Winter is an award-winning author who lives in the moment and loves nothing more than being surrounded by her family, her fur-babies, and a ton of great reads! When she doesn’t have her nose stuck in a book, she’s usually thinking up faraway, fantastical worlds, or she’s cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?

Thanks so much for having me! I’m excited to chat with the folks and readers of Write 2 Be Magazine, especially because I never planned on becoming a writer! Believe it or not, when I was younger, I wanted to be an astronaut! Once I realized that I preferred to keep my feet firmly planted on the Earth though, I knew I needed to consider a different career path! Of course, with my passion for all things space-related, I’ve always had a vivid imagination, so writing felt like the next best step for me.

2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?

Eve 2.0: Night Terrors is the second installment of the Gamer Series. Book One, Eve 2.0: The Ultimate Gaming Experience, introduces us to Gwen, a shy high school senior who’d rather game online then socialize with her classmates. When her online boyfriend accidentally mails what he thinks is a video game prototype to her neighbor’s house though, everyone soon discovers that the disc and weird equipment aren’t a game at all—they’re really a portal into a high-tech government training simulator. Now trapped within it, Gwen, her neighbors, and her online boyfriend must work as a team to escape or it’s game over.

In Book Two, the story picks up on the Monday after the kids return from their harrowing experience in the simulator. For Gwen, school has always been rough, so suddenly being thrust into her school’s spotlight is beyond uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that at night she’s plagued by terrible dreams and visions of the horrors she survived in the simulator. Everyone is quick to tell her that it’s normal, just PTSD, but when Gwen starts hallucinating by day, and her neighbor begins to share her experiences, Gwen knows that she’s far from okay, and that the simulator is somehow behind it all.

Links for both books can be found on my website at www.winterlawrence.com

3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?

Great question! For the Gamer Series, I drew tons of inspiration from my daughter. She’s an awesome gamer and it was during one of our game-play times that I thought of the idea for Eve 2.0. We were playing Call of Duty and I remember looking over at her and saying, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we were in the game?” And that was it! From that moment on, the seed of inspiration was planted, and I nurtured it for a couple of years (LOL, yes. Years!) and then I finally penned it to page.

4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?

I used to have a dedicated writing schedule but life has been so crazy the past few months that I usually write only a couple of times a week now, every few days. I’ve found that this schedule definitely doesn’t produce as much work as I used to, but it allows for a simmering-down period that gives ideas time to percolate and then develop in their own, natural way. Then, when I have time to write, the material flows along more smoothly. Typically, I outline the entire manuscript before I start writing and it takes me three to six months to complete a novel, but for my current project, I’m trying to work outside of the box because I’m working on a very complex suspenseful mystery. It’s a challenge I had taken on just before COVID hit, but I’m dedicated to finishing the manuscript, so I’m embracing my new, slightly chaotic outlining process.

5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally? Who is your favorite author to read? What book are you currently reading?

The first book that really scared me was Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. At the time I was in the Bronx, living on the sixth floor no less, but I was sure that I was going to look outside one night and see a vampire hovering out there! Emotional-wise, the first book that blew my mind was V.C. Andrew’s Flowers in the Attic. I was very young when I read it (a little too young, but we, the voracious readers of impoverished youth, tended to devour anything we could get our hands on, even if it was grossly inappropriate for our age!). In my defense, even as an adult that book still thoroughly impresses me!

6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?

My first significant achievement was being picked up by my publishing company. Fire & Ice is a small, independent publisher but it meant the world to me when they signed me on. I cried like a baby when I got the email and I’m always eternally grateful to all the wonderful people there. And most recently, I won the 2020 AMG International Literature Award for Book One in the Gamer Series, which was also an amazing and humbling experience. I can only hope that I continue to be as fortunate in my career as I develop my trade.

7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing in terms of traditional and self-publishing?

The publishing industry has undergone so many changes in the past decade and I fear it will only continue to have to morph in these new, trying times of COVID. For as long as humans have roamed though, we’ve always loved a great story, so I think we’ll weather the storm and persevere! In terms of rejection, it’s a rough business at any time, so I always encourage writers to take a few days off afterward and I remind them that even the biggest and best writers have been rejected. It’s par for the course (which doesn’t help lessen the sting, I know), but each rejection should inspire an author to go back, reevaluate and revise, and then try again!

8) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself?

I do! In fact, over the years, I’ve gone from editing on my computer to sending my final drafts to be printed and bound and then I edit it freehand while reading it aloud to my furbabies (they’re a sweet, attentive bunch!). I cannot recommend this technique enough!

9) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?

Absolutely not! If you have a great story to tell, then tell it! And personally, I think that each story an author writes should be written just for them, because it’s something that they can’t help but pen to page because the idea that inspired them is so moving, or so fun, or so powerful, that they loved it so much they couldn’t help but write it, if even only for themselves! I also think that helps with the rejection aspect of it all. If an author loves a story so much that they know it was worth writing, then they’ll have enough faith to know that one day it’ll get where it deserves to be.

10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?

When I was growing up, I felt as though I was a very underrepresented youth in literature. I remember reading book after book and never seeing anyone like me. Poor. Hispanic. Inner City dweller. I also had a very hard time finding young adult supernatural or paranormal books (which is why I read so many inappropriate books!), so when I decided to become a writer, I wanted to make sure that each of my stories reached out to those kids who weren’t from a perfect nuclear family. I understand what it’s like to not be popular and not have a “normal” life or family, and so I always hope to speak to that boy or girl who’s reading my work so they know they aren’t alone. Thankfully, the publishing industry has made giant strides in catering to the young adult science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal markets, and as of late, they’ve also begun to represent different cultures and lifestyles. Those are steps in the right direction and I only hope that one day every kid will have a perfect book on the shelves waiting for them!