Interview and Contest with Laura Spinella

Jen: Today we welcome Laura Spinella to Romancing the Book.  Laura, will you please share a short bio with us?

Laura: First, thank you for having me. It’s a thrill to be featured at Romancing the Book! As for the bio, I’m a misfit Northern writer who is passionate about the South. (I did live there for a number of years, graduated from the University of Georgia) My best guess is that in another life, I might have been Flannery O’Connor’s maid. I’m from Long Island and now live in Massachusetts. Beautiful Disaster is my debut novel, Berkley Publishing.

Jen: Tell us about Beautiful Disaster and where is can be purchased.

Laura: Beautiful Disaster is Southern set women’s fiction with a heavy thread of romance. In a sentence, the book asks this of the reader: What would you risk for a love that is greater than honor or friendship or the passing of time? Beautiful Disaster is an opportunity to get lost in a book. Passion drives the love story between Mia and Flynn, the novel’s main characters, but it also offers a thoughtful plot with unexpected twists. You can purchase Beautiful Disaster in bookstores and on line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble… the usual book retail suspects. Of course, we’re giving a copy away at Romancing the Book!

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? Tell us your call story.

Laura: The “discover writing” answer is subject to change; the question always jogs an earlier memory. As I recall, sixth grade book reports had little to do with the book I read. More often than not, I’d tear off on a tangent and rewrite the endings.

Beautiful Disaster is my first published novel. Over the years, I’ve freelanced for newspapers, magazines, and served as contributing writer for a few non-fiction books. I didn’t decide to write a novel until my late thirties. From there, much of my publication story is the one you’ve already heard. There were lots of queries, lots of maybes, a shoebox full of “thanks but no thanks,” plenty of revision and finally a big fat, “Yes!” I like to think the late start worked to my advantage. By then I’d learned a few life lessons, which is a handy resource when making life-altering decisions for your characters.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.

Laura: Fluid, Character-driven, Provocative (ok, the hyphen is slightly cheating)

Jen: Do you struggle with deadlines? How do you deal with the pressure?

Laura: I don’t mind a deadline. I’m a procrastinator by nature, so for me, a deadline translates into an organizational tool. I guess I’m also an oxymoron because I’m very punctual. I don’t like to keep people waiting. If you tell me something is due by a certain date, that’s all I need to know. As a writer, pressure is self-inflicted. Well, unless you happen to be a writer who is in great demand. (I wouldn’t know a whole lot about that 😉 It’s been my experience that writers’ set the bar; then we spend months and years trying to hurdle over it. Sometimes you make it, sometimes you don’t.

Jen: Do you have a theme, object or person that appears in all of your stories?

Laura: I am addicted to the beta male—well, the beta male by my definition. There’s something wildly appealing about giving the flawed underdog a second chance. I want to see what he can do with it. I love the idea of revealing a character through the timeline of a story, one that the reader might not be betting on in the first few chapters. If I can win you over by the end of the book, and have you rooting for him (or make you fall for him), then I did my job. To date, Beautiful Disaster’s Flynn is my best example.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?

Laura: Challenging: Creating a plotline that’s new and fresh. It may not be completely original, which is fine, but the story has to read as if you’ve never heard it before. Easiest: Getting lost in the work. Most Rewarding: So far… showing my kids that perseverance pays off.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?

Laura: Yes to the first question, no to the dreams. My characters do their haunting during daylight hours. They’re definitely my personal OCD. If I’m working on a manuscript the characters are present whether I’m in front of a computer or not. They don’t leave until I fall asleep, and I’m kind of grateful when that happens. I think it’s my subconscious saying, “Enough already!”

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?

Laura: Authors from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Jodi Picoult influenced me, depending on my age. (And no, those were not first edition Laura Ingalls Wilder books.) There’s inspiration and something to take away from almost every book. That said, I never had an experience where I read a book by one author and said, “Gosh, I want to do that.” It was more cumulative.

Jen: Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?

Laura: As a writer, you always do the happy dance when something clicks. I’m not terribly good at living in the moment. In fact, it’s my 2025 goal to work on that! For me, successes are always tempered by, “Okay, what’s next…”

Jen: What has been the highlight of your career to this point?

Laura: The novel takes place in Athens, Georgia, home to the University of Georgia. Last winter, the university hosted a Beautiful Disaster signing. My daughter also happens to attend UGA, which came as a surprise and something that definitely was not in the plan book. Had you showed me a crystal ball depicting that scene—the book’s publication and my daughter at my alma mater—I would have said your crystal ball is cracked! It was a surreal kind of day.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Laura: THE IT FACTOR: Aidan Royce has it all, rock star fame and an incredible life. The one thing he doesn’t have is Isabel Lang. She’s the girl he’s always loved, the one who left him on their wedding night in Las Vegas. It’s also romantic fiction, the same tempo as Beautiful Disaster, but very different characters and storyline. I just completed the manuscript.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Laura: www.lauraspinella.net You can also find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=538269154

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Laura: I always like to know, when it comes to characters what grabs you and makes you invest. How fast do you need to click with the character?

  • The prize is a print copy of Beautiful Disaster.
  • The contest is open to US/Canada residents only.
  • You must leave a comment for entry.
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  You can also send a message to that email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Sunday, June 19.

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