Author, I Never: An Interview with Lianne Oelke


Lianne Oelke

author of Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Author, I Never is a new segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.

Question the first: Lianne, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

When I wrote a book, I guess. It started out as something I mostly did for fun. The real motivation to finish (and sell) it came from the crushing pressure of student debt. Yay, real life. It took years to write and sell NICE TRY, JANE SINNER, but by the end, I finally let myself think 'yeah, I could do this again maybe'.

Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?

My parents were just about to fall asleep when I called them with some exciting news, which they immediately assumed meant I was engaged. Sorry, mom. Instead I told them that I had written a book. And that I had been offered representation by an outstanding literary agent. And that I had received an offer of publication from an outstanding publisher. And that my book would be in hardcover, available to purchase in major bookstores across North America. Surprise! It was a lot for them to process at bedtime, but I had promised myself I wouldn't tell them (or anyone, really) that I wanted to be an author until I had a book deal, just in case it didn't pan out.

That's amazing. I don't think I could have held it in all that time. Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?

Landing an agent was a big one for me. I'd been trying for nearly two years and was about to give up before it happened. As a closet writer, it meant the world to have a respected industry professional say 'hey, I believe in your book!'

Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?

Ohhhh yes. Back when I was looking for beta readers on AbsoluteWrite, Becky Albertalli (yes, that Becky Albertalli!) saw my first chapter posted and asked to read more. This was around the time she queried her agent (who is also now my agent, too) with SIMON VS. Becky was one of the first people in the world to read anything I wrote. Her unabashed enthusiasm, feedback, and support for my book is honestly what kept me from giving up on it.

That's so great. I love hearing these mentoring stories. Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?

Uhm... yes. Every day until I found my agent, really. JANE SINNER was originally set in Jane's first year of university, making it too old for YA, but it didn't have enough romance to sell as NA. Most agents didn't know what to do with this, so I got rejection after rejection. Since none of my friends of family know I had written anything, I knew it would be easy to simply give up and never speak of it again. Thankfully, that didn't happen. 

Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?

Usually at work. I had a pad of post-it notes I'd scribble ideas on (so it looked like I was working), then tucked them into my already messy purse. Half of them I either forgot about or lost. In retrospect, I could have handled things better.

Question the seventh: Can you give us a hint to help us find an "easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?

 I've got a couple cheeky pop culture references to The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Eminem, and more ;)

I will look for them! Time for the...


I Never Round


The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.

I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.

I refer to all the crew members of the reality show HOUSE OF ORANGE as HOOCaps, because they all wear baseball caps with the letters HOO on them. Turns out I'd been spelling my made up word wrong all along, because the copyeditor suggested it should be 'HOOcap' instead, and she was right. 

Ha! I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.

TBH I almost always choose sleep over ideas. I'm usually more creative in the mornings, anyway.  

I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.

 Ha, nope!

I never worked on two manuscripts at once.

Does working on edits for one and the first draft of your WIP count? In terms of WIPs at once-ain't nobody got time for that.

I never went several days or even weeks without writing.

I am so bad with this. I just did 6 weeks of vacation without writing. Not because I needed the break, but because I am the worst. 

I never wrote "for a long moment."

Not sure what this means, but I'm probably more of a 'write in short bursts' person.

"She gazed at him for a long moment." Etc. I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.

Nope. I'd rather treat myself than cheat myself.

Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?



NICE TRY, JANE SINNER is available for pre-order from Amazon:

Add it to Goodreads here:

I'm on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lianneoelke

And Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lianneoelke/

Bonus question: If Nice Try, Jane Sinner had a theme song, what would it be?

Hit Me Baby One More Time by Britney Spears, but totally in an only partially ironic sort of way.

DJ Spotify, can you handle partial irony?