My writer’s group is full of amazing people full of clever words and heart-wrenching plots. Today, I want to share my interview with fellow Columbus young adult writer (contemporary, not historical), Laura M. Bendoly.
What should readers know about your writing style?
I’d say my work is character driven. I begin most stories from the point of view character and start to imagine how she would observe the world. What her vocabulary is like, who she’s interested in, who she is nervous around, what she eats, when she goes to sleep, how she prepares breakfast. Once there, the style evolves to suit that character. Sometimes it’s slap-dash informal, all unfinished sentences and a lot of slang. Other characters urge me to write much more formally, and I always put humor in the voice of a secondary character.
There is usually a mystery to solve, either as primary plot or secondary, and also some degree of magic. I use magicians, alchemists, dragons, healers, mermaids, angels, prophets, and saints as vehicles of extraordinary action. These aren’t typically the primary event in the story, because the climax needs to be human in scope and reasonable in its resolution. But there’s a fair degree of the supernatural in a secondary character who helps out.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Huh — when I find the book that stole my plot/character/awesome ending. Hate that. Of course it happens to every writer. But whey does it have to happen to me?
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Reader’s block, never. Writer’s block, all the time. I don’t stop writing, I just tend to get blocked in that I write in circles. I sometimes repeat the same scene again and again and don’t realize it.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Find a secondary art form you love as much as writing. That keyboard will make you a crazy person who no one wants to be around. (I found photography!!)
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I have researched Russian art, folklore and mythology, Scottish/English and Irish fairy tales, I’ve gone to grave sites and holy stones, I’ve traveled to many libraries and bought a lot of expensive books, I’ve read a lot in French. I researched Laerka at least four years before it went to press. It will be more like five years’ research with my WIP. It’s not for everyone but I really want to know my subject.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I base them on the culture I’m writing about (Russian, Irish, French, etc), I try to make the name sound like something that character does. For example, my current work has the protagonist Irene. She is quite like a nature goddess, or nature queen. Queen in French is “reine.” Sounds like the ending of “Irene.” Aslo, Irene sounds like “serene,” which my character is. See how it goes?
What is your favorite childhood book?
I loved and still adore The Little Prince. One of the best fairy tales for all ages. Breaks my heart every time I read it. Also The Giving Tree. Tears are starting to come right now.
How long does it take you to write a book?
A first draft can be as fast as four months, but the whole finished, edited version, at least two years. I rewrite most pages three times.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe in writer’s boredom. Everyone gets bored in their own head. You need fresh ideas and clean space. It’s good to vary your writing location.
Tell us about your latest release!
Laerka is Southern Gothic tale of rescue involving a group of teenagers and a Russian crime ring that sells girls to night clubs in Savannah, Georgia. One particular victim, Laerka, is a Danish girl who transforms into a mermaid when in water.
The Russian crime boss who masterminds the trafficking changes into a “Vodyanoy” dragon when he hunts girls for the illegal skin trade. Savannah native sixteen-year-old Stella Delaney finds Vodyanoy’s first victim floating face down in the marsh.
Can she save Learka from this fate? Is she in danger, herself? Could Laerka be a crook herself? She and the traffickers share the same prison tattoo so who in this forbidding landscape can be trusted?
Thank you, Laura, for sharing your answers with us! I’ll be sharing my answers to these questions next month!