as less valuable. 

The series will continue to explore and challenge the premise that once you have gone down a path, you cannot turn back. It’s the belief that there’s no redemption to be found.  We find in this story, forgiveness is sometimes hardest to give to oneself. but Grace can indeed be found and is given. 

Romelia:   WHAT INSPIRED THE IDEA FOR YOUR BOOK? 

Elizabeth Lavender:    It had several inspirations.  I enjoy sci-fi and fantasy as well as psychological/suspense thrillers.  The sci-fi universe has a star wars feel to it because I have to say that’s my favorite sci-fi.  I’ve always loved the Lord of the Rings Series, so just the Epic fantasy feel to it came from that.  the earliest fantasy series that I fell in love with was The chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, starring the Assistant pig-Keeper who, one battle at a time, becomes more than he thought possible. I’m a big fan of the works of Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker, so the concept of this whole other unseen battlefield that comes into play is something that is prominent throughout their work.   I’ve made that battlefield as great a role in my series as the sunspear/air battles that one expects from a Fantasy/sci-fi struggle.  Then there’s the novel Les Misérables.  It has to be one of favorite books of all time.  It’s a story of grace and redemption to a convict who ends up spending 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread.  The themes of grace, redemption, and sacrifice that are threaded throughout the series were directly inspired by Victor Hugo’s heart-wrenching tale.  Then another favorite is The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s about a young naïve hardworking sailor who’s wrongly imprisoned.  While in prison, with the help from another prisoner, he pieces together how he ended up in prison and upon escaping carefully plots out and carries out his revenge on all those responsible for his imprisonment.  Only at the end, does he realize he went too far, but it’s too late.  The book inspired several parts of my story.  It includes the way he changed personalities once he began carrying out his revenge.  the through, meticulous fashion he implemented it is directly reflected in a couple of major characters and storylines.    

Romelia:   HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BOOK’S IDEAL READER? 

Elizabeth Lavender:    While anyone can enjoy the series and they do (as my reader group is anywhere between the ages of youth to individuals with grandkids), I’ve been told it has a YA feel to it.  So, the ideal reader would be around 20 and a sci-fi/fantasy reader.  If they enjoyed the conflicted hero, who’s gotten as many battles going in their heads as on the ground, then they are loving this.  Also, if they enjoy the mysterious character, the one that they have more questions about than answers, they are all into this series. Also, they love the characters because for all their mystery and world of sunspears, the characters are relatable and you can’t help but root for them.

Romelia:   HOW MUCH RESEARCH DID YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR BOOK? 

Elizabeth Lavender:    The only research I did was for the character names and to pick out planet/colony names.  There are a few names I chose just because I liked the name.  However, most of the character names were chosen because of what they mean. Most of the time that was a good thing. For some of the less likeable characters, their names were just as carefully chosen. It was the same with the name of the places.  The translation meant something nice.  The only other part that resembles research is just making sure I keep my story straight within the series.  I always have a copy of the other books in the series beside me when I’m writing the next book. I have situations or conversations that will come back to what occurred in a previous book, so it’s important to make sure there are no inconsistencies in the sunspear world.

Romelia:   HOW IMPORTANT WAS PROFESSIONAL EDITING TO YOUR BOOK’S DEVELOPMENT?

Elizabeth Lavender:    Most of the editing was rewording to make passages more concise, tightening up the dialogue tags, etc.  It certainly made it read smoother.  However, none of the editing changed a scene totally or caused a major overhaul of the story.

Romelia:   WHAT WAS YOUR HARDEST SCENE TO WRITE, AND WHY?

Elizabeth Lavender:    There were actually two, but we’ll pick the first one. It was the whole scene when The Girl’s mother is murdered, her confrontation with the Murderer, and her following battlefield in her bedroom with an unseen power.  It was a challenge to write because it was emotionally charged from the first line to the last line. The sequence is also the crisis event in the girl’s world, one that is key in how she views her world and herself.  At least this is the one the reader is given knowledge of. She also makes a choice in that battlefield and sees something in herself that she can’t unsee.  It’s a sobering moment and it will haunt her throughout the series. She’ll keep coming back to it in various ways. 

