Interview with Lauren Courcelle

Describe your desk
My desk is a mess. Not a generic mess like you'd see on TV. Naah. Their desks are neat in comparison to my kind of organization. I have two, old, desktop computers that are in various stages of defunctness. I have written a couple of my books on them, but nowadays, I use a laptop computer for my writing (so I can take it with me when I travel). Each time I look at my desk, I think, "Gee, I need to clean my desk," but that fleeting idea is quickly replaced when I grab my laptop, find an adequate place to sit, and begin working on whatever book is currently invading my brain. So, that pile of boyband CDs might just sit on my desk until they become oldies. Oh, wait... they already are.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Vermont, and my books are set in Vermont. That might be an uber literal interpretation of the "Write what you know" advice that people give writers, but given my lifelong knowledge of Vermont, I can't think of using anywhere else as a primary setting. The Vermonter attitude and lifestyle is definitely prevalent in my stories, too - a bit laid-back and backwards but warm and loving at the same time. We have to be a bit tough to keep on goin' in a land that is winter for about six months of the year. But Vermont is a great place to visit, and if you're from here, it's a great place to live, too.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've wanted to write for seemingly ever. I envisioned myself as a children's book author who cranked out those legendary picture books that everyone knows and loves. Apparently, I'm too wordy for that. Apparently, I have some issues with "rules." Probably because nobody who has ever really made it big in writing actually adhered to the arbitrary rules the industry tells aspiring writers. If you create a cookie cutter world of slush piles and agents and red tape and connections, you're gonna have cookie cutter books. I don't want to be a run-of-the-mill author. I want my books to be how I want them. My first book was the first book of a twelve book series. (Yup, that would be breaking a rule - don't ever write a book that is part of a series as your first book.) I edit my own books. (Collective gasp - no, Lauren! You can't do that! You can't find your own errors!) Uh, newsflash, rule makers, but I don't have a budget to hire anyone to do my editing or my covers. And furthermore, I'm rather obsessive with editing. It takes me months to go from "finished" to "FINISHED" in that editing process. I know of a typo in my first book, but guess what? Professionally edited books have typos, too. (And I corrected my typo, so if you find another one now, it's a second typo... *shrug* Typos happen, and in fact, as a kid, I loved finding typos in books. So, maybe they're there for my overachieving, young readers who get the same thrill from finding mistakes that I always did - just sayin') But yeah, I want my work out there under my terms. I don't want someone who doesn't understand ME (and my readers) to sanitize my writing into some cookie cutter. Yeah, no. I want to create something new and relevant and reach readers in ways they have yet to be reached by traditionally published, rule-abiding, cookie cutter literature. Furthermore, the wait time between when an author finished a book and when their readers would get to read it was too long in traditional publishing, and the portion of royalties that an author got was too small. So... why wouldn't I want to be an indie author?
What are you working on next?
As I answer this question, I am working on the seventh book in the Persephone Smith series. In it, she's a senior in high school. There will be a total of twelve books in Persephone's series (unless I need to write a thirteenth to truly send her on her way into the world); I have planned the series to follow her through college and beyond, and because it's ultimately a love story, readers will see a resolution in the romance department by the end of the last book, whenever that may be. Additionally, I have the next book or two in the Cordeleya Hammock series, as "unLEASHed" is not a completely stand alone book (though it COULD be, but it just isn't). I've also got projects for the more distant future - "The Perpetually Single Sparkle Girl" is one of them. But yeah, I have no shortage of characters telling me their stories... just never enough minutes in the days to capture them all as soon as I'd like.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I think the biggest motivational factor to get out of bed each day is knowing that this is the only day that will be today and that we only have a limited number of days to make our mark and enjoy this blessing we have. And as I get older, I better see how there just are never enough get-ups in a life, so I try to savor each day.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
On weekdays? Working. Oh, and sleeping. The life of an indie author is oh-so-glamorous. Get up, work job one, work job two, write, sleep, repeat.
What is your writing process?
I get an idea, and I open up a notebook or doc (or a paper towel, if that's all that is near), and I write. And I get it out as fast as I can before it disappears. And sometimes it disappears before it all comes out, but I figure that's my brain concocting revisions already, as if the thought wasn't SO good that I remember it long enough to get it down on paper, it wasn't good enough to publish. But when I'm ready to go for a book, I just keep that thought flow going. Sometimes I'll do most of it in a notebook and then type it into a computer, and sometimes I'll just sit with the computer and let my fingers loose on the keys. I usually have a few ideas as to plot points that will come up during the course of the book, but it's primarily the characters making their choices and resultant story from that. If they make a choice that spawns a completely sideways track that I can't get back from, well then, I'll go back and fix the choice, but for the most part, I let the process organically take them through life. When I get to what feels to be the natural conclusion of the book, I go back and smooth out the plot points that go nowhere - sometimes I had a thought and partway through abandon it. Then, I pump in overarching plot consistencies and more magic than comes about in the first rough draft. I rework the romance and language to make it... reasonably appropriate. And then, I polish the whole thing. I read it aloud over and over and over... pretty sure all my neighbors know my books by heart. I'm listening for flow and wording and variety. I trim it down. If something doesn't further a plotline or story arc or relationship, it's out. If a scene is repetitive and goes on for five pages, I rewrite it as a one paragraph summary and compare it to the five pages and see which is stronger. Usually, the final book contains a passage closer to the summary than the repetition. All the GUM stuff comes right about now, too. When it's done - and that's purely a gut feeling of "I can't get this any better than it is because it's pretty darn brilliant" - I upload the manuscript and set my sights on my least favorite part. Writing the blurb. *shudder* Because apparently "Just read the darn book!" doesn't suffice.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I've been reading since I was two. No, really. And when I was two, I read everything I could find. So, no, I don't remember the first story I ever read. I remember early ones... the Little Golden books, the Calico Cat books, Dorrie the Little Witch books... oh, I loved the library. The children's room was one of my favorite places to go, and we went often. I can still smell the scent of library books. Happy memories. So, yes, I had a early love of reading, and then I got to junior high, and the librarian recommended a book for my reading ability that had content that was way out-of-line to anything I'd want to be reading as an 11-year-old. Serious, mature... yeah, no! I wanted my innocent young stories I had always loved, but at a level challenging enough to engage me and not make me feel like I was reading innocent fluff for little kids. But this was the '80s and pretty much as soon as one hit chapter books, content rapidly matured. Now, I loved Judy Blume books and Roald Dahl books, so it wasn't like I was looking for fairy tales, but I wanted more of that kind of stuff (as I had already read everything in the library that fell into that category). So, I stopped reading. Yeah. Seventh grade. Done. I didn't want to read about teenagers going through life-altering accidents and devastating stuff. No. I was eleven. So, I knew my junior high library had nothing for me. I liked the Choose Your Own Adventure books, but I knew they were mindless fluff and not real reading. So yeah, that was when I checked out of reading. When I began to write my books, I wanted to fill that void, even though there's a broader selection of material for this generation's 11-year-old readers. But my "middle grades" books are intended for the kids out there who have read everything but aren't ready for full-fledged Young Adult maturity yet. My Young Adult books are for my readers who are ready to bridge into Young Adult with characters they've grown up with, along with being for YA readers who have already read everything in their libraries. I don't want anyone who loves reading as much as I did to ever stop reading, like I did.
