Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Unmasking Maya: Interview With Libby Mercer

Today I'm excited to introduce Libby Mercer, author of Fashioning a Romance, Espresso Macchiato, and her newest release, Unmasking Maya.  Unmasking Maya is already earning great reviews, with readers calling the book a refreshing, fantastic read with style and substance.  Read on to learn about Libby's creative process and how you can get your hands on one of her books.

Welcome Libby!  Will you tell us about yourself?

Thanks so much for having me here today, ST! I'm a bit of a workaholic. I've got a one track mind right now - the mission is to get my books out there and to get them noticed. And to write more. When I'm not writing or marketing (which isn't very often, haha) I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I live in the glorious city San Francisco, and there's always a lot going on here. And I've got two young cats. They're not quite kittens anymore - probably they're teenagers. In any case, they have loads of energy, so they keep me busy.

What inspired you to write?

I've been writing for such a long time, I don't even remember what inspired it. I wrote my first "book" when I was seven years old! I would guess that what originally inspired me were the books I read as a child. My mom is a big bookworm and we read a lot when I was little.

What about your process - are you a pantser or a plotter?

Pantser. No question. I've tried to be a plotter, but the story always does what it wants no matter how hard I try to plan it out ahead of time.

Can you tell us a little about your first two books?  How did you develop Espresso Macchiato?  What about Fashioning a Romance?

Fashioning was first, and I actually intended for it to be a straight-up romance. I thought it might be easier to break into the market with romance rather than chick lit since romance sells so well. As it turns out, I couldn't keep the chick lit voice and other elements out of my writing, so I ended up with a chick lit/romance hybrid of sorts, which I now think of as my signature style. And as far as the plot goes, I must confess that it was a bit of a personal fantasy. I was living in London at the time I wrote it and had just been laid off (or made redundant, as they say). This meant that I wouldn't be able to renew my visa and I'd have to leave the UK. Although I knew it was pretty unlikely that I'd meet my one true love in my remaining months there, have a whirlwind romance and end up being able to stay, I thought it would make for an interesting story.

As far as Espresso Macchiato goes, it had been on my mind for a while - the idea of a romantic story that started out with the two main characters passing notes to each other like kids do. I just sat down one day to begin writing that scene, and the story began to take shape.

Tell us a bit about Unmasking Maya.  Where did this story come from?

Well, after I left London, I moved to San Francisco and started to make some new friends. One night when I was out with my new gal pals, we were chatting about the dating scene in San Francisco. Someone mentioned the possibility of looking for love on the Peninsula AKA Silicon Valley and this is when I first heard this saying: Silicon Valley - where the odds are good but the goods are odd. It has to do with the uneven male to female ratio, and for women, the odds are very good. But a lot of the guys who work on the Peninsula are quite unusual, sometimes a bit socially challenged, sometimes difficult to relate to and, therefore, odd. (Not all of them, of course.) Anyway, I got to thinking and I decided I really wanted to write a romantic novel with a tech guy in the role of the hero and I started coming up with the general plot.

What have you learned on your publishing journey?  What marketing advice do can recommend for new authors?

Oh my goodness, I could write a book on everything I've learned! (Ooh, there's an idea...) I think the main thing I've learned is that it takes time. A lot of time. Everyone's experience will be different, of course, but as I said I've been writing stories since I was seven. I majored in creative writing, and after college, that's when I started pursuing publication. I submitted my work to agents and publishers for nearly fifteen years and although I had a few nibbles, there were no bites until a year ago. In retrospect, I'm okay with this because I know my writing has continued to improve. 

As far as marketing advice goes, I know this is very vague, but I believe the most important thing is to be bold. Which I am still working on. Haha. I'll give you an example. The other day I was on Twitter searching #chicklit and I found a woman who had tweeted, asking her followers for advice on what she should read. First I followed her, and then I replied to her tweet. Said, "I hope this isn't too cheeky of me to suggest, but I have a new novel out, 23 reviews so far" and included the Amazon link. She replied shortly later and said, "Are you kidding?? I love discovering new authors!! Thanks for replying!!" I had a sale within an hour or so. Can't say for sure if it was her, but it may well have been. And to think that I almost didn't reply to her tweet because I thought it would be too obnoxious or a spammy type of thing to do.

I'm so excited for your new release.  Thanks so much for stopping by Libby.  
ST, thanks again for having me here today! It's been a blast.

Be sure to visit to Amazon to pick up Unmasking Maya, or visit Libby Mercer at the following links:

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