Hello and welcome to another edition of Author Interview Fridays! (some day I’ll have to come up with a better title!) Today I am pleased to share with you the fabulous answers of Author Laura Smith, a Middle Grade author currently working on her third novel. Thank you for being here Laura! Let’s get started:
1) What name do you write under? Is this a pseudonym? Do you use more than one name when you write?
I write under my legal name, Laura Smith. I do have a pseudonym in mind, but I’m saving it for when I want to write something edgier, which will probably never happen.
2) Tell us about the first time you realized that you were an author or were going to be an author.
When I was little, I wanted to be an archaeologist like Indiana Jones, only I wanted to dig up dinosaur bones. In Kindergarten, I wrote my first book. It was an encyclopedia of dinosaurs with full color illustrations of every dinosaur I knew (all five of them). I didn’t know how to read yet, but I knew all of my letters so I asked my parents how to spell nearly every word. When I was finished, I bound the book with yarn and paraded it around as my first book. That’s when I decided I’d rather be a writer.
3) What genre(s) do you write in, and why?
My three self-published books are all middle grade novels. I’d have to say that the best years of my life were between the ages of 9 and 11, and I like to revisit those ages as much as possible. I went to college for Creative Writing, and we were discouraged from writing in our favorite genres. We had to write like we were creating the next great American novel or short story. I think that limited a lot of us. It definitely limited me in terms of the content that I produced. I found it difficult to come up with ideas for stories for adults. Especially at that age, I didn’t feel like I had a grip on adulthood, or even young adulthood. I had nothing to say about work or relationships or society, but I had a large interest in stories about kids and childhood. So, it wasn’t until after college that I decided to return to writing for children. It made writing so much more fun and interesting and even easier now that I’m writing in my preferred genre.
Definitely, I write YA because I feel like I have a better grasp on MG and YA than on adulthood…and I’ve got a number starting with ‘3’ now!
4) What genres are your favorites to read? Why?
I still read (and re-read) a lot of middle grade and young adult novels. I’ve been revisiting Roald Dahl and E.B. White. As a kid, I read a lot of book series, like “The Babysitters Club,” “The Box Car Children,” and “Goosebumps.” Aside from Goosebumps, I liked stories that were about real life in the present day, not so much fantasy or medieval times or outer space. Those are the type of books that I write now. I realize that those are not the books that become best sellers, but I know there are kids out there that feel the same way that I do about reading about real characters in real situations. So, I write for them.
In terms of adult literature, I went through a Stephen King phase, but now I read a lot of books that I hear about on Podcasts or in book reviews. I particularly like to read adult novels where the main character is a kid trying to decipher the adult world from their point of view, books about motherhood or raising families, and I love classics such as “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “The Catcher in the Rye,” etc.
5) Tell us about your two all-time favorite characters: 1 that you wrote and 1 that someone else wrote.
My favorite character that I ever wrote is Mike Hascal from my second book, “Saving Hascal’s Horrors”. Mike is a leader, and he cares about his family and friends and preserving the past. He has the ability to see events that occurred in the past, even events that happened before he was born. He goes to great lengths to save his dad’s horror shop that his sister now runs, even though he never really knew his dad. He’s brave but scared, and he’s passionate about what he loves, particularly horror movies. He’s the kind of friend I would have liked to have had growing up.
My favorite character that someone else has written would have to be Atticus Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird”. It is very hard to pull off a character as kind and flawless as he is without making him one dimensional or unrealistic. Atticus is able to convey his actions and beliefs without being preachy or getting heated. He is the calm in a storm of chaotic characters all scrambling to be heard and have their way. He’s got that Superman-like nobility, is always the better man, and never lets his emotions get the better of him. Above all, he loves his children and protects them from the world without shielding them from it.
6) There is a lot of controversy about allowing books to be made into movies (especially when they cut or change large portions of the plot). Would you be willing for your books/stories to become a movie? Why or why not?
