Interview with Lauren M. Hancock also known as Alice Well – Installment 17

Today we’re flying all the way to Australia to talk to poet, author, and illustrator Lauren Hancock. Also known on her blog and instagram as Alice Well! I can’t thank Lauren enough for the time and effort she put into collaborating with me. Check out my review of her recent publication here. Now let’s begin!

 

Where did you get your ideas from for “Our Whimsical World”?

My ideas generally came after drawing the image for the stories. When creating art, I become lost in the process, because it can be such an enjoyable state of mind to be in, being awash with a sense of creativity and joy when creating an image that is fun, lively and bright.

From then my imagination would take over the story point of view: having an image to work from allows me freedom to create. Having words written first is more limiting, because I need the consequently drawn image to adhere to the already-present words. My ideas mainly come spontaneously, either before the drawing was commenced, during, or after. This process speaks of how when I create something “All is well”: Alice Well, the creative name I am also known as.

 

How important was it for your stories in “Our Whimsical World” to have a moral or a message?

It was important for me to write stories that were not just stories. They needed to have depth; a message, a moral, something for the readers to learn from. It was not enough for me to simply write something cute that entertained. I wanted there to be a reason for reading these stories, and for a message to be quietly presently to sink into the minds of the children or older readers while they felt they were simply being entertained.

 

Did you consider that some vocabulary used may be too complex for younger readers? If so, why did you make this decision?

Using complex vocabulary that may be out of the scope of some of the readers provides them with the opportunity to learn new words and reach for a greater understanding of language than they had previously grasped. It is like when my former violin teacher would present myself and other students with pieces of music that were slightly out of our level of expertise: – it extended our skillset and encouraged improvement for our musicality and proficiency. The same idea is present here.

 

I notice on your website that your writing has taken a different direction from the style that your book is written in. Could you explain this a little further?

Yes, my writing has altered from short, generally amusing and light-hearted stories, to more serious and deeper themed poetry. It explores the self, love, acceptance, longing, encouragement for others, and being hurt by the actions of others. I felt it was time to move on from the short story style and begin to create poetry that spoke of my internal being, to show the vulnerability I am willing to display. Hopefully my poetry shows a depth of self and the revelations I speak of can resonate within some of my readers. Knowing or at least hoping that others can or are able to relate to one’s words and/or works is one of the greatest feelings we can hope for as poets, writers, or artists.

 

At what age did your passion for writing surface?

I was a fervent reader from a very young age. My grandparents and parents provided me with books upon books — Enid Blyton’s tales, Peter Rabbit, and so on, and I read these increasing collections with vigour and excitement. Being immersed with written language and beautiful imagery from such a young age allowed my own vocabulary to develop over time and my imagination grew and grew. I turned to writing to create worlds and stories that lived in my mind, and I still have the collection of writings and illustrations to view.

 

What did you find that the most difficult thing about self-publishing?

For me, the hardest thing in self-publishing my book was the marketing/promotional side of things. I went into the experience with little idea of what I would need to do or how to prepare myself to introduce my new book to potential readers. I knew, but didn’t completely realise that the responsibility initially fell entirely upon me to generate interest and attention. But, I have been blessed to have my editor who has greatly helped me along the way with advice and support when I most need it, and he has made the marketing side of things clearer for me.

Sometimes I feel like when I do mention my book online that I may be viewed as too pushy, when I am really just wanting to share what I created with others. Being relatively new to this blogging community, I wasn’t aware that people organised ‘blog book tours’, or what ARCs were, or anything like that, but I know that for next time around I can be more organised and prepared in an upcoming launch of a second book.

 

 

Get your copy from Amazon and check out Lauren’s Goodreads too!

Check out her Alice Well Blog and Instagram next!

Review of Our Whimsical World by Lauren M. Hancock (Alice Well)

The talented author and illustrator Lauren M. Hancock, (also known as Alice Well) got in touch with me earlier this month and swapped books, here’s my review of Our Whimsical World: Illustrated Stories.

Our Whimsical World offers bright rhymes, vibrant illustrations, and profound lessons. Majority of the characters are animals and inanimate objects that really plays into the whimsical theme. Yet they all face struggles and human emotions us, readers face throughout life. It was great to see so many issues touched on by the characters struggling with anxiety, death, hatred, sadness, and feelings of being left out.

