Interview with Laurel A. Rockefeller

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, about one mile from Hyde Observatory, one of the very few public astronomical observatories in the United States. At Hyde, I first learned about the stars and the greater universe. When Star Wars came out in 1977, my interest in astronomy only increased, cumulating in my University of Nebraska astronomy courses as part of my general education requirements. As you might expect, knowing about physics and astronomy is critical to any serious science fiction writing endeavor.

So I must credit Lincoln and the fine science education I received there for providing the foundation for the world building in my books. Without science, I could not write science fiction.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Great question which really comprises two components: becoming an author and publishing independently.

For me, there was never "becoming" an author so much as embracing my talent and giving myself permission to be the person I always wanted to be. For women, especially women who love science as much as I do, this is the most difficult initial hurdle to overcome. All my life I was told not to try, that writing would never make me a living, and to go do x,y,z instead. And of course, I was picked on for being good at science and thinking physics is fun.

My talent, of course, could care less what the naysayers said or what role was allegedly pre-defined for me as a woman. As a teen I wrote fan fiction novels. In my 20s and 30s I shifted my focus to non-fiction, research-centric articles, mostly for regional newsletters that offered me exposure, but no pay.

Finally in 2011, I dared to throw aside all the naysayers and begin work on my first novel, "The Great Succession Crisis."

In August, 2012 I learned about SmashWords. Then and only then did I decide to become an "independent author." Given the difficulties in obtaining contracts with the Big Three publishing houses, independent publication through SmashWords, CreateSpace, and Amazon made sense.

To these I am grateful. Now I can finally pursue the talent that was always there.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
My book trailers are one of my best tools for marketing. The reason is simple: with all the music that is part of the Peers of Beinan series, youtube trailers allow me to sing for you the songs in the books so you can hear them for yourself.

Most authors spam the internet with long excerpts that no one reads. But these simple trailers (also featuring the heraldry I created for the series) convey so much more through music.

In addition, I use twitter extensively to tweet out not the "buy my book" stuff you see everywhere, but links to the over 140 non-fiction articles I've written for Yahoo Voices. I believe that informing you, instead of it spamming you, is more productive. I love learning, I love teaching, and I love making life better for everyone else.

Making your life better -- through a song, through information, or even my books -- is what it's all about.

Life is about what we can give back to others, not what we can take for ourselves. I hope you agree.
What makes your books "interactive?"
There are two different ways the Peers of Beinan series are interactive, depending on if we are talking about digital or paperback editions.

The digital editions are hypertext linked to individual pages on my website, providing enhanced content to readers. So for example, clicking on the word "zhang" brings you to a webpage on my site which explains exactly what a zhang is -- without losing your place in the text to look up "zhang" in the glossaries that are part of every book. You also access heraldry, music, and other multi-media through these hypertext links.

For paperback, I offer a special "QR Interactive" edition filled with square QR codes readable by your smart phone. Scanning each code with your phone pulls up the same QR interactive pages the digital editions linked to.

To date there are over 100 individual interactive web pages, bringing a wealth of information to your fingertips no matter what format you prefer for reading with more added almost every day.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love English Literature, so the first authors that come to mind are J.R.R. Tolkien, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen. Among Americans, I love Dorothy "D.C." Fontana (author of "Journey to Babel" for Star Trek), Marion Zimmer Bradley, Frank Herbert, and of course J. Michael Straczynski (JMS).

If you recognize those names, you can tell I love Star Trek and Babylon 5.

All of these authors are very influential on my work. Tolkien, JMS, and Frank Herbert taught me how to world build. "Dune" in particular helps me with the political aspects of exploring the inner workings of a monarchy in "The Peers of Beinan" series; I watch and re-watch the adaptations whenever I feel stuck.

It is perhaps very telling that two of my three favorite women writers were both involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism at one time or another. Marion Zimmer Bradley was part of the very first SCA event in 1966. Dorothy Fontana played in the kingdom of Caid by all reports.

My adoration for "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen led to all the dance scenes in my books. The English country dances you see in Pride and Prejudice date to the 16th/17th centuries, dances I personally enjoy in my living history activities in the SCA. So yes, there is a Beinarian version of "Mr. Beveridge's Maggot" in "Ghosts of the Past" thanks to Ms. Austen and the amazing 1995 BBC adaptation starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing is so much a part of my being that I do not think there is a single joy to writing for me, anymore than there is life in general. Music, writing, learning are all so much a part of my being that it is impossible for me to pursue anything else.

