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Rich Christiano[Jeff Gerke]

Interview: Laura Lond

[Laura Lond] Laura Lond is the author of The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres trilogy. (Book 1, The Journey, was published in 2003, and Book 2, The Palace, came out in March, 2004. Hopefully, Book 3 will be published in 2005.) Laura took part in the list in June, 2004. Jill Nelson and Greg Slade asked the questions, and here is an edited version of the question and answer sequence. You can learn more about Laura from her web site at www.lauralond.com.

GS: What is your family situation? (Married? Kids?)

Married, no kids. That challenge may be still coming though in the future.

GS: What church do you attend, and why?

Lutheran. This is my husband's church, I joined it after we got married. I got saved in a Charismatic/Pentecostal church and thought I'd never be comfortable in a "traditional" one, but, thankfully, I grew out of denominational boundaries and learned to see that it's God's Truth being preached and stood for that matters, and nothing else. I felt at home in my new church right away.

GS: How did you become a Christian?

I knew nothing about Christianity until I was eighteen (except that, judging by grandma's ritualistic church, religion was very complicated and extraordinarily boring.) At the age of fourteen my life was meaningless and hopeless. If we are all here by chance, and will die some day and return into nothingness, why bother?? Why struggle to live from day to day, why have any dreams, why strive to do anything? And why wait for death? I was very close to a suicide, yes. And I think God himself reached out to me, even though I knew nothing about Him, and put that thought in my head: there has to be something more to life than nature. There must be super-natural. There must be a Creator who made it all. And I began searching for Him. Reading grandma's old copy of the New Testament was of no help – I couldn't understand it. Attending her church only proved once again that I'd never be able to participate in the service since I didn't know all the prayers, hymns, and rituals (and had no desire to learn them, I must add.) I decided to believe in God "on my own." He tolerated that for several years, then sent a group of young Christians my way. That they were YOUNG, and yet devoted believers, was a shock of itself; I was used to seeing mostly old people in church. I gladly went to their church when they had invited me, and got saved there.

GS: What was your first exposure to fantasy or SF?

Narnia. C.S. Lewis had opened my eyes to fantasy in general and Christian fantasy in particular. I was in my early twenties when I got my hands on the Narnia series, and I was swept off my feet.

GS: Did literature ("Christian" or not) have any part in bringing you to Christ?

Maybe not in bringing me to Christ directly, but books certainly helped me to grow and mature, as a Christian and as a person. A good book can do so much...

GS: What prompted you to start writing?

I guess I was born with it, I was putting together stories before I knew my letters. Reading had always been my favorite activity, and reading good books inspired me to write something myself. I had given up on ever becoming a writer though, before I got saved, and even after coming to God it took a while to re-kindle the dream. And again, it was Lewis and Tolkien to whom I owe it. I had read their books and I wanted more – and there were none. So I decided to write them myself.

GS: What prompted you to choose this publisher?

I chose to self-publish this trilogy with Xulon Press for two reasons: speed and control. I have worked with a traditional publisher before, and plan to do so again in the future, but not with this book. "The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres" is too dear to my heart to let it be mutilated by editors. Some of the modern-day editing requirements are plain ridiculous, in my opinion. Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and most other classics would have no chance of getting published today. So, by self-publishing this book I plan to earn the right to have my own writing style. When your name is established and your books sell, no one will bother to tell you that you can't use adverbs like "happily" or any other such nonsense.

GS: Oh, so you've had other stuff published? What else? (not restricting yourself to fantasy titles...)

Yes, I have a collection of short stories, two novels, and an audio book, but since those works are in a foreign language (long story), I will not mention them here.

GS: Of your books, which one is your favourite (including works in progress)?

The last one released, Book 2 of The Adventures of Jecosan Tarres. I think it is my best work, so far. This makes the task of writing Book 3 rather difficult since it must be better than the first two combined. I've been putting off working on it for that reason. But I think I will manage, with God's help.

GS: Who are your influences as a writer, and why?

Probably British classics, Charles Dickens most of all. I love his beautiful story-telling and noble characters – a breed practically banished from modern literature.

GS: What is your personal all-time favourite fantasy work, and why?

I think that would be Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead (after The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, of course.) Although Byzantium is not exactly fantasy but more like historical fiction, it has such a strong adventurous spirit, and all the plot twists and sword fighting a fantasy lover can wish.

GS: Have you published any short stories?

