A vast majority of indie book readers are female. When we usually think of books aimed at women, we think of “chicklit” or especially erotica. However, those books can lack one important thing: a woman they can look up to. There might be women they can sympathize with, or relate to, but very few female leads in novels are women that make readers say, “I want to be her.”
Often, we want to live the lives of the female characters we read about, but rarely do we want to actually be like them. When I started writing the Paranormal Detectives Series, I had no idea I was going to create a character that women look up to.
I met Angelica Cross when she knocked on Danny’s door one night, and I knew as little about her as Danny did. I hadn’t really plotted out her character, and was flying by the seat of my pants as I wrote, discovering her abilities, her lineage, her weaknesses, and especially her strengths.
She seems to be the favorite of my readers, and she is my favorite as well. She’s a fighter, she’s a survivor, and she’s as kind as she is deadly. Unlike a lot of female heroes, she does not need Danny at her side. On the contrary, he gets injured so often he is more of a burden than a help. Danny is the main character, but Angelica is the one who saves the day when he gets himself into tight spots, facing down cursed werewolves or rogue vampires.
I saw a quote from Neil Gaiman that said, “I like stories where women save themselves”. So do I. So, it seems, do readers. So why are so many books targeted towards women featuring female characters who do the exact opposite?
I am not against romance, because I also write erotica on the side and there is romance in the PD Series, but I am against writers penning women who need men, who feel sad when they don’t have a lover, or who fret about till a man gives them the solution they needed to their problem.
I am not saying Angelica’s character is without flaws She can’t trust, she keeps secrets, and there are a few other things I don’t want to give away here. However, she is fearless. Unafraid. I don’t think YA should be the only genre with strong female leads. Many times, us adults need a character we can look up to as well. To quote a reviewer: she can be kick ass while wearing her six-inch heels and getting the guy.
Is she an easy character to write? Hell no. Is it rewarding when female readers tell me how much they love her? You bet. I want to see more heroes like Katniss, Wonder Woman, and even Mulan in forms of media targeted towards adults. Because we, too, deserve fictional women to look up to.
Lily Luchesi is a young author/poet born in Chicago, Illinois, now residing in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things “dark”. At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle by the time she was twelve, and, as her family has always been what they now call “Gothic”, she doesn’t believe she shall ever change. She is also a hopeless romantic and avid music-love who will always associate vampires with love, blood, and rock and roll.
Her interest in poetry came around the same time as when she was given a book of Edgar Allan Poe’s complete work. She then realized that she had been writing her own poetry since she could hold a pen, and just had not known the correct terms. She finished her first manuscript at the age of fourteen, and now, at twenty-one, has two contributing credits in anthologies and her debut novel, Stake-Out (Paranormal Detectives Series Book One), was published by Vamptasy Publishing on May 19th, 2015. Book two, Miranda’s Rights, wasreleased on January 8th, 2016.
She has a short story, “Undead Ever After” in the Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly anthology Love Sucks (released on June 13th, 2015). Her first erotic short story, “Have No Fears”, was published in the Hot Ink Press anthology Naughty Bedtime Stories: In Three Words on October 10th. She will also have a short erotic horror story, “The Devil’s Dozen”, in the upcoming Hot Ink Press anthology Death, Love, Lust, which will be released on February 4th, 2016.
Q. Where are you from? Does the area you live in influence you writing?
I live in Los Angeles right now, and the city will factor into some of my work, yes, but it hasn’t yet.
My series, the Paranormal Detectives, is set in and around Chicago, where I lived for seventeen years. They city always had a certain vibe to me that resonated with paranormal energy, and I set the series there without hesitation.
Q. Tell us your latest news??
Well, as of today (writing this on January 8th) I just released my second full-length novel, “Miranda’s Rights (Paranormal Detectives Book Two)” and have so far received rave reviews from readers. It follows the story of mortal detective Danny Mancini and half-vampire Angelica Cross as they defend Chicago from evil and navigate their very emotional past and turbulent relationship.
By the time this interview is posted, I will have released my second erotica short story, “The Devil’s Dozen”, in the Hot Ink Press anthology “Death, Love, Lust”. It is erotic horror and will take place in Los Angeles (like I said above, the city will feature into some of my writing), and it is about a young woman who finds herself trapped in a deadly Friday the 13th myth with a beautiful, strange girl.
Q. When and why did you begin writing? What inspired you to write your first book?
I began writing when I was a child. I always loved to make up stories in my head, and when I was eight a teacher gave me my love of writing them down.
The first book I wrote is actually not the first one I published. The first book I released into the world was Stake-Out (Paranormal Detectives Book One) and the plot came to me when I was watching a crime show on TV and wondered if what would happen if a mortal detective’s perp turned out to be a vampire. The rest just kind of flowed.
