Today I am interview Josh Lockwood, the author of Lady Irina. This wonderful book is a romance full of surprises and traditions. So can you give us a brief description of Lady Irina?
Lady Irina is set in the very early days of Southeast Alaska, when the Russian American Company was there. It is a story of nearly star-crossed lovers who have to overcome differences in both culture and social class in order to be together. A unique setting with unique characters – Russian rather than the usual Scotch or Irish – and actually imparts a little history without sounding like a textbook.
Was your career in the Navy helpful when you wrote this book?
Definitely. I spent a lot of time aboard ship and was also stationed in Alaska while still on active duty. I knew the sea and was quite familiar with the local area. The story just seemed like a natural.
What made you want to write Romance?
I’d been trying to write westerns since I was a teen-ager and not getting very far, then, a couple of years ago, I met a fairly well known romance writer, read all of her books, and thought maybe I could do this. I finished one book but there were so many things wrong with it I just couldn’t resurrect it. I set it aside, determined not to make the same mistakes again, and started on Lady Irina.
How much research did you have to do about that period of time as well as early America and Russia?
Oh, man! For a historical, research is incredibly important. Believe me, if the history isn’t right, someone out there will definitely call you on it. I researched everything I could think of for this story … food, fashion, the Russian language, and the protocol of Czar Alexander’s court, the Tlingit Indians, old maps and drawings. I was lucky enough to find translated diaries and journals written by people who actually lived and worked in Sitka at the time, and that gave me the honest-to-God reality of the place. It was time consuming, yes, but it had to be right.
Was there a particular part that you enjoyed writing in Lady Irina?
Probably the Russian wedding. Their traditions are so much different than ours, so much more fun; it was an absolute kick just trying to picture the different little scenarios that take place.
Is there an interesting fact that sticks in your mind from writing this book?
I learned so many things doing the research on this book that I don’t think I can pick out just one single fact as being more interesting than the others.
Did you find writing the love scenes easy or difficult and why?
It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I tend to focus on the emotional attachment between the hero and heroine rather than describing the sexual act itself.
If you could have lunch with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Probably Nathan Hawkins. We’re both sailors, with a love of ships, the sea, and beautiful women. I can picture us tossing down a beer and swapping sea stories.
How is Lady Irina doing so far?
I’ve had some great reviews, but I’m finding that some readers tend to pass on it just because it was written by a man. It shouldn’t be that way, but it seems like it is. And I don’t think I should have to use a feminine pen name to make it more acceptable.
How long did it take to get Lady Irina published?
Actually, the first publisher I submitted it to bought it. There were several revisions to be made, of course, a lot of polishing and line edits, but it was released within a year.
Do you have any more books in the works right now?
Yes. I’m working on another historical romance that, hopefully, will be ready to submit some time this winter.
What is your writing process? Do you outline it, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?
I guess it would be a combination of both. I write in detached scenes, bits and pieces that I know will fit into the story somewhere along the line and, when I get to that part, I insert the scene and have to play connect-the-dots to make it fit.
How much does reader reaction mean to you?
Reader reaction is everything. I think, realistically, that’s the only reason any of us write.
Do you have a strict writing schedule?
No set writing schedule. My muse – I call her Blabbermouth because I can’t pronounce her real name – has a habit of waking me up in the middle of the night, whispering story lines in my ear, and won’t stop until I get up and start typing. I just write whatever she’s giving me at the time. Sometimes it’s not even for the same book.
Who are your favorite authors?
Probably Louis L’Amour and Papa Hemingway. They both had a way with words.
What do you feel is the most important aspect for new authors to remember when writing and creating their own worlds?
Nothing is sacred in fiction. You might write what you think is the perfect sentence, the perfect scene, and discover later that it just doesn’t move the story. If you have to scrap it to make the story work, then scrap it and move on.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
Our spare bedroom/junk room sort of evolved into my ‘office’ and that’s where I do my writing. Sometimes I’ll drive down to a point overlooking the bay just to clear my head and think about where I’m going from here.
Also do you need to have it quiet or do you need music? If you need music, what kind do you listen to?
Generally, I like it quiet so I can let my mind run free. When I need more inspiration I listen to old love songs ... Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, The Carpenters.
Only my wife. She’s an amazingly beautiful little Filipina who taught me everything I know about love and romance.
Any advice that you would like to give to up and coming writers?
Find a couple of honest critique partners and try to learn from your mistakes. And above all … no matter what you’re told … Keep Writing!
Anything else you would like to say about your writing experience or know about your book Lady Irina?
I like to write about the little-known aspects of history, as I think history is much more convoluted than just what they teach in school. Finding a balance between historical fact and engaging fiction is the hard part.
I think what you picked was very fascinating. I really enjoyed it. Josh, thank you so much for taking time to talk to me. I really appreciate it. Do check out this story, it is well worth the time!