Interview with Laryssa Waldron

Published 2014-07-17.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My mother is originally from South Africa, her parents were from England and Holland. My father was a linguist (speaking 7 languages fluently, and toying with several others before he died). We lived in Germany and traveled around Europe when I was a little girl (ages 7-10). All of those factors - that love for other cultures - just seeped into me. I find other people and places fascinating. Whenever I meet someone from a different country I sit them down and interrogate them all about their experiences - What brought them here? What do they like? What do they miss?

I think that all of those ideas translated into my book, "Jake Bowers Versus The Firebird". In it, I have people from many different cultures and races learning about each other, and learning how to work together. I think that we can gain so much strength as we try to appreciate one another rather than always looking at life with an "us VS them" mentality.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was a fantasy story about how Oberon and Titania became the king and queen of the fairies. I wrote it in 4th grade, well, I wrote some of it - great chunks of chapters when we had free writing time in class. My teacher was wonderful because she believed in me and my abilities, even though I was a young girl. My parents did the same, because after I outlined and wrote that "epic tale", I began to write and produce plays in the family carport.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
In the 3rd grade, I remember reading a biography on Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln who died when he was 9 years old (a year older than I was at the time). The book talked about her young life on the American frontier. I had read other books before, but this was the first one that really hooked me. I was fascinated to see the world through another person's eyes. That year was the year that I feel in love with books. I couldn't get enough of them. I read a new book each day - finishing my work quickly in class so that I could pull out my book at my desk while the others kept working. Reading at lunch, at recess, and on the bus on the way home from school. Coming home and getting comfy on an old green chair while I settled into the final chapters. It was a special time. I can still read like that - in a passionate all-consuming frenzy - but when I do now, life falls a part around me (for some reason my fairy-house-mother doesn't show up daily to take care of all of those mundane things like dishes and laundry ... it's so sad).
What is your writing process?
I'm a big believer in outlines. I set out a "floating outline" one that helps me see the major arc of the story, but one that I am still able to play around with as needed. Then I begin to flesh out the story. It sounds crazy, but often I will sit on my bed with a pen and notepad and hand write the chapter - just to get the ideas to flow. Then when I type it, I'm already going into a second draft.

I also love to do research. I get Mountains of ideas from the world around us. There are so many fascinating things to study, from the history of the Bhutto family in Pakistan to the mystery of the giant Siberian sinkhole (and EVERYTHING in-between). Fresh ideas always seem to come from the study of people, history, and the natural world.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I love my iPhone. I have it with me when there is down time - waiting for appointments, carpool, etc. That is, if I can pry it out of my children's hands.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I love to create printables on Pinterest - sharing favorite lines from the books. I'm also a fan of blogging - talking about creative ideas for kids and families, the publishing market, motivational speeches, editing, and anything that strikes me as interesting. However, the best marketing comes from fans who believe in my writing. They are an inspiration. Even little gestures like sharing a review or recommending my books to a friend are so helpful. I am absolutely astounded when they take time to help me out that way! It gives me courage to keep writing!
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Jake Bowers Versus the Firebird" is the story of a kid who gets a flying carpet and has to use it to rescue his kidnapped uncle. The short summary is - "While other kids ride their bikes, Jake is learning to fly on a carpet. They're playing video games, he's being hunted by cyborg-scorpions. They face popularity contests, he is in a face-off with a Firebird. But Jake is not alone. Other kids at Hale Junior High are finding that the world is quite unusual. They must work together to save Jake's Uncle and search history to uncover their futures."

I wrote this book because I wanted to help kids gain a passion for reading, for studying history, and for studying other cultures beyond their own.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When a kid reads the book and says, "hey, that was cool! Got any more?"
What do your fans mean to you?
It is really special when someone appreciates the thing that takes so much toil and so many tears. It is especially sweet when they feel moved to create something simple like a picture that they drew, or talk over a plot point or character with me. If they enjoyed it, then it makes me feel like the time and effort was worthwhile.
What are you working on next?
I am working on the second in the series (the working title is "Jake Bowers and the Nubian Priest") and it will delve into where the Bestiary came from and Jake will finally do his ancestor report so that we can find out why he can fly Tangura.

I'm also working on an English book to help students to understand the basic process of writing a college paper. As a technical writing professor, I'm basing it off of the things that my students have truly struggled with, some basic items that they missed along the way - like how to research, outline, reference, and how to begin writing the darn thing in the first place.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My children. For some reason, they keep pulling the covers off and I have to get up. :)

No, I really do love to create. I love to write. I love to create my household. I love to help my daughters learn and grow, and I love to tease my husband! I love teaching - helping my students learn that they have the ability to do seemingly impossible things. I also love to edit. I love to take stories and ideas and help flesh them out to make them stronger.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

Jake Bowers Versus The Firebird
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 65,530. Language: English. Published: July 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
While other kids ride their bikes, Jake is learning to fly on a carpet. They're playing video games, he's being hunted by cyborg-scorpions. They face popularity contests, he is in a face-off with a Firebird. But Jake is not alone. Other kids at Hale Junior High are finding that the world is quite unusual. They must work together to save Jake's Uncle and search history to uncover their futures.