When I write a song into one of my books, like "Here Lays My Father and My Lord" from chapter eight of "Ghosts of the Past," my entire being comes together in almost a miraculous way. That song in particular brings together my love of history, my love of music, my poetic nature, and my gift for integrating complex and very different ideas and academic disciplines into something beautiful and inspiring.

That song in many ways encapsulates my entire being, all that I am. To write something like that is to touch something transcendental. Can there be a greater joy than to create something so beautiful?
What are you working on next?
Great question! When last we checked in on Princess Anyu and her family, Princess Anyu just left Beinarian space to begin her exile on D425E25 Tertius (this is no spoiler given the structure of this first trilogy arc).

The adventure continues in book three, "Princess Anyu Returns" which so far explores Princess Anyu's exile. "Returns" is primarily told from Princess Anyu's perspective as an alien on a strange and primitive world, a world where life is carbon based and breathes oxygen; Beinarians are silicon-based and breath nirlar (chlorine gas). So Returns promises to be a fantastic journey. At the moment (September, 2013) I am working on chapter two entitled "A Beinarian Princess in King Arthur's Court" which I am certain everyone will enjoy.

As a hint to everyone: I am bringing back a character from "The Great Succession Crisis" midway into Princess Anyu Returns, so stay tuned!
Published 2013-08-31.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Empress Matilda of England
Series: The Legendary Women of World History, 7. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,380. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Biography & Autobiography / Women
(5.00)
The roaring lioness of England! Born in 1102, Matilda's unique heritage was meant to unify an England still divided by her grandfather's conquest in 1066. When the 1120 White Ship Disaster made her the only surviving child of her parents, Matilda suddenly became heiress to the English throne in a time when the old Saxon Witan, not the king's Will, still decided the succession.
Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: A Play in Three Acts
Series: The Legendary Women of World History Dramas, 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,330. Language: English. Published: October 13, 2016. Categories: Plays » European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Fiction » Children’s books » Historical / Medieval
The inspiring true story of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, princess royal of the northern Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd and princess regnant of the southern Welsh kingdom of Deheubarth comes to life in this beautiful stage drama based on "Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, the Warrior Princess of Deheubarth." Includes new historical material not included in the regular biography.
Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: Tywysoges a Rhyfelwraig Deheubarth/The Warrior Princess of Deheubarth
Series: Cyfres Merched Chwedlonol yn Hanes y Byd, 6. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 17,740. Language: English. Published: July 9, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Celtic Languages, Nonfiction » History » European
Princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd’s fascinating and tragic true story comes to life in this special bi-lingual Welsh-English edition! Born in 1097 in Aberffraw Castle, Princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd ap Cynan’s courage against the Norman Conquest of Wales has inspired generations of Welsh for nearly one thousand years. Perfect for both Welsh and English learners.
Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, Tywysoges a Rhyfelwraig Deheubarth
Series: Cyfres Merched Chwedlonol yn Hanes y Byd, 6. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 9,000. Language: Welsh. Published: July 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Biographical / European, Nonfiction » Children's Books » History / Medieval
Ganwyd Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd ap Cynan yng Nghastell Aberffraw ym 1097, wedi’i thynghedu o’r cychwyn i gyflawni pethau mawr. Newidiodd bywyd Gwenllian am byth yn un ar bymtheg oed, gan iddi ddisgyn mewn cariad â’r Tywysog Gruffydd ap Rhys, etifedd gwarchaeedig Rhys ap Tewdwr o Ddeheubarth. Law yn llaw gilydd, ymladdodd ddau o blaid de Cymru a theyrnasu drosti, yn herio Concwest y Normaniaid.
Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, The Warrior Princess of Deheubarth
Series: The Legendary Women of World History, 6. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 8,720. Language: English. Published: May 19, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Royalty biography, Nonfiction » Children's Books » Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
(5.00)
Born in 1097, Princess Gwenllian's life changed forever when she fell in love with Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys, the beleaguered heir to Rhys ap Tewdur of Deheubarth. Together husband and wife fought for and ruled southern Wales, challenging the Norman Conquest of Wales and proving once and for all the nobility and courage of the Welsh people, a courage that endures across the centuries.
