I’m not a fan of the typical or conventional, so I try to interview those who I think won’t be offended my by questions or statements. L.J. Shen was totally the type of author who would be down for some fun and interesting questions. Let’s get started by getting to know her on a personal level.
I’m coming away from this interview feeling as though I got to know her better and love her even more as a writer. I also feel like she opened my eyes to see things from a different perspective and I love that. That’s a sign of a true writer, IMO.
But my absolute favorite part of this interview is the way she speaks of her son. Pure love!
Let’s get messy…
- What type of alcohol do you drink when you are writing?
I wish I could say wine or champagne or something terrifically-sophisticated, but I’m afraid I’m more of a Bud Light and whiskey type of girl.
- What did you want to be as a kid?
J.K. Rowling. #CloseEnough
- If karma was coming back for you, would it hurt or help you?
It’s hard to tell. I’m a firm believer in karma and I ALWAYS try to be good to everyone I meet along the way, no matter who they are or where they’re from. Having said that, I’m an introvert who rarely leaves her house and never remembers any birthdays, so who knows?
- What makes you smile? Why?
Everything. I’m easy to please. My son is my greatest source of happiness, but I can smile from watching an old couple walking down the street holding hands.
- If you could teach someone one thing what would it be and why?
That’s a difficult one. I’m not sure I’ve mastered enough things to become a teacher. I’d try and teach some people to think before they speak, because I feel like most of the times, it is the main reason why arguments, fall outs and wars start.
- Do you Google yourself?
No. But I check my Amazon page/Goodreads page every week. I’m not sure I’m known enough to be mentioned anywhere but in those two sites.
I have read most of your books and I like your style. I could read about Vicious and Defy all day everyday and now you are gearing up to release Ruckus. I’m going to be honest with you, I’m nervous about this one. I knew what was coming after reading Vicious as far as Dean and Rosie would go. I’m not a big fan of the idea that someone is now going to date their sister’s ex – I’m big on loyalty and this is a betrayal in my book.
But because I like your style, I’m going to step outside of my comfort zone and read Ruckus with an open mind.
- How would you feel if your sister, best friend or whoever starting fucking your ex-boyfriend. But not just your ex, but also your first?
If I’m happy in my relationship and with my current life (which Emilia very much is), I wouldn’t mind at all. I think most people forget it was Emilia who screwed Dean over, and not the other way around. People adore Emilia (heck, I do, too), but at the end of the day, she dumped Dean with a letter and ran away without any explanation. He has been faithful and devoted to her throughout the entire relationship. If anything, when SHE came back into HIS life ten years later, she did it in the form of sleeping with one of his best friends, Vicious.
Pretty Mess here…That’s very interesting – I’m already starting to change my mindset after thinking about it this way. See, I’m not that bad 🙂 I try to tell people that I’m an open-minded chick, they just don’t believe me. Sorry for the interruption folks. Back to L.J……
When I started writing Vicious and Defy, I had a very good grasp of the world I was playing in. I knew for a fact who Jaime, Melody, Vicious, Emilia, Rosie and Dean were going to end up with (Trent was another story. He was, and still is, to an extent, a mystery, though I figured most of his intentions and motivations out while writing Ruckus). So for me, this was a non-brainer.
In fact, there are still a lot of things that happened in the past with these four (Vicious, Emilia, Dean and Rosie) that are going to shed some light on the overall situation. I will say this, though – the fact that Dean was villainized by a lot of my readers has caught me off-guard. Nonetheless, I was really excited to dive into his story and I’m thrilled with the results.
- How do you think Dean and Rosie will be received as far as the – “Hey, I’m now fucking my sister’s ex-boyfriend” thing goes.
I really think it’s not that much of a big deal. Emilia dumped Dean—not the other way around. People don’t really know the whole history of this group. Morally, though, I have no problem with that whatsoever.
One of my best friends went and got married to her sister’s ex-boyfriend. They are going on family vacations together and it’s not weird at all. I love dealing with complex situations when it comes to love and relationships, and sometimes unabashedly flirt with taboo topics. Vicious was a terrible bully to Emilia and drove her away from her family, and he was forgiven.
Troy from Sparrow has kidnapped, forced our heroine into marriage and went on a killing rampage. He, too, was forgiven.
’m pretty confident Dean is much more redeemable than these guys.
I loved Defy but I can see how some people might feel some type of way regarding the teacher/student thing. I want to talk about that real quick.
- In Defy, we had a bit of teacher/student love affair going on, high school non-the less. How did you think readers would receive it?
I honestly didn’t think about it.
It might sound weird, but it’s the way I operate as a writer.
I try not to let what people think affect me. Every single book/novella I write takes very long months to write—sometimes up to a whole year (Sparrow). I invest most of my waking hours and a hefty amount of money on editing/covers/proofreading/promo/marketing. For those reasons alone, I cannot afford to worry about what other people might think of my work.
If I am that invested in my work—which I am—I have to execute it the way I see fit and not let other people’s opinions dictate or set the pace for me.
Vicious gave me life! I don’t think I have ever loved an asshole so much in my life.
- Where did Vicious come from? Is he based on someone in the real world? If he is, can you ask him to be my baby daddy?
