SS: Tell us about yourself and where your love of writing began?
Arlene Lagos: I’ve been writing since I was a child, but back then it was mostly poetry. I had a collection of poems before I was in high school and had a few published in an anthology. Then when I started doing theatre, I began writing plays for the stage. A few years of living in Los Angeles gave me the screenplay bug and I started writing short films; but it wasn’t until 2010 when I realized that I wanted to try my hand at writing a novel. Four years and five books later, I think I found my calling!
SS: Tell us about your latest book, what was the inspiration behind it?
Arlene Lagos: Next week, I’ll be releasing my latest work, “Outside The Circle” a middle-grade fiction book about a young girl named Emma who struggles to make friends. I was inspired by my eight-year old daughter who helped me write the story and even designed the cover! We talked a lot about what it feels like to be eight, and the kind of things kids her age are afraid of. Being an author allows me to be home for her and so I’m fortunate to be very involved in her life on a deep emotional level and so I really wanted to write something that kids her age could relate to.
SS: What can you tell us about the characters?
Arlene Lagos: The main character is Emma, who is extremely shy and afraid to approach people. When her best friend moves away, she starts third grade realizing that she has no friends and finds it difficult to introduce herself to others. The story is about her quest for courage and the motivations behind whether or not she finds it.
SS: What type of message were you trying to convey?
Arlene Lagos: I am hoping that when children read it, they realize that they are not alone with their fears. That all kids have fears or things they don’t like about themselves. I also want parents who read this book, either to or with their kids, to be reminded at just how hard it might be for their child to feel accepted; and to be more open to conversations about it. Especially with bullying being such a huge issue in our school system.
SS: What is your writing process?
Arlene Lagos: Normally I work alone, but with this project, I worked hand in hand with my daughter, discussing the characters, what they would look like, how they would react, what made them similar and different and what their ultimate goals were as a group and as individuals in the story. After we mapped out the characters and the theme, we worked on the different plot points and then wrote out summaries for each chapter. After that, it was about character building throughout the chapters.
SS: What advice do you have for other writers?
Arlene Lagos: Outline your story and write summaries of each chapter you want to write. Write everyday and read twice as much as you write!
SS: Are you working on something new?
Arlene Lagos: Currently, I am working on my second novel in the Butterflies Series, “Butterflies Rising” which continues the story line of the underground female mafia and what they are up to this time!
This is the novel I am working on as part of National Novel Writing Month (November) http://www.nanowrimo.org
I’ve won Nanowrimo in 2011 and 2013 and I am hoping to win this year as well, fingers crossed!
SS: I will be crossing my fingers, I am sure you will do amazing!
SS: What are your favorite books or authors?
Arlene Lagos: I love historical fiction! I’ll read anything by Ken Follet, Barbara King Solver, or Dan Brown. I really loved Peter Hamill’s “Forever” but feel like the TV show version doesn’t do it justice. Suzanne Collins blew my mind with Hunger Games Trilogy. I also recently read something by a guy named Peter Hammond called, “It’s A Desperate Life” and it was hilarious.
SS: Those are some amazing books and authors.
SS: What is something we would be surprised to know about you?
Arlene Lagos: People are always surprised when I tell them that I used to suffer from Panic Disorder. Not so much now, but for a few years in my early twenties, I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder w/agoraphobia. It was a very traumatic time in my life. It taught me that if you don’t deal with a problem, it deals with you. I was unhappy but unwilling to look at it head on, so it reared its ugly head until I saw it for what it was and made a change. It was the worst and the best thing that ever happened to me.
SS: Wow Arlene thanks for sharing this. I think this is so important and I can’t even begin to imagine how you must of felt. Also thanks for being here.
SS: What are your latest projects?
Arlene Lagos: Coming in February 2015 is “Butterflies Rising”
Launching next week, November 24th 2014 “Outside The Circle”
Beyond Planets, #2
Beyond Time, #3
Several short stories in the Giant Tales Anthologies:
Beyond The Mystic Doors
From the Misty Swamp
World of Pirates
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Butterflies Wake Book Trailer