Monday, September 23, 2013
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Laura Thalassa
In my last review (posted on Books Make Me Happy), you may have noticed that I gave high praise to the new take on YA paranormal romance in the novel The Unearthly.
Now you, reader (and I!) get an exclusive look inside the history that went behind the book & learn much more about future projects by author Laura Thalassa.
1. It says on your website that you enjoyed fantastical tales since you were young. Do you remember when you became interested in the "otherworldly" types of stories?
I actually do! I was around seven years old and my parents had just separated. My father moved into this apartment that had no kid-friendly toys, so I remember rummaging through my closet and only managing to find a tiny Dracula figurine—the kind you’d get in a Happy Meal around Halloween. I remember lying on my bed with that figurine and coming up with some elaborate haunted house story—complete with a vampire, a damsel in distress, and a bunch of kids who were trying to rescue her from the evil blood-sucker. My fascination with supernatural beings never really went away after that. And yeah, I was a twisted little kid.
2. What authors did you enjoy when you were young? What authors do you love today?
I think the first author that made me love books was R.L. Stine. I’d pillage the local used bookstore for Fear Street novels, and I went through about four to five a week. Up until those books, I never really saw the appeal of novels—my previous exposure had been limited to the classics and Pulitzer Prize winning novels. To a kid that stuff is Valium.
As I got older I loved almost anything by Anne Rice, Meg Cabot, and Katie MacAlister. Today, I’m all over the place. If I had to pick, I’d say my new favorite author is Laini Taylor; if you haven’t read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I’d highly suggest reading it. So good.
3. How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a writer and why did you decide that?
You know, I always knew I wanted to be a storyteller, but I’m not sure when I decided I wanted to be a writer. While I was in junior high, I remember spending a vacation in Hawaii holed up in a hotel room with my best friend. We both had forsaken the beach to write the next great American novel. So probably by my teenage years I knew I wanted to write.
4. Your boyfriend, Dan Rix, is also an author. Does that make being with him more difficult (as in you see each other as competition) or do you help each other out as writers?
You know, despite us both being a bit competitive by nature, that’s never been an issue. We’re also essentially married in all but the legal sense, so any success is a benefit to the both of us. In addition, success in the publishing world is largely random. I’ve seen awful books do fantastically well, and awesome books do dismally. So to us, success is judged more in terms of visibility, and that’s something that is hard to take too personally. And we do help each other out as writers! We have lots of annoying conversations about plot arcs and character development, which probably makes us unbearable to be around. He’s also my editor and one of the only people I trust to give me good, honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t.
5. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
I’d probably be finagling my way into writing something else. I happen to love archaeology, and during college I thought that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. However, I don’t think I could wing life as an academic. When I’m not writing, I work as an editor for American Editing Services and help other writers tighten up their stories.
6. In The Unearthly, you take nearly every mythical creature and breathe new life into them. Why did you decide to use a smorgasbord instead of sticking with one or two supernatural creatures?
Oh, I love this question! I’m sort of a geek when it comes to supernatural beings. You already saw that I was a twisted little kid. For years I’ve loved mummies, vampires, ghosts, mermaids, fairies, witches, and all the mythological beings in between. I always thought that if I was going to write a book, I’d want to cover it all.
7. Your heroine, Gabrielle Fiori, is a mixture of a siren, a soulmate and a vampire. How did you decide on that combination?
Ha ha, I know, it’s a mouthful. I think after the Twilight craze I was a bit over your cliché vampire romance, but the idea was already there and just begging to be written down. When I was coming up with Gabrielle’s backstory and series’ plot arc, the combination just sort of fell into place.
8. Do you, personally, believe in any of the creatures you are writing about?
There are definitely some creatures I believe in, but none that I mentioned in this particular book. As for humans with particular abilities, like Leanne, I fully believe that exists. But vampires and sirens and fairies and doppelgangers—I wish they were real, and I’d love someone to prove me wrong!
9. The Unearthly is your debut novel, the first in a series. How many books do you think there might be about Gabrielle, Andre and the rest?
