DRose: Hi Laurie. I’m so glad you could join us today. Let’s start by telling our readers a little about you. Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Laurie: I grew up in Tucson, where my dad worked for the local TV station (ABC, which still leaves me feeling vaguely guilty when I enjoy shows on NBC) and my mom was a former first-grade teacher. Being a teacher seemed to me like the greatest job in the world until I was 15, at which point I decided writing was even better and decided to become an advertising copywriter...which came in handy when I needed to write synopses for my books.
But now I'm back to teaching again, although it's for writers rather than first-graders, and absolutely loving it!
DRose: Tell us about your work. What or who inspired you to write it?
Laurie: My latest is a nonfiction about the nine personality types, designed for writers. When I learned about enneagrams from my mother, a counselor, I was bowled over by how HANDY that system is for creating likable and plausible people with realistic fatal (or not so fatal) flaws.
There's so much more information than I can fit into a monthly class that I decided to put it in a book...and (along with Amazon) it'll be available at Desert Dreams, which is handy for anyone who wants an autographed copy.
DRose: How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?
Laurie: I attended my first Desert Dreams conference in 1990, joined RWA in 1991 and pitched my first "good" manuscript at the 1993 conference. At the 1994 Desert Dreams I learned it was going to sell, and it came out in time for the 1995 conference.
But what amazed me is that, having been an advertising copywriter all my working life, I figured it'd be a piece of cake to master romance writing since, heck, "writing is writing." Turns out that wasn't the case...there was so much to learn!
DRose: RWA certainly has plenty of resources to learn from. Was there anyone, in particular, who influenced you or your work?
Laurie: When I was ready to give up on writing near the end of my three-year Second Book Syndrome, I read "Frisco's Kid" by Suzanne Brockmann and it left me in tears...SUCH a great book. I remember finishing it at 3am and deciding "I want to write books that'll make people feel this way," so I got back to work on my next -- and that was the one RT listed in its "Best 200 Books of the Past 20 Years."
DRose: Wow, that’s wonderful. Aside from Suzanne’s work, do you have a favorite book or series?
Laurie: Of my own? I'd have to pick the one that got me through Second Book Syndrome, where the plot came in a single flash that just felt RIGHT.
Of anyone else's? For series, the one I re-read every five or eight years is (of all people) Robert B. Parker's books featuring Spenser -- probably because my dad loves them as well and it's fun recalling the detective's best adventures together.
DRose: Now the writer in me needs to know…Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?
Laurie: I'm a diehard plotter, and I'm always amazed at people who can do it any other way. Their method works every bit as well; it's just something I can't imagine doing myself! I have every scene in the book summarized in 10-15 words before I ever start Chapter One...but there are all KINDS of other ways to get equally good results.
DRose: Do you write to music or the TV?
Laurie: Neither, although if they're playing in the background I don't mind 'em. I started writing while my son played in the ball-yard at the nearby Burger King, so ignoring distractions came with the territory. It'd probably be harder if I were beginning now, when he's gone off to college and the house is quiet on weekends...I'd be expecting constant tranquility.
DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?
Laurie: Gosh, I wish I DID have some eccentricity because it'd sound so cool. Maybe I could make up something about how I have to have my lucky stone at just the right angle, or the perfect music playing, or...hmm, better yet, a whole vat of fudge. Yeah, let's say that!
DRose: People tend to see writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?
Laurie: Only on weekends. I have a list of what scenes need to be written each weekend, and I stay at the keyboard until they're done. But to make such discipline easier, I build in time for a fun event every weekend -- and a few with no work at all.
DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?
Laurie: A horrendous mess. At least the one at home is a mess; the one at my office is pretty tidy. But again, it's a matter of shutting out the distractions -- I don't really NOTICE the piles of folders and magazines and birthday cards and library books until I'm finished working, and at that point I don't feel like tackling the mess.
DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?
Laurie: Broadway musicals. Working out at Curves. Traveling new places to give workshops. Narrating books (my own and other writers') for the blind at Talking Books -- it's a weekly Date Night with my husband, because he directs the recording and afterwards we go out for dinner.
And, as goofy as this sounds for someone who hates math, I've gotten so I can't fall asleep at night without doing three Sudokus!
DRose: What do you consider your guilty pleasure?
Laurie: Reading young adult novels. I could justify it if I planned to write some, calling it "market research," but actually I just enjoy reading them. And now, I'm wondering why I think of THAT as a guilty pleasure when right here on my virtual desk is this vat of chocolate fudge...
DRose: I’ve heard many wonderful things about your classes. What can you tell us about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?
Laurie: It’s called "The Alpha Male, From Abe to Zeus" and shows why those heroes are so appealing, and how to create them without falling into stereotypes.
· What MAKES an alpha male? (Hint: it's more than just power.)
· What challenges does he face? (The answers are surprising.)
· Who's his ideal heroine? (Here's where the fun begins!)
Meanwhile, a question for everybody reading this blog, with a prize drawing for whoever answers:
How can you tell when someone is an alpha male?
Do you have any in your life?
What are they like?
I'll check back Saturday and toss all the names in a hat -- okay, not literally, because my son showed me this cool Random Number Generator -- and then post whoever won.
Ooh, something to think about and a prize!
Thank you again, Laurie. I very much enjoyed talking with you.
For more on Laurie Schnebly Campbell or her workshops, visit her at her website http://booklaurie.com/