January Author Spotlight | Victoria Lum
#LRAuthorSpotlight #AuthorSpotlight #CelebratingAuthors
For 2024, I decided to work out a way where I could give back to some of the great authors who have allowed me to be a part of the ARC/early release/street teams. Each month, I will feature a different author so that you can check out their work.
Up first is Victoria Lum! I discovered her on Instagram and started her LA Hearts series with the second book of the series. Of course, I had to go back and read the first book once I fell in love with her work. If you love angsty, steamy, contemporary romance, then read on to learn more about Victoria and the upcoming books she has on her schedule!
Hi Victoria! Tell my readers a little about you and your author life.
I’m Victoria Lum and I write angsty, steamy contemporary romances. 2023 was quite the whirlwind! I published my debut novel, The Sweetest Agony, at the end of March 2023 and have subsequently published one book per quarter. So, as of now, I have four books published with the fifth book, which will be a first in a new series, slated to be published in February 2024, already written and with the editors! I’m from sunny California and have been an avid, voracious reader since I was very young. Books are my escape and even though I’m writing now, I still make sure I have time to read every day. When I’m not writing, reading, or working in my day job, I spend time with my husband, my two little ones, and our husky.
Where do you draw inspiration for your stories or characters?
Listening to music! Unlike a lot of authors, I typically don’t have extensive playlists, but usually, when I come across a song I really like, images start appearing in my head and it snowballs from there. That song becomes the theme song of my books. For example, The Harshest Hope, my epic, swoony romance that features star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of the tracks that were torn apart by an impossible choice, and reunited as adults when our hero is a billionaire and intent on revenge, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” was heavily featured as I wrote some of the most poignant scenes while listening to it on repeat. And then there are times when I have random ideas at the most inopportune moments, like when I’m driving or brushing my teeth (usually times when I don’t have a notepad around me).
Can you share the origin or initial spark that led to your first book?
When I wrote The Sweetest Agony, I had no idea whether or not I can write, to be honest. I’ve always had a dream of “someday” writing but have put it off for years. But when I finally decided to do something about it, I realized I wanted to write about anxiety disorder, which is something that plagues so many people but is often misunderstood and invisible to others looking from the outside. I’ve had a few bouts of heavy anxiety that was debilitating and wanted to shine some light on it. So, my female character, Jess, was born. From the outside, she looks like she has it all: a great career, a boyfriend who’s good on paper, great finances, but inside she’s a mess. And of course, with a romance, we need a swoony hero, and James, her best friend who has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for her to see him differently, is born. He’s so understanding of her anxiety. Also, I love a good unrequited love, pining hero story, because…angst! Well, that’s how this book was born.
How do you develop your plotlines and characters? Do you outline extensively or are you a pantster?
My methods have evolved with each book I write because I usually inhale writing craft books in between books I write (always trying to improve), but for the most part, I’m a little bit of both…so a “plotser”? I always start out with an outline that has at least a sentence or two on each chapter and a few sentences on scenes within the chapters, but they do change as I write because the characters come alive and often want to do different things or take me in a different direction.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
Since I have a day job, I usually write early morning and at night after the kiddos go to bed. The bulk of my daily word count is met in the morning, when my mind is most “fresh”.
Are there any specific rituals or habits that aid your writing process?
Waking up early! I’m a night owl, ironically, but my creative juices flow best in the morning.
What techniques do you use to create relatable and multifaceted characters?
This is something I’ve worked hard on with each book I’ve written. Now, after reading so many craft books and really taking a lot of time to hone my craft, I have an entire personality profile I complete for each character before I start writing. I make sure to know their trauma (if any), the flaws (because they need to have some in order to be realistic), and what goes through their mind on a daily basis. I think that translates to a fuller novel. Humans are complicated and messy and I try to capture that on paper!
Which authors or books have significantly influenced your writing style or storytelling?
Tons of craft books! There’s a lot of technical aspects of writing I wasn’t aware of when I plowed through books as a reader. Now knowing what I know, when I read for fun, I pay special attention to scenes or passages I love to see what the author did there. Always trying to learn!