Romelia:   WHAT CHARACTERS IN YOUR BOOK ARE MOST SIMILAR TO YOU OR TO PEOPLE YOU KNOW? 

Elizabeth Lavender:    I didn’t model any of my characters after a particular person I know.  I certainly see pieces of myself and others in My characters.  I’ve been the girl sometimes in my life.  I can recall situations where I haven’t had a clear view of myself and saw through a distorted lens. I needed friends to come beside me to remind me of who I was and to see past the Blur.  However, I’ve known countless individuals see through a distorted vision and believe similar lies.  It’s that unseen, Powerful battlefield that always lurks.  The Dark Lord comes in so many forms if we’re not careful.  The part that’s great is I have also seen the flipside, the other part of the girl and Dante.  They see past the shadow. It’s the part of them that never gives up, fights through the struggle, and emerges victorious on the other side. Like I said all the characters have pieces from my world.  Alika and Seth are those counselors that we call friends in our world that are always there to give advice and provide comfort, but transform quickly into the softer fatherly side in an instant.  Alena and Lana are the sisters that always have your back whether it’s with a sunspear in a battle or a hug or comforting word when your spirit is crushed. Caleb and Ryan are the fortresses in battle for those around them, but their lighter side provides a reminder that a more carefree world is possible.   

Romelia:   HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

Elizabeth Lavender:    I’m really not too sure honestly. Originally, the first and second were going to be one book.  Once I started writing it was clear it was going to be too long for one book, so I ended up figuring out a good place to split it.  Once I realized that, I stopped writing at a point and started the revising process for what I decided would be the first book.  So, I ended up having the second book drafted at that point.   I’m thinking it took about 7 months to initially pen the first two books down, and then the revision process took at least four months for each.  

Romelia:   HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK?

Elizabeth Lavender:    The title is directly related to the storyline to this first book in the series.  In the first book, we meet our two sunspearbears, Dante and The Girl. We soon discover in both of their lives, Deception plays a central part in how their world has turned out.  The event that takes center stage, though, involves Dante’s family.  His father willingly serves the Dark Lord, and Dante fights on the opposite side from him.  The truth of an event from Dante’s past is revealed, and the deception is uncovered by the Girl’s gift of visions by the Ancient One. It uncovers a deception orchestrated by the Dark Lord himself.  The discovery sets events in motion that could finally stop the Dark Lord.  However, that’s not the only place we see the deception.  The Girl’s world is filled with it as well, even though we are not given the full picture.  We see enough to know where her father’s true loyalties lie, but that he plays the other side as it suits him. In the process, he has created a living nightmare for The Girl and her mother.  It forces them to be who they need to be to survive in this world.  Those are two central ways the Deception is spun.  However, its thread is seen throughout the storyline, and it begins here. 

Romelia:   WOULD YOU AND YOUR MAIN CHARACTER GET ALONG?

Elizabeth Lavender:    We would absolutely get along.  There are two main characters, Dante and The Girl.  I love both of them.  We already spend so much time together as it is.  LOL.  Even with all of her issues and when she becomes a little unraveled from it, you can’t be angry with her.  She never means it, and she is far harsher on herself than anyone else.  She pours out comfort to others though she can’t find it for herself so many times. She’d give her life to save another without hesitating.  Dante is her perfect match. He’s fierce in battle and will protect those he cares for in a second. However, he’s a got a softer side that just downright charming and a playful nature to go along with it. 

Romelia:   IF YOU COULD MEET YOUR CHARACTERS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?  

Elizabeth Lavender:    I know it’s been hard, but there are more battles to be fought.  Stay the course. You’ve been here before, and we’re in this together.  We’ll finish this because I know you can.  I’ve seen your heart, your unquenchable spirit in every battlefield before you. It inspires me each day, so you can’t give up no matter how overwhelming it gets. I won’t let you.  Then I would hug them.

