Hi M, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born and raised in Texas, with a large side of Southern Louisiana, which is where most of my extended family lives. I grew up speaking both English and French Creole and eating lots of jambalaya. I eventually got a degree in screenwriting then went on to get a graduate degree in writing and publishing. I worked in publishing for a number of years before deciding to devote my time to working on my own books rather than anyone else’s.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I recently was a guest at the InD’Scribe conference and did my first signing, and I’d like to do more—attend conferences as a guest author/speaker and do signings. Those are my practical ambitions. In general, I’d like to have engaged readers—I enjoy hearing from them and wish I did more often.
Which writers inspire you?
Arthur Conan Doyle, certainly, given that my career first really got started with Sherlock Holmes stories. My novel The K-Pro was called “Neil Gaiman for girls” by one reader, and it’s true that I have enjoyed Gaiman’s work in the past. I think my spy novel was inspired by John Le Carré. As for Manifesting Destiny, that probably came from reading so many books aloud to my kids. In fact, a recent Amazon review stated “I would recommend it to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson,” which is exactly the stuff I’ve been reading to my children. I certainly feel honored that someone would shelve me with such great works.
So, what have you written?
Well, way back when, my first officially published works were a short story in Future’s Mysterious Anthology Magazine and a poem in the journal Rosebud. And then for about six years I was barely writing except a blog called Letters to Rob (you can find the PDF of it on my site now; it was a series of open letters to musician Rob Thomas and got picked up by Atlantic’s music boards for a while). Once I was working in publishing full time, I didn’t have the energy to write my own stuff any more. But when I left, I found I needed that outlet again. I dipped back in by starting with some well-received fan fiction (which is how I’d originally cut my teeth as a writer, but that’s another story), and then I tried self-publishing a Sherlock Holmes story. It was the story that got me into grad school, in fact, and it did better than I expected, maybe because I had zero expectations for it. I published some more Sherlock Holmes stuff, then branched out to some other things as mentioned above: a fantasy based loosely on my own experiences working on film sets and informed by my minor in Classics and mythology (The K-Pro); a 1960s spy novel (The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller; a scripted version won a screenwriting award); an anthology of short stories (The World Ends at Five). And most recently Manifesting Destiny, as well as the short story “Aptera” which appeared on Aurora Wolf this past June. I’ve also had a 15-minute play produced and then turned into a short film known as “Adverse Possession.”
You can find links to everything on my site: http://PepperWords.com.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
My main character in Manifesting Destiny is Cee. She’s sixteen and has a crush on her best friend Marcus, but he’s gay. The story takes place in the future, and society has evolved in such a way that most—but not all—people morph at some point in their adolescence. They are able to transform into some kind of animal, but they never know which one until it happens for the first time. Cee discovers she has a snarky dragon named Livian living inside her, which is a problem because dragons are supposed to be extinct. Marcus and her other friends urge Cee to get rid of Livian, have him removed by a ruling Clan known as the Magi. The story is fundamentally about embracing your true self regardless of pressure to conform. Also, it’s about taming your inner dragon and controlling your emotions.
What are you working on at the moment?
A couple things. For one, the sequel to Manifesting Destiny, which will be titled The Great Divide. And on the lighter side, a Regency romance titled Brynnde.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I don’t even know! The problem with Hollywood and “the industry” is that it takes so long to get things moving, and when you’re talking about young characters, the actors and actresses age out so fast.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I grew up thinking I would either be a magazine editor or a film director. Yet I always loved to read and write, and I was always a storyteller. I’m not sure at what point it occurred to me that I could maybe write for film instead. Even when I started college, I was still thinking I’d be a magazine journalist, but things outside my control conspired to put me in the radio-television-film school instead. Still, I never thought I’d be only a writer. It’s why I got a publishing degree—I assumed I’d be working in publishing if I weren’t going to be working in Hollywood. Not until I quit all that did I say to myself, “You know, maybe I’m just a good, old-fashioned writer.”
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Ostensibly it’s my full-time job, but with three kids the truth is I’m splitting my time between work and family.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
During the school year it’s much easier. I take the kids to school, go for my morning walk, come back to my home office (known as Little London) and write until it’s time for the kids to get home. Of course, I also do things like laundry and dishes and sometimes have to run errands… Then, in the summer when the kids are home, it’s almost impossible to get any writing done. I, ahem, have to write off the writing, which is very difficult and frustrating for me.
