Here’s a book by one of the cutest author friends I have, Laura Josephsen. And she’s got a free copy of Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) ready to send to you! All you have to do is comment on this blog and Friday a winner will be chosen! Laura will send you the book personally!
So let me share with you a little bit about Laura and also about her book.
Laura Josephsen lives with her family in Tennessee. She is a co-author of the Restoration series. She likes music, reading, socks, rainy days, chocolate, coffee, and sci-fi and fantasy tales.
“Write what you know.”
Persephone “Sephie” Benson scoffs when her creative writing teacher throws that little gem out there. Maybe this advice would work for a professional skydiver or a baseball star or a ninja princess. It’s not so great for a high school student who doesn’t even know what to do with the rest of her life. Add in being the oldest of six girls, having Responsibilities with a capital R, and living in a town the size of a tick, and you’ve got a recipe for boring soup.
At least, that’s what Sephie thinks until her senior year. Now, her grandfather is losing his house. One of her sisters plays a starring role in the local high school scandal. Even things with her best friend Joey aren’t the same. As Sephie deals with the changes in her life, she finds that nothing is quite what she expects–and that sometimes, the most extraordinary life can be the one that seems the most ordinary.
* Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
As far as personality and whatnot, I don’t write myself into my characters. I find some characters have been easy to understand right away, and other characters have baffled me for a long time because they are so different from me and see things in ways I don’t. I funnel a lot of emotion and energy into my characters, and I can be very passionate about certain things, but putting my emotion and energy into a character is very different to me from writing myself into a character.
* How do you choose your characters’ names?
I think my characters choose their names more often than not. Sometimes a character will waltz into my head and go, “Oh, hi, I’m _____.” Other times, I’ll pull up a baby name site (behindthename.com is my favorite—it has a random name search where it will shoot out random names, which has been very helpful for finding side character names or last names) and I’ll search until a name clicks. I often know what letter a name needs to start with, so I’ll skim names that start with that letter until one fits. It also depends on personality or style or what kind of world I’m building.
* What is your greatest writing roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest writing roadblock was in letting characters be themselves. It was stepping outside of my comfort zone to tell the story that needed to be told. In particular, I had this character that I needed to write, and I knew that she was going to take me to some very dark places. I knew she was going to do things that I didn’t agree with and that she wasn’t going to think they were wrong. I was afraid to let her do these things. But I’m not writing cookie-cutter characters. I don’t want to write cookie-cutter characters. If every character did what I wanted them to or what I agree with or saw things the way I do, it would be me, it wouldn’t be them. I’m not writing my story. I’m writing theirs. I overcame my roadblock by choosing to let go and tell the story as it needed to be told.
* What advice have you received that’s had the biggest impact on your writing and who gave that advice?
There have been so many things people have said that have impacted me, so I’ll share a few that all tie into each other. My father-in-law once told me, regarding publication, something to the effect of: “until you have enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room, you’re not really a writer”. Now, I don’t have enough rejection letters to wallpaper a room, and I’m a writer (really!), but the sentiment behind it sticks out. Don’t give up, keep moving forward.
Faith King, who is my co-author for the Restoration series, once told me when I was flailing and unsure about a book I was writing, “Commit, Laura!” It was the best thing ever, because that’s so much of what writing is: committing to do it. Every book has parts that are hard to write, or feel so dull or tedious. Sometimes you don’t really know where you’re going or how you’re ever going to reach the ending. Deciding to stick with it can be the key to making it through. I think, though, that there’s a difference between committing to a story you believe in and forcing yourself to write something you really know doesn’t work. The particular novel that Faith told me to commit to took me 45,000 words before the characters and the story clicked into place. It was like pulling teeth to write until then. But I believed in the characters and didn’t want to let them go, and I’m glad I didn’t.
My friend Emma said that sometimes, you just have to start with a sentence, and then that might lead to a paragraph, and that might lead to a page.
And my husband, so many, many times over the years, has prodded me into keeping on with what I’m doing. When I was writing Confessions, he nudged me over toward my computer to write because I was staring out the window writing scenes in my head. “Go write.” And I think that’s what all of this advice comes down to: sit down, write, commit, one word at a time, keep on going.
* Are you working on a book now and if so tell us a little bit about it?
I’ve actually got three books on my plate right now.
My Kingdom for a Newt was just completed and is now in the editing stages. It’s a young adult fantasy story. It’s sort of a fun, lighthearted mishmash of fairy tales. It’s a journey of two people finding themselves and realizing that they don’t have to settle for or live up to the world’s expectations for their lives.
Restoration Book 4: Binding Ties is being co-written with Faith King. It’s almost finished. It’s YA inspirational fantasy, and one of the sequels to Restoration Book 1: Awakenings, which was published last year.
Rising Book 2 is an adult fantasy novel. It’s the second book in a duology, and as a whole, these two books contain the most intense, emotionally draining story I’ve ever written. I’m about a third of the way done with the first draft of this book, and I can’t wait until it’s finished, because then this story arc will be complete. I’ve been working on the Rising duology for almost two years now.
* If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be and why?
C.S. Lewis. Because he not only wrote stories that have captivated me for almost two decades, he was such an amazing man who had so much to say.
* How does your faith factor into your writing?
It factors into my writing in that I want people to see hope and life and light. Some of my books take my characters to very dark places. Sometimes they despair and feel hopeless. Horrible things might happen to them. My characters do not always do things I agree with. I have some books that are deliberately inspirational—like the Restoration series I’m co-writing with Faith King—and others that are secular—like the Rising duology I’m working on. Secular or inspirational, I want to show that beauty can rise from the ashes and light can shine in the darkness. That there can be hope when things seem hopeless. That life goes on even when so much has been lost.
* Please give us the first page of the book. From Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School):
A Prologue of Sorts
In Which Sephie Tries to Explain How Her Crazy English Teacher Finagled Her into This Mess.
Write what you know.
The four words that started this whole mess. Okay, technically it started before that, but those words sure didn’t help. It was the third day of school and my creative writing teacher handed out our end-of-year assignments.
“This year, you are going to write a story.” Mr. Hinkley looked around at the class as he walked jauntily between our rows of desks. Jauntily is the only way Mr. Hinkley ever moves. Believe me, I know his quirks. My high school is small enough that there are only a few teachers for each subject, and they rotate through all four years. This means that I’ve had some teachers more than once, and I’m familiar with almost every teacher at the school.
Sometimes this works to my benefit. It’s nice to know which teachers are more laid-back and which ones will squeeze every drop of brainpower they can out of me. It’s also
nice to know which ones will actually believe me when I tell them my littlest sisters flushed my homework down the toilet.
Other times, there are things I’d rather forget. Like seeing Coach Jenson in a thong. Let’s just say it involved a football game, a rainy day, and pants that were a little too small. That was three years ago and the story has become so widespread that any freshman can tell it with much embellishment and a lot of false information. Poor man has never been able to live it down.
And that isn’t even getting into Mrs. Elliot’s false teeth or Principal Oliver’s accidental announcement over the intercom during my junior year. It was his fault for not checking to see if it was still on, but the things I heard had scarred my mind forever. Or they would have scarred my mind, if I hadn’t been too busy laughing myself silly.
* What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?
I think different books and stories and characters speak in different ways to different people. This was a story of family, friendship, and forgiveness. I just hope that if someone were to read it, it might make them feel something or give them something to think about. I hope that something I write might make a positive mark in someone’s life.
*How can readers find you on the Internet?