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Interview With LoLo Paige: Former Firefighter Writes Smoldering Romances — Inspirational Indie Authors Podcast

Interview with LoLo Paige: Former Firefighter Writes Smoldering Romances — Inspirational Indie Authors Podcast

My guest this week is LoLo Paige, who tells tales of action, adventure, mystery, romance, all mixed together with a great deal of heat. Literally. LoLo put out forest fires before she put away her firefighting equipment and picked up a pen. Now, she can recall her real-life adventures and create smoldering page-turners. 

Every week I interview a member of ALLi to talk about their writing and what inspires them, and why they are inspiring to other authors.

A couple of highlights from our interview:

On being a female firefighter

LoLo Paige

I held my own, I worked really hard. I mean, you have to work hard to prove yourself. I kind of made that a theme in the novel too, because you can’t get away from it as a female in firefighting, you have to address it.

On writing romance

And I studied the market, it started out as women’s fiction, and I didn’t have any romance in it, and my husband’s all, where’s the romance? And I thought, Oh, here’s this macho Alaska guy telling me I needed a love interest in my story. So, I hooked up with the Romance Writers of America, here in Alaska, and we have a wonderful chapter.

Listen to my interview with LoLo Paige

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On Inspirational Indie Authors, @howard_lovy features @LoloPaigeAuthor, who put out forest fires before she picked up a pen and wrote smoldering romances. #indieauthors Click To Tweet

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About the Host

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 30 years, and has spent the last eight years amplifying the voices of independent publishers and authors. He works with authors as a book editor to prepare their work to be published. Howard is also a freelance writer specializing in Jewish issues whose work appears regularly in Publishers Weekly, the Jewish Daily Forward, and Longreads. Find Howard at howardlovy.comLinkedIn and Twitter.

Read the transcript of my interview with LoLo Paige

Howard Lovy: I’m Howard Lovy and you’re listening to Inspirational Indie Authors.

Every week, I feature a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors to find out what inspires them and how they are an inspiration to other authors.

My guest this week is LoLo Paige who tells tales of action, adventure, mystery, and romance, all mixed together with a great deal of heat, literally.

LoLo put out forest fires before she put away her firefighting equipment and picked up a pen. Now, she can recall her real-life adventures and create smoldering page turners.

LoLo Paige: Hello. My name is LoLo Paige. I live up here in the North in Alaska and I am a writer.

I recently published my first book during lockdown in quarantine. So, I figured that was a pretty good accomplishment.

Howard Lovy: There are plenty of accomplishments to LoLo’s name, but let’s start early, when she first realized she was a writer.

LoLo Paige: Actually, it came about in the sixth grade. I went to a Catholic school in Butte, Montana, which was a melting pot for all kinds of different people.

Being a mining town, I had the nuns in grade school that got me into creative writing and then my family encouraged it, my sisters and mother and so on. So, as I got older, I kind of dabbled in it, but I wasn’t really serious about it. And I went off to the University of Montana and found myself in forestry school, and then got into firefighting that way, because back then, the seasonal jobs were always advertised for summer, and as a college student, I was interested in that, as fire science was part of the forestry curriculum. So, that’s how I got into the firefighting aspect.

Howard Lovy: Growing up in Montana, LoLo had a natural interest in the health of forests and through forestry, she discovered firefighting.

LoLo Paige: Back then, there were hardly any women in it, it was mostly a male dominated profession. One of my professors had set me up with an internship with the US Forest Service. And so, that’s how I got to know firefighting. Forestry was just kind of a natural thing for me. Growing up in Montana, back then there was a lot of logging. I wanted to be a silviculturist, which is a person that goes out into a timber stand, and then you assess it for its marketability and so on. So, that’s how I got into forestry.

Howard Lovy: So, how did she get into writing? LoLo answered that question when I asked her whether she had her share of close calls as a firefighter.

LoLo Paige: Yes, as a matter of fact, we did.

It was on a fire in interior Alaska, and it was burning towards an air force base up there. Our crew had a close call because our crew boss, she was from California and she didn’t know the area, she misread the map and took us right into the path of the runaway head of the fire, and so it was pretty dicey there trying to escape that.

We had to hike up this steep mountain, because we were in a ravine before the fire came blowing through there, and that was a close call.

So, what I did was, when I retired, I wrote that up in a true story for the Anchorage Press and subsequently, the story won an Alaska Press Club award. I was shocked, because it was the first story I’d ever published. When I went to the banquet, one of the judges says, well, you know, this would make a good novel, why don’t you write it into a novel and have this be the climax?

And so, that kind of inspired me. And so, I did. I went home and I went to a couple of writer conferences and learned some of the tools that I needed to know to get started, and I started writing it.

Howard Lovy: We’ll get back to her book in a minute, but first, there’s another genre that caught her attention, playwriting.

LoLo Paige: I got into acting back in college in Missoula, Montana at the University of Montana. Mainly it was musicals in the beginning, and then I just did community theater. It wasn’t paid work until I got to Anchorage, and then I got into some of the paid work on stage and I stayed active in local theater for a couple of decades.