Romelia:   WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE? ARE YOU MORE OF A PLOTTER OR A PANTSER?

Elizabeth Lavender:    I just write the story first. I don’t stop to edit or revise until I have the complete story for that part of the journey.   I let the story flow, stay inside my world and my characters’ heads and hearts, and allow them to direct the writing.  Once the story is down, then the editing/revising begins.   I am definitely more of the pantser.  I’ve been in my characters heads for so long, I know what they would say and do.  The storyline itself is already written in my head and in some cases whole scenes already.  However, that’s not because I have this outline.  I don’t think I could write like that.  It would be too confining. I do know how the story will end, what the final showdown looks like.  I also know what events I need in order to reach that decisive battleground.  So that’s as close as I get in the neighborhood of plotting a course. 

Romelia:   WHAT DO YOU NEED IN YOUR WRITING SPACE TO HELP YOU STAY FOCUSED?

Elizabeth Lavender:    If I’m truly in the writing phase, I don’t need anything specific.  I can literally be in the den with my family with the TV going and them talking with each other, but I’m in my zone and writing.  That’s usually the scenario.  Now if I’m in the editing/revision stage, that’s completely different.  I have to go into another room on the other side of the house where it’s quiet.  That’s because I really detest the editing/revision stage, and my mind seeks out any and every distraction. 

Romelia:   IF YOU WERE TO WRITE A SPIN-OFF ABOUT A SIDE CHARACTER, WHICH WOULD YOU PICK? 

Elizabeth Lavender:    Christopher.  He’s the main shipping dealer The Girl works with in her shipping Dealer cover.  He has helped her on a number of deals so far, and he’s going to continue to do so in the series.  I’m sure he would have some interesting/close calls to tell us about with his shipping deals.

Romelia:   IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANOTHER POPULAR AUTHOR, WHOM WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Elizabeth Lavender:    It would be Lloyd Alexander.  That was the first Fantasy series I fell in love with, and I’ve always felt like it was seriously underrated.  I loved everyone in it from the assistant pig keeper to the princess to the Bard. It had the epic fantasy storyline of fighting an evil army to keep a land from being overcome.  There was the band of unlikely heroes and the wonderful banter between them.  Then I couldn’t ever forget Taran the Assistant pig Keeper, the unlikely hero, who dreamed of being more than his station said was ever possible.  Yet when he began to see what it looked like, past his idealized image, it was sobering.  Yet that was the point he was finally ready.  So, I would want to talk with Lloyd Alexander, because I loved the world he builds and the characters he created.    

Romelia:   WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE LIKE WHEN YOU’RE WRITING A BOOK?

Elizabeth Lavender:    I guess most people would call it punishing, but I’m used to it now.  I work full time as a counselor during the day, which means all my book stuff has to be done in the evening when I get home from work and on the weekends.  when I say all my book stuff that includes everything from the writing to the marketing to compiling/sending out my monthly newsletter.  Most weekdays I’m up until around midnight, then on weekends it’s pretty normal for me to be up until 3 or 4 in the morning.   I try to do some writing each evening, but there are evenings that the other tasks end up taking up more time by the time I get started and the writing doesn’t happen.  For that reason, I can’t say I have a schedule. I have to be very flexible with myself. 

Romelia:   HAVE YOU EVER TRAVELED AS RESEARCH FOR YOUR BOOK?

Elizabeth Lavender:    No, there’s been no travel needed to do research for my book.  A couple of the places have definitely been inspired by real life places, but there was no research.  For example, THE Girl is fond of the water.  I’m originally from the Alabama coast, and so that love of the water was something I understood. 

Romelia:   WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WRITING SNACK OR DRINK?

Elizabeth Lavender:    I can’t say I have anything that’s specifically confined just for writing. Any snack that involves chocolate, I’m in, no matter what I’m doing.  As far as drink, sweet tea is what I grew up on in Alabama, and that’s what I prefer to drink. 

Romelia:   HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR BOOK? 

