Publicity – Twisted

Interview on Book Goodies

Author Bio:
Lola Smirnova is an author from Ukraine living in South Africa, who for many years worked in the sex industry. She recently released her debut novel Twisted, a true life shaped into fiction story of vulnerability, courage and the art of making a living in the sex trade. Smirnova is currently working on her second book Crave – a sequel to Twisted.

What inspires you to write?
The writing process is some kind of escape for me. I create a world where I can be anyone or experience anything… You know, my job is actually to dream or fantasize. For example, on Monday I can live a life of a modern day’s woman that can perfectly manage her kids, career and a twenty years old marriage, when by Thursday, I dive into a life of a vulnerable teenager who discovers all thrills and downs of her first love.

Tell us about your writing process.
I am both: an outliner and a seat of the pants writer. I guess my perfect formula is what ever works as long as I pin my ass to that chair every day and write!

I plot the story to stay focused but as the writing goes I change it all the time. To be spontaneous, that what makes me savor and truly enjoy my affair with my computer, turning every day of boring routine into an exciting date.

Most of my work is on my computer. I don’t do handwriting, and prefer to draw the mind maps and planning on my iPad. But I have a board at my working desk which is pinned with inspirational quotes, some articles and images of my books’ heroes. For example, for Lena I have this sensual image of Drew Barrymore on the beach or the image of the bad boy looking young man I found on the internet and used for Ali.

What advice would you give other writers?
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” – W. Somerset Maugham

How did you decide how to publish your books?
Self- publishing was the way for me. I consider it an investment, the idea of not being able to have a word on creation of the cover was terrifying. I simply couldn’t stand the idea, that some smart ass, I-know-everything editor, would decide to put a typical fifty-shades or some cheesy red corset image on the cover, because this is what is “right for the market now”. It would kill me…

I wanted to take risks! I wanted to be different! This is something I wasn’t sure traditional publisher could offer me.

What do you think about the future of book publishing?
As any writer I am flattered to see a hard copy of Twisted on the shelves of the book stores. However, I think technological advances and demand to reduce the carbon print force the ebook publishing to take over eventually. Obviously, there is always a place for paper copies but in a much less scale as it is right now.

What genres do you write?
new-adult, fiction

What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print

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Interview on The Bookie Monster

The Bookie Monster Interviews Lola Smirnova , author of Twisted.

Smirnova is an author from Ukraine living in South Africa, who for many years worked in the sex industry. Twisted is her debut novel, which was published in January 2014. Smirnova is currently working on her second book – a sequel to Twisted.  

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Twisted is a fusion of true story with fiction, that will always keep the reader wondering: which part of the story happened for real and which one didn’t… 

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
W. Somerset Maugham  

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Through out the whole process of writing my first novel Twisted I thought that I was suffering from the writer’s block, even though I was not sure about the definition of it. I read somewhere that it was a huge problem for many authors. I could not go back to writing for weeks, blaming the mysterious and vicious writer’s block.  But then, I found another article that dogmatically stated that there is no such thing as a writer’s block, only the lack of self-discipline and working structure. And since then I never suffered from it again. 

You are hosting a dinner party and must invite 3 famous people. Who would you choose and why?

Oprah – simply because she is the most influential woman in the world and the “Queen of all Media”. She is also a great book lover and has her own book club. Getting acquainted with her would be the most useful connection any author could wish for!

Jack London – you didn’t mention that the famous person needs to be still alive, right? ;)

Jack London with his semiautobiographical novel Martin Eden is one of my biggest inspirations. A novel about dreams, ambitions, power of belief and hard work. A book every beginning author/writer must read. Would be such an honor to talk to the remarkable man like him.

Ryan Gosling – once everyone else is gone after my dinner party, I hope Ryan stays for a nightcap with me ;)

Where can readers stalk you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twistedlolasmirnova

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BookTwisted

Website: http://lolasmirnova.com/

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Interview on  the Indie Author Land

Twisted is a true-life-shaped-into-fiction story of vulnerability, courage and the art of making a living in the sex trade.

In the corrupt economy of post-Soviet Ukraine opportunities are scarce. Young and eager sisters – Natalia, Lena and Julia – harbor dreams of a better life. Naïve and tempted by the allure of ‘quick’ money, the girls set off on an adventure that changes their lives forever.

Can they stay out of trouble enough to fulfill their ambitions? Can they hold on to their idealism in a world where depravity and danger are constant companions? How far are they willing to go to make a buck?

Twisted is a disturbing behind-the-scenes look at a world that most will never see. It is shocking, raw, and explicit.