Empress Wu Zetian
Series: The Legendary Women of World History, 5. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 9,780. Language: English. Published: April 22, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » History » Asian, Nonfiction » Children's Books » Biography & Autobiography / Historical
(5.00)
Travel back in time over one thousand years and meet the first and only female emperor of China. Born Wu Zhao and given the reign title "Zetian" just weeks before her death in 705 CE, she was the unwanted daughter of Chancellor Wu Shihuo -- too bright, too educated, and too politically focused to make a good wife according to contemporary interpretations of the Analects of Confucius.
Buddug, Brenhines Iceni Prydain
Series: Cyfres Merched Chwedlonol yn Hanes y Byd, 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 9,060. Language: Welsh. Published: April 6, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage, Nonfiction » History » European
Pam fod cigfran y Modron yn crochlefain? Dim ond Prydeinwyr gyda rhyddid yn eu calon sy’n gwybod! Yn 43 OC mae Rhufain bron yn sicr o’u concwest dros Brydain – nes i Prasutagus, Brenin yr Iceni, ddigwydd cyfarfod caethforwyn o dras frenhinol llwyth yr Aedui yng Ngâl wedi iddi ddianc oddi wrth ei meistres Rufeinig. Newidiodd y cyfarfod hwn dynged Ynys Prydain am byth.
Buddug, Brenhines Iceni Prydain/Boudicca, Britain’s Queen of the Iceni
Series: Cyfres Merched Chwedlonol yn Hanes y Byd, 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 17,540. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Cultural heritage, Nonfiction » History » European
Stori wir syfrdanol am arwres Prydain yn yr hen oes – ar gael i’w darllen yn Gymraeg a Saesneg mewn un gyfrol ddwyieithog! The fascinating true story of ancient Britain's greatest heroine -- now told in both Welsh and English in one bilingual volume! Perfect for students of both Welsh and English, improve your language proficiency while you learn about ancient Britain.
Boudicca Activity Book
Series: The Legendary Women of World History: Activity Books. Price: Free! Words: 3,060. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Activity Books, Nonfiction » History » European
A fun and interactive collection of puzzles based on "Boudicca, Britain's Queen of the Iceni," book one of the Legendary Women of World History. Practice reading while you learn more about history. Features a challenging fill in the blank puzzle, word search puzzles, double puzzles, and a crossword puzzle certain to challenge adults and children alike.
Caterina di Valois Quaderno di Esercizi
Series: The Legendary Women of World History: Activity Books. Price: Free! Words: 1,460. Language: Italian. Published: March 23, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Activity Books, Nonfiction » Entertainment » Games, puzzles and brain twisters
Un divertente e interattivo collezione di puzzle a base di "Caterina de Valois," il libro due delle donne leggendarie della storia mondiale. lettura pratica, mentre si impara di più su 15 ° secolo in Inghilterra, Francia e Galles. Perfetto per le aule, homeschools, e giorni di pioggia. Comprende un estratto dal primo capitolo di "Caterina de Valois." In italiano.
Catherine de Valois Activity Book
Series: The Legendary Women of World History: Activity Books. Price: Free! Words: 1,930. Language: English. Published: March 20, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Activity Books, Nonfiction » Children's Books » History / Medieval
A fun and interactive collection of puzzles based on "Catherine de Valois," book two of the Legendary Women of World History. Practice reading while you learn more about 15th century England, France, and Wales. Perfect for classrooms, homeschools, and rainy days. Includes an excerpt from chapter one of "Catherine de Valois."
Queen Elizabeth Tudor: Journey to Gloriana
Series: The Legendary Women of World History, 4. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 15,500. Language: English. Published: November 21, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Biography & Autobiography / Royalty, Nonfiction » Children's Books » History / Renaissance
(5.00)
In this beautiful narrative biography you explore Elizabeth’s path from “Lady Elizabeth” to “Gloriana” through the lens of her relationship with Robert Dudley, a relationship far more contentious than most people believe. Politics and religion collide, provoking Elizabeth to console herself with her music, and a hard decision lays before her as plots against her life threatens her throne.
Renaissance Queens
Series: The Legendary Women of World History Collections. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 37,460. Language: English. Published: November 13, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » History / Renaissance, Fiction » Children’s books » Biographical / European
The biographies of three renaissance queens joined together by both blood and life choices in one beautiful boxed set volume: Catherine de Valois Mary Queen of the Scots Queen Elizabeth Tudor: Journey to Gloriana. The past comes alive as these women make their mark on history. Take a journey back through time and meet the real women you thought you knew.
Science Study Guide for Preparing For My First Cockatiel
Price: Free! Words: 310. Language: English. Published: August 7, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Animals / Birds, Nonfiction » Children's Books » Science & Nature / Zoology
