We chat with Laura about her forthcoming novel, Witches' Quarters, which was recently acquired by Clear Fork Publishing, how her family inspires her writing, balancing life and writing, her reading habits, and how working as a lawyer complements her work as an author.
Find out more about Laura by visiting her website: https://laurasniderstories.com/
Connect with her on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/LauraSniderAuthor/
--- Interview by Nicole Pyles
WOW: First of all congratulations on your forthcoming debut novel, Witches’ Quarters! You mentioned on your website that this book is inspired by your close knit family. How does your family help your writing? Do they provide feedback on drafts?
Laura: Great question! My family is extremely supportive, but that can be a drawback when it comes to feedback because it makes them hesitant to criticize, which is necessary for the wring process.
However, I do draw inspiration from them based on our past experiences. For example, the opening scene of Witches’ Quarters involves four siblings arguing over a bag of quarters. One character (the youngest) removes a quarter from the bag and says she can’t pull out more than one. Disbelieving her, an older sibling snatches the bag and tries herself. When she too cannot extract a quarter, the next sibling tries, followed by the next child, all with the same result.
The situation and banter of the opening scene is based on something that happened with my sisters when I was young. My twin sister and I were the youngest of four, and we used to open pop cans by barely cracking the seal and sucking the pop out (we were strange kids). Well, one year our dad put leftover ice from an ice cream maker into the cooler. Naturally, the pop froze, so when I barely cracked the seal, it started spraying everywhere. My dad, to save his car’s upholstery, told me to throw it back into the cooler – which I did.
The next day, when we left Six Flags, I happened to select that same pop from the same cooler. This time I popped the top a little more and tried drinking. It tasted like salt water, which I promptly announced to the rest of my family. Disbelieving me, my twin sister had to try it too, which she did, with much the same reaction. My older two sisters did the same, as did my dad, who all said it tasted like salt water. Ultimately, my stepmother was the smart one, because she popped the top open and poured it out. It was straight salt water. All the pop had seeped out into the cooler, and the salt water replaced it.
Now that’s a long story to illustrate a small point in the book, but the relationship between the four children is largely based on the relationship I had growing up with three sisters. We fought and argued about almost everything, but when push came to shove we were always on one another’s side.
WOW: I love you used a real moment that happened to start out your book. You mentioned you were reading like an obsessed psycho hermit five or six years ago! Very cool and I can completely relate! What books were you reading about this time? Did any inspire you or help you with your book?
Laura: I am usually reading three or so books at a time – two audio, and one physical. Right now, I’m reading John Green’s Paper Towns, and I’m listening to Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
I wouldn’t say these books inspired me in writing Witches’ Quarters because I finished that book far before I even considered reading these three books. That said, I’m sure they have had some form of influence on my later work. Everything I read influences my writing. I learn from each book. I find things I like about certain novels and also some dislikes. I learn that trying new things can be a great thing, and sometimes not so great of a thing. Every day I learn something new, and that’s one of the wonderful things about writing.
WOW: I can relate to how you use the books you are reading to influence your writing. How did you find time to balance your career as a lawyer, writing this book, and juggling your family life?
Laura: I think the answer to this question is like anything else. If you want to do it, you find the time. It also helps that my husband is extremely supportive. Without his everyday encouragement, I’m sure I couldn’t do it all. He is at my side at all times, picking up the slack when I’m too tired, and building me up when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication from me, but I’d never be able to do it without him.
WOW: How wonderful to get that kind of support and encouragement! How does your work as a lawyer impact your writing life? How does it inspire you?
Laura: I primarily practice in the areas of Criminal Defense and Family Law. I see all types of people in all types of situations. I think the most important aspect I draw from these interactions is the understanding that the world isn’t quite as straightforward as many people would like to make it seem.
Almost all criminal defendants are suffering from mental health or substance-related issues. They aren’t bad people. Many of them have made poor choices, but they are choices borne from a set of circumstances out of their control. I try (and I’m not sure if I’m successful) to add an element of this to each of my writing projects. Nobody is all bad or all good. We are all just people, making our way through life the best we can.
WOW: I really like how you are using your career to impact your writing. So, what are you working on next?
Laura: Stephanie Hansen [literary agent and owner of Metamorphosis Literary Agency] and I are currently working on the final edits of a legal thriller, based partially on my prior experience as a Public Defender. It’s quite different from Witches’ Quarters, a YA fantasy, but I enjoyed writing the new novel (which is in name limbo for the moment) for different reasons.
Public Defenders are some of the most hardworking and intelligent lawyers out there. They often get a bad rap from everyone, including their clients, who take them for granted and often call them “Public Pretenders.” I wanted to write something for them. I wanted to write something for those who are strong enough to fight day in and day out, often with little to no sleep and far too much stress. My next novel is my effort to achieve that goal.
WOW: I can’t wait to read this next book of yours! That sounds inspiring and will provide a close look into the lives of people most of us only judge from afar.
Thank you so much for your time today and we can’t wait to hear more from you when Witches’ Quarters is released and hits bookshelves everywhere.
About Witches' Quarters:
To Charlotte’s surprise, the Quarters are bewitched, and she and her siblings are transported to an alternate world called Tonganoxia, and the exact scene on the back of the commemorative quarter that June placed into the coin tree. There the four siblings come in contact with the natives, who are intelligent talking animals, and learn that the natives are at war with a group of Witches, who came from another realm, in much the same way as the children did.
Charlotte and her siblings must make a decision. Whose side are they on? The witches or the animals? That decision will change their lives and their relationships with one another forever.
Find out more about Witches' Quarters at Laura's website: https://laurasniderstories.com/published-work/witches-quarters-2/
-- About Nicole Pyles
Nicole is a writer, blogger, and bookworm living in Portland, Oregon. She loves writing stories about people in unusual circumstances and hopes one day WOW! Women on Writing will be interviewing her about a book she wrote.
Visit her blog, World of My Imagination, http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com, for book reviews, writing prompts, and anything else in between.