Sounds like it’s not for kids. Who is it for?
The readers who love to be dragged into the world they may not even want to know… Curious, open minded, free of preconceptions… And definitely over 18.

If you like the novels that give you book hangover, you’ll love my book.

Tell us about these girls.
Julia is nuts, she is the youngest of the three sisters. She is a risk taker and careless enough to get in all sorts of trouble, her elder sisters try to teach her to avoid. But no matter how tough it gets, she is not a moaning type… That’s what I love about Julia the most.

We can’t wait to meet her. How did you research her and her situation?
Honestly, I wish there was less of me in Julia. I am just luckier than her.

What do you mean?
I am from Ukraine. I worked for many years in the sex industry. I currently live in South Africa.

Oh wow. Do you have a website where we can find out more of your story?

Do you use social media?
Twitter: @BookTwisted

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twistedlolasmirnova

What’s next?
I am spending my days by the computer making sure the second book Crave, a sequel to Twisted, comes out as entertaining as the first one.

Crave? Tell us about it.
In Crave the sisters explore all the twists and turns of South African sex industry.

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Article by Kristen Blyth for The Moscow Times

Russian Women Seek Riches Stripping in South Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Even while wearing nothing but a black satin bra and matching panties with a red heart on the reverse side, Fiona beams a confident smile.

She struts down a runway above the floor of the club toward the pole gleaming at the end, ready to perform the three-minute dance that every stripper here will do in rotation on the main stage at some point tonight.

Afterward, Fiona redresses herself backstage in a sheer negligee and strolls through the club, chatting up the men scattered around tables sipping beer, until she takes one by the hand and leads him to another section for a private dance.

Fiona, a 28-year-old from Moldova, will pocket 800 rand ($75) for a 15-minute lap dance here at Mavericks, the biggest strip club in Cape Town. Even after paying employment fees to the club, her tips can add up to 50,000 to 100,000 rand ($4,700-$9,300) a month during the busy tourist season: more than she could ever expect to earn in her home country, she said.

“Why would I stay in Moldova and fight to be able to feed myself when I can work here?” Fiona, who like all the women interviewed for this story goes by a stage name, said in Russian, relaxing on a black couch with several Ukrainian strippers between dances and gesturing to the spotlit stage, where another topless dancer is now twirling.

“My brother is a lawyer in Moldova, he’s at the top of his field, and he makes only $600 a month. In South Africa, I make good money. I can dress up and look beautiful, the managers are fair, and the weather is always gorgeous.”

Escaping Eastern Europe
The South African Human Rights Commission said in a June report evaluating work conditions at Mavericks that eight of 10 foreign dancers interviewed at the club came from Eastern Europe and that most were supporting families back home. Moldova in particular — the poorest country in Europe with a per capita GDP last year of $3,800 — provided the highest number of foreign dancers, the report said.

“There are very few locals” working at the club, said Victory, an American who worked at Mavericks for several months earlier this year. She backed the report’s findings, saying the foreign dancers are mostly Eastern Europeans.

“You can find Moldovans, Bulgarians, Romanians, Russians, Ukrainians, Hungarians: There’s everything,” said Natasha, 33, a retired dancer from Ukraine who worked in South Africa for seven years. Both Natasha and Fiona first came to the country by way of recommendations from friends, though local strip clubs also specifically advertise to attract Eastern European women.

Mavericks, for example, offers a Russian-language recruitment section on its website in addition to English and Spanish. “Are you between 21 and 35 years old, attractive and in great physical shape, able to speak English, outgoing and ready to learn quickly and work hard to earn good money?” the page says. “Then welcome to Mavericks!”

Recruitment through “talent agents” with connections in Europe is another method for bringing Eastern European girls over, Natasha said.

“It used to be mostly Ukrainians [at Mavericks]. They used to have a guy who had a connection with Ukrainian girls, but then he moved to Durban [a city about 1,300 kilometers to the northeast].” Another Cape Town club, House of Rasputin, also recruited numerous Russian women through the Russian owner’s connections before the place folded three years ago.

In It for the Money
Mavericks was investigated in 2012 by the country’s Human Rights Commission for human trafficking after accusations by a former dancer and a patron. The commission’s report, submitted to the Western Cape’s High Court in June, concluded that the dancers were “vulnerable to exploitation” and that the club had committed multiple violations of their rights to human dignity and bodily integrity.

Several Cape Town strip clubs have in recent years been linked to the local mafia, and there are numerous stories about club owners confiscating dancers’ passports and charging them exorbitant fees under threat of legal action if a debt is not paid off.

But in the experiences of the women interviewed for this story, signing up to take clothes off for pay had less to do with coercion and false promises than being offered a chance to travel and earn money quickly that wasn’t available at home.

