Interview with Lauren Scharhag

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Kansas City, MO. My mother is Mexican and my father German, so I had a very unusual childhood-- my mother's family lived in the barrio on KC's West Side, and my father's family was from a wealthy white suburb. The two worlds were utterly different, so I think living with two such extremely different cultures and socioeconomic circumstances really shaped me.
When did you first start writing?
When I was old enough to pick up a pen. My father taught me to read and write early and he gave me a diary when I was six or seven. By the time I was eight, I was pecking out stories on my mother's typewriter.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Under Julia is based on actual events. It is the story of a group of homeless sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami. City law prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or daycare. Halfway houses, hotels, and homeless shelters would not accept them. I learned of their situation several years ago when I read an article in The Miami New Times, a sister publication of Kansas City’s Pitch, on the Julia Tuttle sex offender encampment. Back then, the encampment consisted of about 40 people. By 2010, the encampment had become a full-fledged shanty, with over 130 people living under the bridge in shacks and lean-tos. I’d like to tell you that it was public outcry that demanded the parolees be removed to halfway houses, but it had more to do with the fact that they were an eyesore. The law has not been repealed, though all of the parolees have been moved to other living arrangements. When I first read the article, I was stunned by the accompanying photographs—the tents and sleeping bags, and especially the system of ladders and ropes to help the men up and down the steep concrete embankment, which struck me as a nightmare version of Never-Never Land. Here, I thought, is a story that needs telling.
Isn't Under Julia a departure from your usual work?
All my previous works have been mostly horror and scifi, but I don't think it's as big of a departure as you might think. All my previous works are character-driven, and Under Julia is certainly that. Also, I've always thought in my horror and fantastical stories, the scariest things in them are the people.
Tell us about the Order of the Four Sons series.
My other major project is the Order of the Four Sons series, which I co-author with Coyote Kishpaugh. It started out as a film project back in 2005 in KC. I was asked to write the screenplay. Coyote was an extra on the film. When the film never got picked up for distribution, he called me up and said, "Hey, why don't we turn that into a series?" We've been working on it ever since. We just released Book III. We anticipate Book IV to be released in 2015. It's a constant work in progress. We also plan on releasing some additional short stories that are tied in to the O4S universe over the next year or so.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It seemed, more and more, that traditional publishing routes were simply closed to new authors. If you aren't already established, or have contacts in the industry, you just can't break in. No one wants to take a chance on unknowns like me. Also, I'd always heard that the publishing companies and agents take an outrageous cut of book sales, and then do very little to market after the initial launch. So I figured, why not? This, at least, gives readers the opportunity to see my work and judge it for themselves.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It has given me a lot of amazing opportunities to network with other indie authors and has provided invaluable marketing tips I have learned so much from this community. Smashwords also has some great features that some of the larger platforms don't, like coupons and giveaways, and the extended distribution puts your book in front of a wider audience. I also love that the Smashwords site tracks your books' analytics, so you can have some insight into what's working and what's not, in terms of promotion.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The act itself-- there is nothing I don't love about it. Words, stories, characters, plots, even grammar and editing. I love all of it. If none of my work ever saw the light of day, I would still do it. I often imagine myself like Schubert, composing his works. When he finished one piece, he would simply set it aside and start another. If I could devote my days to it, that's what I'd do.
What do your fans mean to you?
Without them, I'm just a crazy lady shut up in my room, talking to myself. Honestly, I've always thought of myself as just the tour guide. The readers are the real explorers. I might spin the universes, but they come to life in the readers' heads.
Published 2014-05-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Necropolis: The Order of the Four Sons, Book V
Series: The Order of the Four Sons. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 157,200. Language: English. Published: September 12, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
The fifth book of The Order of the Four Sons series. In the wake of their defeat, Starry Wisdom retreated to their home world of Cerulean, a seemingly idyllic society they have engineered for their own dark purposes.
The Sacred Heart: The Order of the Four Sons, Book IV
Series: The Order of the Four Sons. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 156,770. Language: English. Published: July 20, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
The members of the Order are still in Corbenic’s capital, staying at Four Mothers as guests of Prince Leopold. Their ties to Corbenic have only deepened as new friendships and even romance have managed to blossom. Yet, the stakes have never been higher: as the terrible winter has dragged on, unrest has spread, stirring talk of rebellion.
The Winter Prince
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 22,330. Language: English. Published: November 14, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent
Sixteen-year-old Margaret Bentley, an Ozark country girl, journeys to the Summer Lands to save her father from an evil spell. There she meets all kinds of enchanted creatures and people including the Momme tribe, a sea witch, the Green Man, a mysterious magician, and eventually, the Summer Queen herself.
The Ice Dragon
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 8,390. Language: English. Published: November 14, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent
There's nothing Kenneth Vogel hates more than Christmas. Then he meets a dragon. Suddenly, Christmas doesn't seem so bad . . .
Where Flap the Tatters of the King: The Order of the Four Sons, Book III
Series: The Order of the Four Sons. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 153,600. Language: English. Published: July 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Book III sees surviving members of the Order – Kate, JD, Murphy, Bill, Clayton and Alyssa – reunited in a magical world known as Corbenic. By Coyote Kishpaugh and Lauren Scharhag.
West Side Girl & Other Poems
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,770. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Female authors
(3.83 from 6 reviews)
Collection of poems by Lauren Scharhag, written from 2004-2013, exploring themes of womanhood, family, and her German-Mexican heritage.
La Tutayegua
Price: Free! Words: 4,940. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Hispanic & Latino, Fiction » Horror » General
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
A young boy growing up in Kansas City's West Side in the 1980s meets the mysterious creature known as La Tutayegua.
Our Miss Engel
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,660. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
In 1909, Clara Engel, a young school teacher gets a job at a Catholic girls' boarding school, only to find that her students are not what they seem.
Carcosa: The Order of the Four Sons, Book II
Series: The Order of the Four Sons. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 153,250. Language: English. Published: May 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
The Order of the Four Sons, Book II follows the team -- JD, Murphy, Doug and Kate -- as they pursue Bathory across the face of a hostile world known as Carcosa. Director Clayton Grabowski and the Oracle find themselves mired in the political intrigues of the Order's leadership, while back on Earth, Bill forges an uneasy alliance with a government agent. By Coyote Kishpaugh and Lauren Scharhag.
The Order of the Four Sons: Book I
Series: The Order of the Four Sons. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 97,160. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2009. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Science fiction » General
(4.57 from 7 reviews)
Two ancient, magical sects, the Order of the Four Sons of Horus and Starry Wisdom, battle for possession of a powerful artifact known as the Staff of Solomon. By Coyote Kishpaugh and Lauren Scharhag.