TWFT Interview with Author Laura WiessAugust 4, 2009 at 2:48 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
TWFT was lucky enough to snag an interview with the lovely Laura Wiess, author of books SUCH A PRETTY GIRL, LEFTOVERS, and the recently-released HOW IT ENDS (actually, it’s out today!).
TWFT: Summarize HOW IT ENDS in ten words or less.
Laura: How love ends, begins and discovering loved ones’ dark secrets.
(TWFT Note: This is the actual synop.: All Hanna’s wanted since sophomore year is Seth. She’s gone out with other guys, even gained a rep for being a flirt, all the while hoping cool, guitar-playing Seth will choose her. Then she gets him – but their relationship is hurtful, stormy and critical, not at all what Hanna thinks a perfect love should be.
Bewildered by Seth’s treatment of her and in need of understanding, Hanna decides to fulfill her school’s community service requirement by spending time with Helen, her terminally ill neighbor, who she’s turned to for comfort and wisdom throughout her life. But illness has changed Helen into someone Hanna hardly knows, and her home is not the refuge it once was.
Feeling more alone than ever, Hanna gets drawn into an audio book the older woman is listening to, a fierce, unsettling love story of passion, sacrifice and devotion. Hanna’s fascinated by the idea that such all-encompassing love can truly exist, and without even realizing it, the story begins to change her.
Until the day when the story becomes all too real…and Hanna’s world is spun off its axis by its shattering irrevocable conclusion.)
TWFT: Both LEFTOVERS and SUCH A PRETTY GIRL could be considered edgy YA fiction. Have you experienced any criticism for writing about difficult subjects like child abuse, or has most of the response been positive?
Laura: The reader email for both books has been overwhelmingly positive, and include many personal stories of childhood sexual abuse, the scars left, and the triumph of the survivors. The courage and spirit in these letters is both amazing, and humbling.
Are Such a Pretty Girl and Leftovers for everyone?I don’t know. The stories weave together love and betrayal, terror and desperation, passion and ultimately hope but these girls and the problems they face are not white-washed or sanitized. They’re in trouble and their trouble is real, so finding their way through isn’t always pretty. What I hope the stories are, though, is honest and true to the characters.
TWFT: Speaking of, what draws you to the kinds of (often emotionally heavy) themes you explore in your novels?
Laura: The characters (like Meredith in Such a Pretty Girl or Hanna in How It Ends) who show up (in my mind) wanting something desperately or caught in bad situations draw me in every time, probably because I believe that ignoring the painful, difficult or ugly parts of life doesn’t solve anything or make the issues go away; it only isolates the people going through them, and so I write to discover the why behind the choices we make, and to try and make sense of the way we treat each other.
When my imagination connects with something disturbing – cruelty, abuse and/or neglect of kids, animals and the vulnerable – it pulls me into that dark corner and whispers, Look Laura, pay attention. What if this was you? Yes, it’s terrible and terrifying but just because you don’t want to think about it doesn’t mean someone somewhere isn’t living it right this second. Look, listen, and maybe you’ll learn something.
TWFT: Career-wise, did you ever want to be anything besides an author?
Laura: No. This is my dream career come true.
TWFT: Then what first inspired you to become a writer?
Laura: Reading. There’s nothing I love more than getting lost in a compelling story unless it’s running with great characters, getting totally emotionally involved, learning new truths or views about life and discovering answers for questions I never even knew I had. It’s exhilarating.
TWFT: So if you could bring any fiction character (book/movie/tv) to life, who would it be, and why?
Laura: Just one, when I love so many? This is torture because if I say Anne Shirley, then I can’t say Moll Flanders. If I say the vampire Cole from A.M. Jenkins’ book Night Road, then I’m leaving out Mame Dennis from Auntie Mame or Thomas in Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals or James Herriott or Ben in Stephen King’s It or Jamie and Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s Dragonfly in Amber or any one of the thousand other fictional characters I’ve fallen in love with.
You see my dilemma. (I am eternally hopeless this way.)
TWFT: In terms of the unexpected, what are the worst/best thing that have come along with the whole publishing process that you hadn’t foreseen?
Laura: Well, rejection is never fun but it’s always a possibility, so you work hard to make the story the best it can be, wait for an answer and if rejection happens, to deal with it. Also, the timeframe between having a manuscript accepted for publication and how long it takes for the actual book to hit the shelves is useful but at the same time, highly nerve-wracking.
The best parts? Getting a call from your agent with a publishing offer. Opening your box of author’s copies and seeing the story that began in your brain as a tiny spark of a question now in beloved book form. That moment is pure gold. The only thing better is getting an email from a reader that says Wow, I just read your book in one sitting and it totally blew me away. Incomparable.
TWFT: *is jealous* Okay, it’s time to wrap up! Now for the ceremonial last question: What’s your favorite flavor jellybean?
Laura: I’m really bad at choosing just one of anything (see above) but I think it’s green apple. Or blueberry. Although coconut calls to me, too…
Thanks for the great interview, Laura! You can contact Laura Wiess via her site, her LJ, her blogspot blog, her facebook, or her myspace. You can also order her new book, HOW IT ENDS, on Amazon or B&N.
Or, you know, you could enter the TWFT contest here for a copy.