Q. What book(s) / author(s) have influenced your life and writing?
When I was young it was Judy Blume, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, and Ann M. Martin. After I turned twelve the people that had a direct influence on my work were Ellen Schreiber, Zac Brewer (nee Heather), and Darren Shan. They taught me so much about writing vampires into a modern setting, and a lot about half-vampires.
As I went into my teens, I found Stephen King (my favorite author), J.R.R. Tolkien, Charlotte Bronte, and Poe.
All of these authors helped shape my writing in some way or another.
Q. Tell us about your characters and how they came to be? Have they been in your head for a long time?
No, none of my characters were in my head for a long time. Danny was a combination of some of my favorite TV detectives, mixed with what I knew was a Chicago Italian man’s attitude and outlook. He was fully formed only when I first began writing the PD Series.
Vincent, my villain, is in the vein of the classic, killer vampires like Count Dracula. He’s handsome and alluring, but all he wants is blood and death. I wanted to have a classic villain, and that’s what I hope I succeeded in making.
Angelica Cross is still a mystery to me. I have currently just finished the manuscript for the third PDS book, and only now has her past and her personality become 99% clear to me. The same way she was introduced to the readers (showing up randomly at Danny’s door), was the same way she was introduced to me, and I enjoyed discovering her quirks and her past right along with the readers.
Q. What motivates you to write?
I have a very solid support team behind me with my mother who was supported me since I decided this was going to be my career, my publishing company and colleagues are great motivators, and so are my loyal readers. I love it when someone complains that they can’t get the next book in the series fast enough. It warms my heart.
But my real motivator is selfish: I love to create. If I did not do this, I would lose my mind.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing?
Writer’s block. It sounds silly, but when I get a block, it stays for weeks, sometimes months. It’s scary, it’s frustrating, and it makes me doubt my abilities
Q. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I can’t stick to a plot for the life of me! No, really, I learned a lot about myself as I wrote, about what kind of mark I want to leave on the world, and a lot of that was taught to me by my characters. Danny and Angelica have great lessons for us all, if we only stop to listen to them.
Q. Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere. My series I told you about, but “The Devil’s Dozen” was inspired in a very odd way: a dream I had when I was half awake last year while I had the flu. So I was medicated and feverish, and that is what came out of it! I guess the flu has a purpose! haha
Sometimes real life gives me ideas, sometimes it’s music. Sometimes it’s nothing at all. It’s very odd, but as long as the Muse is speaking, I am listening.
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
I have an extremely small family. I know if my grandma was alive she’d be thrilled. My mom and she taught me to read before I was three, and my mom was a poet. She encourages me and is my biggest fan. I love that she supports me in this and I know I am very blessed.
Q. What is the best advice you would give to inspiring authors?
Don’t give up. Before Stake-Out was published, I had a file of rejection letters. Some were form letters, but some were very personal and borderline nasty. I was literally ready to give up, go back into medecine like I had planned, and then I recieved an email from Vamptasy Publishing, telling me they wanted to publish my series. I cried, and it was then I knew that, had I not sent out that last batch of emails, I never would have had my dream come true.
Q. What book(s) are you reading now?
I’m reading a few books at once. One is Every Kingdom Divided by Stephen Kozeniewski, which is great and not my usual type of book at all. I am reading Fake It by Victoria Kinnaird and loving it. I am also rereading the entire Sherlock Holmes catalogue in chronological order, something I have wanted to do since I was nine years old.
Danny and Miranda sat in uncomfortable silence for a few moments, processing everything they had heard and what Danny had seen, thanks to those damned powers of his.
“Was it hard for you? Seeing it all firsthand?” Miranda asked.
He nodded. “It was intense. It was brutal and pitiful. If I had a choice, I would give up these powers forever. Angelica says they’re a blessing, but I say they’re a curse. You can’t possibly know what it’s like to have these visions. To be there, in the thick of it, watching it as it happens, knowing every evil thing said and thought. It’s like living a nightmare. Only one of my visions has ever been good.”
Miranda went and stood behind her former fiancé, placing her cold hands on his shoulders and giving him a light squeeze. “If I could take your pain away, I would.”
“If you could, I’d pay you all the money Dad left me,” he replied.
Miranda was silent, contemplating. “I could do it, you know.”
“Do what?” he asked, turning around in the chair to face her.
“Make the powers go away. Make you not feel any of these pesky fears.” Her voice was nonchalant, but her eyes were sharp.
He could see that this had been a planned confrontation somehow, and he was wary. For wanting to be a lawyer, she could never hold her cards very close to her chest. That was why he’d never taught her to play poker.
“How?” He was a former cop. He could get anyone to admit anything and he planned to make Miranda spill her guts. He knew it would be easy. She had that smug look on her face he remembered from their dating years. That look meant she was ready to brag.
Her cool fingers traced along his throat, leaving behind an uncomfortable sensation.
“Let me turn you. You’ll lose your powers and fears, and then we could be together…forever. Just you and me, like it was always meant to be.”
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