Indie Support Sunday: Marie Landry
When I first connected with Marie Landry, it was when I was still using Instagram as a bookstagrammer. We share a love for all things Star Wars and romance novels, obviously. It took me a really long time to realise that Marie was an indie author—and a very established one at that! Once that registered, I was falling in love with all the covers that Marie has for her books. Did you know that Marie’s been publishing since 2012 and currently has more than 20 books available to read?
I recently read Only You and absolutely loved the holiday romance. So now I’m obviously working my way through the rest of her backlist. Marie’s books tell amazing stories with great friendships, love (obviously) and she covers important topics. A few months ago, she announced a new book series that follows a group of friends and they’re all releasing pretty quickly over October and November, so make sure you preorder and download your copies ASAP!
You can get all of Marie’s books on Amazon and I highly recommend her stories!
BEING AN AUTHOR
Who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I’m lucky to come from a family of readers; my parents and grandparents loved to read and encouraged me to be a reader too. They also encouraged me to follow my passions, and writing has always been at the top of that list. As a child (and as an adult too) I loved that reading provided an escape, made me feel like I always had a friend, taught me things about the world, and entertained me all at once. I knew I wanted to do that too.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
Basically, I wanted to be in control of my career. I wanted to set my own writing and publishing schedules and be in charge of decisions that trad authors often get little to no say in. I knew it would be a lot of work, and it is (it really, really is…cue me laugh/crying), but it’s worth it. Over the last eleven years, there’s been a lot of trial and error, a lot of failures and triumphs, but I love that I have the freedom to pivot and think outside the box and learn new skills. So many people think indie publishing is the ‘easy way’, but there’s nothing easy about it. Indies are hardworking, innovative entrepreneurs, and I consider myself lucky to be doing what I do.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
When I’m not writing, you can usually find me reading. I learn so much from other books and feel so inspired when I read something amazing. I also love doing things that get my brain in a different creative mode, like photography, or things like going for long walks, which can help either clear my mind or get the ideas flowing.
If you were to recommend books to me (in any genre), what would they be?
After years of being a bookstagrammer, recommending books is one of my favourite things! I will always, always recommend Jaimie Admans’ books (and not just because she’s my best friend). Jaimie’s books are like sunshine in book form; they’re funny and swoony with relatable characters, beautiful British settings, and fun plots. I’m also a big fan of Abby Jimenez’s books; she’s always able to strike a great balance between humour, emotion, romance, and heavier real-life topics. Plus she writes incredibly swoony heroes! The same is true of Talia Hibbert, plus her books bring the steam along with the swoons. I also love the diversity in her books, from BIPOC characters to LGBTQ+ characters to neurodiverse characters and everything in between.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend at least a couple of books by fellow indies, right? Two recent favourites that I’ve been shouting about to anyone who will listen are Remy vs Rome by Bonnie Callahan and Finding Gene Kelly by Torie Jean.
ROMANCE AS A GENRE
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in? What is your favorite thing about the genre?
The simple answer is that I love love. I love stories about connection, I love a good meet cute, I love reading and writing about people finding ‘the one’ and making it work, whether it’s easy or against all odds. My favourite thing about the genre is how much room there is to play and get creative. There are endless tropes and themes, you can write something hilarious or gut wrenching, lighthearted or dark. Anything goes. It’s a genre where you can explore every side of human nature as well as every type of struggle people face. I also love that many people, especially those from marginalized groups, often see themselves reflected for the first time in romance. That’s a beautiful, powerful thing.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
I’d love to try my hand at fantasy someday. I’ve had this idea kicking around in my head for years, loosely inspired by the movie Labyrinth. I know the basic plot and even have the characters’ names picked out, now I just need the confidence to write it.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I’d like to try writing an enemies-to-lovers romance. I’ve tried it before but it’s never worked out. I tend to write cinnamon roll heroes, so my brain just won’t allow the characters to be enemies for long!