Yes, but they were not related to fantasy. My publisher had told me that Christian readers were not ready for fantasy yet and preferred stories about the boy next door instead. So that's what I wrote, and I did my best, but I that's not something I really enjoy. I've got a short fantasy story coming out in August, it will appear in the Dragons, Knights, and Angels magazine.

GS: How does your faith affect your writing?

My faith guides my writing. I don't try to preach, but I don't write anything just because it happened to come into my head. Even if the only goal of the story is to entertain, there must be some depth to it, I think, and being a Christian helps to see things a little deeper.

GS: When you were writing the trilogy, were there any theological "puzzles" you had to sort through to your own satisfaction before you could continue with the story?

No, I saw the spiritual aspect of my made up world pretty clearly from the very beginning. I knew how things worked, and who was on whose side. I do have some "missing links" to figure out in Book 3 though.

GS: How much longer until the last book is published?

I hope to have it out in 2005, but I cannot promise anything. I presently work on a different project, a new novel, so Book 3 of the trilogy has been put on hold.

JN: It's great to have the sole control over the publication of your books, but I'm sure you also want people to actually BUY and READ them. #1 - to get your voice heard. #2 - to recoup your investment and make a profit, since the laborer is worthy of his hire. So I got to wondering about marketing strategy. Is this an aspect you had figured out before you decided to self-publish? Can you give us an overview of your marketing plan?

Oh yes, self-publishing is a joke without good marketing and active promotion. It is a lot of work, and it takes time, but it's the only way to go if you want your books bought and read, just like you say. My marketing plan includes speaking engagements, online and magazine advertising, doing interviews, contacting newspapers, libraries, reviewers, and stores, maintaining and expanding a website. It is a slow process, often you don't hear back from places you send your press-release to right away, but it is worth the wait. This week, for example, I was contacted by our local TBN station and invited to be interviewed – over a year after I had first written to them. My experience has taught me that it is more about patience and perseverance than anything else.

GS: So tell us about the new book! What genre is it in? (And is it in English?)

It is in English, yes, and it's fantasy. The title of the book is The Silvery Castle. It is a novel about a proud young man who wakes up in a strange house having no memory of his past and discovers that, by some evil magic, he is turned into... something different. The story goes on as he struggles to remember who he is, what happened to him, and find a way to break the spell.

GS: That sounds like fun. Have you got a publisher lined up? Expected publication date?

The Silvery Castle is being reviewed by three publishers. If accepted, the earliest publication date I can hope for is October 2005 – knowing how slow traditional publishers are. It is a long time, but I am prepared to wait.

GS: Oh, uh, going back to the family thing, I had assumed, since the covers of the first two books were photos, rather than paintings, that you might have been sneaking the husband and kids in there. Since kids are potential, rather than real, that would appear not to be the case. Still, it brings up one of my favourite topics: book covers. Presumably, unlike most authors, you had some control over the images used. Is that so?

Yes, although the first book didn't turn out as well as I hoped, but I've learned from my mistakes and done a better job with the second one. With Book 1, I had told the artist what I wanted to see on the cover, and he followed my guidelines pretty well – except for the main character. Imagine my surprise when instead of a fair-haired medieval boy I saw a full grown brunette in contemporary clothes and with a Navy haircut!! Of course, I couldn't go for that. I asked the artist to change the guy. What you see on the cover is the closest thing he could find. I do not like it; it is not the Jecosan from my book. But I had to accept it.

Keeping this in mind, I did something different for the second book. I found a girl who looked exactly like my Princess Arvelina, got a professional picture of her taken, with the pearly diadem on, and sent it to the publisher to be used for the cover. It worked perfectly well! I should have done the same thing with the first one.

GS: Is there a web site (either run by you or fans) devoted to your work?

Yes, my website is www.lauralond.com.

GS: Steve told us that fantasy is a hard sell in the CBA market. What kind of response do you get from Christian bookstores? (Or do you even try to get them to stock your books?)

I do try it, and it is difficult, but not because of the genre. I haven't yet had a refusal to stock the book specifically for that reason. The greatest obstacle is my being a new author who still has a long way to go to establish her name. It does not bother me though. I keep on working and building my readership. When the books start selling well, stores will pick them up. Barnes and Noble is presently reviewing the first two books of the trilogy for possible store placement, nationwide. As to Christian fantasy in general, I would agree that the situation is changing for the better. More publishers are open to it, more Christians are discovering the genre and beginning to see its potential. Some of my readers told me that they'd never consider buying fantasy before – but now that they've read my book and enjoyed it so much, they would. This is very encouraging.

