Monday, August 16, 2010

Interview w/ author Jennifer Laurens+Giveaway!

Jennifer Laurens, author of Heavenly,Penitence, and many more, was kind enough to give me an interview, and we'll also be giving away one copy of  Heavenly. More about that later. On to the interview...

A: For those unfamiliar with you and your work, can you tell us a bit about yourself? 
JL: I've been writing for 9 years full time. I have 6 children, one has autism. Much of my life figures into my work in various shades.
A: After reading Heavenly, I walked away feeling like you shined a positive light on autism. Was that an intentional message in writing the Heavenly?
JL: Definitely. It took me YEARS to not want to slug people for their oft-times rude, completely unsympathetic reactions to my daughter and what our family was going through when we went out in public with her. Now, I ignore the gawking. I hoped, in some small way, by writing about how uncontrollable some kids with autism are that folks would have their eyes opened just a titch. More than the annoying way strangers react to the handicapped, I wrote about a handicapped person ( again after years of soul-searching for my own answers ) to shed a possible light on why these special people grace our world. To teach us.
A: You've said before that Heavenly and Falling for Romeo are both true to your real life. Is there anything from A Season of Eden that you drew from personal experience? 
JL: I grew up in Palos Verdes, California and love the area, so I love to include it in my work. I was an only child much like Eden, though my parents weren't divorced and I wasn't the kind of social-type Eden is. But a lot of the little things in that book came from my life in Palos Verdes: parties, teachers, the choir experience....but not the crush on the choir teacher.
A: Do you avoid reading negative reviews on websites like Goodreads? If not, how do you deal with criticism? 
JL: Unless a reader sends me their review, I don't read reviews. Reading is subjective. What appeals to one, won't appeal to another and you can't please everyone. As an indie author, I will continue to write and publish no matter what anybody says, because I control my career, not some huge publishing house somewhere. It's a beautiful thing :)
A: If you could choose any child actor, past or present, to play Abria, who would you choose?
JL: Yikes. Not sure any child COULD capture the many nuances of Abria. She's so complex. Any suggestions?
A: Was there a particular scene in Heavenly or Penitence that was difficult for you to write?
JL: The scenes with Luke were most difficult because the character is taken from my son. At least I was able to control the outcome, whereas in real life, his struggle often stole my muse I was so worried about whether or not he'd survive from day-to-day.
A: Is there anything you would say to someone who is non-religious to encourage them to give Heavenly a shot? 
JL: One of the things I hear most about Heavenly is how non-pushy it is pertaining to religion. I'm not trying to force anything down anyone with these books, this is MY life, and my struggle with how I came to understand some lovely concepts that I believe exist: guardian angels to watch over us and that the handicapped really are very blessed individuals who, within their protective state, go through life not having to deal with a lot of the junk we normal mortals end up bringing upon ourselves based on our choices. This isn't anyone's doctrine, just my conclusions. As my children have grown, made choices ( Like Luke, to use drugs, and Zoe to abuse alchohol ) I've thanked God that "Abria" is safe from all that.  There's a certain peace in that.
A: In Penitence, you gave Weston the opportunity to redeem himself. Were you worried about how your readers would react to this?
JL: Not at all worried. I'm confident in my writing, or I wouldn't have tried to pull it off. I LOVE changing characters and, in the HEAVENLY series, it's all about choices, change and redemption.
A: When you began writing Heavenly, did you already know you would turn it into a trilogy?
JL: Once Albert came along, I knew there would be more.
A: Which of your characters is most like you?
JL: Hmmm. There are bits of me in all of my characters. I'm not wholly Debbie ( Zoe's mom ) but our family life at home is solid like that.
A: What can we look forward to in Absolution? 
JL: A happy ending that is necessary and satisfying.
A: How about, Overprotected?
JL: This is the first story I ever wrote, re-written for the millionth time, lol. Can't wait to get it out there, I adore the complex story. It's more than what it sounds like, with some great, interesting characters who-once again-have to deal with the consequences of their choices. ( a theme I like writing about because it's real )
A: Has there ever been a time when you considered giving up on writing? 
JL: No, I just decided to make it happen for myself.
A: How is it, being self-published?
JL: The correct term is indie - or at least the PC term, lol. Yep, I am. I had two agents and spent 4 years doing the NYC publishing thing and decided to go my own way. I love being indie. Maybe it's because I'm an only child and controlaholic, but I like having the control. Like it says on my FB and blog: I write what I want. I don't have someone looking over my shoulder telling me what I should or shouldn't write. I listen to my heart, the center of my muse. Not a lot of writers get that luxury when they are owned by publishing houses. And, for me at least, it still comes down to the fact that I write for the love of it, not for money.
A: And finally, is there any advice you have for writers? 
JL: Write for the love of it and, at the end of each day, you'll always be satisfied with your accomplishment.

Thanks for the interview Jennifer!! I had fun w/ the questions!
Places to find Jennifer:
Twitter: @JenniferLaurens
My review of Heavenly.
Giveaway: One lucky person will win a copy of Heavenly!
Contest Details:
Ends 8/23 at Midnight
Open Internationally
Following is not required, but I would appreciate it!
Extra entries for spreading the word!