Get your children and students interested in science early with this short and simple study guide derived from chapter one of "Preparing for My First Cockatiel" (sold separately). Using full colour photos and thought provoking questions, this guide fits in perfectly with science lessons for your grade K-5 classroom or home school.
Boudicca: A Play in Three Acts
Series: The Legendary Women of World History Dramas, 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 8,850. Language: English. Published: June 19, 2015. Categories: Plays » Ancient & Classical, Fiction » Children’s books » Performing Arts / Theater
As the western world fell to Rome's mighty legions, one woman dared fight for English liberty. Adapted from the creative non-fiction biography "Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni," Boudicca tells the story of Celtic Britain's greatest and most legendary ruler in a format accessible to readers of all ages and productions of all budgets.
Catherine de Valois: A Play in Three Acts
Series: The Legendary Women of World History Dramas, 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 11,720. Language: British English. Published: June 11, 2015. Categories: Plays » Medieval, Plays » European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
War made her queen of England. Her love for a Welshman made her immortal. Adapted from the creative non-fiction biography of the same name, Catherine de Valois tells the story of one of the 15th century's most fascinating queens, taking audiences beyond Henry V and Agincourt to discover the real woman you thought you knew from Shakespeare's "Henry V."
Mary Queen of the Scots: The Forgotten Reign
Series: The Legendary Women of World History, 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 11,180. Language: English. Published: April 27, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Biography & Autobiography / Royalty, Nonfiction » History » Biography
(5.00)
Queen Mary Stuart was one of the most beloved & controversial women in Scottish history. The granddaughter of King James IV & his wife Margaret Tudor, Queen Mary's status as heiress-apparent to Queen Elizabeth's throne paired with the violence of the Scottish Reformation set the stage for one of the most dramatic & poorly understood lives of the 16th century in this beautifully crafted biography.
The Legacy of Princess Anlei
Series: Peers of Beinan Series: Collections, 4. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 190,390. Language: English. Published: March 19, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
The Legacy of Princess Anlei comes alive in this special trilogy edition volume. Begin with the Great Succession Crisis, the romantic coming-of-age story of Princess Anlei. Then solve the mystery of The Ghosts of the Past as planet Beinan falls to unseen terrorists. Finally join the fight for freedom as Princess Anyu Returns to Beinan to battle Lord Yelu.
Preparing For My First Cockatiel
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 11,000. Language: English. Published: March 4, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Animals / Birds, Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Animals
(5.00)
Preparing for My First Cockatiel is a guide book for you and your children to help you know what it takes to get ready for bringing home your very first cockatiel. Unlike most books about cockatiels out there, this one doesn't try to cover everything, but stays focused on what you need to be ready for your new life with your bird. Photos; personal stories; fun book for anyone who loves animals!
The Peers of Beinan: The Complete Series
Series: Peers of Beinan Series: Collections, 1. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 210,140. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Dune meets middle earth in this epic series about a futuristic medieval society in another galaxy. This is a series about greed, corruption, lust, and revenge. It is about terrorism, corporations oppressing the poor, religious extremists imposing their will on others, and about the rich doing anything for power. Good verses evil battle it out on a distant world that feels just like home.
Princess Anyu Returns
Series: The Peers of Beinan, 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 64,150. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Paranormal
With planet Beinan firmly under the control of the vicious Lord Yelu Princess Anyu flees Beinan for the distant and hostile planet D425E25 Tertius, a world known to its natives as “Earth.” But more than just the toxic atmosphere and brutal New England winter awaits the young princess as she finds she is not the only Beinarian living among Earth humans.
American Poverty: Why America’s Treatment of the Poor Undermines its Authority as a World Power
Series: American Stories. Price: Free! Words: 17,590. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Political science, Nonfiction » Social Science » Poverty & Homelessness
In this thought-provoking historical and economic analysis, Laurel A. Rockefeller takes on poverty culture head-on, exploring what it means to poor in the United States while taking a look at how America's closest and much more economically successful allies (Canada, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom) take care of their poor. Topics include complacency, poverty shaming, and rape culture.
