Interview with Lena Corazon from the #writecampaign

Another post, and guess what… I have yet another interview from the #writecampaign. I’ve met so many fantastic authors through Rachael Harrie’s idea, I had to share them with the world and let you guys get to know them too. Without further ado, my latest interview was with Lena Corazon.

AnotherHeadshotLena is a doctoral student in sociology from California, a prolific blogger, tumblr, and tweet artist. She writes primarily fantasy and steampunk, with two novels-in-progress. I asked Lena a few questions last week. You can follow Lena on her blog, her twitter feed, or her tumblog.

Michael: You have a very active online presence with your blog, twitter, and tumblr. Do you enjoy social media? Is there a part of it that feels more like a chore than the rest? 

Lena: I have to admit, I adopted social media reluctantly.  I began blogging in May of this year, and my initial goal was to participate in A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge “that knows you have a life.”  ROW80 appealed to me because it seemed like a kinder, gentler version of NaNoWriMo, a challenge that asks participants to work towards measurable writing goals. ROW80, however, is also a blog hop, and so over the weeks I came to meet dozens of other writers and bloggers.

Overall, I don’t find social media to be a burden. For me, it’s a way for me to build much-needed community, to interact with others who understand the strange and bizarre writerly tendencies.  I’ve found that I use each online platform differently. I’m less active on G+ and Facebook than I am on Twitter, which is my primary means of socializing with my writing friends, running across useful articles, and uncovering fun tidbits. Tumblr is a recent addition to my online life, but one that I have come to enjoy. It’s the perfect balance between bite-sized tweets and the longer form of blogging. I use Tumblr as a scrapbook of sorts, where I collect interesting video clips and photos that serve as inspirations for my WIPs. 

The downside to social media is that it’s easy to get distracted from the real work: writing. It can be a lot more fun to chat with friends than to write, edit, and revise, and so I’ve been trying to limit my social time to a couple of hours each day.

Michael: What would you recommend to an emerging writer like yourself who is wondering how to start making his or her own online presence felt?

Lena: While there’s no “one size fits all” answer to establishing one’s online presence, there are three tips that I would suggest based on my experiences. First, get involved with online writing communities. My initial foray into the world of social networking was eased by participating in ROW80, where I’ve met friends who have been extraordinarily supportive of my writing goals.

Second, check out writing challenges and festivals. Participating in Lady Antimony’s flash fiction challenges served to jumpstart my creativity and expose me to the work of other writers who I now count among my circle of friends.

Third, I’d encourage writers new to the world of social media to figure out a spot that suits them best, and settle in for the long-term. Some people love using Facebook to connect with other writers, readers, and friends, but I’ve found that I far prefer using Twitter. It can be really easy to stretch yourself too thin and get burnt out by trying to develop countless online platforms if you’re not careful.

Above all, I think it’s important for writers to remember to be themselves and to have fun. Social media is incredibly valuable when it comes to promoting your work and connecting with readers, but first and foremost, it should be about building relationships with people. Some useful resources include Kristen Lamb’s blog, Nathan Bransford’s recent post on “being yourself” in social media, and Roni Loren’s guest post over at Writers in the Storm about dealing with social media burnout.

Michael: On to the most important part – your writing. Your site mentions your interest in steampunk and fantasy. What attracts you to those genres? Are there any others that you regularly read and/or write or want to write?

Lena: Ever since I was young, I’ve loved fantasy books. I grew up reading writers like Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Lloyd Alexander, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. To me, fantasy offers limitless possibilities where human stories — romance, betrayal, coming-of-age tales, quests — can be told against the landscape of wild and magical worlds.

My foray into the world of steampunk is recent, and it’s borne out of my interest in history, the 19th century in particular.  Steampunk allows us to re-imagine the past, and to also consider the impact that technological advances could have had upon earlier societies.  It also explores both sides of society: the drawing rooms of the wealthy, alongside the gritty underbelly populated by the downtrodden and cast-off.

Michael: What writing projects are you working on right now? Anything close to publication or completion? Do you plan to publish via the traditional route, or epublish?

Lena: Of the 3 novels in-progress I have listed on my blog, my steampunk romance/murder mystery, TELL ME NO LIES, is my primary focus. I’ve written the basic skeleton of the novel, but I’ve got a ways to go before it’s complete.

