- Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a lifelong Illinoisan, married with two teenage kids. I’ve been a writer my whole life—when I was 6 or 7, I filled a spiral notebook with a “novel” about two twin princesses named Justine and Justinea. There was a talking rabbit and a forbidden magical forest, yadda yadda. Today, I write professionally as a freelancer in the health care industry. I’ve got 3 cats, 2 dogs, 9 chickens, and (ugh) my son has a tarantula. I write my fiction under my maiden name: L.A. Guettler.
- What do you write (genre, length)?
My fiction work has mostly been short stories and a few bad poems. I wrote a sci-fi/space opera/comedic-y novel in 2018 called Red Darkling. Flash and micro fiction is a lot of fun, too. I like the challenge of fitting an entire story into as few words as possible. I do some Twitter prompts for just that reason. As far as genre goes, my short works tend toward the “weird tales” kind of thing—killer refrigerators, holes in closets, unknown devices in your dad’s garage. I use a lot of humor. I don’t do literary fiction or other “serious” writing. I do enough of that for my day job.
- What is/are your current project/s? Please give us some details.
As soon as I get myself past this current writer’s block, I’ll be continuing work on a sequel novel to Red Darkling. It’s going to continue her adventures, but this time the plot centers on her glitchy robot cat, Bonk. Bonk is pretty much everyone’s favorite character, and it deserves far more page time than it got in the first book. I don’t want to give away too much, but there will be explosions and a soap opera.
- Who (author or otherwise) or what book inspired you to write?
I don’t really remember what inspired me to be a writer. I’ve just always done it. If I had to pick a time when I consciously chose writing as my life’s work, that’s my freshman year at Augustana College. I realized that writing could be an actual thing that I could actually do, actually, and make money at it.
- What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just do it. Sit down and write. Get out of your own head—don’t worry about what other people want you to write, or what you think will sell, or whether it’s any good. That internal censor will kill the writing in you. I struggle with this a lot; I’ve always got some great excuse for why I can’t work on the next book today, I’ll start on Monday, this work project is taking to much of my time, blah blah blah. It’s all bullshit and I know it, but, well, there it is.
- What do you do for a living?
Oops, I already answered this. I’ll add that in addition to the freelance writing, I have a part time job at my tiny local library. I love that job. Being around books all day? Yes, please, thank you.
- Who is/are your favorite author(s)?
There are only a few authors that I make sure to read EVERYTHING as soon as it comes out. Jasper Fforde is currently at the top of the list. His writing is exactly what I like: funny, clever, fast-moving, almost absurd in premise, with great characters—especially female characters, which are rare enough. I’m also a huge fan of Erin Morgenstern, Becky Chambers, Angie Thomas, Stephen King, Bill Bryson, Tracy Chevalier, Tony Horowitz… I’d better stop there or I never will.
- What is/are your favorite book(s)?
There are books I love, and there are books I keep returning to. They’re not always the same books. I think the ones I reread umpteen million times are the “favorites” for me. They are comforting. I’ve read Watership Down by Richard Adams a dozen times over the years. Same with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I get the itch to reread The Lord of the Flies every few years. And for some reason I like to reread some of Stephen King’s older books: Tommyknockers, Salem’s Lot, IT, Christine, and of course the Dark Tower series.
- What’s the best compliment someone can give you as an author?
“I’ve been telling everyone about your book/story/etc!” We all have things we enjoy, but we don’t often get excited enough about something that we go out of our way to get other people excited about it too. That, to me, is proof I’m successful at what I’m doing.
- What is the strangest/most interesting/coolest/weirdest/scariest thing you’ve had to research for a book or short story?
One of the great things about writing “sci fi lite” is you don’t have to research anything. You can just make things up. Red’s spaceship has a grav plate. I have no idea how it works; it just does. I’m not trying to be Asimov or Roddenberry or even Andy Weir (The Martian). One thing I did have to look up, though, was how far away the horizon is when you’re a certain distance in the air. That was awful because it involved math. I’m sure I didn’t get it quite right, but no one’s complained yet.
- What is the most difficult part of writing for you? Why?
You mean aside from getting myself to actually do it? Transitions. I freaking hate transitions. In Red Darkling there’s a lot of times when she’s traveling from one planet to another, which even in fiction takes time. She took more showers and more naps than anyone has a right to. It’s gotten so bad that I’ve started letting myself jump ahead to the next piece of dialogue or action, then going back later to fill in the transition. If I didn’t do that, I’d find myself staring at the screen for hours in frustration. It really kills the flow.
- What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
Humorous sci fi/fantasy, like Douglas Adams or Jasper Fforde. Anything that takes itself too seriously is hard for me to get into. Historical fiction is good, too. I like to read about how people lived their lives in other places and times. Memoir of a Geisha, for example, or Philippa Gregory’s Tudor books.
- What are some little known facts about you? Hobbies, talents, anything?
Hm. Most things about me are “little known” because I, myself, am little known. Oh! I was on TV once, back in 1993. My favorite show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, decided to use a show-themed Halloween costume party to film promos and bumper spots for their Turkey Day Marathon. I managed to get myself invited through my contacts on the fan message boards on Prodigy and AOL (these were the proto-internet days). So, I got to introduce one of the episodes, in costume, on national cable TV. I kept screwing up my lines, and they kept some of the bloopers in. There are people in fan groups now, in 2020, who remember seeing that spot 27 years ago.
- Do you like physical books, ebooks, or audiobooks better? Why?
Physical books, no question. It makes reading an experience more than ebooks or audio. There’s weight to it, a smell. I do read ebooks on occasion; mostly indie authors I want to try out without a lot of financial commitment. Also I read A Song of Ice and Fire on ebook because those are simply too enormous to hold. Audio I only do on long road trips, because I’m too prone to multitasking when I listen at home and I end up not being able to follow the plot.
Find L.A. at the links below!
Facebook: Lea Anne Guettler
Available on Amazon
Hear the first chapter of Red Darkling read aloud here!