How do you approach cover design?
Because I don't have a budget for a graphic designer or a background in graphic design, I rely on a template. I use the same template for all the Persephone Smith books, and I plan to use the same one for the Cordeleya Hammock books. So, the bulk of my design is finding the perfect picture to capture the feeling of the book or a specific story point in the book. So far, I've taken all of the photos myself. I play with them on my photo editing software to make them as visually appealing as possible, and I plug them into the template. Then, I choose the background color and font color for the block with the title and author information. That's a visual sort of decision. I pick the one I like best. I want every book to have a different feel color-wise, but a unity in overall appearance. Even though my covers aren't "traditional" for middle grade and young adult books, I like them because they DON'T follow the rules - they're distinctive... just like my readers.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle Fire because it's the most affordable. And yes, I have used it to work on my books when my computer crashed. Hey, it works for me.
Published 2017-02-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Wicked Alpha
Series: Persephone Smith. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 143,640. Language: English. Published: December 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Paranormal
Be careful what you wish for. It's a cliché, but it’s true. Persephone Smith only wanted to fix the one thing that she believed had ruined her life, but in doing so, she completely destroyed her reality. Will she learn to accept her fate and face the twists and turns that life sends her way head on, or will she continue to turn to magic to make her life the happily ever after of her dreams?
Wicked Together
Series: Persephone Smith. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 151,150. Language: English. Published: April 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
When I met him, life moved in slow motion, as though we were the only two people on Earth. When he kissed me for the first time, the sensation happened all over again. But by the end of the summer, there was only one person left on my Earth… me.
Wicked Dramatic
Series: Persephone Smith. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 131,710. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
From the day I stepped foot into Diversity Middle School, I hated it. But eighth grade meant ruling the school, and Harley and I planned to do just that... until we found out we weren't in the same classes. Then, he wasn't in school anymore. I believed in him... and his career, but I also believed he was in over his head. Who was gonna save him? Me. Cuz that's what best friends did. But CAN I?
UnLEASHed
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100,900. Language: English. Published: March 30, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
On my 16th birthday, my parents died in a double homicide, and I was unceremoniously loaded into a PAR and sent off to Vermont. Vermont had just two things going for it. One, it was backwards. Two? The family I now lived with exuded love in everything they did. I had never seen love before. It intrigued me. Better yet? They were unLEASHed... just like me. Yanno, I just might like it here... maybe.
Wicked Awesome
Series: Persephone Smith. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 112,390. Language: English. Published: February 27, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
I love pop music. Always have. So, when a day at Dad's work led to me meeting my favorite popstar, I was starstruck. Even moreso when I sang a duet and filmed a video with him. Before I knew it, my best friend was in a boyband, and I spent my summer on tour. What can I say? Life as the daughter of a legendary boyband member is wicked awesome! (I just wish I could say the same about seventh grade!)
Wicked Weird
Series: Persephone Smith. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,930. Language: English. Published: February 27, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
When I got to Diversity Middle School, I didn't just feel a little out of place. No. I felt wicked weird. Yet, I needed to survive these halls for three years? Heaven help me... er, Universe, help me, in MY case. Thank goodness for my natural powers, my expanding circle of friends, my loving parents, plentiful eye candy, and Santa's magic, or sixth grade might just be the end for ALL of us.
Wicked Normal
Series: Persephone Smith. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,540. Language: English. Published: February 27, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
If you believe "happily ever after" denotes a fairy tale's end, then, MY story is not for you. Hi. I'm Persephone Smith. I'm a nine-year-old fifth grader from Vermont, and I am wicked normal. Some folks claim my life is perfect, and well, they're RIGHT! I live in Mom and Dad's happily ever after, and my 'Rents love me unconditionally. And considering my everyday adventures? I test that love daily.
Wicked Confessions
Series: Persephone Smith. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 93,340. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy, Fiction » Coming of age
Farewell to the summer we never wanted to relive. Like it or not, life (for the rest of us) continued. Yeah, we did whatever we needed to do to survive that year. And now, we're confessing everything.