Laura Smith is an office worker by day and an indie author/blogger/editor by night. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, she earned her B.A. in Creative Writing from Carlow University in 2007. She has since self-published three middle grade novels and is at work on her first middle grade series. She has also blogged for several websites, most recently HubPages, and is a volunteer editor for LitPick student book reviews. When she’s not writing, she’s usually drawing, watching movies, working in her yard, and spending time with her family.
What inspires you to write?
I've been writing ever since I learned the alphabet. Reading has always been a favorite activity for as long as I can remember, and I've always wanted to tell stories. Over the years, I've filled dozens of notebooks with short stories, poems, journal entries, and novels, and these days I've gotten into writing essays. There is always something to write about, and it gives me a platform to express my thoughts in a way that I never have been able to verbally.
Tell us about your writing process.
It varies, but I'm a very organized person so if I have the frame of an idea, I'll write down all of the main points or events in a notebook or type it into a Word document. Then, I'm able to get the rough draft down much quicker.
My writing process is usually to either hand write the first draft in a notebook, or more recently, type it up into a Word Document. Then, I print it out, mark it by hand, make the edits, and repeat the process over and over until I think it's ready to submit to literary agents/publishers or self-publish.
In terms of creating characters, I do write out character profiles, including a brief history, physical description, likes/dislikes, etc. Sometimes I'll Google search the description and find a photo of a person who looks like the character that I have in my head. I've even created scrapbooks featuring characters' wardrobes, homes, schools, etc. to refer to while I'm writing my descriptions. When I'm feeling particularly artsy, I'll try to draw my characters as well.
My first novel was originally a short story written for a fiction writing class that my profession encouraged me to turn into a novel. My second novel came from a dream that I had one night. My third novel was an idea suggested to me by friend based on our summers spent in our neighborhood growing up. The trilogy that I'm writing came from a desire to write my own comic book hero without writing an actual comic book. It started with one book, and the ideas for books two and three came as an epiphany one day while at a work. So, each experience in finding ideas for my novel has been different.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don't talk to them as much as embody them. I try to act out scenes in my head or base them off of real people I know. One of my characters is missing an eye so I tried to walk around the house with one eye covered, just to get an idea of what it feels like, and that really helped to get an understanding of what it's like to be that character. That's one of the most fun parts of writing a novel.
Who are your favorite authors?
In terms of children's books, my favorites are Ann M. Martin's "Baby-sitters Club" series, R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" series, Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series, and I love Wilson Rawls' "Where the Red Fern Grows", Roald Dahl's "Matilda," Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, Beverly Cleary, and Shel Silverstein.
For adult reading, I turn to Stephen King's classics like "Carrie," "Cujo," "Firestarter," and "The Green Mile," Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird," John Grisham's "A Painted House," "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck, and Emma Donoghue's "Room."
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I self-published my first three books after several rejections from publishers. Self-publishing seemed to be catching on as a popular method of publication, but it proved to be very time consuming and very competitive, especially for middle grade books, whose audience is unlikely to find my book online or download onto an eReader. So, I found myself marketing to parents and hoped that they would like the book enough to recommend it to, or even buy it for, their kids. Even selling my books at tables seemed to be a lot of effort with little return.
My first two books in my new trilogy are finished, but I have been querying agents and publishers, hoping to have those books traditionally published. I want my books to be easily available at libraries and book stores for kids to find, and I feel that I have perfected my writing enough that I feel that the series is worthy of traditional publication.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I feel that, like independent bookstores, traditional publishing will ultimately prevail. Hard copy books will always be in demand, and readers will always find the money, the space, and the time to read.
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
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All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.