Are there particular genres or authors you enjoy reading for pleasure?
I read very widely in the romance genre, so that means I enjoy everything from clean YA to historical, to dark romance. I’m fortunate I don’t have any triggers, so as long as the story is good, I’m here for it. I have so many authors whose works I love: Samantha Young, JT Geissinger, Saffron Kent, Rina Kent, Stephanie Garber, Jennifer Hartmann, J Saman, Carian Cole, Kerrigan Byrne, Lisa Kleypas, Emily Henry, Annika Martin, Mila Finelli, and so many more.
Have you had any remarkable discoveries or insights during your research process that shaped your storytelling?
This is an interesting one I learned recently, which really should be “duh” for me as a reader. I love writing romances with drama and twists and really take those characters for a ride of their lifetime. What that translates to is usually longer books (350 plus pages give or take) because I have more plot to cover. But my last release, The Brightest Spark, is shorter novel (under 300 pages) because it was originally supposed to be novella and the joke’s on me because I apparently can’t write novellas, so the book became longer to ensure I have everything wrapped up appropriately. I was a little bit scared my readers won’t like the shorter length because that usually means a simpler plot and also less time to explore the characters…but they love it! So, now I’m less worried about word count or page count and make sure I just write books that I want to write and focus on wrapping up the story and letting the word count or page count be what they are.
What themes or messages do you aim to convey through your books?
The importance of mental health. I’m a HUGE proponent of taking care of mental health, probably because I’ve “been to the dark side” a few times and can see what it does to you. My characters all learn to take care of themselves first before they have their happily ever after. Finding their soulmate or being in a relationship doesn’t “solve” their trauma or heal them like magic. Putting in the work themselves is what propels them to get to their happily ever after.
What are the most challenging aspects of writing a book and/or series?
For me, it’s the lack of time! With this being my second full time job and with a family and other responsibilities, I struggle with finding time for everything! Then there’s the guilt: I should be spending more time with the kiddos, I should be taking care of this or that, etc. I try to remind myself I’m chasing after my dreams and that’s something I want my kids to see as they grow up. I’m thankful my family is very supportive in my endeavors.
Could you share a particularly rewarding moment or experience during the creation of your books?
So many. But in general, I LOOOVE when readers contact me as they are reading or when they finish my books and they give me their thoughts, their reactions. Just seeing how folks enjoy my books and really talk about my characters as if they are real people give me the greatest highs. I’m in the beginning of my career, and these reactions, messages, social media edits are truly what keeps me going.
Can you provide any hints or insights into your upcoming projects or books in the pipeline?
So, I recently wrapped up my first series, LA Hearts, with the release of The Brightest Spark. My next series, The Orchid, takes place in New York City and kicks off with the first book, When Hearts Ignite, which features the youngest brother of the LA Hearts series, Steven Kingsley, who is known as The King of Wall Street. This series revolves around a new family and people who frequent a high-end, elite establishment for the rich and famous, The Orchid. It’s essentially a place where they can get whatever they want (Michelin restaurants, spas, gentlemen’s clubs, escort services, night clubs, and so many more services within the fifty-plus story building in the heart of Manhattan). It’ll have angst, it’ll have plenty of spice and steam (to serve the plot because for my stories, the plot always comes first), swoony heroes brought down to their knees by our heroines, and will pull on your heartstrings!
Are there any genres or themes you’d like to explore in your future writing?
Interesting tidbit! The first book I attempted to write (back in college), which I abandoned, was a mafia romance. One day, I hope to bring that story to life.
How can readers connect with you?
Instagram (@authorvictorialum), Tiktok (@victorialumwriter), Threads (@authorvictorialum), Facebook page and profile under my name, Victoria Lum, Facebook group (Victoria Lum’s Luminaries) I love chatting about books whether they are my books or other people’s books (often times, I talk about other authors’ books because I’m a huge reader). Come say hi and let’s be friends!