In today’s Coffee Chat segment, we have the pleasure of featuring the immensely talented Lauren T. Davila, a Pushcart-nominated Latina author, anthologist, and acquisitions editor. With an impressive repertoire of work and a strong dedication to amplifying marginalized voices, Lauren is a literary force to be reckoned with.
Lauren’s expertise lies in the art of editing, and she has showcased her remarkable skill in curating multiple short story anthologies. Her editorial prowess can be seen in titles such as “When Other People Saw Us, They Saw the Dead,” published by Haunt Publishing and Outland Entertainment, and “Where Monsters Lurk and Magic Hides” by Bee Infinite Press. Her upcoming projects, including “Places We Build in the Universe” by Flower Song Press and “Reclamation: An Anthology of Climate Genre Fiction” by Outland Entertainment, further demonstrate her commitment to bringing diverse voices to the forefront of literature. Additionally, Lauren is involved in editing or co-editing several anthologies currently on submission, expanding the horizons of storytelling even further.
Beyond her editorial work, Lauren is a gifted poet and short fiction writer whose works have been published in esteemed literary magazines such as Granada Magazine, The Paragon Journal, Ghost Heart Literary Magazine, and many more. Her evocative prose and thought-provoking poetry have captivated readers, transporting them to imaginative realms and shedding light on important social issues.
Lauren’s academic pursuits are equally impressive. Currently pursuing her Ph.D. in English at Claremont Graduate University, she is honing her expertise in literary studies. With an MFA in Fiction Writing from George Mason University under her belt, Lauren’s dedication to her craft is evident. Her future plans include teaching at the collegiate level while continuing to make valuable contributions to the publishing industry.
At the heart of Lauren’s work is her debut novel, “At the Still Pointe,” an adult gothic mystery that intricately weaves together the worlds of ballerinas and the Greek Furies. This novel promises to be a captivating exploration of darkness and grace. Additionally, Lauren is also working on a thrilling YA superhero series, picture books, a poetry chapbook, and a collection of short stories, showcasing her versatility across genres.
In her role as the Acquisitions Editor at Inked in Gray Press, Lauren demonstrates her unwavering commitment to championing diverse and historically marginalized authors. As a disabled woman of color, she prioritizes inclusivity in literature, ensuring that a wide range of voices is heard and celebrated. Furthermore, she extends her expertise in editing to freelance clients, providing a valuable service to writers seeking to refine their craft.
Outside of her literary endeavors, Lauren finds solace in the greater Los Angeles area. You might catch her swimming, taking leisurely walks with her golden retriever, or indulging in one too many rose lattes. Her passion for life and literature shines through in all that she does, making her an exceptional guest for Tyler Wittkofsky’s Coffee Chat segment.
Join us as we delve into a conversation with Lauren Davila, an extraordinary literary talent who combines her passion for storytelling, commitment to diversity, and unyielding dedication to creating a more inclusive literary landscape. Prepare to be inspired and enlightened by her insightful perspective and unwavering advocacy for underrepresented voices.
TW: Please introduce yourself.
LD: I (she/her/ella) am a Pushcart-nominated author, anthologist, and editor represented by Susan Velazquez Colmant at JABberwocky Literary Agency. Besides short fiction and poetry, I have edited multiple fiction anthologies including PLACES WE BUILD IN THE UNIVERSE (Flowersong Press 2023) and TO ROOT SOMEWHERE BEAUTIFUL (Outland Entertainment 2024). I hold an MA in English from Claremont Graduate University and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. I am also the Acquisitions Editor for Inked In Gray Press and am actively acquiring genre fiction from historically marginalized authors. I live in the greater Los Angeles area where you can find me swimming, walking my golden retriever, and drinking one too many decaf lattes.
TW: Your website mentions that you have experience in writing for different mediums, including print, digital, and social media. Can you tell us about the unique challenges you face when writing for each of these mediums?