“We have a beautiful family, but the situation [in Ukraine] was tough, especially at the end of the ’90s when we left,” said Natasha, who grew up in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.

“People were starving. We didn’t have shoes to wear to work. When you see an engineer standing out in the market, selling paint or fruit — an educated person — then what’s the point of going to university? I wanted something different.”

Natasha dropped out of school at 16 and moved to Turkey in search of work, followed several years later by her younger sister, Masha. But after trying to eke out a living in other jobs — Masha danced in a professional troupe, while Natasha worked in shipping management — the sisters said they were still struggling financially.

“It was a step up from Ukraine, but still very hard while we were helping our family,” Masha said. “We were surviving again, and yes we had something to eat, but it still wasn’t good.”

One of their friends was stripping in Europe, and “there was a moment where we decided to join,” Natasha said. The pair worked as peep show performers and sex workers in Luxembourg before moving to South Africa to dance in strip clubs at the ages of 22 and 24, later writing a book, “Twisted,” about their experiences in Europe under the joint pen name Lola Smirnova.

The sisters detail some of their darkest moments from the sex trade in their book, set in Ukraine, Luxembourg and Turkey. They describe becoming addicted to cocaine and getting drugged and robbed multiple times, culminating in an incident in which one sister was kidnapped, beaten, raped and dumped in a field outside Istanbul.

Though they readily admitted the degradation and dangers of the industry — most apparent in prostitution but found to some extent in stripping as well — the sisters said the downsides were outweighed by the dead-end poverty they saw at home.

“Unless you really have some connections, unless you really believe in magic, it’s hard to get a proper job,” Masha said. “The choice was, either we stay, struggle and survive, or if you want to try and live properly like you see on TV, you make a plan and do anything you can.”

Free, But Not Free
While both sisters praised working conditions at Mavericks, saying the management’s strict rules and omnipresent security cameras enforced a stripping-only environment of professionalism, the line between many strip clubs and brothels can be blurred. Young foreign women are especially vulnerable to getting tricked or pressured into doing more than they bargained for, the sisters said.

“Girls don’t always know that it’s not always going to be just stripping,” Masha said. “You’re free, but you’re not free, because you’ve got money to make. You can’t say no I don’t want to do this, especially when it’s young girls.”

Despite the uncertainty involved in moving to the other side of the globe and the nightmare stories of crime and human trafficking, the dancers say the money is a magnet, and the country of destination doesn’t even matter.

“Girls go where it’s easier to get a visa,” Natasha explained. “There are no romantic stories about ‘I want to go to South Africa to go on a safari.’ There is always a movement. One country is easiest [to get into] right now, there is a flood of girls, then boom, the laws change, and the current moves elsewhere.

“That’s how it was in South Africa 10 years ago. Girls were just flooding the place because your visa was ready in six days. But every year it gets more and more difficult,” she said.

Professional Ethics
Natasha and Masha said women from Eastern Europe who go abroad to earn a living as strippers tended to have a strong work ethic and financial motivation.

“Most of them come prepared to work. You don’t hire Russians to drink and get f—ed [up],” Masha said. “To make money, that’s what they want. Most of the girls have kids and families. They’re clean, they love their husbands, and they’re just there to get paid.”

Stripping itself is a proper skill, Natasha added: a rigorous performance art that, when done well, demands as much precision and strength as any other type of professional dancing.

“It’s like working in the theater,” she said. “It’s a very beautiful kind of art if you do it the proper way.”

Still, the sisters admit that the work necessitates a certain degree of moral flexibility and was at times traumatizing.

“Naked is the easy part,” Masha said. “The hard part is to approach the client and make him like you and want to buy an expensive product that you sell, which is a private dance.

“You have to break something inside: Not everybody can be a salesperson.”

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Books & Tales: Author Interview

Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I plot the story to stay focused but as the writing goes I change it all the time. To be spontaneous, that what makes me savor and truly enjoy my affair with my computer, turning every day of boring routine into an exciting date.

What is your favourite food?

As all Ukrainians I love “Borsch” – our traditional beetroot soup with fresh garlic and a spoon of sour cream.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I’m none of them. I just love to sleep a lot.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?

My dream is to travel to Hollywood for the premiere of the movie based on my book.

Do distant places feature in your books?

My characters travel from Ukraine to Turkey, Luxembourg, France and eventually South Africa.

Do you listen to music while writing?

Even though I love music in general, it distracts me while writing.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?

My latest release is my debut novel Twisted which was published in January this year.

