Q&A With Laurie Lokken Reese
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Q&A With Laurie Lokken Reese
Today’s Q&A is with Laurie Lokken Reese who writes under the name Laurie Beach. I was connected through Laurie through Jane Porter who I recently did a Q&A with. Laurie is the author of The Crickley Creek series. The first novel in the series is The Firefly Jar, followed by Blink Twice If You Love Me, and Christmas in Crickley Creek is book 3.
Q: What made you want to write women’s fiction? When in your life did you realize your calling was to be an author?
A: I love these questions! I can answer both of them with a brief story.
When my twins began kindergarten, my husband gave me what might be the best advice I’ve ever received. He said, “You are being given the gift of time. Do something with it that you’ve always wanted to do.”
What did I want to do? Did I have a calling outside of being a mother? I wasn’t sure. But my mind immediately went to an experience I had my freshman year of college–one that lit up my imagination and stuck with me through the years. Whatever my calling was, it had to do with a small island preserve off the coast of Georgetown, South Carolina, that I’d visited when I was eighteen. I wanted to live there–not literally, but in my mind. I’d just lost my mother to breast cancer, and I craved a beautiful escape, a place where I had complete control–a place where alligators had names and shrimp dinners were a net-cast away.
So, I had the setting, but I needed characters and a plot. At the time, I was obsessed with Jane Austen. I’d read all of her books and many of the spin-offs. I deconstructed Pride and Prejudice into an outline and filled it in with my own characters. That framework got me started on The Firefly Jar, but the story quickly took on a life of its own. It was the first time I truly experienced the delicious, inexplicable magic of writing. Now, I don’t want to live without it.
Q: What is your advice to anyone who wants to write a series and on how to keep it going? How do you deal with writers block and what advice do you give to anyone who deals with the same problem?
A: I feel fortunate that Tule Publishing asked for a series with a different protagonist in each book. I don’t know for sure, since I haven’t done it before, but I feel like writing three books starring the same character might be more difficult. I was able to pull a secondary character from my first novel and write a completely new story from that person’s perspective. The old characters still play roles, the books are set in the same place, but there is also a whole new batch of characters to meet. It is so much fun to pluck a character from the background and create a big, interesting life for them.
As far as writer’s block, I have two tricks that I use to spark ideas. First, whenever something strikes me as interesting, I write it in the Notes app on my phone. I’ll give you some examples of what I’ve added recently:
*He chews on toothpicks all the time
*His password is her name
*Like a true Southern girl, serenely smiling while panicking on the inside
*Woman wearing white in a movie will be shot
If I’m struggling with where to go with a scene, usually I can pull up my Notes app and find some little detail that will help keep it going. If that doesn’t work, I resort to my second trick: put the manuscript away and pick up another author’s book. Reading books written by others is infinitely inspiring. In a way, all authors are thieves. If everything has truly been done before, why not take something old and rework it to be fresh and new again? Most of the time, all a writer needs is the smallest detail to get the work back on the track and running full-out to the finish line.
Q: Is it fair to say that the characters in your series are based off of anyone you know in real life? I love it when authors create characters and places based off of places they’ve been and people they know.
A: Absolutely! In my opinion, taking pieces of personality traits from people I know, or putting my characters in situations that I have personally experienced, is not just fun, but cathartic. Most of the names a reader finds in my books are those of people I know and love. The scene in The Firefly Jar where Charlotte recounts the death of her mother is taken directly from my own experience. In the second book, Blink Twice If You Love Me, the personality of Johnny strongly resembles my husband’s.
In the end, though, all of the characters are an amalgam of people I know mixed with movie or book characters that appealed to me in some way. There are some mean and wretched figures I’ve written that I’m grateful to say are not actually a part of my life!
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: I’m just beginning my journey as an author. The Firefly Jar is my debut novel. Thanks to my editor at Tule, I have heard a rumor that there is Hollywood interest in book three, my Christmas book, but nothing has come of it at this point. Fingers crossed!
Q: What’s your advice to anyone who is a new writer dealing with negative feedback whether it’s from bad reviews, online trolls and family and friends who are unsupportive of their writing goals?
A: Honestly, I’m the one who is about to need advice on this subject! I know that my books won’t be appreciated by everyone. I know there will be bad reviews, haters, and trolls. When my book launches on April 27, I expect I will learn on the fly how to deal with them. I hope that I will be able to keep the hate in perspective by remembering that the important people in my life are my friends and family. If someone I don’t know is simply spewing hate, I intend to ignore it. If someone has criticism that is useful, I plan to use that to continue to improve both myself and my writing. So far, my friends and family have been incredibly, fantastically supportive. If they ever stop being that way, I will have to take an honest look at what I’m doing because I trust and value their opinions.
My stories tend to be generally positive with good lessons learned and satisfying endings. I’m counting on the majority of readers finding them uplifting and entertaining. Still, I should probably work on growing that proverbial thick skin between now and my launch date!