L. H. Westerlund, author of “University Strange (or My Life Among Academics)”

#YourNextBeachRead is continuing into July as a way to introduce you to a new author and their works in the hopes that you’ll find the next book you want to take with you to the beach, the pool, or the comforts of air conditioning.

Today’s featured author is L.H. Westerlund, author of University Strange (or My Life Among Academics).

What’s your name and where are you from?

L. H. Westerlund. I’m Scandinavian – My passport says Sweden but my heart just says The North.

How long have you been writing? How did you start?

7-3 - L.H. Westerlund author photo 2I have been writing since I was about four. I come from a writing family so my mother gave me a lot of support in my process as I grew up. One of my earliest memories is sitting by our old kitchen table, her writing the words down for me as I made up a story. I still remember what she taught me that very time about storytelling.

Who are some of your influences?

I am big on Tolkien, Tamora Pierce, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carrol and Shakespeare. Quite traditional I suppose! (And the reason I write under initals, too.)

What is your book about?

It’s the story of Kiera, the heroine, and how she carves out a spot for herself. She grows up under the protection of two very powerful men — each in their own way — and in this story she learns to fight her own battles, entirely on her own terms. It pleases one of them, but not the other!

Where did you get the idea?

It was the name Alexis, actually, which just popped up someplace randomly and it just grew from there. Alexis Darn became the name of an angel with questionable morals and the heroine followed promptly after!

How long did it take you to finish it?

Well, I wrote it in eight days, only to spend six weeks editing it to start with, then five years to learn English well enough to translate it on my own. All in all, it’s taken me about eight years to properly finish it.

Is this your first book, or have you written more than one?

I have written more, but it is the first one I’ve gotten published by a publisher.

We all like to write about people we know, even if we never name them. Who are some people who inspired characters or situations?

I have been asked in the past if Kiera, my heroine, is me. She’s truly not, but she did borrow my brother. Her older brother, Thomas, shares his hair colour and many of his traits with my own big brother. As for the rest, most of them are fantastical creatures, mainly genies with an angel or two thrown in, and they sort of brought about themselves.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

7-3 - L.H. Westerlund book coverI personally love it when the bad angel and the worse angel start to quip back and forth about what’s right or wrong. They do so in two separate places and it just makes me giggle every time…

What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got?

“There’s always place for a well-written book.” It’s my mum’s favourite adage and it always gave me hope.

What’s the worst?

Through the years many I’ve gotten many different versions of the same poor advice – conform with boundaries instead of just flowing with your own style – and that’s never a good thing to try. I’ve also been repeatedly advised to give it up, which is even worse advice. Writers will write, and that’s sorta final.

Where can we buy your book?

There’s more links on there to lead you to it on your favourite sites.

L. H. Westerlund is a Scandinavian author, engineer and classic literature enthusiast living in London. She is currently working on several new novels, including a sequel for the University Strange Series.