Based on factual events, Twisted is a pacy, gritty story set in the faltering economy of corrupt post-Soviet Ukraine. Times are hard. Young and eager sisters – Natalia, Lena and Julia – dream of a better life. Naïve and tempted by the allure of ‘quick’ money, the girls set off on an adventure that changes their lives forever – they go to Europe to work in the sex trade.

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?

I thought that writing the book was difficult. But guess what – the real challenge starts with getting your book out there. It’s tough – you’ve got to be creatrive and you have to be a businesswoman too.

Is there anything you would do differently?

I don’t think so. The mistakes that I make on my way are a part of the process. I appreciate it. I learn.

Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?

Books I read, movies I watch, everything that surrounds me influences my creativity.

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?

I like the saying by W. Somerset Maugham: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

What are three words that describe you?

I love writing 🙂

What’s your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?

The list of my favorites is quite broad. I love the deep read like Perfume by P. Suskind and I am one of those who drooled all over the Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James…

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WebbWeaver Books on BlogTalk Radio Proudly Presents: Author Lola Smirnova

My first live radio interview with CK Webb for WebbWeaver Books on Blogtalk Radio – what an amazing experience!
Thank you so much, CK Webb, for making it so special for me.
Besides being so welcoming and comforting, you are so much fun! – I completely forgot about being nervous and really enjoyed the show 🙂
Looking forward to being your guest again with my next release CRAVED soon!

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Q & A with Lola Smirnova  by Chelsey Krause on Chick Lit Club

Tell us about your novel Twisted.

Twisted is about Julia – a young girl who together with her two sisters dive into a perverted and cruel world of sex trade. All three of them escape the depression of post-Soviet Ukraine. Unlike her sisters, Julia uses booze and drugs to cope with the disturbing reality.

I understand that Twisted is loosely based on your own experiences. Was it emotionally difficult to write this book? Did you ever stop and say, “This is too hard, I don’t know if I can finish”?

At times it was extremely difficult. The writing requires you to dig into your memories. And some of them I wish I didn’t remember.

That was quite the opening scene! What made you decide to go with that scene in particular? Were you afraid it would put readers off reading the rest?

On the contrary, I wanted to honestly prepare the readers straight away for what they will have to deal with throughout the whole book. Each day it becomes more and more difficult to surprise people with all the variety available in the entertainment industry. You have to be very creative to capture a reader’s attention and keep her/him interested in turning the pages. So I decided to shock them with my opening scene.

How long did it take you to write?

Three years including editing and production.

How did you feel the first time someone read it? Were you nervous?

Nervous? I was terrified! As a beginning author I had a lot of self-doubt, which I had to overcome on the daily basis. It takes a couple of 5-star editorial and readers’ reviews to start gaining some confidence as a writer 😉

What was the hardest part to write?

It’s hard to say.

How do you hope readers will feel after reading Twisted?

I hope they’ll have a strong hangover 🙂

Who is your favourite character?

Julia. I like her strength and craziness.

When you aren’t writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I love to read, travel and mostly be with my family.

Tell us a random fact about youself.

I love animals therefore I am a vegan. I am also very environmentally aware person, so I try to be as eco-friendly as possible. And exhort everybody to do the same.

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Author Interview on ChapterBreak.net 

What was your path to publication of your debut novel? How long did it take to write Twisted? How about the sequel that you’re working on?

It took me about two years to write it and one year for editing, production and publication. The knowledge and experience that I gained during those years considerably influenced the pace of my writing of the sequel. It looks like it’s going to be finished in one year only! 🙂

Describe your writing process. Do you outline, plot and plan, or is your writing more organic?

I plot the story to stay focused but as the writing goes I change it all the time. To be spontaneous, that what makes me savor and truly enjoy my affair with my computer, turning every day of boring routine into an exciting date.

I understand that Twisted is inspired by your personal experiences. Did you find it difficult or more therapeutic to re-live everything through your character?

At times it was extremely difficult. The writing requires you to dig into your memories. And some of them I wish I didn’t remember.

I was also born in the Ukraine but moved to the US when I was 6, so my experience with the culture is limited. What do you miss the most about Ukraine and the people/food/etc? How do you like where you live now?

I left Ukraine when I was 16, about 17 years ago… So I’d say my experience with the culture was kind of lost and I didn’t miss anything about it much. But due to the latest events happening in Ukraine I started developing patriotism for my country on the different level.

As for South Africa, where I live now, it’s an amazing country with the beautiful sceneries and wonderful people. I love it here!

Share some advice for aspiring authors.

For this I’ll use the wise words of Richard Bach: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit”. So, NEVER GIVE UP, my friends! 🙂

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read, travel and mostly be with my family and pets.

What is your favorite or most difficult chapter you’ve written to date?

