Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I’m M Pepper Langlinais (the “M” stands for “Manda”). I started out writing Sherlock Holmes stories, moved through some espionage and fantasy, and landed in historical romance. They say write the things you like to read, and I like to read a lot of different things!
I also studied screenwriting as an undergrad and have had one short film made from my work and one 10-minute play produced twice. I worked at Houghton Mifflin and Pearson before deciding to focus on my own writing.
What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
Well, The K-Pro is partly lifted from my time working on film sets, though with some clearly fictional, fantastical elements added. Manifesting Destiny (a YA fantasy) stems from the fact my kids used to believe I could turn into a dragon if I got angry enough.
How do you deal with creative block?
First, I try to write through it. If I can’t, I do something else, usually a jigsaw puzzle or a big LEGO kit. Or I might paint. I’ve found that my brain is often working things out subconsciously while I focus elsewhere, and then I can come back fresh.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I think the biggest mistake you can make in writing a book is to try and do it alone. You need feedback. You need other eyes, other brains. If you write something and then just toss it out into the public, it’s not going to be good. A lot of authors are doing that these days, and they don’t understand the publishing process and why it takes as long as it takes–it’s because quality takes time.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
I sometimes think of a title first and then try to figure out what kind of book that would be!
For covers, I like 99 Designs. I found my current cover artist there, and she’s great. If you’re trying to figure out what you want for your cover, I’d say go look at books in the genre your writing and see which ones sell best. Don’t copy those, but understand which elements are consistent across them. Do they all have a shirtless guy on them? Then maybe you’d better consider a shirtless guy for your cover, too.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I really respect my readers, but I don’t read my reviews. After all, reviews are for other readers, not for the author. (If a reader wants to email me directly about a book, that’s fine, I’ll read that.) I’ve discovered that a good review makes me feel good for a little while and a bad review sticks with me forever. I will dwell on it, and it halts my writing flow for a time. So for my own mental health and the sake of my productivity, I just don’t read them.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
This is interesting because it’s a struggle I’ve been facing lately. I started to care so much about whether something would sell, whether readers would like it, that I quit enjoying writing. I didn’t write for months. And I realized that, in order to write I must enjoy it, and in order to enjoy it I have to write what I want to write.
There’s a Jimmy Buffett song called “Makin’ Music for Money,” and that sums it up (paraphrasing): I won’t write my books for money, no, I’m gonna write my books for me. Otherwise, I find I just can’t write very long or very well.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
For me, my emotions absolutely need to be engaged in order to write. I have to be plugged in emotionally to my characters, feeling what they feel through the situations I’m putting them in. I find listening to music that evokes those emotions helps put me in a good headspace for it.
What are your plans for future books?
I have so many half-started projects at this point, and none of them were working for me. But in just the last week I picked up something very old of mine and felt engaged by it. It’s based on a world I built as an undergrad while studying under Dr. Douglass Parker. He coined the term “parageography”–the study of imaginary places–and taught a course on it that was really a world-building course. We created languages and discussed terrain, etc. Dr. Parker died some years back, but right up to the end he would email me and ask if I’d ever done anything with AElit, which is the world I’d created. And I hadn’t, but now I am. If and when I finish it, and if it’s worth publishing, I’ll dedicate it to him.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I got my start as a fan fiction writer. Now, this was back when fanfic was published in printed “zines” (because I’m old). I would send in my work and get it accepted, and then I’d be invited to conventions as a guest author. Thing was, I was about 18 years old at the time, so when I’d turn up, everyone would just stare. All the other fan authors were in their 40s or something, and I was in college. Sometimes I would go and be told there were rooms in the convention that was too young to go into! I always found it really funny. I turned one piece of X-Files fanfic into my undergraduate thesis by adapting it into a spec script.
My nickname in college was “Methos.”
I love anime and am learning Japanese because I plan to visit Japan next year with a friend who used to live there.
I never planned to be a writer. I actually wanted to either be a film director or a magazine editor. But words turned out to be what I’m good at, or… I’m better at words than those other things, anyway. ::shrug::
Find me at:
My most recent book is Faebourne, a historical fairy tale romp with a romantic subplot, nominated for a RONE award: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JDRSPSR/