Welcome to the fifth post in my Author Spotlight series! Every month, I showcase an indie author and interview them to find out more about their writing life.
This month, the author in the spotlight is Lane Northcutt! Lane and I first met when I was a guest on his podcast, Indie Know. If you haven't listened to the podcast yet, I highly recommend it! Lane and I are now Instagram buddies, and I love seeing what cool new thing he's up to next!
Bio: Originally from Kentucky, Lane Northcutt currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of the YA Dystopian novel The Delivery Co., which is the first in a trilogy, its sequel set to release late 2021. Lane is also the host of Indie Know, a podcast that focuses on writing, publishing, and the overall indie author journey. If you'd like to find out more about Lane, his books, or the podcast, you can follow him on social media or check out his website. While not writing, Lane enjoys performing on stage, indoor rock climbing, playing video games, and spending time with his wife, Shannon.
Q: What made you want to be a writer?
A: All my life, I have been creating worlds, characters, and stories. I enjoy the process of creation and fleshing out an idea from conception to final product. For me, the best part of being a writer comes in the journey, following the characters and having fun with the situations I put them in. Being a writer allows me to dive deeper into different parts of myself, but also learn about others. Overall, I am a storyteller. When I found out I could do that professionally, there was no hesitation. Now, I can’t stop!
Q: How do you choose your characters’ names?
A: Surprisingly, names come to me fairly easily most of the time. With The Delivery Co., the characters’ names depended upon their location in the world (i.e., whether they are inside a facility or one of the various Rejected). Sometimes, the names are based on a translation for a word related to their character (e.g., Felan is the name of a girl who’s name derives from the Irish and Gaelic for “like a wolf” or “little wolf” and she is a member of The Gray Wolves). With some of the characters in Tent City, they have names which mostly are puns or a play on words for the conditions they deal with like Sticks who has leg braces and Rollin who uses a wheelchair (these names were done this way to showcase the specific personality of these characters). Sometimes my names are metaphors or foreshadowing, while other times I just pick names that I like and think fit the overall description of a character. Usually, when I have a name for a character or anything, it tends to stick around for good, too. I’m lucky in that way!
Q: Have any of your characters surprised you? If so, how?
A: Absolutely! Sometimes my characters will decide to go a direction or say/do something totally outside of my expectations and usually that’s great! I tend to follow them and see where it goes unless it ends up being something too unlike them. (We all have to explore even if we end up right back where we started, right?) In a similar vein, I am sometimes surprised by the way my characters act as a reflection of me. I’ve noticed that I have put some very specific pieces of myself in many, if not all, of the characters. When I talk to some close friends during the drafting process about them, we end up realizing these similarities and it definitely has surprised me a time or two. Sometimes they help to further my own journey of self-discovery and we have a symbiotic relationship. We help each other all the time! (But I still cause problems for them, because what kind of author would I be if I didn’t, huh?)
Q: Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g., lighting a candle before you write, meditating before you write, going for a walk to get ideas)
A: The only “ritual” I would say I have is starting every morning with about an hour of video games while finishing my coffee and donuts. Usually, I play an RPG or something that is heavily focused on story because that tends to inspire me creatively and get my brain going, sometimes creating questions or revelations in my own work. Besides that, the main thing I do now is use a stopwatch app to keep myself focused. I have ADHD, so this can be a big problem sometimes if I don’t do this. So far, that is working!
Q: How much research do you do, and how long do you spend on research for one book?
A: I wish I could give a specific time-frame or number of hours spent on research for any given project, but unfortunately I can’t. I am constantly researching, reading articles, looking up photos of areas I use for inspiration, and talking to people who are part of the communities and groups I have represented in my novels. I think that the only time I can say that I have stopped researching for a book is once I have hit the “Publish” button. The research I do for every project also influences those that come after it. Thankfully, no time used for researching is wasted time. You can never regret doing research.
Q: Do you have any specific authors or books that you've learned from on your writing journey?
A: Like with the research, I am always trying to read and know more authors. Because of that, I can’t say that one in particular has been the most influential. Stephen King was certainly a huge inspiration growing up, as I loved his books and ability to tell a story. However, I would say that the biggest influence on my writing journey comes from the indie author community. I’ve met and gotten to know so many great authors who are doing the same thing that I am and we learn and grow together. It’s a great community full of wonderful people, many of whom inspire me every day.
Q: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
A: Before I published The Delivery Co. I was a “pantser.” In fact, I was writing almost a chapter a day while going to and from a musical I was performing in during a summer contract. I had an overall arc of where I thought the story was going, but not many details or outlines. In the final draft of that book, and now that I have published it, I started to be more of a “plantser” instead. For me, that means that I create a chapter-by-chapter outline that follows a three-act structure as best I can. By creating this outline, I plant trees, major plot points I think should happen along the way. Then, I meander through that forest, sometimes discovering new paths, sometimes chopping down the trees that have died or no longer would be helpful for the overall forest. Very rarely do I feel the need to burn down the entire forest and start over, but if it would be what is best for the book, I’d do it.
Q: What’s your number one tip for tackling imposter syndrome?
A: When it comes to imposter syndrome, just remember: we all deal with it. I know it’s not encouraging to hear that, necessarily, but it is important. That being said, this also means that you have a massive number of people you can reach out to for help or even just a bit of positivity. We in the indie author community are always around to help each other in any way we can, so never feel like you have to do it alone. In fact, never feel like you have to do anything alone. When you need it, reach out. Someone will be there for you! But if you don’t hear back right away, try putting on your favorite song and jamming out in your bedroom or office to release some steam and get some serotonin, then dive back in to writing when you feel better. Take time to relax; it’s important.
Q: What is your go-to snack and/or drink while writing?
A: I love coffee, so I’m really happy to have my Ember mug always next to me in the morning writing sessions. Thankfully, even though I forget it’s there half the time, it never gets cold before I am able to finish it. Besides that, I mostly drink water or seltzer throughout the rest of the day. Every now and then, I’ll eat some gushers or something sweet to get a small boost later on in the day.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Currently, I’m in the process of finishing the sequel in The Delivery Company series. Book 2 is set to release later this year and I can’t wait to share more of their story. I can’t wait to share the cover soon and more as we get closer and closer to release!
(The sequel will be including some new POVs as well!)
If you'd like to follow Lane on his writing journey or find out more about his stories, this is where you can find him:
Facebook: Author Lane Northcutt
Other: LaneNorthcutt Linktr.ee
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