Got a special guest today, the talented Laura Browning. She’s going to tell us about her newest release Bittersweet. And even more fun, I got to drill her…I mean ask her about her writing and writing habits. Now, pay special attention, the name of her book is actually the buy link. How cool is that! And leave us a comment so we know you stopped by. And herrrrrrreeeeees Laura~
All right, down to business. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?
Like most kids, I imagined myself in all sorts of careers. I can remember playing “school” with a couple of my friends when we were in second or third grade. That slid to the background as I got older, but seven years ago, I launched a second career—as an English teacher, so I suppose I’ve come full-circle. The other amusing thing I can remember is sitting down with another one of my friends when we were thirteen or fourteen years old and deciding we were going to co-write our own romance. It featured some poor, tortured heroine washed ashore from a shipwreck who just happened to land on an island populated only by a devastatingly good-looking hero. Sigh… As bad as it was, it really was the turning point that pushed me toward writing, first as a journalist and now as a romance writer.
I think we’ve all got a book like that under our beds. How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?
Reading and writing go hand in hand. I was fortunate to grow up in a reading-rich environment. Both my parents were readers. At 85, my mother still is. I just gave her a Kindle over Christmas when I went to visit. One of my siblings struggled with reading as a child. I remember sitting with my brothers while my mother read to us. The mystery series The Happy Hollisters was a favorite. I had another sibling who published his own newspaper with such tantalizing headlines as “A Boy Got a 100 in Arithmetic”. My father was an avid consumer of news, so current events were always up for discussion. In addition to that, I read anything I could get my hands on. Writing was a natural outgrowth of that environment. Even as a journalist, I was a closet writer of romance, though. I finally had to acknowledge that my real writing interest was fiction and not journalism. Only after admitting that did I finally make changes that allowed me to pursue writing fiction.
Everyone always asks where ideas come from. Have you ever used contemporary events or stories “ripped from the headlines” in your work? As a journalist, I suppose I’m always cognizant of what’s making headlines, so I won’t say never. However, I always remember that I’m writing fiction, so if I utilize a news nugget, I try to develop it from an idea that might be sparked from news headlines into something that’s entirely my own. Having talked with people firsthand who have experienced traumatic events, I simply can’t pull a fictitious story too closely from someone’s real life experience. Ethically, that doesn’t sit well with me, so if I use contemporary events, they’re normally more issue-oriented.
That said, how much of your work is real? How much is fantasy?
Although I write fiction, that’s not to say I never draw on my own experiences. My most recent release, Bittersweet, is the story of a female veterinarian working in a large animal practice. As a horse owner for more than twenty-five years, I’ve assisted vets with all sorts of procedures that ranged from tooth extractions to closing wounds that required more than a hundred stitches. There are even bits and pieces of people I’ve met over the years that appear in some of my characters—and no, I’ll never tell who they are. LOL
Mum’s the word. :) So who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
Two books stand out in my mind as driving me toward writing romance. The first is Jane Eyre, which I read again and again the summer between seventh and eighth grade. The second is Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie. Yes, it’s a biography. What really gripped me was not only the love story between the two, but also how their personal tragedy (their son’s hemophilia) changed the course of an entire nation. I loved the ending of Jane Eyre and hated what happened to the Romanov family—so my love affair with HEAs began. As to my favorite authors—again there are two—Nora Roberts and J.R. Ward. I like Roberts for her strong heroines. Even her early heroines that fit the “formula” of the time still had gumption. And J.R. Ward—I’ll admit I’m a slavering fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood—but I like more than her sexy vampires. I like her books as Jessica Bird as well. She creates complex characters that are not all good and all bad.
Are there any tools you feel are must-haves for writers?
Create a work space where you will be comfortable for long periods of time. I’ve written as a journalist and an author for nearly three decades. When you spend hours at a computer (I won’t say typewriter since that would really date me!), you must have a set-up that’s ergonomically correct or you’re asking for trouble. The number one tool for any author in this day and age is internet access. With a reliable, high-speed connection, you have access to almost any information you need within seconds. Having worked in newsrooms before that was possible, I can tell you it has completely transformed researching and writing stories. Now, that being said, if I spin my chair around, I have a dictionary, thesaurus, two style manuals and at least half a dozen books on writing within easy reach. Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon is one of them, and a book I would consider a must-read for any fiction writer.
Great advice, Laura. And the peek at the cover…
Need more? You can contact Laura at…