INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF "STAY TUNED", LAUREN CLARK
Hello Lauren, thank you so much for allowing us to interview you. It says in your bio that you have been reading since the age of four. Can you remember any of the first books you ever read and how they may have inspired you?
Gosh! My parents read me a lot of Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, and Sesame Street. I moved on to Nancy Drew and I was hooked! I think I read every book in the series, dreamed about being Nancy Drew and dating the Hardy Boys!! Because my parents turned off the television all summer, every summer, I am a serious library geek! I love books and couldn't live without them.
You have worked as a news anchor, reporter, and producer for CBS affiliates. Can you tell us more about what you did there and how exciting some of those jobs were?
I began as a part-time medical reporter and I was lucky enough to be moved to full-time when another reporter left the station. Soon after, I was tapped to fill in as weekend anchor. I loved the fast pace, the deadlines, the urgency of getting the news on the air. I covered all sorts of stories, from home fires, to elections, to kidnapping and abuse cases, which broke my heart. During my 6 years on the desk, I was able to meet a lot of interesting people, including Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro and the infamous Eliot Spitzer (Client Number 9), back when he was New York State's attorney general. When I moved to the Deep South, I worked as the morning anchor, which required getting up every day at 1:15 am!!!
What was your inspiration for becoming a writer and what is your writing process, what gets you in the mood?
I've always loved stories and the magical way they transport you to another time or place. There's something special about getting lost in a novel, and I hope to create that feeling for my readers. I jot down ideas all of the time, whether I'm at a coffee shop, traveling, or listening to a friend tell a story -- there are ideas everywhere!! For my actual writing process, I'm a morning person who loves a few hours of quiet, so I often steal away to the local university library for some peace. I bring along a cup of coffee for inspiration!
Tell us more about your book "Stay Tuned" and what are you working on next?
The novel is called Dancing Naked in Dixie. It's women's fiction/chick lit set in the Deep South. The novel takes place where the movie Sweet Home Alabamawith Reese Witherspoon was filmed. Dixie is scheduled for release in May 2012.
Here's the summary:
Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe, South America, and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But this perpetual motion—and her own scattered personality—catches up with her. When she stops in New York to pick up her next assignment, Julia discovers she's on the verge of being fired.
With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, Julia is offered one last chance to rescue her career. She embarks on a journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage. During this spring tour of historic homes, visitors flock to the city and enjoy turn of the century architecture, delightful meals, and Southern hospitality.
Despite a series of mishaps, a trip to the ER, and one major wardrobe disaster, Julia soon realizes she's fallen in love with Eufaula and her charming host, Shug Jordan. But when a real estate developer announces plans to turn the city into a tourist spot, Julia's thrown off-balance once again. How could this happen? Is there a connection between Shug and the developer? And can Julia's story help save Eufaula and the annual Pilgrimage?
You do a lot of charity work and seem to be a very dedicated person. Tell us about some of the charities you work with.
I've worked for the American Heart Association (my grandfather died from heart disease) and as a spokesperson for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (a friend's niece has CF). Right now, my big passion is volunteering for "Food for Thought" which is a garden-growing initiative on elementary school campuses. We provide the dirt, seeds, and wood for the beds, the children help plant, water the garden, and harvest the fruits of their labor. It's really fun (and dirty) and the hope is that these kids will develop a love of whole foods and healthy eating!
When you have time to read what is your favorite genres and who are some of the authors that have inspired you?
I love, love Sophie Kinsella and have devoured everything she's written! I also adore Emily Giffin, James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, and Jennifer Weiner. I've recently fallen in love with Juliette Sobanet who wrote Kissed in Paris and Sleeping with Paris.
Do you ever allow your family to read and critique your work?
My mom and my husband get sneak peeks, but usually after the first draft is finished! I have a few awesome go-to girlfriends who I trust with my life (and my manuscripts). They are the ones who will point out what works and what doesn't!
If you had to make a choice between writing full time or going back into some of the other professions you did before, which would you choose and why?
I love my writing life! If I had to go back, it would be to TV news. With young children, it's tough! The demands of broadcast journalism are many -- including working crazy hours ( 2 am - 10 am), every major holiday, and being put in some dicey situations! (House fires, crime scenes, etc)
I love the fact that your characters have flaws, there are far too many writers out there that paint their characters as being perfect. What is your take on that?
I love a heroine who is a real person, with real flaws. For me, reading about a model-skinny girl with a perfect life is just plain boring! I like to read about women who meet challenges head on, take a few knocks, then get back up again! I'm not much for helpless heroines either (though it's okay for prince charming to be waiting in the wings with a latte and a dozen roses).
Do you have any advice you'd like to share with other aspiring authors? Please give us your links as well, so we can learn more about you and your works.
My advice is to read (a lot) and write (a lot). Read in different genres, as well, not just your favorite. Check out some how-to books from the library. I recommend Stephen King's On Writing and Donald Maas' Writing the Breakout Novel. Larry Brooks also writes a super blog on plotting a novel.
When it comes to starting and finishing your own novel, there's no substitute for putting your derriere in a chair! It sounds goofy, but only after I'd written my fourth or fifth manuscript did I feel like I'd found my true voice and characters. That's about 500,000 words!! I'm always learning from other authors and I love to take courses -- right now I'm enrolled in one of Margie Lawson's webinars.
Where to find Stay Tuned:
Amazon:Paperback and Kindle
Thank you so very much for having me! Such a pleasure to be here! If anyone has any extra questions, please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get back to you as soon as I can! xx, Lauren
Thank you again Lauren for this wonderful opportunity, I do hope we can do this again in the future!