Interview with Laura Ruth Loomis: Q1 2022 CNF Contest Runner Up

Sunday, March 20, 2022
Laura’s Bio:
Laura Ruth Loomis is the author of The Cosmic Turkey, a science fiction comedy about a teenager who accidentally becomes a spaceship captain. Laura also has a chapbook of linked short stories, Lost in Translation. Two of her flash fiction pieces, “Repetition Compulsion” and “Notes to Self: One Week Out,” were published in previous Women on Writing contests. Her essay, “Ghost House” first appeared in Prime Number magazine. More of her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry can be found at

By day, Laura is a social worker. When social work and pandemic-era living get too overwhelming, she writes humor and hangs out on Twitter, @LauraRuthless. She lives in Northern California with her wife and a ridiculous number of pets. 

If you haven't done so already, check out Laura's award-winning essay "Ghost House" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Q1 2022 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing your essay and how did it and your writing processes evolve as you wrote? 

Laura: This all happened after the economy crashed in 2008, and so many people lost their homes. I’d already started using the term “ghost houses” for the abandoned homes with weeds taking over their lawns. The sadness from them was almost contagious. 

And then the murders happened, just down the street from me. Even though I didn’t know the family well, it was jarring that someone could go from seemingly ordinary neighbor to killer. Writing about it was my way of trying to make sense of it. And the sense still eludes me. So many people walked away from the homes they lost – why couldn’t he? 

The framing as a “letter to the house’s next owner” came later. And in fact the house stood empty for a very long time. The ghosts in the essay may have been metaphorical, but they made their presence felt all the same. 

WOW: Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your writing and thought process. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Laura: A major piece of that era, at least for me, was not knowing where to point the finger as people lost their homes and businesses closed. There were multiple scandals about companies signing people up for mortgages they couldn’t afford, and selling the toxic mortgages before they defaulted. No one was ever held responsible. 

Of course, Jason was responsible for his own choices. But I had to wonder: what if different choices had been made in faraway boardrooms? The essay was my way of trying to work through that, the immediate tragedy and the larger context that made it possible. Trying to make it understandable to myself, and maybe to other people. 

WOW: This piece isn’t in the comedy/humor genre, but I see in your bio that you enjoy this type of writing, too. Please tell us more about comedy and humor writing. How did you start writing in this genre and do you have any tips? 

Laura: The three times that I’ve placed in WOW contests, it’s always been for grim topics. Maybe it’s because I’m a social worker? But a lot of my writing is humor, and not the grim or cynical kind. I go for light, silly stories, especially since the pandemic started. 

A few years ago, my “serious” writing felt stuck. I thought back to when writing was pure fun for me. In junior high and high school, I used to carry around a notebook and write the adventures of a teenage spaceship captain and her misfit crew aboard the S.S. Turkey. Decades later, I drew on those characters and sent them to save a planet where chocolate had been banned. That story became The Cosmic Turkey, my first published novel. I’m currently working on the sequel, The Star-Crossed Pelican. 

So my only tip is: make sure it’s fun for you. 

WOW: I love that advice. Thank you! Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Laura: My favorite essayist is Rebecca Solnit, best known for her essay “Men Explain Things to Me.” She took a common experience for women – having a man explain her own area of expertise to her – and she expressed it in a way that was both enlightening and emotionally satisfying. She writes about all kinds of topics, from climate change to the joys of walking, to the way streets get their names. Even when it’s a topic I’d never paid attention to before, she always makes it accessible and interesting. 

Since I’ve been talking about the financial crisis of the late 2000’s, I should also mention Chain of Title by David Dayen, and The Big Short by Michael Lewis. They both do a good job of explaining what led up to the crash, and the fallout afterward. 

WOW: If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be? 

Laura: My younger self would be miffed to learn how long it took me to get a book published. Like everyone else, I’d heard about how hard it was to break into publishing. Like everyone else, I thought it would be different for me. I have multiple trunk novels, and each one helped improve the pieces that did get published. But my much younger self would be delighted that the characters she created are now alive on the page for everyone to see. 

WOW: Wonderful advice, and I love the image of your younger self being delighted at your current-day accomplishments. Anything else you’d like to add? 

Laura: When talking with writers, I enjoy how everyone’s process is uniquely weird. One person has to write in their rocking chair, and another will get their best ideas while jogging. Some writers have to have silence, but I thrive on distraction, and I make soundtracks for all my stories. And I always have multiple projects going at a time, so when I get stuck on one, I switch to another, until I accidentally finish something. Honor your own uniquely weird process. 

WOW: I love hearing about writers’ processes, too. And I agree with you that it’s important for all writers to honor that process. Thank you for your thoughtful responses. Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, book reviews, and profiles of writers and competitive sportswomen. Tweets @dr_greenawalt.


Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top