Do you write every day, or when you have time?
I try to write every day, even just a little, though weekends are family time and so I may or may not get writing done then depending on what else we have planned.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I don’t outline. It feels too restrictive. I start and I go with it until I hit a barrier. Then I flow chart. I have a notebook on my desk, and I write questions to myself like, “Why does So-and-so do this?” Or, “What happens if So-and-so goes here?” And then I chart possible answers and decide which makes sense for the character and the story.
If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
It’s the first in a proposed trilogy. I hesitate to call it dystopian because the world I’ve created is very peaceful. In fact, the main character is loath to upset the apple cart because it would mean ruining that peace. She makes decisions based on a desire NOT to start a war, but… Other factions have different ideas.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I’m always at least reading one thing, often more than one. I go in cycles in regards to authors. In middle school I was all about Michael Crichton and Dean Koontz. In high school I went through Stephen King and Anne Rice. In college it was Neil Gaiman and Nick Hornby. I went through a John Le Carré and Kathy Reichs phase. Nowadays I’ve been enjoying Tana French, Kate Morton, Ben Aaronovitch, Alison Weir… And I’ll always, always love Shakespeare and Jane Austen and [almost] anything Sherlock Holmes.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m making my way through Tana French’s latest, The Trespasser.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To start sooner. I feel like I’m making up for lost time.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Oh, you mean is there a book I’ve read where I’ve said, “I wish I’d written that”? There are dozens! But maybe Michael Dibdin’s The Last Sherlock Holmes Story. Because wow, just wow.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Not to compare themselves to other writers. I find that’s when I start to doubt myself and feel depressed—when I look at what other authors have accomplished and feel like I’m somehow less than them. I keep a timeline on my whiteboard in my office now that shows all the milestones in my writing career. I find it helpful in being able to see how far I’ve come.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Visit my website, sign up for my newsletter, Like my Facebook page, follow me on Amazon. And I especially love it when people ask me questions on my Goodreads page.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/M-Pepper-Langlinais/e/B008FBOSPE/
Book Links: All linked here: http://pepperwords.com/?page_id=1687
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Thanks for hosting me!
Changers: Manifesting Destiny
Sixteen-year-old Cee has a hopeless crush on her best friend Marcus. Unfortunately for her, he’s gay. In the wake of Marcus’s older brother leaving home to join the Aerie, Marcus has become increasingly distant. Then, when Cee discovers she has a troublesome dragon named Livian living inside her things grow even more complicated.
Marcus urges Cee to go to the Magi to have Livian removed, but the more used to Livian Cee becomes, the less certain she is about letting him go. Should she change her natural self for the crush who will never love her anyway?
Heat spread through her. Cee’s face elongated, her arms extended, her nails formed into claws, and her feet became suddenly very heavy. The bony spires erupted from her shoulders, and Cee was compelled to double over to allow the wings to grow.
Throughout, Cee fought the urge to resist, though her instinct was to do just that. She wondered what she looked like, caught a glimpse of red scales, and realized her eyesight had become sharper. All the details of the trees around her impressed themselves upon her brain: the cracks and flakes in the bark, the saw-tooth edges of the leaves, and every little spot and insect thereupon.
How big was she? Cee realized she was at eye level with the middle of the trees. She looked down and saw her friends pushing themselves even harder against the trunks, making way for Cee’s—or Livian’s, she supposed—tail as it snaked by.
Yes, we’re very pretty, said Livian impatiently. But we don’t have time for showing off just now.
The massive wings began to move, slowly at first, gathering speed that put the force of the helicopter’s artificial wind to shame. Cee realized she had no control over what was happening. It was all Livian, and she was housed inside him, somehow, along for the ride.
It was equal parts thrilling and petrifying, bursting through the treetops and being free of gravity. Cee would have liked to spend more time experiencing it, but there was the helicopter, like a massive black bug, and Livian went right for it.
On Evernight Teen’s site: http://www.evernightteen.com/manifesting-destiny-by-m-pepper-langlinais/
On Amazon (US): https://www.amazon.com/Manifesting-Destiny-Changers-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01JQTNUXO/
On Amazon (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Manifesting-Destiny-Changers-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01JQTNUXO/
On Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/658363
On B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/manifesting-destiny-m-pepper-langlinais/1124415566
On iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/manifesting-destiny/id1145055577
On Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/manifesting-destiny
On All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-manifestingdestiny-2084785-140.html