Interview with Lily Velden

Divine Magazine
Divine Magazine 13 Min Read

So, who the hell is Lily Velden, you’re asking yourself? Don’t worry, I ask myself that same question at least once a day. I’d love to be able to give you a definitive answer, but in truth, it’s fluid. It changes on a day to day basis. Okay, an hour by hour basis, which is probably why I’m divorced and single… I’ve never been much good at accepting labels or boxes, let alone, fitting into them.

But today I’ll try. Let’s see… I’m a Number 9, Cancerian, Wood Dragon, who generally prefers savory to sweet, believes cheese sauce should be declared a food group, but has a weakness for anything caramel. Oh, and choc-coated nuts.

As a rebellious teen, I wanted to be an artist. My head was filled with romantic notions of moving to Paris and living in some tiny studio apartment. I saw myself sipping coffee in Montmartre or Saint Germain and having heated discussions about art with fellow practitioners. In truth, I felt I’d been born too late, that I should have been born in the late 1800’s because I so wanted to hang out with Matisse, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, and van Gogh!

Having said that, I’ve always had a love of language, often incorporating it into my artworks. To me language is a living, breathing, evolving thing. I have an embarrassing number of notebooks filled with quotes, lyrics, poems, and snippets from stories I’ve read. Look in my handbag and I’ll guarantee you’lI find at least two of them! And they’ll be well worn. I read them often. I love a beautifully crafted sentence. I love to read, and I love to write.

And I have a theory… I believe we need to encourage more creative endeavours to balance the destruction we see on the news every single day.

All of which lead me to starting my own publishing house!


How did you come up with the idea for WIP?

I think the best way to describe it would be to simply say Wayward Ink Publishing is an extension of my independent nature. As a baby, I wanted to feed myself. As a toddler; to do up my own laces. As a teen I fought for the right to form my own opinions (LOL, that’s a nice way of saying I rebelled!) And as an adult, I wanted to be the one in charge of my life.

Add to my independent streak a creative soul with a love of writing, drawing, and making things, and hey presto you have a writer running a publishing house!

What sets WIP apart from other publishers?

Hmm, not having dealt with many publishing houses, I’m probably not in a position to really comment, but what I can say is that I’ve strived to create a family type atmosphere within Wayward Ink – not only for the employees and freelancers but also with the authors.

By that I mean, a big extended family with embarrassing mums, odd ball granddads, crazy aunts, sibling rivalries, annoying cousins, and cool uncles. We may compete with and against each other. We may know envy, and perhaps even jealousy, but at the end of the day, we’re family, and we love and support each other. We’re there for each other.

That may sound corny —hell, my kids would tell you I am corny and sentimental, but they also know I’m strong and loyal and always in their corner. They know I don’t judge—that I try to understand. They don’t mind being related to me, in fact, I think they rather like it. My aim is to have anyone involved in any capacity with WIP feel the same way.

To be honest, I do scratch my head a bit at the competitiveness that exists in the creative arts. I’ve never really understood it. If we were selling houses, I could understand it, but we’re not. We’re writing stories. A reader choosing to immerse themselves in your book this week won’t preclude them from immersing themselves in mine next week. That’s the beauty of people who enjoy reading—they don’t limit themselves to one book! For me, my only competitiveness is my desire to see more people reading.

How do you manage to balance your writing and the work WIP requires? Do you have any free time?

Times like this I wish I was an adept liar, or at least gifted in the art of bullshit!

It would be great if I could make myself sound like some superwoman who effortlessly juggles several balls in the air simultaneously. I’d love to be able to say I can prepare a healthy gourmet meal, keep on top of the housework, be a good mother and friend, hold down a day job, run a successful business while writing the next literary masterpiece.

I hope you and your readers enjoy honesty and not the parroting of a popular line, because, in truth, I don’t manage to balance my writing with the demands of Wayward Ink very well at all. It’s been two years since my last stand alone release. I struggle. I struggle with it every day. Most of the time I feel like I did when I was a working mum—torn between my financial responsibilities to my children and my emotional ones. Torn between providing for them and being there for them.

Once upon a time, I wrote 5-15K every week. Now I write in dribs and drabs and spend far too much time apologizing to my characters for not being a superwoman. I beat myself up for taking so long to share their stories. Why they still talk to me is a mystery.

Having said all that, I’m reconciled to my own writing taking a back seat for the time being. My responsibility is to the authors and the behind the scenes team that make up Wayward Ink, and I take that responsibility seriously. At the moment, while I’m building WIP and giving it a strong foundation, that’s the way things have to be. I see this time as an investment in my future both as a writer and a publisher.

Later, there will be lots of things I’ll be able to delegate she says with a smiley face! And then the reading world will have to watch out—all that dribs and drabs writing will have paid off, and I’ll have a novel finished every second month!

What are the downfalls of owning a publishing house?

For me, the biggest downfall of owning a publishing house is the need to have to say no sometimes. I hate it. It’s so hard, and I always feel like shite afterward. To minimize it I always offer the reason why and feedback on what would need to be done in order for WIP to be able to accept the manuscript. At least then, the author has been given something to work with to better their chances with that submission or future ones.

If you were to go back to the moment when you decided to start your own publishing house, would you do it again?

Yes, I would do it again. Does that make me crazy?

I approached Wayward Ink the same way I approached my writing—I was in it for the experience. I was in it for job satisfaction. I was in it for the love of the creative process, and the helping of others achieve their dreams, not for money per se.

Anyone who works in an arts-related field knows it’s mercurial. They know it has its fashions and trends. What’s a popular writing style or genre today may not be in twelve months. And perhaps far too much is about luck and being in the right place at the right time and having the right person read or see your work. Because of that, I believe you have to buy into the process. You have to derive enjoyment from what you do. The work has to be satisfying in itself. You have to love doing it.

My philosophy has been to learn all I can because I believe with passion, a love of the craft, a willingness to learn, and some good old fashioned dedication and hard work the dollars will eventually follow.

Passion and enthusiasm are catchy. They attract more passion and enthusiasm. Wayward Ink’s growth over the last two years is a testimony to that. We’ve grown from nine novel or novella releases in our first year to well over thirty in our second and the releases planned for first six months of our third year already match the total number of releases of our second year. Our second anniversary, by the way, is June 5th, and we will be celebrating!

If you were to wish for something this very moment, what would it be?

Can I be greedy and ask for two things? Time and sleep.

Time to write more and time to sleep more as both are things I do precious little of anymore. So perhaps, it really comes down to time. Not so greedy after all!

Tell us something about Lily the woman, not the writer or the publisher, something not many people know about.

Confession time! I’m a car singer—I love to sing while I drive. I put on my big ballad playlist and yodel away at the top of my lungs. I put my heart and soul into it—anyone who knows me knows I don’t do anything by halves so let’s just say I sing with gusto! (I lurve that word! So evocative. It really does paint the picture of what I look and sound like as I sing, don’t you think?)

Only problem is I can’t sing to save myself. At a karaoke night, I could clear a room in less than ten seconds.

Come to think of it; perhaps that’s why none of my children ever want to do a road trip with me…



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