Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Iris Lim!
This particular story is special to me because it is inspired by my own love story with my husband. I’ve had to make a few adjustments for the time period and to employ some creative license, obviously, but the heart of the story remains the same. I also managed to schedule it to debut on the 12th anniversary of our first date, so that was extra special!
Tell us about your road to publication.
My journey is a little unique because it actually started in fanfiction! I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I never thought it could actually become my reality, so I just maintained a hobby writing and posting Pride and Prejudice fan variations online. Little did I know that about eight years ago, a small press would pick up three of my stories and publish them on Amazon. But that wasn’t the end of the story, because the small press, despite initial success, suddenly closed down a year later! I was very discouraged, but my husband encouraged me to try self-publishing via Amazon instead.
I took that step by faith and submission and was able to build a bit of a following in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction world. Then, three years ago, with my husband’s incessant support (one can sort of sense a theme here), I ventured into writing original Regency fiction, and I have just fallen in love with both the writing and the publishing aspects of it all since then.
How are your characters like you? Different?
Since this book is based on a true story, I obviously had to base Melodia largely on a younger version of myself. I don’t know if I have been objective enough, but I do think the incessant talking, the clumsiness, and the dreaming and growing up she had to do were the most personal parts of the character for me.
What draws you to the time period about which you write?
It always goes back to Jane Austen. I discovered her books serendipitously as a fourteen-year-old, and
What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.) What is your favorite part of the process?
I have a hopeless Type A personality, so that translates to my writing as well. I always have an outline for my stories, which I need to produce in one sitting, and I try to draft or edit a scene or two every day. I stress out in real life when there’s no concrete plan for dinner, so I definitely need a plot to keep me anchored when it comes to my books!
As for my favorite part, I would probably have to say it’s when I find the perfect cover. I know it doesn’t have to do with the actual writing, but it is sort of a reward for me to put a nice outfit on my book baby and to see it come to form!
How does/did your job prepare you for being a novelist?
I have worked in the education sector my whole adult life, and I was a high school English teacher for the first third of it. The chance to read and teach about books for a living really sharpened my sensitivity to what makes evocative writing, but it also gave me imposter syndrome and sometimes made me feel that I should never publish because I’ll never be the next William Shakespeare or Harper Lee anyway (or, you know, Jane Austen).
I don’t think any classrooms will be studying my books anytime soon, but I do think that the love for literature that I always work so hard to pass onto my students is an essential part of who I am as a reader and a writer.
How do you celebrate when you finish a manuscript?
I don’t. I stress about the next story instead. I really need to learn to chill. Haha.
What is your advice to fledgling writers?
I would also encourage them to step out of their shell and connect with other readers and writers. Writing might seem like a solitary occupation at first glance, but it really doesn’t have to be. To have a sustainable career as a writer, one needs the support of loved ones as well as other people within the same field.
What books are on your nightstand right now?
My Kindle Paperwhite is on my nightstand, so I guess that counts as a few hundred books. But I just finished reading Rosanne E. Lortz’s The Vicar and the Village Scandal last night, and it was wonderful!
What is your next project?
Book 4 of my Beniton Hall series, Mr. Avington’s Game of Hearts, is debuting in April, so I need to get that final proof done as soon as I can. This book is lighthearted and all about the London Season. And because Alfred has been so hard-headed and selfish before, I look forward to humbling him and watching him turn into a lovesick fool when the right woman comes along. It’s the best kind of retribution!
About Once Upon a Time in Millsbury
Lord Garrett Laurence, viscount and future earl, returns home to Millsbury jaded, world-weary, and decidedly unmarried. There are plenty of young ladies around, but no one catches his eye—no one, perhaps, except his younger sisters’ sweet, vivacious bosom friend.
Raised all her life in one small town, Melodia Reese dreams of life beyond Millsbury every single day. When an unexpected chance to visit London comes along, she warms to the thrill and the dangers of Town. Yet she wonders if her heart ever did leave Millsbury at all.
A heartfelt story of two neighbors discovering all they’ve ever wanted hidden in plain sight all along. A tale of family, dreams, discovery, forgiveness, and love.