Interview With Lily Everett

Lily_Everett~ Interview by Traci Andrighetti

Lily Everett grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains reading Misty of Chincoteague and Black Beauty, taking riding lessons, and longing for a horse of her own. Sadly, her parents gave her a college education instead—but she never forgot what the world looked like from the back of a horse. An avid romance reader since the age of eleven, Lily launched the Sanctuary Island series to explore themes of love, family, forgiveness, healing, and joy. She is also the other of the Recipe for Love series under the name Louisa Edwards. She currently resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two of the naughtiest terriers in existence.

Traci Andrighetti: How did you come up with the idea for your Sanctuary Island series?

Lily Everett: Sanctuary Island grew out of my desire to explore the family relationships, emotional storylines, and heartwarming romance of the small-town contemporary romance genre, mixed with my memories of growing up in horse-crazy Virginia.  Put it all together, and a tiny island community off the coast of Virginia that doubles as a wild horse preserve was born!

TA: You have also written the Recipe for Love series under the pen name Louisa Edwards. Why did you choose to write this particular series under a different name?

LE: My publisher and I worked hard to brand the Recipe for Love series as foodie romance, full of hot chefs and hot sex. We wanted to avoid disappointing readers who had come to expect that from a Louisa Edwards book, so to give the Sanctuary Island series a fresh start, we went with a new name and a whole new cover look. The side benefit was that it felt like a fresh start for me, too! I let myself write the new series however felt right to me in the moment, and I was so happy with the way it turned out.

TA: Speaking of cooking, you share the recipes of your characters in your books and on your website. How do you think these recipes enhance your stories?

LE: Basically, I love food and I love cooking! Sharing recipes is a way to share that with readers, and expand the world of the books at the same time.

TA: You describe your writing as “deeply emotional” contemporary romance. Can you expand on that?

LE: My goal with every book is to bring tears to the reader’s eye. That’s based on what I love as a reader—if I don’t choke up at least once, it’s never going to be a favorite! I love angst, pining, yearning…and of course, the flip side: forgiveness, healing, and acceptance. I find that “happily ever after” means more if my characters have to earn it.

TA: Your novels are full of wild horses and windswept beaches. What do these things symbolize for you?

LE: Writing those scenes really brings me home. I grew up not far from Chincoteague Island, the real life wild horse preserve Sanctuary is based on. I’ve seen those wild horses galloping across the sand, and that sense of freedom and infinite possibilities is what I’m writing towards for all my characters.

TA: Besides being an author, you worked as an editor in New York. How did that experience inform your writing?

LE: Like a lot of writers, I have a hyperactive internal editor. My editorial experience definitely amped it up, especially on the first few books! Since then, I’ve worked hard to lock her down while I write the first draft. These days, I only let her out when it’s time to revise!

TA: Last September you taught a class aimed at honing critiquing and revising skills for RWA called “The Feedback Loop.” What one piece of advice would you give to authors who want to improve their critiquing skills?

LE: The biggest thing I learned through teaching that class is that a lot of people feel insecure or anxious about giving feedback. I heard a lot of people saying some variation of “Who am I to tell someone else how to change their book?” So my advice is to remember that no matter what your experience level is as a writer, you are a reader. You are perfectly qualified to give your honest reader reaction to someone else’s book. Trust your instincts!

TA: And their revising skills?

LE: When it comes to taking a critique and incorporating it into your work, there’s a tricky line to walk between staying true to your own voice/vision…and being open to the possibility that your work may not be perfect as is. My advice? Take every piece of feedback seriously, but don’t force yourself to follow it if it doesn’t work for you.

TA: Last but not least, what is the most important thing an author can do to catch an editor’s eye?

LE: Oof! Tough one, because it varies from project to project and definitely from editor to editor. But I think the biggest constant is to make sure you have a crackerjack Chapter One. Hook them from the start, don’t assume they’ll keep reading until your awesome hook at the end of Chapter Three. Editors and agents read countless manuscripts every week and many of them admit that if they aren’t sucked into the story by page ten, they stop reading. So don’t wait! Frontload the good stuff and intrigue that editor.

* To learn more about Traci, please visit her website: http://traciandrighetti.com

1 thought on “Interview With Lily Everett”

  1. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and once I finally realized there was something better to experience if I drove past Ocean City, MD, I was sold. I fell in love with Chincoteague and now that I live far away in the South, I long for the chance to get back to the preserve. No place on earth is more beautiful or rejuvenating, in my mind. Reading the Sanctuary Island series takes me back and holds me over until I can return. Thanks for that, Lily!

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