Vicious is probably a hybrid of the few men who have managed to break my heart. As all of my heroes (or villains), he was sitting on my mind, mostly dormant, while I was busy writing other stuff. And, like most of my heroes (or villains), he has decided to take over my brain just as I was working on another title. I had to stop everything and write his story. The half-written WIP is still somewhere on my computer.
To sum up what I know so far about the Hot Holes, Vicious is the asshole, Jamie is the boy who had a thing for his high school teacher, Dean ends up with his ex’s sister, and Trent had a baby by a stripper who may be an opportunist. You are going balls to the wall with these men. I have to give it to you; you have guts and mad skill to pull this off so beautifully.
- How were the Hot Holes born? It is obvious you put a lot of time and attention into building each character. Where did that inspiration come from?
The HotHoles are loosely based on a group of students I knew in high school. I didn’t go to a preppy high school, but there WAS this type of group in my high school who drove crazy-ass Mercedes and carried the whole football team on their broad shoulders. I think every high school in California has a group of HotHoles. I was just watching 13 Reasons Why the other day and thought about it. About how every single high school in America probably has this group of self-entitled jocks who get away with everything. Even with what happened to Hannah.
Your writing career didn’t start with the Hot Holes so I’m going to veer away from them for a wee bit.
- In your previous books, what was the hardest scene to write?
What happened to Prescott in Blood to Dust, I guess. It was really brutal.
- Do you hide little personal secrets in your books?
Absolutely. Every book of mine has at least three to four scenes that are based on true stories.
- Your sex scenes are fantastic. What does your man think about them? Does he live up to them?
I sometimes let the husbot read the sex scenes and ask for his opinion. And of course he lives up to them, otherwise we wouldn’t be married!
There are certain things that annoy me from female authors but there is a big one in particular – writing the male POV chapters with a female mindset. In my personal opinion you write the male POV perfectly. I’m always interested in how some authors get it and some don’t. You got it down to a science which is one of the many reasons I love your books.
- Do you seek out advice from men to make sure it sounds like a man vs. a female trying to think she knows how a man would feel?
I’ve always dated (and later on, married), ultra alpha-males. I think it stems from the fact that I grew up with a veteran dad who did manual work for the majority of his life. I swear I didn’t know men were capable of shedding tears before I was thirteen and my granddad (his dad) passed away. So I always grew up—and then hung out—with very manly men.
It’s a blessing and a course to be surrounded by assholes, but I guess it makes it easier to write them. My husband is an asshole of epic proportions. He was one of my editors when I was still working as a journalist in a local magazine. I remember the day we first met, because he was changing someone’s flat tire outside work with his bare hands while holding his cell phone between his shoulder and ear, barking orders at another journalist. I remember thinking “this guy is fantastic” and also “I better not piss him off.”
I suppose I know what make alpha males tick, what makes their blood boil, and I am grateful that I have so many of them in my life to inspire me.
- If no one ever read a single thing you wrote, would you still be a writer?
Of course. But I would write an hour a day instead of three.
- As an avid reader who is new to this blogging thing, I’m curious to know how you feel about bloggers/reviewers. Would you say we hurt or help your career?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without bloggers, one-hundred percent. I don’t think it’s even questionable. Bloggers can make or break you. I know that for a fact. When I released Sparrow, I had nothing. I set up one Facebook ad and spent a ridiculously small amount of money on it. It was the bloggers who pushed the book hard. They believed in it and blew the whole friggin’ internet with it.
I have a very tight relationship with all of the bloggers who have been there for me from the very beginning. They are my rock, and I love them (regardless to how they rate my books, by the way. Just the fact that they share them is enough.)
I’m thinking we can end this interview with a few rapid-fire questions that need no explanation, just a one or two word answer.
- What’s you favorite flavor of Pringles?
Salt and vinegar. It’s a British thing. I went to university in England and came back loving vinegar on my chips and French fries. In one of my earlier dates with the husbot, I asked for vinegar at a restaurant and poured it all over my French fries. He stared at me for long seconds before asking: “Are you high?”
- What would you rate 10/10 in your life?
- What age would you want to live to?
I don’t think it’s about an age. I would love to live long enough to see my son happy and settled (and maybe a dad himself). After I know he’s “all good”, I don’t mind saying goodbye (but prefer not to, obvs)
- Have you ever kissed a girl?
I have. I was wonderfully drunk and she is now the godmother of my son (not because of that kiss.)
- Are you straight, lesbian, bi or open-minded?
I’m personally straight but I’m very open-minded. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of my straight friends fell in love with a person from the same sex. I see beyond genders.
Last but not least…
- Why did you agree to this interview?
Jeez, why not? People actually care about what I have to say. That’s pretty goddamn awesome. Never, in my wildest dreams, I thought someone would actually want to interview me. Thanks for having me!
I want you to know that you have a fan for life! I adore your writing, you have always been so sweet to me and I wish you more success than even you can imagine for yourself. I look forward to the day where I can say… “L. J. Shen… yeah, I know her. She even let me interview her back in the day, I always knew she was star.”
Ruckus is set to release on May 26, 2017, make sure you pick yours up. Click here for my review of Vicious by L.J. Shen, here for my review of Defy by L.J. Shen and here for my review of Sparrow by LJ. Shen.
Click here for a chance to win a signed copy of Vicious and/or Defy and a $20 Amazon gift card.
Stalk L.J. Shen, she loves it…