I’d say there are two chapters that were the most difficult to write: the one where Julia – the main character and narrator – gets raped by a group of men in Istanbul, Turkey and the following chapter where the police finds her on the street afterwards and instead of taking her to the hospital they throw Julia to the jail…

It’s the end of the book – the culmination – the most intense and painful moment – I still get tears in my eyes every time I read it…

They are also both my favorite chapters.

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TWISTED in Honorable Mentions of The 2014 London Book Festival’s Annual Competition

The 2014 London Book Festival‘s Annual Competition is honoring the best of international publishing!

TWISTED is in the Honorable Mentions list in General Fiction Category of the competition! What great news to start the 2015 with! 🙂

london

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The Thursday Interview for Drunken Druid

Drunken Druid

No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? .. why?

It really depends on the situation, but most probably I would. Why? Because sometimes in life you do what you have to do…

No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Being alive is a physical factor. ‘Truly living’ is coming from within one’s soul, it’s spiritual…

No.3 What motivates you to write?

Thinking about the millions that I’m going to earn one day, when I become a worldwide best selling author, is my biggest motivation 😉

No.4 Why do humans want children?

I can only assume that some of them want children because that’s the right thing to do in life – get married, build a house, have kids, plant a tree… Others do it because they find their purpose in life in it. Unfortunately, a lot of humans have children without even thinking if they really want them.

But the ones who genuinely want children, do so for the reasons I wouldn’t know, because I don’t have children myself and I’m not sure if I want to have any, living in this overpopulated and cruel world. I would rather adopt a child one day.

No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book “Twisted” ?

Each one of the steps of creating my book was very challenging in its own different way – writing itself, choosing the right editor, deciding on the name of the book and the cover, creating the cover… But the biggest challenge of all, I must say, is the marketing part!

No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?

What goes around comes around.

No.7 How did you come up with the title “Twisted” ?

The company that I used for my book’s production helped me with the title idea.

No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?

I’m learning to handle it tolerably.

No.9 Why should people read your book?

Because they will learn about the side of life they never knew about before…

No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?

I’m not sure. But apparently it’s important, as philosophers have even labelled this question as Primordial Existential Question… And scientists tried to explain it from the Quantum Physics point of view. The way I see it is very simple – we wouldn’t be talking right now if there was “nothing”, right?

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Author Interview for Bella Harte Books

Hi Lola and welcome to my blog

Firstly can you tell us about yourself?

I was born and raised in Ukraine. Straight after my final school exams I packed my bags and left Ukraine for good, never looking back. Throughout my twenties I worked all over the Europe browsing over all sorts of sex clubs. I currently live in South Africa, doing the writing full time.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for three years now.

What inspired you to start writing novels for your chosen genre?

I didn’t have a luxury of choosing my genre. I’m afraid the genre chose me 😉
Besides the fact that I wanted to sell millions of copies and become wealthy rich 🙂 I had a story to tell that maybe could help to change peoples’ often ignorant attitude towards problems of the sex industry, victims of which usually are young inexperienced women. I wanted the reader to realize that those working girls are humans… They dream, love or suffer the same way as anyone’s girlfriend, sister or daughter.

Are there any other genres you’ve written?

No. Twisted is my debut novel and I’m currently writing a sequel to it, which is naturally in the same genre.

Are you working on anything new right now and can you tell us more?

As I already mentioned, I’m busy with my second book now – Crave – in which the sisters are going to explore all the twists and turns of South African sex industry.

Can you offer any advice to the fledgling authors, just starting out?

As Richard Bach once said: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

Do you have a favourite quote, if so what is it?

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” – Oscar Wilde

What is your preferred method of writing:- The plot pre-planned from day one, or just go with the flow and see what happens next?

I plot the story to stay focused but as the writing goes I change it all the time. To be spontaneous – that’s what makes me savour and truly enjoy my affair with my computer, turning every day of boring routine into an exciting date.

Do you have any input in the Cover design of your novel?

I’m a control freak and a perfectionist, therefore, I’ve got an input in everything about my book. I’ve directed the photo shoot for the cover of Twisted, post processed the image myself. And I’m going to do the shoot for the cover of Crave totally myself. Busy working on it already J

Tell us one thing that no-one else knows about you – your darkest secret if you dare!

Funny enough, the whole book is full of my darkest secrets, so you’d have to read it in order to learn about them – if you dare! 😉

Can you tell us why you think we’d love to read your novel?

Because everybody loves the darkest secrets.

If you don’t like a character you’re writing about, what do you do?
a. Kill them off instantly
b. Get over it and learn to like them
c. Give them a whole new personality
d. or something else – do tell?! Please!

