We had the good fortune of connecting with Lily Luchesi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lily, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I believe I was always destined for it. My whole life I was making up stories in my head, began writing them down at age 8 thanks to my second grade teacher, and from that moment on, I wanted to be a novelist. I read obsessively, studied the craft from every which way when I was a child and teenager, and eventually began querying at age 16. I wound up published at 20 with a poem, and a week after my 21st birthday, I received a contract from a highly regarded small traditional press for my Paranormal Detectives Series.
Since then, seven years ago, I have gone entirely indie and published over 20 novels and novellas under two pen names.
In addition, I co-run Partners in Crime Book Services with my mother, Annie, who has been in the entertainment industry as a promoter since the 1970s. I handle graphic design and am a highly sought after editor (developmental, line, and copy). While editing is my day job and is a lot of work, I knew I needed to do it rather than get a 9-to-5.
I suffer from a few forms of mental illness (depression, severe general and social anxiety, PTSD, and C-PTSD, as well as insomnia), which makes a “normal” job difficult, so instead of pitying myself, as I came close to doing, I decided to use my skills in the arts and help other authors and publishers along the way, while still remaining independent.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I consider my brand “horror with heart”. A lifelong lover of the macabre, I became obsessed with books and shows and films about vampires, ghosts, and demons and the like. I religiously watch serial killer and true crime documentaries and seek out the eeriest Gothic novels out there.
So when I began writing, I knew that, no matter what genre I wrote in, it would be tinged with horror. Indeed, many bloggers weren’t sure what to do with my debut series, The Paranormal Detectives. Set in Chicago where I was born and raised, it follows a human detective and not-quite-mortal FBI agent as they hunt down vampires, witches, demons, shifters, and more in the city. There’s even a guest appearance by Lucifer himself.
Was it horror? Not traditionally. Was it urban fantasy? Could be, but what about all that torture? So I coined my tagline above and called it “occult fantasy”.
In 2018, I went back to my roots with young adult novels. I penned The Coven Series, and 4 out of 5 books topped the Amazon Hot New Releases chart. Those books are still fan-favorites and gain new readers every single day, and I adore them all.
In all my books, even the ones with a male lead, you will find: strong female characters, characters living with and conquering mental health and neurodivergent issues, awesome one-liners, and a ton of paranormal creatures. I want to weave worlds and write books that feature characters who are like me.
So I write LGBT+ characters, plus-sized characters, Goth characters, ones covered in tattoos who wear far too much eyeliner and whose closets consist of dark black and light black.
It was not easy, be it self-publishing or with a publisher, to break through the over saturation of books out there now, to make sure my work was trendy enough to get noticed but unique enough to stand out, and to ignore the cyber bullies and hate and lies that permeate any workplace with more than two people.
I fight imposter syndrome hourly, I constantly question myself, and always challenge myself to be better than my last book, and to not be repetitive.
I am lucky to have amazing friends and colleagues who support me, and brilliant readers who always find my work and keep me writing.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I know this is for Atlanta, but since I am not an Atlantean, I am going to tell you about my favorite location there I read about in Terri Garey’s Nicki Styx Series: Little Five Points.
Reading those books made me feel like I was there, eating the local cuisine and going to the clubs and quirky shops. It sounds like the perfect place for someone who’s just a little off-beat, like me!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to my mother, Annie. She was a single mom by choice, and raised me on her own completely after the age of 5 (my grandmother had lived with us while my mom worked full-time, and sadly she passed away). I was never a latchkey kid, never left alone or with sitters; she always found a way to be there with me while still paying our bills.
When most parents hear their child say, at age 8, “I want to be an author when I grow up!” they tend to think it’s nothing but a flight of fancy, but books/writing/grammar has always been what they call a “special interest” of mine, and my mother encouraged it from the time I began showing my love for reading. She read to me, as did my grandmother, and bought me book after book whenever I wanted/we could afford it.
She not only supported my dream and understood that I wanted writing to be my life, she also became my toughest beta reader and supporter, as well as research assistant and virtual PA so I can focus on my work.
We work together at Partners in Crime Book Services, and I’d never be able to manage it without her guidance and expertise.
Covers and banners designed by Lily Luchesi Photo reading taken at Barnes and Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles by Annie Smith