Interview with Epic Award winning author: Laurie Larsen
Laurie Larsen is an Epic award winning author and has several books published under name including a young adult novel and inspirational romance. By day she is a project manager and by night she turns into a cheering baseball mom and romance novelist. I am so happy to have Laurie do an interview on my blog, not just because she is a great writer, but also a friend and a fellow RWA member.
Magan: Can you tell us a little bit about your published novels and what you are currently working on?
Laurie: Sure, I’d love to. I’ve had five novels published. The first one was back in 2000 so I guess I’ve been doing this for a decade now! Hard to believe. Anyway, I achieved my dream of becoming a published author with a contemporary romance called Whispers of the Heart and I’ve never stopped writing. I’m hooked. J Subsequent books include a women’s fiction called Momentary Lapse, a mainstream fiction called Legacy of Lies, an inspirational romance called Preacher Man and my Young Adult romance, The Chronicles of Casey V. Currently, I’m working on editing and polishing two contemporary romance manuscripts that I’ve written and haven’t sold yet, so those are my top priority right now.
Magan: How did you get into writing and how does your writing schedule work along with having a full-time job and busy children?
Laurie: I always wrote – from the horse stories I’d write in notebooks when I was a kid, to my first ill-fated attempt at a novel when I first graduated from college. But my first try at actually writing a book with the goal of publication happened when I was on a long business trip to Atlanta, Georgia in August, 1998. I found myself with a free weekend without knowing anyone in town and no plans. I jumped on the MARTA train and stopped at the Margaret Mitchell House to do some sightseeing. For the uninformed, she was the author of Gone With the Wind, and this cluttered, tiny apartment that I toured was where she wrote about 75% of her blockbuster debut novel. I learned that it took her ten years to write that book, and during that time, she worked a full time job, got married, dealt with injuries and illnesses – in other words, life went on. And yet, she kept writing through it all. She stuck with it, and when she finished – look what a literary treasure the world has because of it. When I left the tour that day, I cancelled all my other sightseeing plans. I went straight back to the hotel and spent the rest of the weekend and every evening that week working on my own literary treasure! Eighteen months later my first novel, Whispers of the Heart was published. I dedicated it: “To MM: my inspiration.” I’m not trying to suggest that Whispers is anywhere near the quality of GWTW! But that’s my story for how I became a serious writer. The full-time career and busy children are just part of what I have to work my writing schedule around. Like Margaret, life goes on and I have to keep moving forward.
Magan: You’ve been very open about the obstacles you have faced on the road to publication and find an agent, on your website, what advice can you give to writers that are facing the same challenges?
Laurie: I populate my website’s journal with my own trials and tribulations to help other writers rest assured that they’re not alone in facing the issues involved with this crazy business. My advice is: keep moving forward. Set goals, re-evaluate them at each setback, and keep moving forward. Another thing I’d offer is that your goal may be different than other writers’ goals. And that’s okay. At the end of the day, each writer has to be satisfied and comfortable with the decisions she’s made about her own career.
Magan: What are the benefits to having your books published with a small printing press?
Laurie: There are many benefits I enjoy from being a small press author. Creative flexibility is probably the first. Small presses don’t have the strict guidelines that major presses tend to, so it gives the author the chance to flex their creative muscles and sell stories that may not fit into the big houses due to word count, subject matter, level of sensuality or whatever. Another advantage for me is the lack of pressure to put books out on a timeline. Since I have a very demanding day job it would be difficult for me to be expected to write 2-3 books a year. With a small press, I believe they welcome very prolific authors who can publish multiple books a year, but there’s no expectation that if you don’t, there’s no room for you in their stable of authors.
Magan: Your books are all over the board, in terms of genre, what is your favorite of the genres and what attracts you to it?
Laurie: I know! I’m not sure how it happened that each of my published books belong to a different genre. I guess it’s because I don’t consider myself pigeon-holed into just one type of story. I go by the story idea that lands in my head at that particular time. I like not having to limit myself to only one genre. As for my favorite, I don’t really have one. My next two completed manuscripts are category-length contemporary romance, and my new idea for my next book falls into the inspirational realm.
Magan: If you had to pick someone to play the main character and love interest in your YA novel CHRONICLES OF CASEY V who would you choose to play them? Or do you have any other actors or famous people that you envision when you write your novels?
Laurie: Great question! The love interest in Chronicles of Casey V is a hunky 17-year old hunk named Zander, and I could picture a young, teen-aged Zac Efron playing him. Or maybe an Americanized Dan Radcliffe – but he’d have to learn to drop the British accent. J One of my yet-unpublished romances has a Latin hunk as the love interest and I wrote the whole book with a picture of Mario Lopez taped to my monitor. J I started writing it when he was starring on Dancing with the Stars so he was constantly in my mind.
Magan: So you’ve won an award? How did that happen? Where you nominated? What did it feel like to win the EPIC award?
Laurie: Yes! This spring Preacher Man won the 2010 EPIC e-book Award for the Spiritual and/or Metaphysical Romance category. The EPIC e-book awards celebrate excellence in electronically published books. Entries can be submitted by either the author, the editor or the publisher and I entered Preacher Man. When I received notification that I was a finalist I made the instant decision to attend the awards ceremony in New Orleans. I had the time of my life! It was my own red carpet moment. Not only did I love New Orleans and have a great time there, and meet some great people at the EPIC conference, but the moment when they announced my name as the winner is one of the true mountaintop experiences of my writing career. I’ll never forget it.
Magan: What is the best advice that you’ve been given as a writer, mother, friend, RWA member, or just as a female in general?
Laurie: One of my favorite quotes is “Bloom Where You Are Planted.” It means a lot to me. It tells me several things that I try to remember: first of all, be happy in the here and now. Don’t waste your life wishing for things that you don’t have, but think you want. Also, it tells me to make a difference in whatever I’m doing – bloom. Don’t just survive. Put yourself on the line to actually make things better than if you hadn’t put out the effort.
Magan: Favorite book, movie, and food?
Laurie: I’m a huge Harry Potter fan so I’d say that series is among some of my favorite books in the world, although my favorite author of all time is southern epic fiction writer Pat Conroy. Favorite movie is a tough one – I love the Chevy Chase Vacation movies for a good laugh, and I love While You Were Sleeping for true romance and happily ever after. Favorite food is chocolate. I can’t seem to live without it, even though my body wishes I could.
Magan: Famous last words?
Laurie: Just thanks very much for inviting me over to your blog to visit today. I’d like to extend the invitation to all your readers to visit my website: http://www.authorlaurielarsen.com/ . Come in, stay awhile, browse around. I have several contests running right now, one involving reading and one involving writing so there should be something there for everyone. Enjoy the remaining days of summer, everyone!