Most of my characters are freaks and perverts, sometimes even brutal. And I often hate them and wish I could kill them all! LOL But unfortunately, as it usually happens in life, they remain unpunished. I believe in Karma and hope it will do its job.

-●-●-●-●-●-●-●-●-●-

Many thanks to Lola for joining us today and I do hope you enjoy her novel

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Interview with R. G. Dole on A Drip of Truth | A Drop of Lies

1. What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

Lola Smirnova

Website: http://lolasmirnova.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BookTwisted

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/twistedlolasmirnova

2. Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I love to spend time with my family and friends. I enjoy discovering new hobbies once in a while too. Two years ago I was taking the golf lessons. These days I spend a lot of time at the shooting range.

3. Twisted is based in part on your own life experiences. Was writing about such hard for you? And is there a reason you chose to write about it?

It was not easy, that’s for sure. The stories like Twisted are often not spoken out, because the victims of sex industry suffer from shame and denial. I think we need to bring more awareness to the people about these issues, help them to understand that the sex workers are humans who need the support rather than judgment and ignorance.

4. Do you have any other books planned yet? And are they similar to Twisted or do you consider branching out into other genres?

I am about to release a sequel to Twisted – Craved. I’m not planning to change my genre yet.

5. What sort of books do you prefer to read?

I enjoy a good read no matter what genre it is.

6. How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I plot the story to stay focused but as the writing goes I change it all the time. To be spontaneous, that’s what makes me savor and truly enjoy my affair with my computer, turning every day of boring routine into an exciting date.

7. What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

My strength is the honesty. Weakness is my grammar, cause English is not my native language. But luckily I have a great team of editors to help me with it 😉

8. After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I’m trying different marketing tools I’ve learned about from the “how-to” books: creating an author website, being active on my social media pages (Facebook and Twitter), interacting with the readers and fellow writers through numerous websites like Goodreads.com and some special Facebook groups, creating giveaways, giving interviews, entering competitions, hiring professional publicists, advertising, blogging, etc…

The most effective way of getting the book into the hands of readers for the aspiring authors, in my opinion, is Amazon’s KDP Select Program. Kindle Countdown Deals and especially Free Promotions gave my book the biggest exposure so far.

9. What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

For this I’ll use the wise words of Richard Bach: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit”.
So, DON’T GIVE UP, my friends! 🙂

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Gryfyn’s Book Blog: featuring Twisted by Lola Smirnova 

How did you get started writing?
I am not one of those writers who were born and knew they would become a writer one day. A few years ago the idea of writing a book appeared to me.
You see, there are numerous novels written on the subject of sex industry, but unfortunately they are either well written but lack the author expertise or they have all the experience, but the book is so poorly written, making it impossible to enjoy the read. I wanted to create the novel that would combine both: well crafted riveting plot and deepness of the subject.
Who is your favorite character out of all your books and why?
I think all three sisters from Twisted are my favorite. They are different and each has the qualities I adore and faults that make them human.

What made you pick indie (or traditional) publishing?
Self- publishing was the way for me. I consider it an investment. The idea of not being able to have a word on creation of the cover or even the name of the book was terrifying. I simply couldn’t stand a thought, that some smart ass, I-know-everything editor, would decide to put a typical fifty-shades or some cheesy red corset image on the cover, because this is what’s “right for the market now”. It would kill my creation…
I wanted to take risks! I wanted to be different! This is something I wasn’t sure traditional publisher could offer me.
Where do you get your story ideas?
Everywhere possible. Personal experiences, friends, some random people I meet, tv shows, books…

What do you find helps you the most with your writing?
Reading. The reading of fiction and non-fiction books on writing helps me stay focused and improve.

Can you give us a picture of your writing journey, from beginning to where it is now?
My writing journey started with me hiring a ghostwriter, as I wasn’t sure if my English (which is not my native language) would be good enough to write a book by myself.

After a couple of months of working with the ghostwriter I realized that nobody could tell my story better than me, even if it wasn’t going to become a literary masterpiece!

So, a couple of fat dictionaries with vocabularies and three years later my debut novel Twisted was born, which appears to impress readers despite its foreign accent 😉

And another year later I am about to release my second book – sequel to Twisted – Craved!

What has been the greatest triumph for you since you started?
I don’t give up and keep writing and marketing. Self-publishing is a difficult business. I am grateful that I have that quality to see it through, to ignore the obstacles and keep moving forward.

Also, what has been your biggest challenge?
To believe in myself.

