Welcome to Cheri's 20 Questions! My interviewee today is the wonderfully talented Laura Kemp. Welcome! Laura is the mother of four who just received her teaching certificate in Social Studies and Language Arts! She studied creative writing at Western Michigan University and had some short stories published in literary journals. She and her husband live on a farm and have two horses, eleven chickens, four hamsters, six cats and one (very spoiled) Goldendoodle named Josie.
Tell us a little something about what you write, Laura: I have written historical romance but I usually enjoy something with an edge... paranormal mysteries where ordinary people find themselves confronted with the unknown.
Cheri: What is the first book that made you cry?
Laura: Where the Red Fern Grows... bawled like a baby.
Cheri: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Laura: I get exhausted trying to find time to write, but am energized once I do it!
Cheri: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Laura: To put yourself out there more and not be afraid of what others will think of you! I give my own daughters the advice I wish someone had given me.
Cheri: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Laura: I’m still in the process of writing but I know writing the second in my series has added another level of excitement because I KNOW it’s going to be in print and people are going to read it. I guess I feel a greater responsibility to my readers and to the story as a whole.
Cheri: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Laura: Penni Jones and I went to a pitch slam in NYC. It was so exciting to be in the big city, mingling with authors and agents and just generally having a blast.
Cheri: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Laura: I wrote the script to my high school musical and everyone liked it! We performed once and demand was so high we added a second. I was very proud.
Cheri: What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
Laura: I don’t remember the author but I sure loved the old romance novel ‘Fortune is a Woman.’ Or ‘The Thorn Birds’... it never seemed to catch on like other classics, probably because of the themes, but I thought both were so evocative of a certain place and time. I get very ‘sucked in’ to great settings.
Cheri: As a writer, what would you say is your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Laura: My spirit animal is a lioness. I love how beautiful they are and how they hunt in packs when most big cats are loners. I think a lioness is a wonderful example of strong womanhood. We need to band together, ladies and celebrate our loveliness.
Cheri: How many published, unpublished, and half-finished books do you have?
Laura: I have an unfinished novel about a slave rebellion. I have about four or five short stories that have been published and one that remains unpublished. Numerous poems that have been published.
Cheri: What does literary success look like to you?
Laura: Having a good story that ‘sells itself’ by positive word of mouth. I want readers to connect to my story and characters and want to know more about them. I want to encourage and empower people to be who they are and for aspiring writers to follow their dreams.
Cheri: What do you feel is the best way to market your books?
Laura: I think social media, blogs or having some renowned authors/ reviewers review your work. I also like the idea of book conferences etc... I’m willing to put myself out there to get my book into the hands of potential readers.
Cheri: What kind of research do you do, and how much time do you typically spend researching before beginning a new book?
Laura: I lived in the small town I created for ‘Evening in the Yellow Wood’ so I didn’t do a lot of research. I typically will search on the internet as I go or stick to subjects I know something about.
Cheri: How do you select the names for your characters?
Laura: A teacher once told me my character names were like Charles Dickens’s. They are usually lighhearted and indicative of their character-- and because I’m a musician I like it if they have a lyrical quality.
Cheri: Do you hide secrets (or Easter Eggs) in your books for people to find?
Laura: Oh, yes! ‘Evening in the Yellow Wood’ is full of Easter Eggs.
Cheri: What was your hardest scene to write?
Laura: Eh... hem.... the love scenes. Only because I want it to convey the moment without crossing the line of decency.
Cheri: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Laura: Persistence. I would write then walk away. Write then give up on trying to query agents. Write and then want to start on something else. It was hard for me to keep pushing this one project forward but I’m sure glad I did!
Cheri: How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Laura: Hmmm... this one took me six months from start to finish. I did a lot of revisions that took longer, though.
Cheri: What is your favourite childhood book?
Laura: Charlotte’s Web.
Cheri: Where/when do you find yourself most inspired?
Laura: In nature- especially in the woods or the river behind our house. I also like the beach. Anywhere that I can be quiet and alone. I also enjoy writing groups and workshops because the energy in infectious and when good stuff is being put on the table it can be so exciting!
Cheri: Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Laura: Write because you love it, not because you want to make a million bucks or become famous. Just concentrate on your craft and let the business side of things unfold later. Good books are hard to find so if you devote yourself you CAN create something lasting that will live on in the minds of your readers, just as the books you love have lived on in yours. And NEVER. GIVE. UP.
Cheri: Thank you so much for answering my questions, Laura; it's been a pleasure having you!
Find Laura's Amazon page here.
Join us next week for another edition of Cheri's 20 Questions!
Award winning historical romance author, Acquisitions Manager for Pandamoon Publishing, wife, and stay-at-home mom of four. Chocoholic, nerd, & bath bomb enthusiast.