Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Larissa Soehn is a budding new author from the cozy city of Red Deer, Alberta, where she lives with her husband, daughter, two cats, and a dog. She started this journey as a recovery method for severe depression. She found that creative writing helped her process her emotions and work through the struggles of depression.
As a child, Larissa enjoyed writing and telling stories, a passion that has recently reignited inside of her. Currently, she is working to finalize the Gatlin Series, as well as publish a series of children’s books to help families discuss the importance of mental health, amongst other social issues facing children today.
Larissa is an advocate for mental health and uses her personal experiences to help others work through their struggles. She uses social media platforms to help spread her message and give people permission to speak up and speak out.
How often do you base your characters on real people?
All of the characters in The Defender are loosely based on real people. Alexia Harmon struggles with the same mental conditions that I do—making her similar to me gave me a way to work through my grief while showing the stronger side of her to the world. Other characters are based on the loved ones in my life as well, and I pulled on some of their strongest attributes to make up the favorite parts of the characters. For example, my husband’s calm nature is built into the sidekick to Alexia.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
The Defender was the first book I ever wrote, and to see it go to publishing was incredible. In the time it has taken to work out all the kinks of the Defender, I have written three more books. Two of those books are a continuation of Alexia Harmon’s story in Gatlin, and readers can expect to go on more epic journeys with her in the coming years. The third book is a change of pace for me as I venture into the world of Romance meets Thriller. Each book has been incredible, always taking me to unexpected places and making me scratch my head. These characters really do have a mind of their own.
Do you find writing therapeutic?
Most of the time, yes! I started writing as a way to overcome severe depression. I was at a point in my life where I needed something to pull me away from reality while simultaneously helping me work through my unexplored emotions. The Defender gave me that, specifically, Alexia Harmon. She was my way of pouring my soul out to the world. She not only represented how I felt but what I was capable of. She was the me that I couldn’t see in myself at the time, but the more time I spent with her, the more I realized what made me strong, unique, and powerful.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Very early on, we knew that we would be self-publishing this novel. It was in line with the control level we wanted to have, and honestly, the idea of querying agents was so daunting and sounded like it could be very disheartening. Choosing to publish ourselves meant that we would have a very steep learning curve, so we chose to hire a company to help us with the various steps. We hired a third-party self-publishing company to help us with our first-ever novel. This process was worth every penny, especially because we were so new to publishing. This was the best money we ever spent as a self-published author.
How do you select the names of your characters?
The names of my characters come from an unlikely source- my daughter. She was three years old at the time of writing, and she would come up with the most random names during her imaginative play that it was so easy to come up with alien names. I would just ask her for a name, and she would spit something out, and that would be it. Rickert and Veela, two side characters in my book, were named based on her suggestions. Alexia, my main character, was named based on the Greek mythology Alexander, the Defender of Man. Her name came before the character. It was the first thing I had decided on when I started writing. Her name framed the story.
How different was your life one year ago?
My life is so different that it is almost laughable. One year ago, I wasn’t interested in writing a book. I was more interested in working out and working. Now, I have been off work for nearly seven months, and I have been more focused on my mental health than my physical. Not to mention that I have now written four books, and I have just started my fifth. These are very different for me but, for the most part, in a good way. My priorities have been shifted, which is a good thing.
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favorite? Why?
There is a section of my book called Cataloguing. It is easily my favorite part because it is fairly early in the book and offers a lot of excitement. I was able to flex my creativity in this section because it doesn’t follow the rules of our human world. It takes place on an alien planet, and it is a process designed to assess the risk level of any being. This meant that I could put my poor main character through hell in the form of an alien testing system and still expect her to walk away virtually unharmed.
Which scene, character, or plotline changed the most from the first draft to the published book?
The very beginning changed the most. Very late in the process, we received feedback that the novel’s first part wasn’t believable, that the main character adapted too quickly to being on a foreign planet. This forced us to review the first five chapters and conduct some serious rewrites. Luckily, the rewrites were contained to the beginning of the book, and the chapters are better for it and are now more relatable to readers.
What’s next for you?
At this time, I have finished writing books two and three of the Gatlin series. Book three is my favorite of the series because it ties the whole thing up in a nice, neat package. I have also written a Romance/Thriller novel. That book, loosely called Chasing Death, was quite a journey to write because it twisted and turned so much but still had to come together in one big aha moment in the end. I also just recently started writing another science fiction novel. So, what is next for me? Well, hopefully, the publishing of more books, whether that be traditional or self-published.
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