Here it is, as promised, an interview with Laura Resau. Laura is the award-winning author of the young adult novels What the Moon Saw and Red Glass (Delacorte Press). She lived in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, Mexico, for two years as an English teacher and anthropologist. She now lives with her husband, baby, and dog in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she writes and teaches English as a Second Language. Laura is donating a portion of her royalties to indigenous rights organizations in Latin America.
I know your secret to writing so convincingly: you are really a teenager/middle-schooler pretending to be an adult. You’re not? Then how do you do it?
Actually, I often DO feel like a teenager pretending to be an adult! I think that a lot of the questions I grappled with as a teenager are still questions I grapple with—finding my identity and being myself, following my passion in life, connecting with other people, and just, you know, in general, UNDERSTANDING LIFE AND THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING! (which is actually a diary quote from when I was fifteen.) I like how (despite the hard parts) the world seemed like a brand new super-exciting place when I was a teenager—I felt just on the verge of exploring the great, wide, world… and I still try to feel that way every day. It makes me love life more.
Which makes you want to procrastinate more: starting a new scene or revising a draft? (Or, if you never procrastinate, please, please, please share your secret.)
Hmm. I think what makes me procrastinate most is when I have to do a revision for my editor. If I'm revising a draft for myself, it's kinda fun, because I already have something on the page, and it's just a matter of adding, cutting, tweaking, etc… not too scary. But when I'm revising for my editor, I have a fixed deadline. I cringe a little at the thought of diving in and tinkering with something that was pretty polished already, and wondering whether I'll mess it up terribly. Now that's scary for me-- it requires lots of self-pep-talking!
In your writing, what is the relationship between putting down the initial ideas and revising?
I write in stream-of-consciousness for the first draft—free-floating dialogue and rambling poetry-descriptions and pieces of character studies. Then, for the revision, I ask myself how it all fits together, and add necessary scenes (or make notes about where I need more scenes. Then I take a chunk at a time (maybe five pages) and do the adding, cutting, and re-ordering. I revise the whole manuscript many, many times over.
Which scenario comes closest to yours: (a) you wake up at dawn, sit at your keyboard with your coffee and work for a couple of hours before the rest of the family gets up; (a) you put away the dinner dishes, tuck the kids into bed, start a load of laundry and start writing; (c) you have 10 minutes between your office hour and your next class/you sit in the pickup lane of your child’s school/you lock yourself in the pantry and scribble down a few sentences?
Ha! (a) I'm a morning person. Before my son came along, I would start writing with tea just after getting up. Now, it's a mad rush to get him clothed and fed and off to his daycare. Then I come back and enter the creative space of my writing trailer and try to recapture that fresh early-morning feeling.
Do you have a community you turn to for support, encouragement, critiques, and celebration in your writing life?
Old Town Writing Group has been essential to the creation of my books and essays and stories. The members are smart, fun, funny woman who are all brilliant writers. I've belonged to the group for six years, and I feel grateful to them beyond words.
Did you ask young readers to read you book before you published it? What was the most interesting response you’ve received?
No, I didn't!
If you weren’t a children’s book writer, what would you do?
Hmm. Maybe a spy?
What will you do for your two fellow authors if you win: (a) bring them homemade apple pies, (b) offer to watch their child/children for a weekend, (c) provide them with unlimited signed copies of your book?
I would happily do the pie thing— we've got lots of apples on the tree in our yard. In fact, even if I don't win, that's a good way to pawn off some apples (as long as Todd and Teresa are okay with frozen crusts—there isn't enough room on my dinky kitchen counter to roll out the dough…)
Thanks for the fun interview questions, Yat-Yee!