Posted on 03/01/2019 at 10:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Author Isobel Starling found life-changing inspiration in her lack thereof.

Starling had been a professional artist for over twenty years when she found herself drawing a complete blank.

It was, to put it mildly, a rough time for her, so she took a few months off to mentally recuperate.

Starling spent most of that time reading (like all of us here would!), and one book in particular affected her.

Two men, in that book, were in love, but the author never let them seal the deal, so to speak ... so Starling, in a fit of pique, rewrote it and shared her happily-ever-after version on a fan-fiction website.

Readers of her story loved it, and that enthusiastic feedback planted a seed in Starling’s mind.

She’s now the award-winning author of nearly twenty male-male comedy/ thriller romances and male-female romances.

Here’s what Starling had to say about her career change and the joy it’s brought her.

SADYE: Once you started writing, did you ever return to art?

ISOBEL: Yes. I paint male nudes, draw, and design most of my own book covers.  

I upload my paintings to my Instagram account (@isobel_starling), and I make art about my characters.  

My latest M/M fantasy novel is called Apple Boy. The cover painting was by a wonderful Indonesian artist named Lennel.  

I designed a map of the world the book is set in, and I give printed copies to readers who order signed paperbacks.  

I am very lucky that I have the creative talents to be virtually self-sufficient when it comes to the visual side of my publishing career.

SADYE: With hindsight 20/20, can you spot some signs that a career in writing was maybe in your future?

ISOBEL: I wrote poetry in my early twenties, the kind of "you broke my heart" maudlin poetry that makes people cry.  

I guess that was good training in working through emotions and learning about relationships — which has in turn filtered into my novels.

SADYE: What’s the best writing advice you’ve received or would give to another writer?

ISOBEL: “Write; no matter if you think it’s rubbish, just keep writing. You can’t edit a blank page.”

SADYE: What has been the most rewarding moment you’ve had in your writing career?

ISOBEL: Winning the Audiobook Reviewer Award for Romance in 2018 with As You Wish, narrated by Gary Furlong.  

Romance categories are always fiercely competitive, and our audiobook was the only M/M romance in the category.  

We were both stunned to win, as M/M books usually don’t get a look in.  

The result of this was that the awards now have a dedicated LGBT category — something that none of the other major audiobook awards have.  

So now, more great LGBT audio can get its moment in the sun!

SADYE: Can you tell us more about working with your narrator?

ISOBEL: Working with my audiobook narrator, Gary Furlong, has been one of the joys of my publishing career.  

He “gets” my work, emotes my characters so well, and he has such an array of well-observed accents.  

I am very fortunate to have collaborated on eleven audiobooks with him. ...

Our process is well-honed by now. I send Gary the book manuscript and a breakdown of characters and accents.  

Gary then records samples where he works through the characterizations and improvises interactions between characters.  

I listen, laugh a lot, and then offer feedback. Sometimes Gary needs to have another go to find the voice I require, but it’s a fun back-and-forth process.  

When we are in agreement with the accents, it’s Gary’s time to shine. I’ll receive the first fifteen minutes of the audio to ensure he’s on the right track, and if so, he will narrate the whole book.  

When the book is done, I proof listen to the whole book and compare it with the text.  

Any errors are noted, then fixed, and the audiobook is then sent to Audible for review and released.

SADYE: Your works have also been translated into several different languages; how did you choose your translators?

ISOBEL: For foreign translations, I first signed deals with publishers. ...  

Signing with publishing houses allowed me to establish myself in new territories and get readers from all over Europe without costing me a cent.  

Now that I have books out in these countries, I decided to invest in independent translations of other books.

Finding a trustworthy translator is the most difficult of processes. I have had some great translators and one appalling experience.

The appalling translation led to litigation, but that’s a whole other story!

The great translators have led to me increasing my readerships in Germany, France, and Italy.

I found the good translators by searching Amazon for books in my genre that had been translated and had good reviews. Then, I contacted the translators and made arrangements.  

My next translated book is Sweet Thing, which will be published on March 15 in German.  

I love this book so much and am delighted that German readers will soon get a chance to read it.

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Learn more about Isobel Starling on her website, where her books can also be purchased, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Categories: Author Interview

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