Jen: Today we welcome Lauren Layne to Romancing the Book as her blog tour makes a stop with us. Lauren, will you tell us a little about yourself?
Lauren: Lauren Layne graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science that she has yet to put to good use. After a few years in Manhattan, Lauren is now a recovering city-girl, adjusting to a slower pace in the Pacific Northwest. She lives with her husband and badly behaved dog, both who get neglected for days at a time when she’s drafting a new book. Lauren will, however, happily break for wine.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Lauren: ISN’T SHE LOVELY is a Pygmalion story, inspired by the Greek myth about a guy (Pygmalion) who created a statue of a woman and then fell in love with her. Creepy, right? It was later the basis of a play of the same name by George Bernard Shaw, which in turn inspired such classics as My Fair Lady and Pretty Woman, as well as some not-so-classics like She’s All That.
Mine is a New Adult version:
Stephanie Kendrick gave up her whole summer to ace her NYU film school screenwriting course, so she’s pissed to be stuck with a preppy, spoiled frat boy as her writing partner. Then again, with her piercings, black-rimmed eyes, and Goth wardrobe, Stephanie isn’t exactly Ethan Price’s type, either. He’s probably got his eye on some leggy blonde with a trust fund . . . or does he?
As the summer scene kicks off in the Hamptons, Ethan is desperate to make his snobbish mother forget the pedigreed girl who broke his heart. While Stephanie’s a stretch as a decoy, the right makeover and a pastel cardigan just might do the trick. She may not love the idea of playing Ethan’s brainless Barbie girlfriend, but the free rent and luxurious digs make a tempting offer. So does the promise of a ready-made screenplay idea inspired by their charade.
But when Stephanie steps into Ethan’s privileged world, the “acting” begins to feel all too real. The kissing and touching that were intended to fool the Hamptons crowd wind up manipulating them. And Stephanie faces a question she’s too afraid to ask: Is Ethan falling for the real her or for the dolled-up princess he wants to see?
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Lauren: Plotter. I tried to “pants” once, and it produced the word four chapters in the history of story telling. I’ve always been one of those hyper-organized people, so it makes sense that it would carry over into my writing process. I’m a big fan of Blake Synder’s “Beat Sheet” to ensure I’ve got all the elements of a well-paced story, and Michael Hauge’s stuff on the combining character journey with external plot is invaluable. I always start with those, and from there I usually end up with copious amounts of notes on characters, motivations, etc.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Lauren: Witty. Poignant. Smart.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Lauren: I try to. I’m not quite a Monday through Friday, nine-to-five type of writer, but I do try and maintain some sort of routine. I’m an early riser, and that’s definitely when I do my best writing. After 3pm, I’m pretty much done being productive and switch over to easier tasks like laundry and grocery shopping. When it comes to drafting a new book, my schedule’s pretty straight forward: I wake up as early as possible and write my butt off until my brain quits on me. However, things get more complex the further you get in your writing career, because you have multiple books in different stages. For example, in this past week, I’ve found myself on blog tour for two different books, edits for two different books, and outlining/synopsis writing for six new story ideas. On top of that, I have my current work in progress, Twitter, Facebook, website maintenance . . . I’m still working out how to fit all of that into a routine. But I’m trying!
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Lauren: Well sometimes they come to me in the shower, and then I just keep reciting the idea over and over so I don’t lose it, and get out of the shower as fast as I can. This happens a lot, so my legs are pretty much never, ever shaved. The rest of the time, my iPhone is a lifesaver. I used to have a notebook in my purse, but the phone’s so much easier when I’m on the go. It’s ridiculously easy to open up a new note in Evernote and jot down the story idea, plot development, bit of dialogue, etc. Now all I need is a mobile version of Scrivener, and I’ll be really set!
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Lauren: My writing voice is pretty modern and snarky, so adult contemporary romance and new adult have felt really natural to me. I’d LOVE to write historical some day, and I have one Regency story idea in particular that won’t leave my brain. I’ll probably write that book at some point for my own sanity, although I suspect I’ll struggle with getting the tone right for the time period. And I can’t see myself ever writing a paranormal. I never got into it as a reader, I don’t see the appeal of non-human characters, and I’m pretty sure you could hold a gun to my head and I couldn’t come up with a single paranormal story idea. Not even an unoriginal one!
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Lauren: Oooh, great question! It’s one I haven’t been asked before, so I’ve been sitting here for about fifteen minutes thinking about it. I’d have to say Brynn Dalton from MADE FOR YOU, which will be out mid-2014. Brynn started as the prissy older sister of my heroine in ONLY WITH YOU (March 2013), and was never intended to have her own book. But my agent suggested I tell Brynn’s story in a spin-off, and I figured that would be pretty easy, because hey, I’ve had an entire manuscript to get to know her, right? Wrong. The problem was, Brynn was uptight, judgmental and occasionally a little cold. Which is fine for a secondary character, but in a protagonist? I had to do some MAJOR digging to figure out what made her tick and to convince the readers to root for her. As a result, I think she’s probably my most complex, and perhaps most true-to-life heroine. And if I’m being really honest, Brynn’s perhaps more like me than any other heroine. I tend to write bubbly, spunky, chipper heroines, even though I myself am fairly reserved.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Lauren: Over the next few months, I’ll have the next two books in my Stiletto contemporary romance series released (December 7th and March 11th), as well as a separate series from Grand Central Publishing coming some time in 2014.