I’m keeping my options open when it comes to publishing. While seeing my work in hard copy has always been a dream of mine, having the ability to self-publish is incredibly liberating. I’ve been learning a lot, especially watching my writing friends’ ’experiences with self-publishing, and I think it’s something that I will definitely attempt at some point.

Michael: I noticed you have a lot of flash fiction on your site. Do you write flash fiction frequently? What do you like about it? What do you think makes for good flash fiction?

Lena: I jumped into flash fiction on a whim. I never thought I could tell an adequate story in short form, but after writing my first couple of drabbles, I was hooked. I like flash fiction because it provides me with an easy way to jumpstart my creativity. I can usually finish a 100-200 word piece in a couple of hours, so it’s a lot less time-intensive than a novel. 

The flash fiction that I like best are those stories that focus on a single moment, a single breath in time, ones that evoke an emotional response in the reader. I don’t know if I always succeed in doing this, but it’s my main goal nonetheless.

[ See Lena’s Flash Fiction here ]

Michael: You recently changed the name of your site, your twitter feed, and your public online persona. What inspired you to go with a pen name? What made you pick the name Lena Corazon?

The decision to adopt a pen name was a difficult one. I love my birth name, especially because it speaks to my biracial heritage. My mom is black and Native American, and can trace her family tree back to the Emancipation Proclamation. My dad is from the Philippines, and his family’s history is equally rich. However, when I took my professional life into consideration, I realized that it would be to my advantage to keep it separate from my writing life.  As a university teaching assistant and future professor, I’m not sure if my fiction-writing endeavors could be seen as a detraction when I’m on the job market, but I’d rather not take any unnecessary risks.

Lena Corazon is a name that hearkens back to my roots. I picked “Lena” after my maternal great-great-grandmother, and “Corazon” as my private homage to Corazon Aquino, the first female president of the Philippines.

Michael: Have you ever met a famous author? What did you take away from that meeting or learn from him or her?

Lena: I haven’t met a famous author, but I have been lucky to meet two poets over the years: Susan G. Wooldridge, who taught me the importance of using words and honing my creativity, and Alison Luterman, who encouraged me to use poetry to explore my sense of identity. While I write far less poetry than I used to, their lessons remain applicable as I work on my novels.

Michael: Last, what do you do outside of writing fiction? Your site says you’re a grad student (I’m a recovering graduate student myself) – but I didn’t catch what you were studying.

Lena: I’m just starting my 4th year in a sociology PhD program, so I spend a majority of my non-writing time

reading lots of books on social theory and feminist theory, grading undergrad students’ papers, teaching discussion sections, and working on my own research projects. Beyond those responsibilities, I tend to spend a lot of time at the beach, hanging out with friends, and playing video games.

Check out more of Lena Corazon at her blog, Flights of Fancy, her twitter feed, and her tumblog.

About the Author

Written by MRM

I'm a speculative fiction writer that spent lots of time trying out new places to live before finally settling in NC. I love code, craft beer, football, and fiction - in no particular order. My currently running works of serial fiction can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. If you're comfortable moving files around to your ereader of choice, always pick Smashwords as your e-bookstore of choice - they give authors a much bigger slice of the pie!

5 Responses to Interview with Lena Corazon from the #writecampaign

  1. Sarah Pearson September 23, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Thanks for this. I admire Lena a lot, so it’s great to learn a little bit more about her.

  2. Stuart Nager September 24, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Great to find new bloggers.

    Just wanted to stop by as one of the co-hosts of The Rule of Three Writers Challenge Blogfest and welcome you. October 5th is coming up fast. Glad to have you aboard. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Stuart Nager
    Tale Spinning
    Rule Of Three Blogfest

  3. Lena Corazon September 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Michael, thanks again for interviewing me! It was my first author interview ever, and a great experience. :D

  4. Liza Kane September 25, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Lena–It’s great to meet you and learn more about you and your writing process! Your name caught my eye because my cousin uses “Corazon” as a pen name of sorts, too, and because I also admired Corazon Aquino. Small world!

    I look forward to following along on your writing journey!

    Michael–great interview, and I look forward to meeting more of our #writecampaign colleagues through your site!

  5. MRM September 25, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    It was a pleasure interviewing you, Lena. I love meeting new authors and I’ve enjoyed following your blog and tweets.

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