This is tough one! I have the next book and the final book figured out, but I’m not sure how many I’ll insert in between. I’m running with where the story takes me. To give you a hard number, probably five or more.
10. The book is very emotional, as well as thrilling and inventive. Did it turn out as you were expecting it would when you first sat down to pen it?
Ha ha, no way—it turned out much better! Then again, since this was my first attempt at writing a book, I had pretty low expectations. But the idea, before it was put to paper, didn’t have all the gritty angles that real life has. To me that was the fun part—breathing life into these characters so that they became real in the reader’s mind.
11. Your next book will be The Vanishing Girl. Can you give the reader any insights to the plot of that novel and when they can expect it to be released?
Oh, I’ve been so bad about updating my readers on this book. First, it should be out by the end of this year. Second, the book is about a group of teenagers who’ve been genetically modified to teleport. The catch is that they can only do so for the first ten minutes after they fall asleep, and they have no control over where they go, who they’re with, and what they’re wearing. Shortly after the beginning of the book, the main character, Ember Pierce, is sent to a government facility where teens just like her are being trained to use their powers for a seemingly altruistic purpose—national security. But the more Ember learns about the program that recruited her, the more nefarious it appears. She’s eventually faced with an ultimatum: stay and continue to participate against her will, or turn against the government that created her and risk her life in the process. If the choice wasn’t already hard enough, Caden Hawthorne, the guy she’s been paired to train with, makes it even harder. Because she might be in love with him, and he’s firmly in the government’s pocket.
12. Will we see more of Cecilia, Oliver and the other supporting characters in The Coveted?
Yes you will! … But I can’t tell you who. I know, I’m an evil wench of an author.
13. You wrote a short story titled The Lemniscate in the collection Summer's Double Edge under the nom de plume Laura Carlson. What is the story about and why did you use a fictitious name?
The Lemniscate is a short story about a 500-year-old man who’s about to die, and the woman who must inherit his strange ability—collecting knowledge. She just happens to be his very young wife. This is actually the backstory to another novel in the works, but that’s all I can really say about it at this moment. And it’s time I confessed—my nom de plume is actually Laura Thalassa and my real name is Laura Carlson. The choice to go by Laura Carlson rather than Laura Thalassa in Summer’s Double Edge actually had more to do with not giving my overworked editor a headache, since he already knew me as Laura Carlson. I chose a pen name to write under in the first place so that readers could easily find me. I believe there’s already an actress and a professor that share my birth name, and I was not too interested in competing online with them for visibility. Lastly, “thalassa” is the Greek word for "sea", and I chose that name in particular because of my love for archaeology. I spent two summers in Greece excavating, and I fell in love with Pre-classical Greece. The Greeks as we all know them were originally invaders, and they forcefully invaded Greece, wiping out a lot of the prior people and culture. One of the few things that remained of that previous culture was the word for sea. So I chose it. It’s also the name of a bar in Berkeley that I used to go to a lot in college…so now you know that I’m a nerd and a drinker.
14. Where do you see yourself and your career in ten years?
Truthfully? I have no idea. I’m definitely planning on writing a whole lot more books, but as for a side job…that’s what’s unknown. Just in the last few years I went from setting myself up to be an archaeologist, to attending law school (then dropping out when I found out I didn’t want to be BFFs with stress), to starting an editing company. So I’ll go wherever the wind takes me.
15. Thanks again for doing the interview! Can you please leave the reader with three things that might surprise them about you?
D’aww, thank you for taking the time to interview me and asking some seriously awesome questions! Okay three things…
1. I almost threw away the manuscript for The Unearthly after I wrote it. I thought it was garbage.
2. I have a sick fascination with mummies. And freaky diseases. I Google them all the time, much to my boyfriend’s disgust. Wimp.
3. I once participated in an emergency caesarean section—I got to hold the patient’s stomach open. I swear I’m not lying. I was sixteen, interning for a doctor, and as we were both leaving for the night she got paged to deliver a baby. She asked me if I wanted to watch—like I was going to say no. Only once I was in the operating room, the nurses assisting encouraged me to hold open the patient’s stomach. That was about the time I decided I no longer wanted to be a doctor…
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