And then it just dawned on me one day, I’m standing there reciting lines of greats, like Neil Simon and people like that, and I thought, gee, you know, I’d love to write my own lines for other actors. So, that’s when I got the bug to write a play, I wrote two of them. The first one I wrote was about, the movies came to Alaska back in 2008 to 2012, due to a film tax incentive. So, I wrote this play about how all these women were competing to get into this play. It was a comedy and it got selected for the Play Lab at the Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez. Then I wrote another one about evacuation in a fire, that was more of a drama, and one of the people there from LA, he was an LA film agent guy, and he said, you know, this would be a good screenplay. So, I wrote the screenplay for it and it got fourth place it the LA Independent Film Festival.

Howard Lovy: But it was adventure and romance that called to LoLo, both in real life, and in the genre she chose for her first book.

LoLo Paige: Yes, I was at a writer’s conference called the Kachemak Bay Writer’s Conference in Homer, Alaska, and I met some of the folks that came up.

Andre Dubus III was one of the keynote speakers, and we were having lunch one day and he said, well, what are you passionate about? Because I was whining about, Oh, how do I get started, I don’t know what to write about. And he said, what are you passionate about? And I said, well, there’s a coming of age that’s been rolling around in my head, and it was an influential part of my life when I was a firefighter, it kind of made me grow up, it made me mature and be responsible and that kind of thing. And he says, so right about that. So, that’s when I wrote the story about the near miss with the crew, that’s basically how I got into writing Alaska Spark.

And I studied the market, it started out as women’s fiction, and I didn’t have any romance in it, and my husband’s all, where’s the romance? And I thought, Oh, here’s this macho Alaska guy telling me I needed a love interest in my story. So, I hooked up with the Romance Writers of America, here in Alaska, and we have a wonderful chapter.

I just love this group I’m with, and they pretty much taught me how the whole thing worked. I got into critique groups and all of that, and they helped me form the novel. And I learned the basics of how to write a romance as an action/adventure.

Since I read a lot of romantic suspense, I wanted to put a little bit of a suspense aspect, and so I did that. I’m on book two, where I’m really going whole hog on that crime part of the action.

Howard Lovy: Both writing a book and fighting fires come with their own unique challenges. But which one is more difficult?

LoLo Paige: Well, I think fighting a fire is easier actually, but although it’s scarier, at times, there’s challenges to each, certainly.

The physical labor aspects, I’m five foot two, so when I first got into it, the guys would all look at me, you know how guys they cross their arms and they look at you like, oh, can she cut this, you know? And they size you up, but they were very, you know, the ones that I worked with, were amazing. They were very supportive and helpful, and I had a really positive experience.

I held my own, I worked really hard. I mean, you have to work hard to prove yourself. I kind of made that a theme in the novel too, because you can’t get away from it as a female in firefighting, you have to address it.

Oh, you know, your water, your food and all of that, you have to pack that in on your back a lot of times. If you’re lucky, you’ll have rote accessible fires, but in Alaska, most of it’s remote. So, you’re dropped off on a mountain top in a helicopter at a base camp, and then from there, you hike into the fire, which is what we did, and we’d hike four miles each way and then do our shift and then hike the four miles out.

Most of the time, the helicopters couldn’t be freed up to transport. So, we were on our own.

Howard Lovy: Unfortunately, due to climate change, there will be more material for LoLo to work with as she writes about the devastation of forest fires and its impact on human lives.

LoLo Paige: It’s amazing, once you publish a book, even though I wrote fiction, and even though I wrote a romance, people are sending me articles and pictures and photos through social media and whatnot, and they’re asking me these technical questions, and I’m the first to say, I’m not a technical fire science expert. However, I do research and I do have personal experience, and so I can talk from that aspect. But I have to be very careful in how I engage with that, because there are fire science experts out there and I rely on them.

I have them read through my scenarios before I publish them.

Howard Lovy: The next frontier is romance for, and about, people like me, who are, let’s say, a little more seasoned.

LoLo Paige: And then I have another series I’ve started called, The Wanderlust Series, with older characters.

The Romance Writers of America, they started a chapter called Aged to Perfection i.e. seasoned romance with older folks and older folks, meaning older than 35. In romance, I guess that’s getting old. So, I wrote one with characters in their fifties and sixties, baby boomers. Because I have so many friends, readers, that have said, gosh, I wish we had more baby boomer romances out there, we just don’t have that.

So, I started writing those and I was traveling once a year. Up until COVID, I was traveling once a year with a group out of California with my cousins, that got me into that, and we started traveling all over the place. Last year, we went to Germany, the year before we did France and Spain and so on.

So, I took each one of those trips and I created a romance, and so that’s the next thing I’m going to launch. I entered it in a RWA chapter contest and it won first place in the Terra contest in Florida, which I thought, well, yeah, there’s a lot of older people in Florida, of course they’d like this romance, you know.

 

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an editor and writer with more than 30 years of experience in journalism, from newspapers to magazines specializing in business, science, and technology. He has spent the past few years guiding coverage of independent publishing, amplifying voices of the marginalized. Howard is also a book doctor who enjoys working with authors to get their work ready for publication.

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