Aloha, readers! Today I’ve got a special treat for you. I had the opportunity to chat with Laurie Lucking, a fellow YA author, about her debut novel, Common. We’ll get to that interview pretty soon, but FIRST–let me show you her beautiful cover? Doesn’t it look just like something out of a fairy tale?!
Sooo pretty. (BTW–check back here NEXT WEEK to see the cover for my own book, Porch Swing Girl, for the first time! OR sign up for my newsletter and get a sneak peek!!)
Anyway, let’s focus here. Before we get started on the interview, I thought I’d give you a bit of info about Laurie and her book. Here’s the back cover copy for Common:
Only one person knows of the plot against the royal family and cares enough to try to stop it— the servant girl they banished.
Leah spends her days scrubbing floors, polishing silver, and meekly curtsying to nobility. Nothing distinguishes her from the other commoners serving at the palace, except her red hair.
And her secret friendship with Rafe, the Crown Prince of Imperia.
But Leah’s safe, ordinary world begins to splinter. Rafe’s parents announce his betrothal to a foreign princess, and she unearths a plot to overthrow the royal family. When she reports it without proof, her life shatters completely when the queen banishes her for treason.
Harbored by an unusual group of nuns, Leah must secure Rafe’s safety before it’s too late. But her quest reveals a villain far more sinister than an ambitious nobleman with his eye on the throne.
Can a common maidservant summon the courage to fight for her dearest friend?
Is everyone intrigued yet? I know I am! Now, let’s get to that interview 🙂
Taylor: How long have you been writing?
Laurie: I wrote a few stories as a kid, but I struggled with big plot concepts that were way beyond my ability to complete, so I got discouraged and decided creative writing wasn’t for me. As an English major and then a law student I did lots of academic writing, but it wasn’t until I became a stay-at-home mom that I revisited the idea of writing fiction. That was about five and a half years ago, and what began as a hobby / creative outlet has blossomed into a passion for writing young adult fantasy and for editing my prose over and over again until it’s ready to be shared with readers.
T: When did you write Common?
L: Ha, that’s a tougher question than you might think 🙂 After I completed my first manuscript (for a different story) and started submitting it to agents, I tried to follow the standard advice by taking on a new project. My first scenes from Common date back to early 2013. But as I received feedback on my initial story, I kept going back to it for further revisions. I didn’t really begin to pour my heart into Common until I finally decided to set my first manuscript aside. But then my pregnancy with my second son drained every ounce of my creative energy from late 2013 to mid 2014.
About a year after my son was born, I joined ACFW and experienced a complete renewal of my desire to write and seek out publication. I filled in the gaps of the random scenes I’d written for Common and completed my manuscript in time to meet with agents and publishers at the Realm Makers Conference in July, 2016. The timing worked out perfectly, since that’s where I met the editor of Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing who later offered me a contract!
T: Where did you get your inspiration for Common?
L: My initial inspiration for Common stemmed from Jane Austen’s Emma, because I wanted to write a story centered around close childhood friends who develop a romance. But in order to create tension (plus tie in the fairy tale element I love!), I put my characters in a Cinderella-type scenario where she was a maid and he was a prince. To further the conflict, I added a surprise betrothal, which created a bit of a Jane Eyre feel to the relationship – two people who desperately want to be together, but a significant obstacle forces them apart.
On the fantasy side of things, I needed my “good guys” to be able to fight a sorcerer without using the kind of magic that gets problematic for Christians. I ended up drawing inspiration from the mystics in early Christian tradition – individuals who lived in solitude to enhance their union with God and would sometimes be granted visions or revelations. I enjoyed taking that premise and giving it my own fantasy twist!
T: What is something about your book that you are extra excited for people to read…maybe a character that’s particularly dear to your heart or a fun scene?
L: As lame as it sounds, probably the romance 🙂 I love nothing more than a sweet romance that gives me all the butterflies, and I really hope to be able to produce that reaction for my readers! I’m also excited for readers to get to know the mystic-inspired characters I mentioned above because they have such fun quirks and personalities, but they’re introduced later in the book so I can’t say much more without spoilers!
(Pssst. Laurie, I don’t think that’s lame at all. Everyone loves a good romance!)
T: What is one of the strangest things you’ve done in the name of research?
L: Ha, aside from some unusual Google queries (such as, “British insults”), I’d have to say acting things out while sitting at my computer. If I can picture a certain expression or gesture but can’t think of how to describe it, I’ll repeat the motion over and over until I come up with a satisfactory way to put it into words. I’m certain any spectators would conclude that I’ve completely lost it!
T: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing/editing/marketing?
L: I have an amazing husband and two fun little boys (ages three and five), so most of my non-writing time is spent with them. But I also enjoy reading, singing (both belting show tunes and participating in a church choir), and taking walks and bike rides while basking in beautiful Minnesota scenery!
T: What is one piece of advice you’d give your high school self?
L: It sounds so simple, but I think the best advice I could’ve given my high school self would be: WAIT. There was so much I wanted to have figured out by that point – who I was, what I was going to do with my life, who I would marry. But I had so much growing and developing yet to do before I could possibly answer any one of those questions. (Aside from the marriage thing, I’m still figuring it out!) I would’ve loved to be able to go back and tell myself to just enjoy being young and dreaming of the future, but not to feel pressured to have it all figured out. So much changes after high school, and so many more experiences shape who you are and what you will become. And that’s a beautiful thing!
Thank you so much for inviting me to visit and share about myself and my book!!
T: Thank you, Laurie! It was a joy having you on the blog 🙂
Readers, if you’d like to learn more about Laurie or pre-order Common, you can do that right now!
An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up late begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as an attorney to become a stay-at-home mom. She writes young adult fantasy with a strong thread of romance, and her debut novel, Common, releases in 2018 from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing. Laurie is the secretary of her local ACFW chapter and a co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean young adult speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting her website or connecting via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
PRE-ORDER COMMON HERE
(pssst…Laurie will also be hosting a Facebook party for Common on February 15th, one day after its release. You can check it out and RSVP here.)