A couple of days ago I introduced you to author Laurie J Edwards. If you read part 1 of her interview I think you'll agree that she's a fascinating interviewee. Having chatted about some of her (many) published books in part 1, our converation took a different and equally fascinating turn. Read on to see what I mean.
You’re such a prolific author, and spread your writing net widely. What drives you to do this?
I enjoy reading and writing many different genres, so I’m grateful I’ve been able to connect with publishers who specialize in various areas that have captured my interest—everything from picture books to adult novels, and fiction as well as nonfiction.
How do you balance your various commitments for each pen name?
It’s not easy and can sometimes feel overwhelming, but I’m grateful for the opportunities to write what I love. One nice thing about having so many different projects is that whenever I get stuck on one, I just move to another. Behind the scenes, my subconscious brain is working on the previous novel, so when I return to the book, I often have a good idea of what to do next. I suspect if I didn’t have another project to turn to, I might worry myself into writer’s block.
I’m usually balancing six books at a time, so sometimes deadlines all hit around the same time, and I may have some sleepless nights getting everything completed. Usually, though, I try to spread out my deadlines. I find that editors are generally flexible about deadlines if we discuss my other commitments before I start the book.
Wow - your output is impressive, Laurie! So what about the actual writing process, can you give us a brief insight into that, please?
I’d say I’m a cross between a pantser and a plotter. Before I start a book I like to know the beginning and the ending as well as a few key scenes. As long as I have those pieces, I feel ready to begin. I don’t write linearly; I find I often freeze up when I try to start at the beginning and write straight through. So when I sit down to write, I work on whatever scene is most vivid in my mind at the moment. I’m grateful for Scrivener, because I can slide these scenes into file folders and later arrange them to make a plot arc. I enjoy writing the various scenes, but I dislike writing the transitions between them. For me, that’s the most difficult part of the whole process.
Thank you, Laurie, that was really fascinating. So, what’s the best writing advice you’ve received?
Write for yourself – write to discover what you need to know, to heal old wounds, to explore your interests. That way, even if you never get published, your writing will be beneficial and therapeutic. I’ve found that often when I’m writing I don’t realize how much of me I’m pouring onto the page, but after I go back and reread it later, I see the connections.
Such wise advice. I'd like to turn now to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. What does your SCBWI membership mean to you?
I credit SCBWI with helping me get my foot in the door of publishing. I received my first major publishing contract because of SCBWI connections. One of my critique partners was swamped with book deadlines and worried she wouldn’t meet some article deadlines. She asked her editor if I could write the articles. They tried me out, liked my work, and kept assigning more articles. When that editor moved up and began editing books rather than articles, she contacted me and asked if I’d write books for her. That’s how I got my first book contract.
That editor also told me she was impressed with how clean my copy was when it came in, and she asked if I’d consider doing some copy editing for them. I agreed and studied for a master’s level certificate in editing. I still edit for that publisher as well as several others.
That's truly inspiring, Laurie! There are so many benefits to being a SCBWI member, not least of which is how much can be learned about the craft of writing through attending their seminars and so on. Which leads me to my next question, what would you say to someone who believes that writing courses etc are a waste of time and money?
The very first writing course I took was with the Institute of Children’s Literature. That course taught me how to write and gave me important basic information on how to get published. And now with 30 books out or forthcoming, and as a writing teacher myself, I’m still taking writing courses. I believe there’s always more to learn, and I’m eager to refine my craft.
What a fantastic answer! Do you ever find time to relax, if so what do you do?
Write? Yes, I really do. I love to write my books that are under deadline as well as ones I hope to sell someday. I also write in my journal and even jot notes and letters to friends. My next choices for relaxing are art and reading. Then comes reading and writing to friends on online – emails, Facebook, etc. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) I also enjoy traveling, walking, swimming, and most importantly, spending time with family.
Wow - you really are a powerhouse! Now, to round off the interview, let’s have a fun quick-fire round:
Describe yourself in three words.
Busy, optimistic, grateful
Drawing or writing?
Both – I’m a writer and an illustrator.
Flatbread or focaccia?
High fashion or sweatpants?
Do pajamas count? I prefer them for writing, but I like artsy, unusual clothes if I have to go out in public.
Cruise ship or bolt hole in the mountains?
Well, considering I got seasick on the cruise I went on this year, I guess that one’s off the list.
Rhianna or Andrea Bocelli?
Hmmm… this one’s tricky. I prefer classical music, but I wrote I biography of Rhianna, so I do have a soft spot for her.
Breakfast tea or full-strength coffee?
Can I say neither? My beverage of choice is always (and pretty much only) water.
Complete the sentence: My family tells me I’m…
Helpful, dependable, encouraging, creative… (at least on good days)
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions, Laurie. I wish you continued success with your books and your illustrative work.
Thanks so much for having me, Christina. I wish you success with your books as well!
What a kind and amazing woman, wouldn't you agree?
To read more about the incredible Laurie J Edwards check out her website. Alternatively, connect with her on Twitter. To discover more about her alter-ego, Rachel J Good, take a look at her Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads pages, or connect with her on Twitter. For more information on Erin Johnson read her blog, or take a look at her Wattpad page.