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
I’ll always champion books that deal with mental health. As someone who’s struggled with depression and anxiety for nearly two decades, I know how important it is to talk about these things openly and honestly so people feel less alone, and because talking about it helps normalize it and end the stigma.
If you write open door romance, why did you choose that and what inspires your sex scenes?
For many people, physical intimacy and sex are part of a healthy relationship, and I like exploring that. Sex can deepen a connection between characters and often show different sides of them you wouldn’t see outside the bedroom. It can be a window into deeper thoughts and feelings, insecurities, things from their past, etc. It can also complicate things, so there’s a lot to explore there too. And sometimes steamy scenes are just plain fun to read and write!
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
You know how they say to write what you know? Well, many of my early books are heavy on the feels and often dealt with themes of loss, grief, and struggles with mental health. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my writing was an expression of grief, a healthy and cathartic way for me to deal with feelings that would have otherwise ruled my life. I wrote my debut novel, Blue Sky Days, in my early twenties; the hero is diagnosed with Leukemia, which was what my dad died from over a decade earlier (spoiler: no one dies in the book). Waiting for the Storm was my way of dealing with the unspeakable pain of losing my beloved Grama. It was the easiest and hardest book I’ve ever written; the words poured out of me and I finished the first draft in a matter of weeks, but I always say I ripped myself open and bled all over the pages. My writing slowly morphed into lighter stories and romcoms, but those themes of loss, grief, and mental health are always present in some way.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
As you can probably guess from my answer to the last question, I tend to put a lot of myself into my characters. Not just the serious, heavy things, either. You’ll often see my favourite things woven in (like a character who collects Funko Pops, loves Star Wars, or loves romcom movies) or can tell my current obsessions based on what the characters like. Friends who read my books love pointing these things out, so I always add in nods to friends and small inside jokes, like little Easter eggs.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
In 2019, I started writing a romance about a fat woman with anxiety who’s hidden herself away from the world because of past hurts and trauma, and her fear of how others perceive her. She falls in love with an incredible man and makes new friends who help her see how amazing and beautiful and special she is, and who help her learn to live more fully. I’ve always loved coming of age stories and, even though the characters are in their thirties, that’s what this feels like to me because she’s figuring things out and learning who she wants to be and how she wants to live. We always need more positive fat rep and stories where the characters begin to heal the toxic relationship to their own body (caused by so many outside factors) and learn to love themselves as they are.
Is there one common element that readers can find in all your stories?
Like I said before, my stories do tend to deal with themes of grief and mental health struggles. They also always have strong friendships and/or found families, as well as an emphasis on self-discovery and following your dreams. If I can make readers laugh, swoon, experience all the feels, and be left feeling happy and hopeful, I’ve done my job.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
My (absolutely bonkers) plan for 2023 is to publish five books. For the last year, I’ve been working on a romcom series about a group of lifelong best friends who are turning 35. They’re all at different stages of life, but they’re a unit and they make each other a priority. I love books about friendship, and this has been such a fun exploration of all the different sides of friendship, which often gets trickier as we get older. Readers can expect lots of laughs and swoons in this series, along with a variety of tropes.
Paperbacks, hardbacks, ebooks or audiobooks—Despite the fact I own countless paperbacks, I love ebooks for the convenience. I also maintain that I read ebooks faster, which is a good thing considering my endless TBR!
Single or Dual POV—I’ve only ever written in single POV but I’d love to try dual at some point.
Standalones, series or standalones in a series
Open door, ajar door or closed door romances—The majority of my books are open door, but the series I’m releasing later this year is closed door. I’ll admit it felt strange since I’m used to writing sexytimes, but it was the right thing for these books.
Plotter, pantser or plantser—Mostly panster, but it depends on the book. I usually get an idea and just go with it, but once in a while the entire story will arrive in my brain fully formed and I’ll plot it all out before I get started.
Cold or warm weather—Neither? Haha. If I could have six months of spring and six months of fall, I’d be a happy girl.
Illustrated or photo cover?—I’ve done both, but I’m currently a sucker for a good illustrated cover.
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