LD: I think the unique challenges often boil down to being audience aware. Often, each format has a different built in audience. Some writing contests or pubs for example are only on social media sites such as Twitter. In this case, you’d want the writing to be quipier and snappier, something people would be willing to share or repost. You’d have a bit more wiggle room for digital only sites and may be a bit more constrained by word count and physical space on the page.
TW: Writing can often be a solitary activity. How do you stay motivated and avoid burnout when working on long writing projects?
LD: For me, I try to stay as connected to my writing friends and groups as much as possible. After leaving my MFA program, I floundered a bit without the built in support system. It was also the beginning of COVID so I sought out community where I could find it which happened to be some amazing Discord groups. I truly believe that a remote community can be just as fulfilling as one in person.
TW: Your website mentions that you have experience in editing and proofreading. How do you approach editing someone else’s work, and what do you think are the most important things to keep in mind?
LD: While editing others’ work (whether as a beta reader, copyeditor, or dev editor) it’s important to remember at the end of the day that it isn’t your story. I always try to ask myself: “Is the advice you want to give here because that’s how you would write it or because that’s what makes sense for the characters and plot as set up by the author?” Once you can find that balance, it becomes easier to edit other’s work. I also would say while editing, whether your own or other’s work, is to make sure the character motivations make sense all the way through the manuscript. Readers can feel (and will make it known) if something is off with the characters! That’s always my main focus while editing.
TW: Can you tell us about a time when you had to write about a complex or technical subject that you were not familiar with? How did you approach the research and writing process?
LD: Hmmmm I’m trying to think of something I’ve done a lot of research on! I tend to write from my own backgrounds to some extent, whether that’s stories set in Los Angeles, or related to ballet, or something with private schools. I am currently working on a project that involves poisoning! I have been doing lots of research on poisons that can be placed topically onto someone rather than be ingested. Super fun Google searches I will say. In all actuality, I think it just boils down to being willing to put the work in to make something you’re not familiar with seem as realistic as physically possible.
TW: Your portfolio includes a number of pieces that center around social justice and activism. How do you use your writing to advocate for important causes, and what impact do you hope your writing will have?
LD: In my own writing, I try to be as representative as possible. Growing up in Los Angeles, I’ve always been surrounded by people from different cultures, backgrounds, orientations, religions, etc. This is the world I live in and it makes sense to flesh out my fictional ones in much the same way. As a disabled WOC myself, I know how important it is to see representation on and off the page. In my work as an acquisitions editor as well, I make sure to amplify diverse voices as well– their stories deserve to be read widely! For me, I write representative books but not in a specific sort of social justice way. I tend to dabble in genre work (specifically SFF and romance) and I think it’s so important to see diverse voices occupying these spaces without having to explore a sort of “issue” in terms of representation. Why can’t there just be diverse mermaids or time travelers or monsters without it having to be so explicitly about social justice?
TW: Can you discuss a time when you received constructive criticism on your writing? How did you use the feedback to improve your work?
LD: I can’t discuss one time in particular because it happens constantly! I am writing and editing and receiving feedback in a constant loop. Honestly, if I wrote something and none of my editors or readers had feedback or criticism, I wouldn’t even know what to do? I do have a small bit of advice related to feedback though. In my MFA program, we were told if you have edited your work multiple times and the feedback is coming back completely contradictory from trusted sources, you’re ready to go to the next step–whether that be querying or publishing a poem or short story. If everyone is in agreement on a plot point or character arc, keep editing!
TW: Finally, can you share any advice you have for aspiring writers who are just starting out? What do you wish you had known when you were first starting your writing career?
LD: Find your people and stick with them! Writing friends are lifelong friends and you need someone with you during the ups and downs. Celebrate and cry with each other and it makes the whole thing worth it. Who else is going to understand what really happens between the clean Word Doc and a published book on a shelf besides fellow writers? And at the end of the day, keep writing. You don’t need to write every single day, or hit a specific word count, or weekly research goal. Just keep writing!!
THEY SAW THE DEAD
- Kickstarter campaign and pre-order link to be coming in August
Website link: https://www.laurentdavila.com/