Absolutely. I am a big movie fan, and while every writer runs the risk of having their story trashed by bad film making, it’s a risk that I would be willing to take to have my characters brought to life on screen. I write in a very cinematic way so my stories are set up to mirror a full length movie. I also don’t think that a bad movie can have any effect on a good book. They are two separate forms of entertainment.
7) How do you handle writer’s block?
I haven’t had writer’s block in a long time, probably because I found a genre that fits me like a glove, and I have no deadlines or pressure to write (besides the pressure that I put on myself). When I was in college, I would spend my summers fighting writer’s block, trying to come up with new material to submit to class for the next year. Because I didn’t like the type of writing that I was doing, I found it difficult to come up with ideas. That’s usually when I come into writer’s block, at the brainstorming, idea-forming stage. I also got writer’s block whenever I was trying to write the best stuff possible to submit to literary magazines. My focus was on getting published, and even earning money for my writing, and that caused me to produce work that was rushed, uninspired, and just not very good.
After a few years of this, I decided to just let go the idea of writing for money and just decided to write for the thrill of having someone else read my work. So, I’ve produced a lot of work that I have had people read for little or no charge, and that has gained me more experience and exposure than I was getting when I was writing for paychecks that never came.
I find that when I don’t feel like working on a book, I move to a different type of writing, either blogging, writing in my journal, writing poetry, or editing. There are so many different forms of writing out there that no writer should have a problem figuring out how to use their writing time.
Good points. If you are struggling with something it is probably because you don’t like it, are pushing yourself waaayyy to hard, or don’t know enough about the topic! Work on something else and come back later. Great idea.
8) What inspires you?
I’m inspired by my childhood, movies, fears, and dreams.
I was looking for an idea for a short story to write for a Creative Writing class when I took a break to visit an estate sale across the street from my parents’ house. There, I found all of this horse-themed merchandise for sale: pictures, sculptures, writing equipment, etc. I had no idea that she had been into horses. So, I wrote a short story about a girl who learns that her neighbor across the street grew up on that street back when it was all farmland and how her own house was where their horse stables were at one time. I mixed this with my fear of house fires and my junior high experiences and came up with my first novel, “The Stable House.”
I like horror movies so I wrote “Saving Hascal’s Horrors” with the hope of exposing kids to the horror genre in a way that wasn’t too scary. I had a dream about a family of grave diggers one night and remembered a story I had started to write one time about a young woman who took over her dad’s shop instead of going to college and began to regret it. So, I changed the shop to a horror-themed shop, made the main character the little brother instead of the sister, and that became my second novel.
I was looking for an idea for a new book after finishing “Saving Hascal’s Horrors,” and I was driving my friend home one night. We passed by the playground where we used to hang out with all of our other neighborhood friends, and my friend suggested that I write a book based on all of the games that we used to pay at the park. So, that became my third book, “The Castle Park Kids”.
Inspiration is truly everywhere as long you are willing to see it, and tweak it! Good job!
9) How do you respond when people ask what you do, then make that face if you say “I’m an author”?
Most people are impressed by the fact that when they go home after a long day at work, they veg out in front of the TV while I go home, get out my laptop or notebook, and start typing away until I have a full length book. They want to know how I publish them, where I get my covers, and how I come up with the ideas. I’m happy to share all of this information with them, but when it comes time for them to read or buy the book, I get a wide range of excuses from, “I don’t have any kids that age,” to “I don’ t have time to read books, but good luck!” It feels like a pat on the back followed by a slap in the face, but I just keep doing what I do, and for those who do read my work, both strangers and acquaintances, I am eternally grateful.
10) Finally, tell us where to go to find you
You can find My books Here:
The Castle Park Kids – Coming Soon!
Remember, if you are an author, illustrator, photographer, agent, publisher, or company copy boy for one of the a fore mentioned(s) who would like your own chance at an interview on Here There Be Dragons (that’s the blog right here, yay!) then comment or message and let me know!
I wish you all a FANTASTIC weekend! Thanks again Laura!