Happy First Monday of the Month!
Today I have the opportunity to talk to Laura Drake!
Laura Drake is the youngest of five children and grew up in AR (that’s Arkansas, not Arizona) until she moved to Provo, Utah to attend Brigham Young University. She graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and worked as a teacher for a few years in Utah. She lived in Tokyo, Japan for two years, which is when she started the Japanese Hauntings series and her first completed trilogy, The Chronicles of Andar.
When she isn’t writing she enjoys reading, playing ultimate frisbee and board games, and spending time with her family and friends. She is passionate about time management and finances and loves helping people make budgets.
Laura is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
1) Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? Shockingly (jk, this is probably pretty common for authors) most of my books so far have been based off dreams I had. For the Chronicles of Andar, that was fun because I had a dream of a boy trapped in a crystal that was slowly draining his life, and I woke up and bam, it turned into a three book outline. But for the Japanese Hauntings series it was significantly less fun since my dream was straight up terrifying haha. But the series was still really fun to write, so I guess I’m even grateful for my nightmares. I like to tell my family I do my best work when I’m sleeping.
2) When did you write your first book and how old were you? Like many authors, I’ve been writing a long time. I remember starting a story in high school, though I think I only got about fifty pages in before I had no idea where it was going. Haha (My grasp on plotting was tenuous at best back then.) Then I started co-writing a series in college with a high school friend, which is still unpublished (and unfinished), but I’m very excited about the idea still and am determined to have us finish it eventually. It’s a fantasy story I think many would enjoy. Then I started writing again after graduating when I moved in with some friends; we began a book that’s all about what to expect when you’re single. It’s definitely a humorous one, but even that hasn’t been published yet. But I can say I was 28 when I finished my first book (Unexpected Magic.) Once I moved to Japan, it apparently helped me discover what I wanted to do with my life, and I’ve been writing ever since.
3) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? I didn’t know before I started writing that as the author, I could still be surprised by my characters. I thought I’d be more in control of the story, and while I still do have a large say in it, my characters tend to do what they want even if I didn’t see it coming during my plotting phase. It’s been fun for me because sometimes I’m just as surprised as the readers.
4) How many books have you written? Which is your favourite? I’ve written ten books now (working on number eleven) though three of them are under a pen name for a LitRPG genre. It’s really hard to choose a favorite because Unexpected Magic was my first book and what made me fall in love with writing, as well as opened up the world of Andar to me, but I also really love Japan and everything to do with The Move (a series of ghost stories based on Japanese urban legends.) But I guess Unexpected Magic will always hold a special place in my heart as my first story.
5) Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they? Read and write every day and don’t be afraid to share your work. Your book will improve beyond your imagination once you work up the courage to ask for outside opinions.
6) Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? I love hearing from readers. Sometimes ARC readers (that I’ve never met before) will message me with things they loved about a book and it makes my day to get those messages. Or even reading reviews is super fun for me because I see things like “Neil and Gray are my new book boyfriends” or “Unexpected Magic was an unexpected gem.” Or (for Japanese Hauntings) “This book is a crossover between Luigi’s Mansion and Personna 4” and seeing how much enjoyment my books can bring to others makes me love writing them even more.
7) Do you like to create books for adults? I like to create books that anyone can read, so I strive to find the line between an engaging plot and completely clean content. (I write most of my genres under a real name, so I want to make sure it’s something I don’t have to worry about my nieces or nephews picking up.) It’s been a fun challenge to write something that can appeal to a wide age range, but I’m a firm believer that there are plenty of books with more explicit content out there for readers who enjoy that, but there aren’t enough books that are there for readers who want clean content. So that’s my goal as an author.
8) What do you think makes a good story? I think a good story is driven by good characters and their interactions
9) What are common traps for aspiring writers? I think something that is hard for many writers is that they’re overwhelmed by where to begin. The power of a small effort every day is often underestimated. If people could just sit down and write something and chip away at the story that’s
been in their head for years, they’d be done with a first draft before they knew it. And I think it’s important for people to understand that a first draft (most of the time) is just a chance to get the idea down and figured out. It doesn’t need to be perfect, and for me, it shouldn’t be, because that’s way too intimidating. You just need to get writing so you have something to share, and once it’s written, it’ll only get better from there (with feedback, readers, and your own revisions.)
10) Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Yes, I actually have a pen name I use for another genre. It’s like a Dungeons and Dragons meets novel sort of genre, and very far from my usual stuff. The reason I have a pen name isn’t because I want to hide my identity so much as because I’m co-writing it with a friend and it was a whole thing where we created an LLC to publish under and it was easier to do it this way. Maybe I should use more pseudonyms since I genre hop so much (I have a Ya fantasy trilogy, a Japanese ghost stories quartet, a soon-to-be fantasy standalone, and then a series of Jane Austen retellings on the way so I’m all over the place genre-wisie.)
11) Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? Honestly, I hope that readers want what I’m writing, but I don’t bother doing a lot of research in the genres to see what’s selling because I have to write the story the way it is in my head. It probably isn’t the best marketing strategy (I’m still figuring those out) but I believe that if I keep producing quality content, eventually people will discover it.
12) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? The best money I’ve spent so far was probably on hiring my cover designers. The very first time I published, I created my own cover (with zero training) and it was such a mess. I love the girls I’ve worked with, and I think they did amazing creating covers that are perfect for my genres. A big shout out to Maria Spada and Lara Wynter!
13) What do you have coming next? I’m working on my first standalone fantasy novel that takes place in a realm between life and death called the In-Between. I’m still working on the first draft, so it’s pretty rough, but I’m loving the idea and really enjoying the characters so far. It’s fun to do something that isn’t a series for a change since I know a lot of readers sometimes just want a one-and-done read. Keep your eyes open for it in mid 2022! Also, I’ll be releasing a paperback 4-in-1 version of the Japanese Hauntings series near the end of February so look forward to that. If you enjoy suspenseful stories, this is something you won’t want to miss out on!