Laura Remson Mitchell is a former newspaper reporter/copy editor, free-lance writer, public policy analyst and disability rights advocate. Her nonfiction work has appeared in the Valley News, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Times, California Journal, Capitol Weekly and other publications. A graduate of U.S. Grant High School in Van Nuys, California, and of California State University at Northridge, she has lived with multiple sclerosis for many years. Her novel, The Reality Matrix Effect, incorporates elements of her experience both as a journalist and as a woman living with a disability.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Minneapolis, MN, but from the age of 8, I've lived in Los Angeles, CA, mostly in the San Fernando Valley. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and one of my dreams as a child was to write a science fiction novel. It took me a very long time, but I finally published The Reality Matrix Effect. I spent much of my professional life as a journalist (both as a reporter/copy editor at the Valley News in Van Nuys, CA, and then as a free-lance writer specializing in political and economic subjects). After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1978, I became a public policy analyst and disability-rights advocate specializing in health-care reform. I used my experience in all of these areas in crafting this novel.
When did you first start writing?
I think I started writing stories when I was in what is now called middle school, but I decided to pursue a career as a journalist when I was student at U.S. Grant High School in Van Nuys. A mix-up in my class schedule had landed me in a journalism class, and I was hooked. I was hooked even more after I was asked to write a weekly column about Grant High for the Valley News. (Long-time residents of the Valley may remember the paper as the Valley News and Green Sheet. It's now the Los Angeles Daily News.) I also wound up writing news releases about activities at Grant. I majored in journalism at California State University, Northridge, and wound up becoming the first woman to serve on the copy desk at the Valley News and the first woman approved for membership in the Los Angeles Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. I never forgot my dream of writing science fiction, though. The setting of the Prologue chapter of my book is based on the city room of the old offices of the Valley News.
Originally titled "Detours through the Twilight Zone," this collection of never-before-published short stories pays homage to the classic television series. Interspersed with the stories are the author's recollections of the circumstances surrounding and/or inspiring each tale. The final story, "Castles in the Air," was the basis for Mitchell's novel The Reality Matrix Effect.
When newspaper copy editor Al Frederick is called back to work after a popular congressman is shot and killed in 1971, he is unprepared for the suddenly changed headline that splits reality and sets his life—and the course of world history—on a new path. Fifty years later, all is well for Al's friend, high-school teacher Rayna Kingman—until Al dies, and things start to change....