An Interview with Laurel Richards

I reviewed A Stellar Affair on Tuesday, and here are a few words with Laurel Richards:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was already announcing I wanted to be a published author by the time I was about seven years old. Writing has definitely been a lifelong dream. I’m constantly learning and trying to get better at my craft, and I’m grateful there are readers out there who give me a chance to do what I love.

How long does it take you to write a book?
A few months to ten years, LOL. When I can give it my full focus, I can usually draft a book in about a month, but that’s just to set down the rough story. I then spend a lot of time editing and polishing it before submitting it to a publisher. After that, of course, the book goes through several incarnations as it passes through months of editing. I often have more than one project going at a time, so some book ideas can sit on the back burner for years. A Stellar Affair was one of these, and I was thrilled to finally bring it to life.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
In a word? Crazy. I can go from spending fifteen hours a week on my writing if I have a lot of other things going on or if the story is progressing slowly to working fifty hours a week when I have the time and am on a roll. Some characters hound me more than others and have me returning to my keyboard more quickly. I have to keep my schedule flexible as much as possible.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
If I get stuck on a scene, I find that leaving the computer and trying to write it down on paper (the old-fashioned way) can suddenly cure my writer’s block. I don’t know why the change in medium works for me, but it does.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I know it’s not an original answer for a writer, but I love to read. My bookcase is overflowing, and my Kindle is packed. I also love walking, swimming, and generally enjoying the outdoors.

What does your family think of your writing?
I come from an artistic family, so most of them appreciate my creativity. While the genre may not be to their taste, the majority of my relatives seem to enjoy my work and support me. A few just don’t understand what I do. I think it genuinely baffles them that someone would write made-up stories, and they can’t figure out if that’s really a job or a strange hobby.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing A Stellar Affair?
Although I already had an inkling of this, it really hit me while working on A Stellar Affair just how much my stories are character-driven. I really enjoy developing different personalities and having the characters interact through dialogue.

Do you have any suggestions for amateur or aspiring writers? If so, what are they?
“Never give up, never surrender.” Okay, so that’s a line from Galaxy Quest, but it still applies. I think a good writer is passionate and keeps learning and growing and improving throughout his or her career.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? 
With A Stellar Affair, the comments I got from readers came on release day, when several remarked on how much they were intrigued by the book’s premise. Since the first step is getting readers interested enough to actually read your work, I was very happy to hear this.

What other fiction influences your work?
I read a wide range of fiction. Paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy romances are my favorites, but I also read mysteries, historical romance, epic fantasies, and humor. I suspect all the authors I enjoy influence my work. My love of sci-fi and my take on it, though, are probably most inspired by the movies and television. From an early age, my father got me hooked on science fiction and fantasy through movies like Star Trek (all of them), Krull, The Black Hole, and The Princess Bride. Unlike the darker, gorier sci-fi and fantasy films that are more popular today, the older movies were more character-driven and had a certain amount of playfulness and fun to them that I enjoy.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in A Stellar Affair?
I like to say that I can write any scene six different ways. That means I usually don’t have too hard a time rewriting a scene that an editor thinks needs improvement, but it also means I’m really good at second-guessing myself. The original draft of A Stellar Affair had more of a struggle between Jack and Ardra, which I think helped increase the tension. As a couple of editors pointed out to me, though, this was also a romance, and there was a serious risk of this coming across as Stockholm syndrome or mind-rape. That was something that had never occurred to me, and I’m so glad they brought it up. I rewrote the book to make Jack more clearly the good guy, and I think this was an important revision. Some readers have remarked that they would have liked more conflict, however, which makes me wonder if those individuals would have preferred something a little closer to the original. That being said, I’m happy with how the book came out, so I have no regrets.

What project(s) are you currently working on?
I’ve currently got a paranormal romance trilogy I’m trying to find a home for, and I also have a science fiction novel with strong romantic elements. I’m anxious to publish these works to show readers more of what I can do.

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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