SPOTLIGHT: Luisa Prieto -- Learn about your own writing

Brilliant. Witty. Charming. Luisa says these are all words that her cats would use to describe her (if cats could talk, that is). 

Originally studying journalism, Luisa took a left turn at Fictionville, where she now resides. She has independently published more than half a dozen novels using the pseudonym Faye Larson. She describes her books as romantic comedies with a high chance of happy endings.

When not writing, she's thinking about writing. She lives with the aformentioned cats (pictured lounging above) and her equally brilliant, witty, and charming (and patient) spouse.

 

"Whatever happened to the days when parents were embarrassed by their kids' writing?"

 

Why are you currently writing under a pseudonym? 

My parents were just too proud of my previous erotica writing.

Seriously, they'd buy books and give them to friends. Whatever happened to the days when parents were embarrassed by their kids' writing?

What did your parents' friends think of you writing erotica? 

My parents have actually never said. They're just exceptionally happy to see my name on the cover. I suspect their friends either never read the books or never told them what they thought.

It's really funny because when I was in my twenties, I always imagined my parents would be HORRIFIED. I once joked that I'd want my name to read "Luisa Prieto, daughter of Jose and Lola Prieto."

I realize now my parents would love it if the books read like that.

What project are you currently working on?

My current project: my current WIP is a existential tale about a man overcoming his fear of death and--just kidding.

It's about two guys falling in love.

There may or may not be vampires.

I haven't decided.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your most recent book or working on your most recent writing project?

Since the beginning of the year, I've been doing the 365k/365d challenge, where you write a thousand words every day for a year.

Not only has the challenge helped me write more, it's taught me things about my writing that I hadn't known (things like: I write more in the afternoon, keeping a daily word count is important, and writing the blurb before writing the story makes the story clearer).

Doing the challenge is like creating a personalized how-to-write book.

I'd strongly recommend it to everyone.

What do you consider your biggest writing success right now, at this very moment?

One of my books was briefly listed in the Also Boughts page of a Henry Rios book.

When I was younger, I loved that guy's series, and seeing my book listed beside his just blew my mind.

I bounced off the walls over that for DAYS.

If you could go back 10 years and give your future writing-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Do the 365k/365d challenge.

Reading all of those how-to-write books is good and going to workshops is EXCELLENT, but you need to learn about your own writing.

 

"Sometimes you'll discover a problem you didn't even know was there, but that's okay. There are people there who want to help you make that story the best it can be."

 

What were the highlights of your editorial work with Free Expressions or attendance at a workshop? How would you describe its overall effect on your professional/creative trajectory?

No matter how many times I've read Don's books or attended the workshop before, I learn something new at every workshop.

There's also something about being someplace new, surrounded by people you don't know but who all want to improve their writing, that makes ANYTHING seem possible. You notice things in your story you hadn't noticed before and problems that seemed impossible suddenly seem workable.

Sometimes you'll discover a problem you didn't even know was there but that's okay. There are people there who want to help you make that story the best it can be.

What does your dream writing retreat look like?

The Free Expressions workshop in Hood River, only for lunch and dinner they give us sushi.

There's also a guy whose only job is to bring everyone Starbucks. At every meal I get to sit with Don and Lorin and I always think of witty things to say.

I also remember to bring everything I'll need and don't need to run to the store during the week.

 

"Throughout it all, Lorin was incredibly thoughtful and brilliant. She went through my questions one by one and gave me some really great advice. She also helped me realize that if I had a problem with something (say, setting), then I likely had that problem in other stories too."

 

What's the story development process (SDP) like with Lorin?

I'd actually done the SDP once before with her a couple of years ago.

I thought it'd be like a longer version of our one-on-ones at the workshops so I was blown away by how much more intense the actual meeting was.

We met for three days and on each day I brought in a different story. We delved deeply into each and by the end I had a lot of new ideas.

This time, we only met for a day. Since I knew how intense it could be, I tried to better prepare for it by spending the week before thinking of questions to ask her.

A lot of my questions had to do with the story I was working on (How do I make the story funnier? How can I make the character iconic?), and some had to do with general writing things (how do you work on a series if you're afraid of working on a series?).

I sent her the questions and the beginning of a story I was working on a couple of days before we met, and then thought of a few more questions to add. When we met, we went over the story, the questions, and then came up with more questions to discuss.

Throughout it all, Lorin was incredibly thoughtful and brilliant. She went through my questions one by one and gave me some really great advice. She also helped me realize that if I had a problem with something (say, setting), then I likely had that problem in other stories too.

How did the SDP with Lorin help your process?

It effected me on various levels.

Writing-wise, I found ways to make the story deeper. Because of all of the questions we went through, I also had lots of new ideas for both that story and writing in general.

On a personal side, I felt empowered. Sometimes current events gets me down and it was great to talk to someone who believes that creating is a form of fighting. As Lorin said, "people still make art in gulags and concentrations camps."

 

FAST FACTS

  • Currently reading: 
    The back of a Ritz cracker box. I laughed, I cried, I ate a couple.
     
  • If you could enter the world of any novel, which would it be?
    Harry Potter. I want to go to magic school, get a wand, and defeat a dark lord, preferably without having to do any homework.
     
  • Do you write to music, or do you prefer silence?
    Music, usually Enya. I know there are studies out there that go into how some music just gets the creative juices going but all I can say is, "she sings pretty."
     
  • Is there a specific food or drink that fuels your writing?
    Coffee. Preferably in an IV that sends the liquid straight into my veins.

You can find out more about Luisa's books at her website, www.fayelarson.com. Her books are available on Amazon.