Many of our students go on to work in the writing field and become published writers. One of those students is Loren Dempsey, who graduated with a writing & linguistics degree in 2012. Since then, he has published his first novel, Rosemary, which is the beginning of his Lineage of Zeal series. I had the chance to catch up with Loren and learn more about his book, his writing process, and what his next plans are.
The book follows the story of Rosemary, a woman whose child is taken from her by demons, as she journeys across the Kingdom of Gratia and the rest of the Western Continent in search of her son. Along the way she meets friends as well as enemies, and must overcome her own single-mindedness to find her son again.
Below you’ll find my interview with Loren to learn more about his book and advice he has for aspiring writers.
What was your writing process like for this book?
There were times when I’d go months between chapters, not writing a word. But to say I wasn’t “writing” would be incorrect. Almost constantly in the back of my mind, I was plotting. I was thinking of scenes, of conversations, of events, of causes and effects. I talked to my characters and asked them questions and followed them around. My process was more like research than outright creation; I created these characters, yes, but then I let them live out their lives while I shadowed them and took notes. Eventually, I would be so stuffed with material that I’d have to sit down and write an entire chapter in one go.
For you, what was the hardest part of writing this book?
Honestly, the act of just sitting and writing. Despite knowing that I can’t improve what isn’t written down, I always have the hardest time starting. It’s not dialogue I have issues with, not setting, description, or formatting for publication, but simply starting to write new material. A close second is editing. Not because of anything psychological like starting writing, but because that is the weakest aspect of my writing overall.
What was the most enjoyable part?
I’d have to say the most enjoyable part of writing this is hearing people talk about it. As of now, they aren’t many, and it’s usually me they’re talking to, but the fact that I have created something that even one person has an interest in is just the best feeling. We talk about my characters as though they are alive—because they are—and we talk about the world they inhabit. Nothing beats the feeling of someone wanting more of and sharing your passion for what you’ve created.
You decided to go the self-publishing route. Can you tell us about that process and your experience with it?
I decided to publish with the CreateSpace platform run by Amazon. The process itself isn’t too difficult, but what they don’t tell you is how expensive it can be. Sure, they have free cover-creation tools, but what they offer isn’t ever going to turn heads. A professionally done cover can cost hundreds. Same for formatting you book for print. Editing especially can cost, and if you try to skimp like I did on a freelance site, well, you get what you pay for. But the biggest roadblock that I was not expecting was promotion. Ad space costs. Reviews can cost. Promotion costs. I was neither ready for nor expecting just exactly how much it would take to properly promote my first novel without the help of an agent whose paycheck is also riding on my success.
What advice would you give writing students about the writing and publishing process?
I would suggest telling the story you are passionate about telling, even if it conflicts with “what’s selling.” Write what makes you feel alive, write what makes you feel giddy when you read it back, write what sends shivers down your spine when read aloud. Because if what you write doesn’t move you, how can you expect it to move anyone else? You may have to write things you don’t want to from time to time, but remember that is also a useful experience. Learning to expand your written horizons will only serve to further enrich your craft.
How do you feel Georgia Southern and the department helped to prepare you for a career in writing?
My decision to self-publish was weighted by information I had gathered during classes in the department. At first, I was afraid to, but the department showed me that, though, I might not be an immediate smash hit, with the way things are going today, taking the self-publishing could actually be a useful tool in getting my name out in the world. They also did not shy from the fact that writing is hard, and that the life of a writer is difficult. It’s not a life that can be lived passively, and I thank them for teaching that lesson.
Loren is currently working on the second book in the Lineage of Zeal series, as well as several other writing projects. He is also pursuing a career in Japan teaching English, and hopes that the experience will enrich his writing.
His book, Rosemary, can be found at Amazon. Congrats Loren, and we hope to hear more about you and your writing accomplishments soon!