Hi Everyone! Yesterday was a big day for my friend and fellow writer, Laura Zimmerman, as her debut novel, Keen, released YESTERDAY! It is my pleasure to interview Laura for this event.
Q: Keen is your debut novel. How long did it take you to get to this big moment?
Laura: Well, I began writing the rough draft of KEEN in July of 2017, but my journey to publication began much earlier. I’ve always loved to write and have spent years crafting my stories. (I’ve got bits and pieces of stories from when I was in elementary school and even a novel I started while in high school!)
It wasn’t until 2013 that my husband tired of watching me write novels, only to see them sit on my laptop. He gave me an ultimatum to try to get published or he would take one of my (very rough) manuscripts and would publish it on Amazon. *hides face*
I attended my first writers conference in April 2014. When I pitched my novel, the editor was real with me. The manuscript I had wasn’t ready. But she encouraged me to continue to attend conferences and to work on my craft. She said statistically the average time it takes for an author to get published is 5 years. Sometimes it takes less time, sometimes it takes longer. But for me, her words were right on!
Q: Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?
Laura: Actually, I wanted to be a visual artist when i was little. At age 11 I got bitten by the acting bug and was headed to Broadway. But in my senior year in high school I decided a degree in music would gave me more opportunities. I went on to graduate with a BMUS. All that time I wrote stories but only considered it a “hobby”. Until my husband suggested I get published, I honestly didn’t think it was something I could do. I haven’t always wanted to be a writer, but I’ve always been writing.
Q: What made you choose to write Fantasy Fiction?
Laura: Ha! I think my brain gave me very little choice in that. I’ve always been drawn to fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal stories. As a child I ate up Christopher Pike and Goosebump books like they were candy, and Star Wars has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried to write straight fiction, but somehow fantasy always bleeds through into my story! (I guess my head is in the clouds!)
Q: Where did you get the idea for a banshee character?
Laura: I was actually in the middle of writing another series and had no intention of starting a new one. But my teenage daughter asked me to watch the CW show Teen Wolf (that was on Netflix) with her. At first I humored her, but wasn’t really interested. However, like many shows, by the time I got a couple seasons in, I was really hooked! They featured a teenage girl banshee on the show and spent quite a bit of time building up to reveal exactly “what” she was. I was intrigued by the idea of a teenage banshee. I’d never read or seen anything else with that type of character. I began thinking on what it would be like for a teenage girl in high school to have to deal with the curse of being a banshee. Eventually I couldn’t stop thinking about it and had to begin writing. Once I did, I just never stopped.
Q: What is your favorite fantasy or mythological creature?
Laura: Mermaids! *swoon* I love anything mermaids and secretly want to turn into one. (The beautiful kind that don’t kill men, though. *wink*) I even bought my daughters mermaid tails to swim in when they were little. Of course, that’s easier said than done, so they really just wore them in the tub! Haha.
Q: What does your writing process look like?
Laura: I used to be solely a plotter, than changed over to writing by the seat of my pants. Now I’ve balanced out. I plot as much of the book/characters as I can by mapping out plot points and creating character arcs. But I leave it there and allow my creative juices to direct the story as I write. It’s hard to know the characters’ personalities early on, so sometimes writing the book helps bring their true personality out as I go. Which means some tweaking in rewrites but that’s what rewrites are for, right? Overall I feel like my stories flow much better and I’m less frustrated than writing strictly by plotting or writing by the seat of my pants. I like this balance and hope it continues to work for me!
Q: Is Keen a stand alone novel?
Laura: When I started writing it, it was. But since I like allowing my creative juices to flow while writing, it ended completely differently than I expected. In the final climax scene I planted a solid Easter Egg to allow for further books, although I did also tie up loose ends so it could be a stand alone just in case the publisher wasn’t interested in continuing the story. I had a good idea of where I wanted to go with books 2 and 3 by the time I pitched the novel to the editor but let them decide if there would be room for more books.
Q: What Fantasy authors have you read that have inspired you?
Laura: Wow. There are a ton of inspirational authors that have influenced me. JK Rowling is the obvious, along with some other big names like Ingrid Law and Jennifer A. Nielsen. But I think the ones that have influenced me the most are the authors I’ve met at conferences or through social media. My fellow authors in the #bookstagram community and those I’ve connected with through Realm Makers have influenced me more because I get to see their authenticity in their life and their writing. I’m so thankful for all the connections I’ve made with fellow writers and the way they’ve encouraged me in my writing journey. I wouldn’t be here today without the writing community!
Q: What makes writing for a young adult audience appeal to you?
Laura: I’ve always been drawn to reading YA and just never stopped reading it as I got older. I think it’s easiest to write what I know, so it feels natural that I gravitate toward writing YA. It helps that I’ve got two teenagers in the house to pull inspiration from as well!
Q: Have you begun working on another book?
Laura: Yep! I’m about to finish LAMENT, book 2 in the “Banshee Song Series”! *throws confetti* I’m not sure when that one will be released, but I hope you’ll enjoy that one just as much as KEEN!
Q: Where can readers purchase Keen?
Laura: The easiest way is to visit the L2L2 Publishing website. They have all the links where it can be purchased there. Both the paperback and the e-book version are currently available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as other distributors!
Q: What social media sites can Keen readers use to connect with you?
Laura: I’m active on Instagram @lauralzimmauthor, Twitter @lauralzimm, Facebook, and my website http://www.lauralzimmerman.com. I love connecting with fellow readers and writers!
Thanks for having me, Kelly! It was fun getting to talk about writing and KEEN!
You’re welcome Laura! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, and best wishes on your release of Keen!
Readers, If you like YA Fantasy stories, and want to read about a character unlike most Fantasy characters, pick up a copy of Keen today!