Interview with Lori Titus, Author of Chrysalis Lights

The Author

lori-titus-e1512262856332.jpg

Bestselling Author Lori Titus is a Californian with an affinity for speculative fiction. Her work explores mysticism and reality, treading the blurred line between man and monster. She thrives on coffee and daydreams when she isn’t writing or plotting out her next story.

The Book

Bennett Witch Chronicles - Chrysalis Lights by Lori Titus(1)Bennet Witch Chronicles: Crysalis Lights

Unexpected news reaches Bonnie Bennett in the form of one last gift from her grandmother – a lake house in the small town of Chrysalis, South Carolina. Eager to see her new property, she decides to go see the place where Grams once lived. Chrysalis has its own secrets, a heady magic, and with the coming of the northern lights, the veil between dimensions is growing thin.

Bonnie faces secrets from a past she knows little about. Why hadn’t Grams ever spoken about this town or the time that she spent there? An evil from the past has resurfaced, and it’s up to Bonnie to figure out the connection and save the life of a young witch that hangs in the balance.

The Interview

Q. You’ve come a long way as a writer since I first met you in 2014. Tell us what you’ve been up to over the past three years.

A lot of work! I transitioned from working my regular nine to five in 2015 to writing full time and it’s made a huge difference in how much I can get accomplished. I have been trying to really buckle down on the marketing end of things too. I have books in four different boxed sets right now. The process has been really instructive as far as building an audience and reaching new people. It’s also a great way to network and get out if my usual circle of acquaintances.

  1. You ghostwrite as well as write your own titles. What’s that like? Is the process different?

The non-fiction assignments are very much different. I work from interviews and notes from the clients, and there’s a lot of fact checking and research that goes into it. My fiction assignments are pretty much the same as the way I write my own books—only with a much tighter outline and a defined deadline. It’s been a great exercise in helping me push to get my own things done too. When I write my own fiction, what’s on the outline tends to be more like guideposts and suggestions. When working for a client, I stick much closer to the plan, even though some of my clients allow me a lot of freedom to deviate.

  1. How do you feel about being included in 80 Black Women in Horror for 2017?

Honestly I am so honored to be included! This is such a rough industry and any kind of positive nod is both hard earned and unexpected. There are a lot of talented women on that list so I’m proud to have a little space among them.

  1. What are you working on now that you are most excited about?

I have a couple of works in progress that are in early stages. One of them is a horror/dystopian novel with some sci fi leanings. The other is a horror story with demons and other nasties. The plan is to have one of those novels out in 2018, along with some work in other sets and anthologies that will go to press between January and June. I am excited for them both but I also have another secret project I can’t tell you about yet. I have a lot of things to be thrilled about.

  1. So you’re one of the writers in the sixteen book Bennett Witch Chronicles, telling stories about Bonnie Bennett from the Vampire Diaries. How exciting! Did you have to do a lot of research on Chrysalis, South Carolina for Chrysalis Lights? Have you ever been there? Does it exist?

 As I searched through the episodes which dealt with Bonnie and Grams, there wasn’t really much explanation about her family. Every once in a while, you would see an unknown black character show up, and they would always turn out to be another of the Bennett witches. This happened so many times that in one episode, she met a black guy in Mystic Falls that she liked and she told him that she wanted to be sure they aren’t somehow related. I thought it would be really fun to play with that family mythos a little bit since a lot of it is a mystery, even to her.

Chrysalis doesn’t really exist. It’s my reimagining of Columbia, South Carolina. It was my father’s hometown and our family moved there for about three years when I was seven. Having lived in Los Angeles up until then it was a huge change. I remember it as green, lush, and old fashioned, with a town square, city hall and a handful of stores. Wilderness skirted many neighborhoods, including the one where I lived. My friend and I would walk to school past a patch of forest and over a bridge above a creek. I thought it was really creepy and beautiful at the same time. I harnessed those childhood memories for Chrysalis. It’s the backdrop of several of my stories. Since one of the themes of the boxed set was having Bonnie travel to different places, I thought it would be really fun to bring her into my imaginary town.

  1. I’m a huge fan of Vampire Diaries. Had you watched a lot of the shows before you started writing the book?

With the exception of a few episodes here and there, I had already watched the whole series. I was really glad that I stuck with it through the years because I think it would have been much harder to write this story if I hadn’t. For research I went back and watched it again, starting with the last season first. There is a fan Wiki online which was helpful. It includes bios and details about each character, including things like middle names, episode listings, even wardrobe choices.

  1. Is it intimidating to write a character that everyone knows, like Bonnie Bennett, and were you worried about keeping her in character as you wrote the book?

I was actually more worried about that at the beginning of the contract, before I started writing. I was afraid that I would look up and she would somehow start acting and talking like Marradith Ryder. Once I actually started writing that story she was Bonnie, and I had an idea of what her dialogue and reactions would be like. It’s the little things that make any character, so I was very aware of how she moved and dressed.

  1. Any time there’s a powerful or central black female character like Bonnie Bennett, it seems like we’re striking a blow against misogynoir. There have been a lot more black women in horror and supernatural series the last several years – Abbie Mills in Sleepy Hollow, Michonne in The Walking Dead, some of the Angela Bassett and Gabourey Sidibe characters in American Horror Story. Do you think the trend will continue?

I really do hope so! The rise of the female black bad ass has been a great thing to see in pop culture lately. There are so many stories and books out there which center women as the heroines in paranormal settings so I am eager to see more. I think it’s very important for black women and girls to see themselves presented as heroic beings and for other people to see us that way too. I strive to center black women in my own work– good, bad, or in between—as fully rounded individuals with their own minds and the agency to carry through with their own decisions.

As long as the storylines are solid and engaging, I think we will continue to see more of these women across the media.

  1. Where can our readers buy your books?

All of my books are on Amazon. Here’s the link:  https://www.amazon.com/Lori-Titus/e/B00450JMMI

I have several new releases, including some new things for 2018 coming soon. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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~ by Sumiko Saulson on December 2, 2017.

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