I’m so happy to be able to welcome Laurel to #TeamNat and BookEnds! Laurel’s manuscript hit just the right notes in what I was looking for in middle grade. It was that classic middle grade fantasy. But when I spoke to her, Laurel mentioned this manuscript was different than her previous ones. How could I not offer on an amazingly talented writer who could pull off two different styles?
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I usually write at home, but I have started participating in writing sessions with other writers at local coffee shops and such, and I find these are very productive. I’m much less likely to waste time when I think other people will see what I’m doing!
I try to find time to write every day. Sometimes this is in the morning, sometimes it’s in the evening, and sometimes it’s right when I’ve decided to go to bed but suddenly have a ton of ideas I need to write right then.
What do you love about writing children’s fantasy?
I’ve always loved science fiction and fantasy, so it makes sense that this is what I’d want to write. I like making things up! I also think putting characters who seem real into extreme, unreal situations can tell us a lot about the human condition. It’s like a thought experiment.
I like writing for children because there’s so much to explore. There’s this wide-eyed sense of adventure, like anything’s possible. It’s fun to write.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
I experimented with a few genres and age groups, but my best ideas usually fell into the speculative children’s categories, and I did my best writing here, too. Maybe I’m still a kid at heart?
What is the hardest part about writing children’s fantasy?
Not being able to spend more time doing it.
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness. Darn book made me cry.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Going on walks and trying to take pictures of wildlife. I try to get out on a walk every day, weather permitting, and I’m always happy when I spot birds, frogs, snakes, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels or other animals.
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writes and Illustrators.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
A cabin in the woods, surrounded by wildlife, but with great internet speed.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?
“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” – Joss Whedon
Plotter or pantster?
I’m leaning more toward plotting these days, although I still wing the details.
I like to create a synopsis before I start writing. It has the basic plot, including the ending, but some of the details might be vague or missing, and subplots are often absent. As I start writing, I go back to the synopsis and tweak it as needed.
Synopses, love them or hate ‘em?
It’s a love-hate relationship.
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
The agency seems so supportive, and Natascha is awesome!
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
I think too many new writers expect to be successful immediately. They should dedicate themselves to improving their skills and accept that it can take multiple years and multiple books to reach a professional level. A book might not sell, but that doesn’t mean the writer wasted time on it, not as long as the writer is learning and growing.
If you want to be successful as a writer, you have to be in it for the long haul. Don’t get discouraged by rejection. Just keep trying and keeping improving.