Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Laura Seltz -- Spring '07 Runner Up
We had a chance to chat with spring contest runner up, Laura Seltz. Read ahead for an energized interview!
WOW: Laura, kudos to you for placing as one of our Runners Up! How do you feel?
Laura: I’m thrilled, particularly to be on a list with such fine writers and in a publication I admire.
WOW: Thanks for your kind words! These compliments encourage us to push forward. Could you tell us what encouraged the idea behind “Marriage of the Living Dead”?
Laura: Fun was my first inspiration. I know that writing is a demanding, painstaking craft, but it also can be joyful. But the story has its message as it pokes fun at the way we can play dead in our relationships. We can become the ‘living dead’ so easily, especially if we stop paying attention to each other.
WOW: That’s an interesting take on relationships. It's so true, too. In your bio you mentioned that you’ve been teaching for seventeen years. Does teaching play a role in your creative thinking?
Laura: Of course! Young people are among the most authentic writers I know because their writing comes directly from their experiences. My job as a teacher is to see the possibilities in each piece of writing, so the writer can learn to craft words in a way that will reach an audience. I find that inspiring.
WOW: I’d bet you’ve inspired many of your students to excel. Have you found inspiration from other books or authors you could recommend?
Laura: Can I have ten pages to answer this one? I love the classics, but recently my joy has come from writers who can delight me. Elizabeth Peters, Carl Hiaasen, Christopher Moore, and Douglass Adams are among my favorites.
Hiaasen in particular has a way of cutting to issues he’s passionate about with style and humor. You hardly know that you’ve been reading political satire until you find yourself joining the Sierra Club a few days after reading one of his books.
WOW: Delight is definitely important, and I’m glad you pointed that out. Do you have specific and delightful long-term goals for your writing career?
Laura: Like most writers, to make a living being published regularly as a respected professional. If I merely get the chance to delight a few people, that’s enough, too.
WOW: We also learned in your bio that you’re currently working on the second novel in Maggie Cohen: Vampire Police series. Could you tell us a little about the book and/or about the first one in the series?
Laura: Thanks for the question. I’ll shamelessly plug my novel.
The cynical, wry Maggie brings me joy. She’s not exactly enthusiastic about being a vampire. She became a vampire the usual way, on a blind date with a guy with very bad breath who turned very weird, and she hates drinking blood. But she has good values. Her motto is: “Do the next right thing.” So she does.
In the first book, Maggie, like many women, has to stop hiding from her own power. A crime-spree hits her community when her friend’s manuscript is stolen. (It’s a manuscript for a vampire novel. Do you sense a theme here?) Then blood goes missing from the vampire-infested ER at the local hospital, and a truck carrying papaya flavored blood is hijacked from Boris’s Blood Factory (subsidiary of Eternal Rest Mortuary Services). Oh, and Maggie’s friend Michelle sets her up on a blind date. Maggie considers this the worst crime of all.
Of course, romance develops with that blind date and also with a handsome human detective. In the end, she has to stop a psychic killer from destroying her community. I give the poor vamp a lot to contend with, but she’s tough.
I found great joy in creating Maggie’s world, with its tabby cat vampire king, Piper (modeled after my sister’s imperious cat), vampire dogs, and a vampire sage who holds court at the Quick Mart. It’s a world turned on its end, for here the vampires are generally the good guys, while the humans struggle with morality.
The second novel will take Maggie to Las Vegas, if she doesn’t get killed first. (I have to see what Rowling does to Harry Potter. I love J.K. Rowling, but if she kills off Harry, I might have to stop writing in protest. Maybe I’ll stage a ‘write-in’ instead. Anyone want to join?)
WOW: Your novel’s world sounds intriguing. Please send us an announcement went it comes out. Since you’re writing about the living dead, where do you find inspiration for your subjects and characters?
Laura: I see the living dead walking about me all the time; sometimes I probably fall into the role quite nicely myself. It’s just habit. When we stop finding joy in our existence, in each other, and in our world, I think we become lifeless.
But living can also be delightfully ridiculous. I know I do something completely silly at least once a day. It’s my humanity break.
WOW: “Humanity break”…now, that sounds refreshing and re-motivating. Could you end on some motivating words to our audience of writers?
Laura: Find delight in life. That means finding joy in your own peculiar, powerful, sometimes ridiculous being. Find joy in others. Dare to have fun writing. I think we become authentic when we stop taking ourselves so seriously. Then the important messages can come through.
We get all sorts of advice about our craft: it’s hard work, we must revise constantly, we should expect a project to be more challenging than we envision, we’ve got to write every day, etc. It’s great advice, and as a professional, I follow it.
But I want to add that even the most grueling tasks can be joyful if we approach them with a wink and a smile.
WOW: You have an attitude everyone should aspire to duplicate. What a great take on life and views. Thanks for sharing a little of yourself with us. Good luck with your writing!