Laurie Larsen is a mom, a wife, a Christian woman and a professional Project Manager. And she’s the award-winning author of 5 novels, including her latest release, The Chronicles of Casey V. You can visit Laurie online at www.authorlaurielarsen.com.
Laurie, can you share some information about your book and where readers can find it online?
The Chronicles of Casey V is a fun, sassy story for lovers of Young Adult fiction. We follow our 16-year-old heroine, Casey, to her first job as a counselor at a summer camp. Combine a summer romance, a mystery, a nearly Broadway-caliber show, a major trauma in the life of her best friend at home, and two broken bones, for which Casey is so totally responsible, this has got the makings of an awesome summer!
Link to Laurie’s website which contains a link to purchase the book: http://www.authorlaurielarsen.com/CaseyV.htm
Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I always wanted to be a writer. I was a huge reader and writing just sort of came as a natural follow-on. Shortly after graduating from college, I began several manuscripts that I was never able to finish. I attempted my hand at writing free-lance articles for magazines, but it never worked out. I think I just wasn’t writing the right stuff. It wasn’t until I was a very, very busy working mother of two toddlers – life was about as hectic as I could imagine it – when the bug to start writing my first romance took hold of me and wouldn’t let go! That was about eleven years ago. I’ve written eight novels since then and had five published.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
Casey V was my first work for Young Adults. I wanted to write a fun, action-filled story that would appeal to teenaged girls. I’d been reading lots of great YA books and series and thoroughly enjoyed the genre, so I wanted to try my hand at it. I wanted to write the book from the point of view of the teenager and I wanted it to be laugh out loud funny. Fortunately, I had two teenaged nieces (who I dedicated the book to) to help me get the voice just right. The last thing I wanted was to sound like a middle-aged mom trying to sound like a hip teen!
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
I generally start with a “what if” question. For example, what if a girl who never worked in her life, goes away to camp and everything that she’s responsible for turns disastrous? That was what I started with for Casey V. Or my book prior to Casey – my 2010 EPIC Award winner, Preacher Man: what if a woman who doesn’t have a faith in God falls in love with a minister? Once I have a “what if” that intrigues me, then I start thinking about the characters, letting them evolve. I have to have at least the main characters – the woman, the man, maybe a child or a friend. So at this point I know the “who” and the basic premise – the start of the book. That’s usually enough to write the first scene – maybe even a whole chapter. But what’s going to happen for 250 pages? Now is when I start letting my imagination run away with plot. This process could take a few days, weeks or months, depending on how stubborn the book is being. Once I start writing, I know enough to keep me going for a few chapters before having to stop and brainstorm again. My average time for writing a first draft is 6 months, final draft, another 6 months.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
Yes! I’m working on my first non-romance inspirational novel. It’s a story about a middle-aged teacher, grieving from a recent divorce and her college-age daughter announces plans for a summer abroad opportunity. As summer approaches, she realizes that for the first time in 20 years, no one needs her. How will she possibly fill her empty, lonely days? On a whim, she jumps in the car and takes an unplanned road trip. And discovers that although she’s at the lowest point in her life and thinks there’s no use for her – God has different plans. She manages to make a difference in the lives of a bunch of people she meets along the way, and ends up having one of the best summers of her life. In addition to this new inspirational fiction manuscript, I have three contemporary romance manuscripts that I’m going to polish up and submit in 2011.
Who is your favorite contemporary author? Are you currently reading any contemporary novels?
My favorite author is Pat Conroy, a southern epic writer who lives in South Carolina and manages to infuse the beauty and majesty of the ocean into most of his novels. The ocean is my favorite spot in the world so it’s no wonder that I connect with him. His novels are like old friends of mine. I’ve read all of them numerous times, and often pull them out when I need to nurture my writer’s soul after a particularly hard critique, rejection or review. He’s also very generous to other writers and fans of his work and I respect him for this as well. A few personally written emails from him are among my treasured possessions.
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write?
When I’m working on a manuscript I try to write every day, even if it’s only for a page or two. With my full-time work schedule and parenting responsibilities, I feel that if I can write 10 new pages a week, I’m satisfied. I do it by not letting myself off the hook. I have a voice at the back of my head that starts squawking at me when I’m doing, or even considering doing things like … watching TV, talking too long on the phone, spending too many minutes on email or Facebook! My guilty conscience drives me to the computer and my latest manuscript. It’s not original, but my motivation to spend my time in the right ways is the following thought: everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. It’s not that you don’t have time to write – it’s that you’re not choosing to use that time correctly.
I love that! It's so true that if we manage our time more efficiently, we can get a lot done.
How have your friends and family received your career as an author? Are they supportive?
I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive group! My mother is, and has always been my biggest fan. My first three or four novels, I’d print off chapter by chapter as I was writing them and hand them to her. She’d read them and give me her thoughts as I was writing the next chapter. For each of my published books I held big book signings or launch parties, and my local group of supporters made each one a huge success. Now, I not only have my supportive friends and family, but because of my website I have a large address book of supporters/fans across the country and even in other countries that send me their love and support through the internet and I am so grateful for this network. Many, many people approach me and say, “I want to write a novel. But you’re actually doing it.” So I guess in a way I’m living their dream. I’m thrilled to have them join me on the author’s journey. There’s plenty of fun and excitement to go around.
Laurie, thank you so much for stopping by. I enjoyed learning more about you and your work.