My guest today is a fellow Antipodean from across ‘The Ditch’ (ie the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.) It’s wonderful to see how Soraya M. Lane has succeeded in reaching an international audience as the author of historical and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novel Wives of War was an Amazon #1 bestseller.
Soraya graduated with a law degree before realising that law wasn’t the career for her and that her future was in writing. She lives on a small farm in her native New Zealand with her husband, their two young sons and a collection of four-legged friends. When she’s not writing, she loves to be outside playing make-believe with her children or snuggled up inside reading.
You can connect with Soraya on Facebook, Twitter or at her website. Wives of War, Voyage of the Heart and Hearts of Resistance are available via her Amazon page.
What or who inspired you to first write? Which authors have influenced you?
I have always loved reading and I think it was a natural progression for me to start writing. I still have notebooks full of half-written stories from my childhood that I love to glance through sometimes – I was the kid always scribbling down ideas and reading books long after the lights were supposed to be out at night! When I was in my early twenties, my husband asked me what my dream job would be, and answering that question made me determined to actually write a novel from start to finish. Seven long manuscripts later and I sold my first book.
What is the inspiration for your current book? Is there a particular theme you wished to explore?
I write mainly historical women’s fiction now, and I love to explore the WWII period and write about women who were feminists before their time. My latest book, Hearts of Resistance, features some very brave women who are so incredibly inspirational, and I love writing about strong female characters.
What period of history particularly inspires or interests you? Why?
To be honest, I’m inspired by many periods of history – I find so many things about the past fascinating. But my readers are currently enjoying my WWII fiction, and there are still many interesting places and events from the 1940s that I’d like to explore before moving on to a different time period, so I’ll be sticking with WWII for the near future.
What resources do you use to research your book? How long did it take to finish the novel?
For two of my historical projects I’ve had a research assistant, however for this novel I completed all the research myself. I usually take a month to research the story and write the outline of the story to send to my editor, then I’m about four months of solid writing to complete my first full draft. I would then spend roughly a month on editing the novel, based on revision notes from my editor, so for a 100,000 word novel, it would be a 6 month project.
What do you do if stuck for a word or a phrase?
I’m a fast writer and nothing annoys me more than being stuck for a word or description. So I’ll just type XXX and highlight the section, and come back later when I have time to re-read my writing and/or do some more research to find the right word or terminology. I often tell aspiring writers not to get stuck on words or names, just mark it clearly and come back to it later when you’re in editing mode. I’m a big fan of just getting as many words on the page as I can when I’m writing.
Do you use a program like Scrivener to create your novel? Do you ever write in long hand?
I don’t use a program, I just type straight into Word. Many years ago I used to do a lot of writing by hand, but I developed trigger fingers and tendonitis in my lower arm, which made handwriting very painful – my fingers would actually seize up. I found that typing isn’t so bad for me, although I do still have a larger lower arm on my right arm from the tendonitis. If I was more adventurous, I’d probably try dictation software!
Is there a particular photo or piece of art that strikes a chord with you? Why?
I always have a Pinterest board to “show” me what my characters and my setting looks like, however I’m not a huge art fan necessarily so I can’t think of a particular piece. I love admiring works of art, but it’s not something that I’m naturally drawn to or have much of in my home. My father cluttered all of our walls with art in our family home, he was obsessed with art and I found most of the paintings he loved very dreary, so now in my own home it’s all crisp white walls and very minimal art! I do love black & white prints, such as the Vogue collection though.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Just write! Seriously, if you’re already writing a story, you are so much closer to achieving publication than all those people who say they want to write a book, but aren’t actually writing. Try to write every day, even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes, and don’t second-guess yourself – just write. The more you write, the better you will become, and try to think of your pre-publication years as your apprenticeship.
I am a big fan of setting a timer for 15 minutes and just writing as much as you can with no distractions during that time. I do this on a daily basis, many many times a day, and I have another author friend who I “work” with – we set our timers and text message each other our word count for each 15 minute session, so we get a lot done in short bursts of time. We can become quite competitive, and it’s a great motivation tool – even though we live in different parts of the country we can still write together.
Read your favourite books and think about why you loved the story – was it the conflict or the characters? What was the setting like? Once I understood how to develop conflict properly, it really helped me to create better, more three-dimensional flawed characters, and that’s when I sold my first book. Also, make sure you join a great writer’s organisation such as Romance Writers of Australia – the support and advice you can get from their conference is second to none.
Tell us about your next book.
I’m currently waiting on revisions for my next book, which is tentatively titled Spitfire Girls. It’s about the amazing female ferry pilots who worked in the UK for the ATA and in the US as the WASP, during WWII. These women were so brave and talented, but they were treated terribly in the beginning for doing what was seen as a “man’s job”. I can’t wait to share this story with my readers!