How do you handle marketing and promotion, and what’s been the one thing that’s really helped your book get into the hands of readers?
I’m trying different marketing tools I’ve learned about from the “how-to” books: creating an author website, being active on my social media pages (Facebook and Twitter), interacting with the readers and fellow writers through numerous websites like Goodreads.com and some special Facebook groups, creating giveaways, giving interviews, entering competitions, hiring professional publicists, advertising, blogging, etc…

The most effective way of getting my book into the hands of readers was Amazon’s KDP Select Program. Kindle Countdown Deals and especially Free Promotions gave my book the biggest exposure so far.

On the opposite side, what hasn’t worked?
Expecting that the book would sell by itself…

What do you think the average reader wants out of authors today?
They want to discover new, to be able to relate to the characters despite the differences, they want to see the characters’ desires and growth.

Who do you write for, and why?
I write for open minded and curious readers who are free of preconceptions. Brave readers, who love to be dragged into the world the might not even want to know… And definitely who are over 18.

What’s your favorite genre?
I don’t have one. I enjoy a good read no matter what genre it is.

What’s next for you?
Finishing and publishing my second book.

What is the one thing you want readers to take away from your
books?

Awareness of the sex industry’s reality. I wish people had less judgement and ignorance and more understanding of the point that sex workers are humans and should be treated as such.

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Interview with Aditi at Book Stop Corner:

Now let’s chat with this incredible author to know more about her and her book, Twisted:
Me: Hello and welcome to my blog, Lola. Congratulations on your debut book, Twisted. Can you please share with us the story behind, Twisted?

Lola: Thank you, Aditi!

I had a story to tell that maybe could help to change peoples’ often ignorant attitude to the problems of sex industry, victims of which usually are young inexperienced women. I wanted the reader to realize that those working girls are humans… They dream, love or suffer the same way as anyone’s girlfriend, sister or daughter.

Me: What was your source of inspiration for the book, Twisted?

Lola: My source of inspiration was my life experience.

Me: How did you research for your novel, Twisted?

Lola: Mostly interviews with people in the trade and some online research.

Me: How will you describe your journey so far as an author? Was it always your one true dream to be an author?

Lola: I am not one of those authors who were born and knew they would become a writer one day. A few years ago the idea of writing a book appeared to me.

You see, there are numerous novels written on the subject of sex industry, but unfortunately they are either well written but lack the author expertise or they have all the experience, but the book is so poorly written, making it impossible to enjoy the read. I wanted to create a novel that would combine both: well crafted riveting plot and deepness of the subject.

Me: What other passions do you have apart from spinning thrilling stories?

Lola: My family and friends, animals and my journey through life.

Me: Your book, Twisted, was placed as Honorable Mention in General Fiction Category of The 2014 London Book Festival’s Annual Competition. How did you feel when you first heard the news?

Lola: HONORED to say the least. It means a lot to me, cause it helps to stay motivated, realizing I’m moving towards the right direction.

Me: Tell us one trait of your protagonists, Natalia, Lena, and Julia, that intrigues you the most?

Lola: The three sisters live the life that many people would consider as extreme. They perceive this extreme life as normal. It’s due to the natural human reaction of denial in order to survive. Amazingly, notwithstanding their denial, they see things positive.

Me: How will you describe your normal writing day. And how do you get away from the stress of a long day’s work?

Lola: My biggest enemy is procrastination. Every day begins with an internal fight. I find “important” things to do around the house instead of writing. In contrast, my mind is constantly racing with “Let’s do it, people want to hear my story.”

Me: What’s next up on your writing sleeves? Please tell us briefly about it.

Lola: I just finished writing a sequel to Twisted – Craved and it’s in the process of editing now. If everything goes well, it should be released some time next month…

Me: Thank you so much Lola, for sparing time to have this interview with me. I wish you luck in all your future endeavors.

Lola: Thanks a lot, Aditi!

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Interview on Wag The Fox

Gef: What was the impetus behind sitting down to write Twisted?

Lola: I had a story to tell that maybe could help to change peoples’ often ignorant attitude to the problems of sex industry, victims of which usually are young inexperienced women. I wanted the reader to realize that those working girls are humans … They dream, love or suffer the same way as anyone’s girlfriend, sister or daughter.

Gef: Was there something more freeing in the writing process by choosing to write a novel rather than straight-up nonfiction?

Lola: “Freeing” is definitely a right word! Writing fiction is much more of a creative position, while nonfiction is more of a task, which naturally makes writing fiction much more fun and enjoyable.

With fiction, I can create my own world and not worry about if something is fact or if it is inaccurate. ANYTHING you want can come to life, you don’t have to stick to the rules of real life…

Gef: Along with real life experiences, what else did you draw on in your writing? Was there much research involved with regards to locales or other facets of the story?

Lola: Yes, I interviewed people in the trade and did some online research.

