Lauren Clark has graciously offered her time to answer a few questions from me, and I was blessed to have two copies of her book so...now I'm giving away one of those copies to a lucky blog reader.
First, let's get to know a little more about Lauren Clark and her writing process.
Did you always want to be a writer? If yes, how did this develop? If no, what encouraged you to take the plunge?
My parents shut of the family television all summer, every summer. As a result, I spent LOTS of time at the local library and carried stacks of books back and forth every week. I must have read one hundred books a summer. My parents and my grandparents are/were also big readers and bookstore lovers, so I think I was destined to be a writer. I'd played around with writing fiction after I got out of TV news, but didn't get serious about it until about 7 years ago. I hired a freelance editor to help me with two stories I'd written and am forever grateful for her help and encouragement. Stay Tuned was the third novel I finished, but the first novel that I published.
What is your writing process? Do you outline, make notes, dive right in and why?
I do outline pretty extensively, meaning that I do a sentence or two for each chapter and plan out the entire story beforehand. I use notecards first, write down ideas for every singe scene or chapter, then rearrange, toss some cards, add some new ones. Then, I type up a master outline. I don't stick to it religiously, because, sometimes the characters surprise me!! For example, in Dancing Naked in Dixie, I didn't plan on Mary Katherine being quite so scheming and deliberate, but I was having so much fun with her that I expanded her role, especially near the end of the story!
And now a few questions about the novel, Dancing Naked in Dixie.
Dancing Naked in Dixie is set in AL? Is this an area you are very familiar with? How does writing about somewhere that is "close to home" affect the creative process?
I live in Mobile, Alabama, and one of my favorite cities is Eufaula, which is about four hours away. The people who live there are welcoming, gracious, and lovely. The homes lining the historic district are magnificent and regal, full of ghost-stories and vibrant memories passed down through generations of families.
If you have an opportunity to visit the annual Pilgrimage, be sure to stay for the Candlelight tour. With tour guides in period dress, Alabama stars sparkling overhead, and Spanish Moss draping the oak trees, it's nothing short of magical.
Are you like Julia Sullivan in the novel - at the beginning (reserved) or at the end (bold)? Which character personality do you align more with?
I am a mix of the reserved Julia and the bold Julia. Like her, I often run late, but have the best intentions, and get overwhelmed because I have a difficult time saying "No." I believe that I am much more responsible and organized, as I have two children, am married, and have a household to run. Like Julia, I am passionate about causes I believe in, and have a firm belief in championing what's fair, right, and good in this world.
What's next for us?
Do you have any upcoming projects in the works for your readers?
I am releasing Center of Gravity in October, which is a much darker, suspense-filled drama than Dancing Naked in Dixie. After that, I'll be writing Pie Girls, which follows the story of a Southern belle who's vowed never to return to her hometown in Alabama, but is forced to do so when her husband leaves her for another man.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
My best advice is to read a lot and write a LOT. Finish the manuscripts that you start, no matter how awful you think they are. Writing is all about tenacity, about dedication to the craft, learning and growing as an author. There are no shortcuts or easy ways to become a fabulous writer. You have to put in the time, accept constructive criticism, revise until you'd like to quit, and then start the process all over again. Find a group of like-minded authors, lean on each other, support each other. Have confidence in your work. Find your own voice. Tell the story that you want to tell.
How do you win a copy of this book?
- Follow this blog. You can follow via email or by clicking the "Join this site" link on the homepage. If you are already following my blog, then you are good to go!
- Post a comment on this post about your favorite aspect of the South (it could be anything from the food to weather to the Southern charm to China Berry trees) AND your favorite southern novel.
- Leave your full name and email address so I can contact you directly if you are the winner!
This contest will run for one week. Next Saturday, September 15, 8:00a. One lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a copy of Dancing Naked in Dixie. I will post results by Saturday afternoon. Good luck!
Depending on how this contest goes, I will most likely start hosting more interviews and giveaways! Stay tuned and I look forward to your comments.