Elizabeth Lavender:    When it’s totally finished and published, usually we go out and do something.  For example, we go out to eat and see a movie or watch a play.  It just really depends on my mood.  Normally, I’m ready to charge back into the writing pretty quickly.  I know that sounds strange, but at that point I haven’t been doing much writing for a while.  I’ve been revising/Editing for large chunks of time, a task I really don’t like in the process.  from that perspective, I can’t wait to jump back into the actual writing again.

Romelia:   WHAT RISKS HAVE YOU TAKEN WITH YOUR WRITING THAT HAVE PAID OFF?

Elizabeth Lavender:    I did this process backwards as I found out later.  The smarter way to do this was to check out the market, make sure there is an audience for your book, and then write the story.  Instead, I had this story already written in my head, couldn’t keep it contained any longer, and penned it down.  Now I’m finding the audience.  I’m okay with that though.  As far as has it paid off?  That depends on how you measure it. If it’s in dollars, no.  I’m still putting more into it than I’ve gotten as I’m trying to bring more exposure to the story.  However, it’s never why I did it in the first place. I want to share the story, the whole thing, So I’ll keep writing until the final battle is revealed in the journey. So yes, the risks have paid off, because I’m doing what I wanted to do.  I’m sharing the story.

Romelia:   WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU GOOGLED YOURSELF AND WHAT DID YOU FIND?

Elizabeth Lavender:    I had never googled myself until now.  It pulled up my amazon profile with my sunspear series, my goodreads profile with my sunspear series, and my Facebook account. 

Romelia:   WHAT IS YOUR KRYPTONITE AS A WRITER?

Elizabeth Lavender:    I detest the editing/revising process, so that whole part is it.  I have a hard time motivating myself And staying focused, when I get to that part.  I find I also have a hard time figuring out when enough is enough.  When I first write a scene, I really love it.  Then there’s a point that I’ve gone over it so many times that it loses its freshness/impact.  I hate that feeling with the revision process.  It’s impossible to tell how to improve it when that happens.  That’s usually the point I need to stop, that I’m finished with the process.  

Romelia:   TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.   

Elizabeth Lavender:    I was answering this during thanksgiving week, so this story came to mind. It is the story of why I do not cook thanksgiving turkey. My husband and I had not been married too long when this happened.  He works in the school system and the school gave all the teachers a turkey. I had never cooked a turkey before.  I started the task with my husband graciously helping me.  I took the neck part out of the turkey.  I knew there are another part that was supposed to come out, the bag of guts.  I reached in, but there was nothing.  the turkey obviously had guts.  I continued to search and my husband did too with no luck.  Next, we got a flashlight and checked, but still no bag of guts.  I called my mom in Alabama (we live in Texas) and told her I couldn’t find it.  She said, “Sweetheart, it has to be there.”   I answered her back, “I know, but we looked.  Mom, I have a flashlight shoved up the turkey’s rear and I still don’t see it.”  Needless to say, we never found it.  Apparently, it wasn’t completely defrosted and it was stuck to the side somewhere.  We cooked the turkey as it was, giblets and all.   We lived to tell, but I don’t cook Thanksgiving turkey.  Luckily, we are usually visiting family at thanksgiving, so I don’t have to cook.  

Romelia:   DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES. TELL US SOMETHING WE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU AND SOMETHING YOU HATE ABOUT THE WORLD.  

Elizabeth Lavender:    I’ve worked in the social services industry for over twenty years, at the same place.  I have a master’s in counseling, and that influence is seen in my writing when I explore the inner battlefields of my characters. I generally don’t enjoy large group functions.  My preference is to spend time with people one on one, really getting to know them or in a small circle of friends.  I’m genuine.  What you see is what you get with me.  I don’t play games with people or pretend to be what I’m not.  I leave all that for my book series.  I don’t know that I hate anything in the world beyond really obvious things that most people do.  I guess since I am genuine with people, I do hate it when people are fake and pretend to care when they don’t.

https://books2read.com/TheSpinningOfDeception

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