The colorful illustrations brought an added layer to every story. The collection of short stories is broken up into 3 sections: For the Younger Ones, Slightly Older, and Older Ones. This really allows an array of readers to enjoy Lauren’s insightful stories. Some of my favorites were:

For the Younger Ones:

Morgan the Star Child for not letting the negativity around her bring her down and Super Sponge for using his talent to help heal others.

 

For the Slightly Older Ones:

Hippobottom the Heiress for her generosity and dedication to understanding victims and Bert the Turt and Trudy the Beet for showing readers what true friendship is and facing discrimation.

 

For the Older Ones:

My heart broke for Mother the Vase and her losses but my heart fills with laughter for The Prince Who Could Carry a Tune.

Get your copy from Amazon and check out Lauren’s Goodreads too!

Blog Tour Author Interview and Review by Beckie Writes

Where I Ache consists of 6 chapters, which one is your favorite?
I feel like saying My Soothing Arms, the self love chapter, would be too cliche and easy so I’m not going to pick that one. Instead, I’ll say My Weak Spine, the insecure/ self esteem chapter, is my favorite. I didn’t think I would be able to write about that topic in so many unique ways. I feel like different readers can all find a little piece of themselves just in that one chapter.

 

Now that you have two collections, are you playing favorites?
I honestly thought my first creative baby would always hold a special place in my heart. But I am so proud of the progress I’ve made in Where I Ache that it’s won me over. I’m thrilled that the collection is longer and I’ve more than double the amount of exclusive poems. I’m also proud to be writing about such sensitive topics and expanding my reach beyond just love poems. Lastly, I was able to work with my boyfriend on this second collection with him as my illustrator! He saved the day from my chicken scratch doodles haha.

 

Buy your copy of Where I Ache on Amazon

 

Read the full interview at Beckie Writes

Book Publishing – Working with an Illustrator

So I knew as soon as I started seriously thinking about publishing a poetry collection that I wanted to have illustrations throughout my book. I started by researching on instagram and tumblr different drawing styles. Some were every realistic, others had vibrant patterns, and another common design style was simple line work. There was something about the simple line work and the way it looked like a hand drawn image that I fell in love with.

Once I decided on the style I wanted, I focused in on finding illustrators that produced that type of work. I found Instagram accounts, Etsy stores, and Fiverr (link) – a freelance app. Next was understanding the price range in the market and seeing what I could afford with my budget. I reached out to quite a few illustrators and was able to begin a process of elimination based on price and the flow of conversation. After a few weeks, I narrowed it down to my top two.

One illustrator had an instagram page so that allowed me to see a ton of samples while the other was from Fiverr which unfortunately had limited samples of their drawing. The price difference was miniscule and shouldn’t have been a factor but for me it was. The last factor was location with one being in country and the other out. I was worried about time difference slowing down the project as well as cultural differences affecting the art work.

I decided to go with the Instagram account since I felt strongly that I knew I liked their style and product. I sent them the poems I wanted them to draw inspiration from with a bit of an idea of what I wanted but still giving them some creative freedom. But I would later find out the better option ended up being just telling them exactly what I wanted along with the occasional copy of a similar image for them to get an understanding of my requests.

The terms of the agreement weren’t completed ironed out and I found myself feeling guilty and demanding when asking them to change certain aspects of the illustration. The biggest problem was the stark difference in the results I was getting and the samples I had seen on Instagram. For that reason I asked them to stop mid way through and to accommodate a refund solution. The cut into the budget left me with a dilemma – do I spend more or let my book suffer because of my poor decision?

I went back to Fiverr and luckily the other illustrator was happy to work with me. This time I asked for 2 drawings instead of 15 to make sure this was the right choice and didn’t waste more of my budget. I decided to up my budget some but also cut back on the original amount of illustrations I wanted in order to combat my extra spending.

When I was confident in this illustrator I purchased 20 more images. I ironed out a few more details to get a clear understanding of the work that would be produced. I felt a bit less guilty about the revisions but still tried to be a reasonable client. I was much happier with the results I got here but learned my lesson.

Purchase a small amount first to make sure you’ll like the results.  

Set clear terms so both parties know what’s expected of them.

Don’t be afraid to change direction if you’re unhappy.

Check out the amazing illustrations in my book Cracked Open!