At the height of World War II, three women must come together to fight for freedom, for the men they love—and for each other.
When Hazel is given the chance to parachute into Nazi-occupied France, she seizes the opportunity to do more for the British war effort than file paperwork. Alongside her childhood friend, French-born Rose, she quickly rises up the ranks of the freedom fighters. For Rose, the Resistance is a link to her late husband, and a way to move forward without him. What starts out as helping downed airmen becomes a bigger cause when they meet Sophia, a German escapee and fierce critic of Hitler who is wanted by the Gestapo. Together the three women form a bond that will last a lifetime.
But amid the turmoil and tragedy of warfare, all three risk losing everything—and everyone—they hold dear. Will their united front be strong enough to see them through?
Thanks so much for sharing your sources of inspiration, Soraya. Lovely to have a ‘Kiwi’ visit my Triclinium.
You can buy Hearts of Resistance here.
Haven’t subscribed yet to enter into giveaways from my guests? You’re not too late for the chance to win this month’s book if you subscribe to my Monthly Inspiration newsletter for giveaways and insights into history – both trivia and the serious stuff! You’ll also receive an 80 page free short story Dying for Rome -Lucretia’s Tale.
Keely Beresford says
Great interview & very inspiring & full of common sense too.
It makes such a difference when interviewer and interviewee spark off each other.
Nancy Reynolds says
Loved this interview. I have not read any of Ms. Lane’s book, but I am certainly going to search them out and read them because they are definitely my kind of story. Thanks for the interview.
Penny Holosko says
Looking forward to learning more about this writer. I have a great deal of respect for the resistance fighters and the incredible job they did in ww2 and other theatres of war
Judy Phillips says
Very interesting interview. Love historical fiction especially 1900’s.
Donna Shaw says
I am drawn to WWII stories as I was a youngster at that time and wrote regularly to my uncle who was in the army and fought “somewhere in Germany” as referred to in his letters to me. My son-in-law is French and his family comes from and lives in Brittany. I would love to read this book and give it to him to read and share with his parents.
Teresa Hill says
After reading Daughters of the Night Sky, I am even more interested in the role women played during WWII. I think I would enjoy the author’s books and will be adding them to my “to read” list in just a minute!
Vicki Wurgler says
I would love to read about the brave women of WWII. I enjoy reading books and watching movies from that time.
Dora Szekeres says
This interview really boosted up my interest. I have never read any of S.M. Lane’s books but I will definitely discover them! I also like the idea of this “friendly competition” style of writing that helps with concentration and motivation!
Josephine Sanderson says
I love historical fiction but I love it even more when it encompasses the strength and role of women.
Terry Martini says
Wonderful interview. I am definitely adding Soraya M. Lane to my list of authors to read. Do her books need to be read in order or are they all stand-alone novels?
Elisabeth Storrs says
Thanks for dropping by to comment Terry. The books are standalone and feature the stories of different women in WW2. Lots to enjoy!
Jacqueline Daigneault says
I am so much in the with historical Fiction and non fiction can’t wait to read these
Melanie Falconer says
This is a new author for me but I love historical fiction so glad to be introduced to her books. Would love to win a copy of one!
Virginia Suckling says
This is a new author for me too so I’ll be looking out for her books. It was an interesting interview and I enjoyed the comments too!
Virginia Suckling says
I’ve just bought Wives of War!
Mary Preston says
A fascinating time period and I do love to read about the women of this era.
Chele Kispert says
Super interview. I’ve added her book to my must reads!!
Looking forward to it!
Enjoyed the article. The book sounds really good.
Caryl Kane says
Wonderful interview! I enjoy reading about this era!
Dedra Lake says
What a wonderful interview. I am not familiar with this author. Yet after this interview, I will be looking into getting her books. I really enjoy historical fiction…. Thank you for enlightening me to another author whom I will enjoy reading.
Jackie Wisherd says
Interesting blog. I learned some things about the author and her life. I would enjoy her books written with the 1940’s themes.
Betsy Pauzauskie says
I enjoyed reading about Soraya M. Lane’s past work choices, realization that writing was her dream job, and even the idea of setting a timer and comparing with a friend to increase productivity! Fascinating Interview! Soraya’s WWII story tugs at my heart with it’s friendships; as well as the dedicated, yet perilous undertakings the heroines choose to pursue. I’d love to learn how the story unfolds.
Hi All im newbie here. Good article! Thx! Love your stories!
Elisabeth Storrs says
Glad you’ve joined!