Michael Wilson: So Laura, tell us a little about yourself as an author.
L.K.Watts: My travelling days started when I was twenty, I am now twenty-six. In that time I have travelled Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Mongolia and Canada. I am now engaged with my own house and two dogs, so I can't travel any more. Instead, I am doing what I have always loved doing: writing. I am working on my second book, which is about travelling Canada on the same visa as I had while I was in New Zealand. I write most days. If I'm not writing then I'm marketing - I'm always doing something! I work so much and I work so hard but I love writing so it's not too bad. I'm not that keen on marketing, however, but it has to be done. I usually write in the mornings and then market in the afternoons. I always write with the windows open as a good oxygen supply is vital for my brain, otherwise I would fall asleep!
Michael: You seem to have seen a lot of the world. What exactly is Secret Confessions of a Backpacker about then?
Laura: My book is about what it's really like to travel in a foreign country. I had a working holiday visa to travel Australia for a year, and I also spent two months travelling New Zealand, although I couldn't work there. My book is a memoir as opposed to a travel book, because I'm too open and honest for it to be classed as travel. It's a real candid book, dealing with emotion as well. I wanted to write a book about travelling which isn't in the travel genre. I wanted to write something from a backpacker's perspective rather than just from a tourist point, as travelling is about so much more than meets the eye. If people read my book, they would probably agree that travelling isn't always like what other people think it will be like. It's not always about lying on sunny beaches drinking cocktails, or dining out in fabulous restaurants every night. Travelling can be quite tough sometimes. I ended up sharing my sleeping space with people who had only just come out of prison, or a psychiatric hospital, several times. I even met someone who developed an unhealthy interest in me, and asked me to be the mother of his children, even though he never knew my name! On the other hand, I really do not regret going to any of the places I have been to because I really have had some fantastic times, and met some lovely people, despite the madness! I think people will enjoy my book because I am so open and honest about things. I think that factor is what people will enjoy the most.
Michael: It certainly sounds as if you had a good time. Is it a character-based or an event-based book?
Laura: As it is a memoir, it's an event-based book.
Michael: What inspired you to write it?
Laura: I kept a detailed diary while travelling, and I thought it would be a nice idea to share some experiences that I went through. After all, I still had my diary and it seemed like a shame to waste the material.
Michael: Fair enough. Where is the book available?
Michael: Moving away from your eBook, why did you choose to go independent?
Laura: Because that's the way our future is going. Everything is mostly electronic these days, and now traditional publishing doesn't seem to be moving forward much. Being an indie, you have greater control over your books, and greater distribution prospects too. If I was signed up to a small publishing house in England my books probably wouldn't have a global audience like they do on the internet. There's also more freedom and the turnaround time is faster. If you want to upload a book as an eBook, it just takes a couple of hours to do on the internet. If you're waiting to be published in the traditional sense, you're looking at around eighteen months.
Michael: And what is next for you?
Laura: After I have written my next book about travelling Canada, I am looking into writing crime novels or chick lit. This is definitely what I want to do with my life so I will always write, even if I do have other jobs. I want to write about something that occurs in life, and crime certainly does. Chick lit appeals to me because I like writing humour so hopefully I should be able to write something worthwhile. Sibel Hodge is a great writer in that genre; I can't wait to read more of her books. I will always present my work professionally though, whatever genre I write in. There's nothing more important than a book that's professionally presented. I know there are people who can't afford the luxury or paying a copy editor, but I think it's so important to get another pair of eyes to look over your work.
Michael: Is that advice you would give to an independent author who was just starting out? What else would you say?
Laura: As an independent author, it's hard to be taken professionally. So always act professionally. Have all your books edited to some extent, whether this is by a professional or just someone who has a good eye for things, and is good at whatever language your book is in.
And don't ever give up. Even if your current book isn't selling so well, your next book might. If you want to write for money, do some research on popular genres. Read all the books on writing you can, writing is certainly harder than people think. Read books on marketing, listen to advice but always make your own mind up in the end. And always be nice to everyone you meet, tell them about your book in the hope that they'll spread the word.
The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is an excellent book for first-time writers; I highly recommend you buy a copy.