The Poisoned Ground
Series: The Peers of Beinan, 5. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 12,170. Language: English. Published: July 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
CORPORATE GREED. CORRUPTION. PLAGUE. All was well for the southern city of Nanli -- until a mysterious plague filled the city with fear and agony. Duty bound to discover the cause, Lady Abbess Cara races against time to find a cure only to be caught up in a dangerous conspiracy that may claim her life and the lives of billions for generations to come.
A New Start in the Niobrara for Mr. and Mrs. O'Malley
Series: American Stories, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 710. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Historical / United States / 19th Century, Fiction » Children’s books » Short Stories
(4.00)
Darcy and Brigit O'Malley always wanted a new start for themselves. Hearing that things in the Niobrara Valley of northeast Nebraska offered them opportunities denied them in County Mayo, they eagerly board the train bound for the new town of Randolph Nebraska with hopes and dreams in their hearts.
Good-bye A672E92 Quintus
Series: The Peers of Beinan, 4. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,780. Language: American English. Published: July 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Romance » Paranormal
What would you do if you knew your world was about to end? With war tearing society apart and preventing evacuation, two delegates assigned to the peace talks find romance tinged with the supernatural in a relationship that will make them the stuff of legends as they strive to say good-bye to A672E92 Quintus and set out in search of their new home: planet Beinan.
Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni
Series: The Legendary Women of World History, 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 8,760. Language: American English. Published: June 26, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Biography & Autobiography / Women, Nonfiction » History » European
(4.00)
Why is The Morrígan's raven crying? Only Britons with hearts for true liberty know! In 43 CE Roman conquest of Britannia seems all but certain -- until a chance meeting between King Prasutagus of the Iceni and a runaway slave of royal decent from the Aedui tribe in Gaul changes the fate of the British islands forever. Tacitus meets modern archaeology in this exciting non-fiction tale!
Catherine de Valois: French Princess, Tudor Matriarch
Series: The Legendary Women of World History, 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 11,120. Language: American English. Published: June 26, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Biography & Autobiography / Women, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
(4.67)
Best known as Henry V's Agincourt bride from Shakespeare's "Henry V," Catherine was an extraordinary woman. A younger daughter to King Charles VI of France terrorized by his mental illness, Catherine survived the ravages of his schizophrenia, a civil war at home, and King Henry's war with France to become one of England's most fascinating and courageous queens.
The Lost Tales
Series: Peers of Beinan Series: Collections, 3. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 49,500. Language: American English. Published: May 30, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Anthologies » General
Deleted and forgotten stories, songs, and tales from the Legacy of Princess Anlei Trilogy: The Great Succession Crisis, The Ghosts of the Past, and Princess Anyu Returns. Presented uncut and unedited in their original forms, these stories not only entertain, but offer a unique window into the world building process.
The Great Succession Crisis
Series: The Peers of Beinan, 1. Price: Free! Words: 54,510. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
The last eligible heir to the Gurun dynasty has a terrible choice to make: follow her heart & marry the knight who has always loved her or marry a cruel and power-hungry political rival in hopes of securing the future for her family. Young and innocent, what is a princess to do? The fate of planet Beinan hangs in the balance as the great succession crisis threatens all Princess Anlei holds dear.
The Complete Data Files
Series: Peers of Beinan Series: Collections, 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,690. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The data files from Ghosts of the Past and Princess Anyu Returns and its three prequels is collected into a single, easy-to-use reference volume. Fully integrated glossary puts information at your fingertips. Expanded timeline includes all of known Beinarian history. A must-have guide to the Peers of Beinan Series.
The Ghosts of the Past
Series: The Peers of Beinan, 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 82,550. Language: English. Published: March 16, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
Terror fills the air on planet Beinan as unseen serial murderers bomb healing centres planet wide and assassinate the mighty and the humble for reasons known only unto themselves. Caught up in the conspiracy is Lord Knight Elendir, the son of two murdered healers whose grief overwhelms him. Will he solve the mystery and stop the killers before everyone he loves dies?