To say Dreamspinner Press author Lily Velden has arisen from the turmoil of emotional tragedy and the magnificent madness as an artist would be an unfortunate understatement. Her novel series “How the Light Gets In” starting with the first installment called “Same Page,” Velden credits the saga with saving her from a darkness that has long haunted her.
Being On The Same Page
Velden has and does wear many hats in her life, mother, artist, writer, and even a position in finance, but this Australian-based writer offers a glimpse of the premise.
“‘Same Page’ is the unashamedly romantic tale about the love-dance performed between Liam Lassiter and Jaxon Moncrieff,” she said via an email interview. “It’s a little funny. A little sad. And also a little real. Kind of like life!”
But how did “The Light” get in? That’s a much deeper story that ties Velden to a much darker part of her life that she had been tethered to since she was twelve.
Would you believe it started with Leonard Cohen?
There’s A Crack In Everything
Velden claims that from conception to completion of “How the Light Gets In” was not a straight shot. In fact, she says the book series was never meant to happen, but it did anyway, and here it is. Book One, “Same Page,” and Book Two, “The Race is On,” took her about two years to write.
Velden reveals how the story came to be with something most important. Her story.
“Mid 2009, I started writing an autobiographical novel, ‘Lily’s Story,’” she said. “It wasn’t so much a story I wanted to write as one I needed to write. I’d been carrying a painful secret for over thirty years, ever since I was twelve years old. I decided to write about it, because even at forty-five, I still was unable to talk about it.”
Velden explains that when she started writing “Lily’s Story,” the last of her children had finally moved out. Divorced and alone, she said she was confused for the first time in twenty-five years that the only needs she had were her own. She didn’t have enough to distract her.
She elaborates how that was a problem.
“I felt lost, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t run and hide anymore from the event which had haunted me, lying just below the surface, festering away, since I was twelve,” she said. “My father used to joke that to keep up with me a person would have to be able to travel at hundred miles-per-hour. He was right.”
Velden says in-between raising a family, running a business, and studying the arts, as long as she was moving she could “out run the devil.”
But then Velden explains she hit the wall at her mid-forties.
“I couldn’t run anymore, and so I did what I’d always done—I turned to my coping mechanisms: art and writing,” she said. “I decided to tell my story through the written word. The writing was difficult, to say the least.”
She went on to say that writing was one of the hardest things she had to do. Still, Velden says she pressed on.
“I had to make myself go back to a place I’d been trying to deny for most of my life, but I made myself do it,” she said. “I let myself be that little girl again. And I let myself cry. Something I had never allowed myself to do.”
At this point, Velden explains, is where it all changed.
“A few months after I commenced my confession I also started another story which I called, ‘There’s a Crack in Everything.’ It’s title was inspired by a Leonard Cohen quote which is very special to me: ‘There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’”
Velden says it was the quote inspired a love story between two men, Liam, an artist that was loosely based on a masculine version of herself, and Jaxon, a movie star with an unlikely inspiration of Gerard Butler.
“I liked his Scottish accent and curly dark hair,” she said. “It was, I suppose, therapy for my self-imposed therapy.”
Velden explains how she let herself fall into this world of Liam and Jaxon.
“The boys’ world was a place I could escape to that was beautiful,” she said. “A place where love is enough, where it conquers all. It was a place I needed.”
But over time, Velden says, she devoted more time to “There’s a Crack in Everything” instead of her confessional “Lily’s Story.”
“I didn’t feel bad about it,” she said. “In a weird way the boys helped me heal just as much as finally putting my secret into words. Telling their story gave me purpose. They taught me the true meaning of Leonard Cohen’s words. They taught me that though I am alone, I need not be lonely.”
Dynamite In Knickers
Velden recalls the fateful day during the dreary Australian tax time had put her in a foul mood. That is until she received a notice the hard copies of “Same Page” had arrived.
She talks about her cathartic misadventure.
“I checked my mail box and there was a card from the postal service informing me they’d tried to deliver a parcel to me,” she said. “I knew immediately it was my copies. Needless to say, I jumped back in my car as if I had a stick of dynamite in my knickers, and high-tailed it to my local post office where I waited patiently—okay, not so patiently—to be served.”
Velden says she was “shaking like a leaf” as she carried the package back to her car.
“I didn’t even attempt to drive home first,” she said. “I used my pocket knife to slit open the packaging and as soon as I saw Jaxon’s mesmerizing blue eye with Liam’s magnolia blossom reflected in the iris, I burst into tears. Three years of work was finally real. Something tangible.”
Making the Journey to GayRomLit
It’s a long flight Australia to Atlanta and Velden says she’s determined to make the best of it. This year, she’s a Supporting Author at the LGBT romance writers conference, GayRomLit, a place where readers and writers of LGBT fiction can come together and celebrate the genre.
Even if she’s overwhelmed, she explains she has a plan.
“I’ve taken advantage of a few Dreamspinner sales to buy books written by some of the other attending authors in order to educate myself,” she said. “I’m actually most excited to meet the readers—I may be a writer too, but I’m also a reader. I’m still trying to figure out what to provide in swag—ah, the joys of research! Anyone with some great ideas please feel free to email me! All suggestions gratefully accepted!”
But one of the highlights of the trip is something Velden claims is truly humbling.
“One of the nicest things about the trip is that a friend I made through posting stories to an amateur author site is meeting up with me,” she said. “I can’t express how touched I am that she would go to the trouble to meet with me.”
The Artist Within
Velden mentions that she must always remain in constant motion for numerous reasons and not that of a place of pain. She bounces from mother, to writer, to sculptor, to artist, and back again. Her pieces have hung in galleries and have been as impermanent as nature.
Velden elaborated on what makes her see the world through her constantly shifting point of view.
“I can’t really say I favor one over the other—it really does depend on mood,” she said. “Sometimes I want to draw. Sometimes I want to build! Either way, I do like to get dirty!”
She went on about the appeal of life drawing.
“I must say, I often like the warm-up drawings where you might have been given five to fifteen minutes to capture the essence of the pose better than the ones where you were given forty-five to sixty minutes,” she said. “I love the rawness of the shorter poses. They have more movement and energy for me.”
The hex nut necklace was featured in a gallery showing where the theme was about taking worthless objects, and imbuing them with value. She says she will be wearing a simpler version of the necklace at GayRomLit.
And her natural installations were from a showing called “Balance.” Where Velden says the only evidence of the piece’s existence was a photograph.
“Have a look at the angles,” she said. “My children used to wet themselves laughing at the sight of their mother shimmying up a tree, camera dangling around her neck to get just the right shot!”
The Future Looks Light
And Velden keeps herself moving. She offers a glimpse at her future projects in the works.
“Happy Ever After?”—Book Three “How The Light Gets In”
It’s been four years…
“Questions and Answers”
College Lecturer, Noah Daniels, feels disillusioned by life, so when he is offered the opportunity to swap his teaching duties for one semester with those of, Robert Callinan, the Professor of a “partner” college in England, he takes it. The men exchange, not only their jobs, but also their homes, and it is what Noah stumbles upon in Robert’s house that has him questioning everything he thought he knew about himself.
“Echoes of Mercy”
Jonah’s adoptive parents have died within a few months of each other, leaving him totally alone in the world. Wanting to comfort him, his Guardian Angel makes his presence known.
Where To Buy
To purchase Velden’s works, they run from $6.99 for eBook format and $17.99 for the paperbacks. Velden says she’s fond of writing contemporary romances and recommends her books for readers that want to escape to a world where love, acceptance, and respect are forever.
You can see all of her titles here at Dreamspinner Press.