GS: I would imagine so. It's got to be a rush changing people's minds about an entire genre! (Have you ever considered writing SF? :-)

I had written a SF story once, before I became a Christian. There was not much to it, as I see it now, except that it did reflect pretty accurately my own worldview and spiritual search of the time. An alien comes to our planet and, shocked by human vanity and stupidity, gives up the idea of making further contact with people; instead, he saves a homeless dog and takes it with him, as a much more promising object for mental and spiritual development. That was the story... As to the present, no, I don't plan to write any more SF.

GS: What kind of research did you do before starting in on the trilogy? Did you have to change the story in any way as a result of your research?

Most of my research was reading as many good adventure stories as I could find, not necessarily fantasy. It always helps me to see good work of other authors, enjoy it as a reader first and then analyze it from the "how they did it" point of view. I had to make some changes to the story as I worked on it, but that was mostly done because I saw ways to improve the plot.

GS: How do you pronounce "Jecosan"?

It is "Jekõsan," a common Meorian name. :) He doesn't use his full name very much though and goes by "Jeco" throughout the book.

GS: What is your writing strategy? Are you one of those who go through multiple drafts, each increasingly filled-in, from plot outline to completed story, or one of those who just let the story unfold as it will, never knowing the ending until you actually write it? Do you "hear" the story, or "see" it, or work it out yourself?

I do some basic planning and then let the story unfold. Sometimes it results in surprises – a new character might show up and demand to be in the book when I personally see no purpose for him or her. This happened with The Silvery Castle. After a week of struggle the guy managed to prove that he was needed, and I allowed him to stay. I usually know the ending, but details and minor plot turns come in the process. As to seeing or hearing the story, I am definitely a "hearer." Characters talk all the time. I listen, and write down parts of their dialogue into my "Bits & Pieces" file. Some of it may never be used, but it helps to shape the story.

GS: What is your writing method? Do you lock yourself away from distractions, or scribble on napkins whenever inspiration strikes? Do you surround yourself with things to put you in the right frame of mind to be in your fantasy world, or is it all in your head?

I absolutely need peace and quiet to work. No radio, no TV. I either lock myself up in the room or take a long walk.

GS: Do you have a list of those bookstores which have agreed to stock your books?

The list of bookstores carrying my book would be very short, at the moment limited to several local stores. (I am still waiting to hear back from Barnes & Noble.) So far, Internet is the best place to shop for my books – Amazon, Borders, B&N, Berean, Cokesbury, and many others. I usually recommend Amazon, they offer the best deal.

GS: What do you do when you're not writing?

When I am not writing I'm reading! :) That's the best thing to do – pleasure and training combined. I must read a lot to sharpen my own writing skills and keep those creative brain cells in shape. Watching a good movie is another thing that helps to do that. Apart from that, I enjoy biking, playing badminton, and taking long walks. And I am a huge animal lover, someday I want to have my own cattery.

[Home][Creativity][Genres][Resources][Links][About Us]

[Audio][Biographies][Books][Events][Film][Interviews][Mailing List][Publications][Publications]

[David R. Beaucage][Kathy Tyers][James BeauSeigneur][Jefferson Scott][Walker Chandler][Alton Gansky][Ray Hansen]

[Emily Snyder][Randall Ingermanson][Theodore Beale][Steve Laube][Laura Lond][Frank Wu][Donita K. Paul][Brenda W. Clough][Bryan Davis][John Granger]

[Karen Hancock][Miles Owens][Robert Liparulo][Bryan Davis, part 2][Chris Walley][Kathryn Mackel][Gene Wolfe][Sharon Hinck][Wayne Thomas Batson][Lars Walker][Christopher Hopper][Jeffrey Overstreet]

Rich Christiano[Jeff Gerke]

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[David R. Beaucage] [Kathy Tyers] [James BeauSeigneur] [Jefferson Scott] [Walker Chandler] [Alton Gansky] [Ray Hansen] [Emily Snyder] [Randall Ingermanson] [Theodore Beale] [Steve Laube] [Laura Lond] [Frank Wu] [Donita K. Paul] [Brenda W. Clough] [Bryan Davis] [John Granger] [Karen Hancock] [Miles Owens] [Robert Liparulo] [Bryan Davis, part 2] [Chris Walley] [Kathryn Mackel] [Gene Wolfe] [Sharon Hinck] [Wayne Thomas Batson] [Lars Walker] [Christopher Hopper] [Jeffrey Overstreet][Rich Christiano][Jeff Gerke]