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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Interview with Monica Leonelle

Author Monica Leonelle is doing a blog tour to promote her new novel, Socialpunk, the first novel in a new trilogy, and is making a stop at Simply Nerdy Book Reviews to be interviewed by nobody other than yours truly! I also received an advanced copy of Socialpunk--you can read my review here. 

Monica Leonelle is a well-known digital media strategist and the author of three novels. She blogs at Prose on Fire ( and shares her writing and social media knowledge with other bloggers and authors through her Free Writer Toolkit (

Q: How did you choose the genre you write in? Your first novel, Social Pollination, focused mainly on digital marketing by way of social media, and your next two novels, Silver Smoke and Tin Soldier, were urban fantasy. Socialpunk is dystopian. How did you find yourself going between all of these drastically different genres? Which did you enjoy more? 

A: I consider myself a young adult fiction author. My first book was a career move within the business world. It was great for getting my feet wet with writing and publishing. But young adult fiction is where my heart is.

I don't see fantasy and science fiction as so different. I love both, and there is a lot of crossover between readers, especially since the books are grounded in young adult experiences.

Q: When writing a novel, do you work with an outline, or just write?

A: I 100% believe in detailed plotting. I will outline my entire book by chapter, then by scene, then by paragraph. I think this is essential for writing an addictive book or a "page-turner." It's also essential for writing a ton of words very quickly.

When I edit, I have a list of about 20 things I edit for that pertain to marketing psychology. For example, one of the things I edit for is tension, or whether I'm opening and closing plots in every scene. I think most writers would do better in the marketplace if they edited for marketability. Yes, line editing and beautiful prose can help, but really, The Hunger Games isn't exactly great writing. Yet the books are an international phenomenon. Because it's a great story with lots of marketability.

I'm an editor myself (specializing in the marketability of books) but I also run my book by an editor... it's just the right thing to do. You can't rely on self-editing alone.

I'm really big on creating fascinating hooks. If you are a writer you can find out if your first 1000 words are hooking here:

Q: What sort of environment do you write best in? (Do you use a pen and paper? Laptop? Quiet room? Mood music? Dog at your feet? Cat on the desk?)

A: I write on my couch, often with the TV on (right now I'm watching Revenge) and use my laptop, primarily. My dog is typically at my feet, lol. I sometimes (especially when writing fiction) switch to music instead of a TV show.

Q: What are your favorite types of scenes to write? (Romance? Action? Dialogue? Etc.)

A: I used to be best at dialogue, but now I really enjoy writing description. It's funny how your weaknesses can become your strengths as you grow as a writer. Which then makes you strengths your weaknesses, so you start working on those. Dialogue and characterization are my weaknesses right now, but it changes. I work so hard to get better and better. So, right now, I'm loving the descriptive, world-building scenes. I think that shows in Socialpunk.

Q: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you (or your writing) in any way either growing up or as an adult?

A: C.S. Lewis has had a huge influence on my writing, especially for my Seven Halos series. The way he incorporates his Catholic religion into his children's stories is interesting. I really enjoyed the Voyage of the Dawn Treader as well, and the concept will be the basis for a serialized fiction series I'm doing, tentatively titled The Seven Seas.

For the Socialpunk series, I was heavily influenced by Cory Doctorow, Chris Anderson, Seth Godin, and Kevin Kelly, who talk a lot about copyright and other social and tech-related topics.

Q: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

A: The toughest criticism for me is one you might not expect: that I need an editor! I have an editor and I *am* an editor. So this really irks me. Sometimes it feels like reviewers just jump to the conclusion that if they don't like a book, it must mean the editing wasn't strong enough. There are so many other reasons they might not like the book that primarily revolve around just not being in the target audience for it. And those can't be fixed by "more editing." I see reviewers say this about all books, published traditionally or independently, so I'm trying to learn not to take it personally.

The best compliment for me right now is when people compare my book to The Hunger Games favorably. I just really love that series and of course, it's very hot right now. That makes me feel like I'm on the right track with what I wanted to create. My book still needs a bit of work to get it to that next level, but I'm glad people are finding it addictive so far. I feel that's how books should be, and I strive to do that with every series I create.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Monica!


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