Laura was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame her childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth and unable to walk, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she had become a trainer and behavior analyst, an internationally-recognized animal trainer and instructor, a costumer/cosplayer, a chocolate addict, and of course a writer.
How to connect with Laura...
Visit Laura on Amazon: Amazon author page
Get to know Laura VanArendonk Baugh
You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself and writing...
I’ve always been telling stories. The earliest ones I remember writing down were set on paper when I was in third or fourth grade, maybe. (I still have those somewhere, and I’m terrified to look at them!) Then I wrote some self-insertion fanfic when I was in middle school, though I had no idea that’s what it was called. And then I started writing “real” stories.
Authors are always saying they write because they have to or they write the stories they want to read or they write because they need to answer life’s questions. I may write because I’m more connected to fictional worlds than the real one! When there’s a whole world in your head, it’s easy to get lost in it. (tweet this)
Emilie here: Love this - there is definitely many worlds in my head haha!
Tell us a little bit about your books...
What’s the theme in your books? How did you come up with it?
I don’t think you come up with a theme, I think you discover what theme has placed itself in your work. I think a deliberate theme comes out nearer propaganda than truth. I’ve uncovered a couple of interesting themes in my work; in Con Job, it’s that life is what you choose to make it, even if you’ve mucked it up previously and think you can’t recover. In Kitsune-Mochi, it’s that loyalty has nothing to do with social ties and everything to do with action.
Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
Half the fun of being an author is research! For my Robin Archer stories, set in an Indianapolis neighborhood, I had to eat delicious pizza and ice cream at local eateries. Tough, I know, but I forced myself for the sake of authenticity. And for a story I’m working on now, a mashup of Greek and Norse mythologies, I made special museum trips out of state and visited a number of historical recreation villages and museums in Denmark. Cool!
We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?
I always start with an idea of character and then really get to know them during the writing itself. I can never get into those character interviews many other authors use, but more power to them! I think they save time. Me, I only learn from observing what they do, I guess. (Which is usually surprising to me, as I only roughly plot and my characters frequently diverge from my own ideas….)
Emilie here: I feel like I ride the fence on this. I feel like I know some so well when I start out and others evolve along the way.
What's the most random thing you had to Google for the story?
Oh, like many writers, I look up a lot of things which would worry my family and neighbors…. I’ve read up on the effects of breastfeeding on ancient population growth, I’ve learned the horrifying ways childbirth can kill (memo, refill birth control), I’ve researched the historical color genetics of domestic goldfish, and one of my favorite guilty searches was trying to learn exactly how high the human body could bounce if it didn’t just splat. (There is no firm consensus, if you’re curious, and funding for experimentation is… sparse.)
What’s your favorite snack while writing?
Chocolate. Dark chocolate. And if I’m really splurging or concentrating, dark chocolate-covered almonds. But I’m having to cut back, because publishing added about 15 pounds. A writer’s life is full of sitting and snacking, and it catches up.
Let's talk about your writing life...
I wrote for a long time before I was published – but then, those elementary and middle grade stories really didn’t need to be considered for public consumption. When I was fifteen, an author with whom my mom had done some work looked at one of my stories and told me to submit it, but without mentioning my age. I didn’t get around to it – and looking back, I’m glad I didn’t, because I had a lot of room for improvement.
As an adult, I kept writing, amassing manuscripts, submitting to publishers a couple of times, and I kept meaning to get around to “taking it seriously”. Finally I realized that I was in my thirties and if I was ever going to grow up to be a writer, I’d better get on it. And I sold a story. And that story sat in contract-Carbonite for three years until the contract expired, and I still wasn’t published.
And a year later, I finally decided to self-publish that story – after all, it had been good enough to sell traditionally – and I became a “real” author. Now I have both self- and traditionally-published work.
Ray Bradbury (and many others since, but he was probably the first to quantify) said that one generally needs to write about a million words before really getting good at the craft. When I did the math, that million words was very close to my word count before I began selling. I love self-publishing, but there is a danger to a really simple one-button process. I’m so grateful self-publishing first wasn’t really available and then not really acceptable during my first million words. You get only one chance to make a first impression (especially with a unique name like mine!), and that work wouldn’t have set the stage for what I’m doing now.
I am mostly an exploratory writer, meaning I’ll start with a premise and maybe a rough idea of plot and then see where it goes. It takes longer in revision that way, but it’s a lot more fun and a lot fresher in my mind, and it’s like getting to read my own stories since they surprise me too.
I hate writing endings. They’re the worst. Ugh.
Emilie here: Love these thoughts and revelations Laura! I think that million mark is really important and love what you say about not going before you're ready. It's tough, but like you say...there is only one first impression.
All right, let’s keep things real: Flowers or chocolate? …Or books?
CHOCOLATE. Though as I said, I’m trying to be more responsible with my body and dietary choices. Still, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and the organic stuff is not only healthy for me and for the planet, but is likely to be ethically tended and harvested (no slave labor). So that’s what I like!
What’s your most memorable Valentines date or gift?
My husband Jon and I don’t tend to overtly celebrate Valentine’s Day; we might get each other a card, or go out to eat, but mostly I’m grateful for him every day. He’s pretty awesome, supportive of my writing and generally a great guy.
What are you currently reading?
Right now, research material for a work in progress – I’m such a nerd, and research is fun. It’s a way to justify my nerddom. “But I HAVE to listen to this audio course on a fifteenth century city-state because I want to set a story there!”
Thanks for having me on the blog! I really appreciate it!
Emilie here: Thanks for being my guest Larua. Great interview and I'm excited to have you here. Also, thanks for the awesome giveaway. Readers - don't forget to leave a comment to enter.
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