Lasairiona McMaster: Larne writer behind inaugural Author Sustainability conference talks romance novels, indie publishing, and 'writing what you know'

A Larne woman has told of her journey towards being an independent author during a successful writers’ event earlier this month.
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Lasairiona McMaster was a key organiser behind the inaugural Author Sustainability conference, held in Malahide from Feb 2-4.

“Myself, along with a couple of other close author friends have been talking about putting a conference on here in Ireland since 2019,” the local writer said.

“With the way our industry has been shifting - towards a hamster wheel kind of model where you just keep pushing forward and get the next book out - we decided we needed to act and set up a conference that focuses on building a sustainable author career if any of us were to have a chance at reaching retirement and maintaining our author businesses.”

Larne author Lasairiona McMaster.  Photo: Bradley CharbonneauLarne author Lasairiona McMaster.  Photo: Bradley Charbonneau
Larne author Lasairiona McMaster. Photo: Bradley Charbonneau

Originally from Newry, Lasairiona moved to Larne in 2008 with her husband. They later spent about ten years abroad, living in Texas and in Pune, India. Lasairiona recalled: "I wrote my first book while I was in Queen's University. It possessed me until I let it out onto paper, and then I stuck it on a shelf for years. When my husband got made redundant from his job of 23 years in 2018, we had to leave our home in India and move back to Larne.”

During the move, she found the manuscript she had written while at Queen’s. “I sent it to a friend and she said, ‘You need to publish this.’”

Lasairiona’s first novel, Intimate Strangers, was published in 2019, in the same year as ‘Bloom Where You're Planted’, her non-fiction book about being an expat and living abroad.

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Lasairiona on stage at the Author Sustainability Conference.  Photo: Lasairiona McMasterLasairiona on stage at the Author Sustainability Conference.  Photo: Lasairiona McMaster
Lasairiona on stage at the Author Sustainability Conference. Photo: Lasairiona McMaster

She has since penned a total of 25 books under two pen names, with ‘Lasairiona McMaster’ focusing on sports romances – in particular, college hockey. ‘Lasairiona Lewis’ is reserved for her more adult romances.

The hockey romances grew out of a childhood “obsession” for the sport and the Mighty Ducks movies, she added: “During my later teenage years I went to a few Giants games at the Odyssey (now SSE) where I met my husband – he volunteered for the team at the time. We had engagement pictures taken on the ice at a rink in the US, our wedding was hockey-themed, and we regularly attend games here when we can.

"People always say 'write what you know.' I have always been a helpless romantic at heart, and since I found my other half at a hockey game, it became the easy choice to give my characters their happily ever afters while writing about my favourite sport.”

During her keynote address at the conference, Lasairiona spoke to 70 delegates from all over the world: “Essentially I shared my own journey as an indie author and all the mistakes I made along the way.”

With a number of new books in the pipeline as well as author signings and events, the local writer is set for a busy 2024.

In the meantime, Lasairiona is continuing to raise the profile of indie publishing. “[It] really doesn't get enough of a time in the spotlight - especially with so many local authors around the Larne area,” she said. “I've started to spend some time coaching some newbie aspiring authors around the area too. We have a huge pool of talent here.”