Interview: Cheri Lasota

Today I’d like to introduce the lovely and talented Cheri Lasota.  Cheri is an editor at Stirling Editing, and recently launched her debut novel in September through SpireHouse Books.  Cheri, I’m so happy to welcome you to share some of your thoughts with me and my readers.

When did you first start writing?  What kinds of books inspired you as an author?

I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing, to be honest. But I do know I made my first attempt at novel writing in third grade. In those first years, my only goal was to just finish a story. It took me decades to be able to do that. I had to learn the hard way that I have to outline my fiction before I begin. It doesn’t work any other way for me. I grew up solely with classics by Dickens, Hawthorne, Melville, Tennyson, and Wordsworth. Words and rhythm were my passions and I cultivated them carefully over the years.

Did you become an editor first and a writer second?

My first editing job was in the Azores Islands (interestingly also the setting of Artemis Rising). I was the editor of my high school newspaper. I went on to work at two other newspapers as well as for a nonprofit group. I much preferred the fiction world, however, so after a couple decades of honing my editing skills as well as fiction writing, I started a freelance editing business in 2004: Stirling Editing. I adore working with and encouraging novelists and short story writers. No better job in the world.

Your book, Artemis Rising, has such an interesting setting.  Why did you pick the Azores Islands as the background?

My father was in the Air Force and we were stationed in the Azores Islands when I was 15- to 16-years old. The Azores are a group of nine islands about 800 miles off the coast of Portugal. I had never heard of them before moving there. I would compare them to Hawaii in terms of beauty. They are volcanic islands owned by Portugal but they have very little commercialism. It’s an idyllic, quiet existence, and I loved every moment of it. When I left the islands, I knew I had to capture that time in my memory forever, and what better way to do that then to write it into my first novel?

How did the plot for Artemis Rising come about?

I built my whole story around three major elements: the culture, land, and faith of the Azorean people; the Greek myth of Alpheus and Arethusa; and the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Isolde. What on earth do these three elements have in common? It took a decade of my life to figure that out. And whoa! the parallels will amaze you.

Are you an outliner or a pantser?

As I mentioned before, I’m definitely an outliner. I’m an absolute wuss when it comes to the blank page. I shake in my boots and the whole bit. So I have to create a little box for myself to work within. You can’t just show me the open road and tell me to hit the gas. Doesn’t work. I need to know where I’m going and why. I’m probably the most over-organized writer you’ll ever meet. =)

I know you’re working on a new book.  Can you tell us a little about that one?

This next book has been a breeze to write! It’s because I finally understand how I work best, so I definitely plotted this one out way ahead of time. I’m about halfway through. The novel is set on the Oregon Coast (so I can finally have easy access to setting research!) and it involves a fictitious lighthouse and spans two lifetimes. The first story is set in the 30s when the lighthouse was still in use. The second story takes place in present day when the lighthouse is being restored to its former glory. There is a bit of a mystery in this novel, and how those two storylines intertwine is where the magic happens.

Artemis Rising, an ebook, features interactive links.  Did your publisher come up with those?

SpireHouse Books and I brainstormed cool ideas for interactive ebook content together. We both brought things to the table and then narrowed them down to the very best. We have old classic maps, an author page, external links to my website, etc., a hyperlinked glossary, and up next I’ll be trading chapter one excerpts with other authors. The possibilities are endless! And the great thing is that we can change up these features whenever we want.

One of the unique things you did to promote Artemis Rising was to make a video book trailer.  What can you tell us about that and where can we see it?

I’m blessed to have many friends within the Portland film scene. They went above and beyond to help me create a kind of mini-film of my book that showcases scene snippets from the book and brings them to life. We filmed in Portland and on the Oregon coast and I often say that those two production days were some of the best of my life. To see scenes from my novel come to life before my eyes…there’s just nothing quite like it. Since Director Bill Thoma of Axiom Shift Productions wrapped up production, I’ve been able to incorporate the trailer into my book marketing campaigns in many innovative ways and it has truly given Artemis Rising a broader audience.

Where can we find your book and how can inquiring minds contact you?

Learn more about the novel or contact me at http://www.cherilasota.com. The book is available in all digital formats and can be purchased at SpireHouseBooks.com, iTunes, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and KoboBooks.com.

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SpireHouse Books launched Cheri Lasota’s first novel, Artemis Rising, in Sept 2011. The book is a YA historical fantasy based on mythology and set in the exotic Azores Islands. Currently, Cheri is writing and researching her second novel, a YA set on the Oregon Coast. Over the course of her sixteen-year career, she has edited fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and short stories for publication. Cheri also has twenty-four years of experience writing poetry and fiction.

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