Gef: Twisted has garnered some decidedly positive reviews in the course of a year? How gratifying has it been to see the reception to your first novel? And how does that fuel you as you write the sequel? Is it a motivator or a tad intimidating?

Lola: When you receive positive feedback about your “baby” like that, you get assured again that it was worthwhile spending three years of your life on creating it.

It’s definitely a motivator, but intimidating at the same time. It plants questions in my head: are my readers going to enjoy the sequel as much as they enjoyed the first book, am I going to be able to meet their expectations…?

Gef: What’s the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Lola: Frankly, all advice I found in the “how to” books and other sources so far have been useful. I wouldn’t consider any of them as a bad advice.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your other projects?

Lola: I just finished writing a sequel to Twisted – Craved and it’s in the process of editing now. If everything goes well, it should be released some time next month…

Straight after that I’ll probably start the next book to complete the planned trilogy.

The best way to keep up with my projects is to follow my online social networking pages, like Facebook, Twitter or subscribe for the newsletter through my website, as I regularly post about the latest developments on my projects.

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Books and Banter 

BANTER – STUFF ABOUT YOU
Q: How would you describe yourself as a color? Think personality here. Are you a light and airy pastel person, or more of a deep, dark, sultry and mysterious color?
A: I am definitely a light and airy pastel person, even though a big part of my life I spent feeling dark and pretending to be sultry, which made people think that I was mysterious…

Q: Tell me one thing about each of the four seasons you like. It can be anything.
A: Considering that I’ve been living in South Africa for the last 9 years, I’d have to reduce the seasons to only rainy Winter and windy Summer 😉
Winter = I love sitting by the fireplace with a glass of red wine reading a book
Spring =
Summer = I enjoy walking on the beach with my dogs
Fall =

Q: If you could morph into any creature what would it be?
A: I would become something that would have a super power to fight against cruelty on this planet.
If you don’t mind me asking, why?
A: To rescue this world from all the pain and suffering.

Q: Snack of choice – chips, pretzels, popcorn, or cookies, cake, candy? Or maybe you’re a healthy snacker – fruit, yogurt, nuts, raisins?
A: I am a health freak, so my regular snack is either a banana or some nuts with apple. I know, very boring… 😉

BOOKS – ABOUT THE CRAFT
Q: When did you start writing and why?
A: I started writing four years ago because I had a story to tell. A story I wanted to share with the world. A story the world had to hear…

Q: How did you come to write your genera of choice?
A: When I started writing I knew nothing about genres. I was just following my imagination and the feeling inside that set the tone to my writing style. Maybe that’s why it is quite difficult to categorize my books into one specific genre.

Q: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a book?
A: Believing in myself.

Q: How long does it take you to create a novel?
A: It took me three years to create my debut novel and about a year to write a sequel to it. I’m curious to see how long it will take me to finish the third one. It’s definitely a combination of the writing skills that I learn in the process and the time available on my hands, that influences the pace of my writing.

BOOKS – NOW LETS PROMOTE – STRUT YOUR STUFF
Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?
A: I just finished writing my second book of the planned trilogy – Craved. It’s in the process of editing now. As soon as it’s released, I’m going to roll up my sleeves to write the third one!

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red ribbon the wishing shelf award 2015 300px

 

 

 

‘Graphic and powerful. A RED RIBBON winner and highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

FEEDBACK FROM THE JUDGING:

Number of Readers: 16

Stats


Editing: 7/10

Style: 6/10

Content: 9/10

Cover/blurb: 8/10

Of the 16 readers:

12 would read another book by this author.

11 thought the cover was good or excellent.

10 thought the writing style worked well for this genre of novel.

7 thought the ‘subject matter’ was the best part of the novel.

7 thought the characters were the best part of the novel.

Readers’ Comments:

‘Pretty dark and depressing stuff. This thriller is set to the backdrop of the sex trade in Europe. It is disturbing in many ways and it felt very honest. This is not ‘Pretty Woman.’ Female reader, aged 43

‘Oddly, this book was often very, very funny. It’s dark too and parts of it are difficult to read. But any book that shows off the terrible world of porn, is a good thing.’ Male reader, aged 56

‘This book was too graphic for my taste. It’s written with energy and the subject is important. I felt much sympathy for Julia, the central character, and her life of drugs, alcohol and prostitution. The speech needs work and the lesser characters often felt underdeveloped but, still, a good effort.’ Female reader (editor), aged 55

‘This novel is not a relaxing beach read. It’s sad, depressing and the three girls are annoyingly stupid for following this life path. What happens to them is horrifying. The writing’s a bit rough but that fits the nature of the book. Good cover and blurb.’ Male reader (publisher), aged 39

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