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Interview with Laura M. Drake

She 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. She is also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
Not many people know that I used to be really clumsy when I was a kid (actually until about college.) I tripped so often I was on a first-name basis with the nurse growing up. 

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
Once I finished the Chronicles of Andar trilogy and the Japanese Hauntings quartet I started work on a new story. It’s a story that takes place in a realm between life and death called the In-Between

I’m really excited about it because it’s my first enemies-to-lovers standalone book. It has proven tricky to write, but I also love watching the story get fleshed out as I work my way through the chapters and I’m stoked to finish the first draft and send it to beta readers.

Q.3 What inspired you to write the Japanese Hauntings series?
Actually, all of my series so far have been inspired by dreams. So you can imagine how terrifying it was for the one that inspire The Move, my first book in the Japanese Hauntings series. Once I woke up (and calmed down) I wrote down details from my nightmare, and over the next week or so I researched Japanese folklore (this was while I lived in Tokyo) and picked out which Japanese ghosts from urban legends I wanted to focus each book on, and then I started writing.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
The most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex is trying to figure out how to get into their mindset when guys and girls think so differently about things. Even if they end up coming to the same conclusion there are subtle differences that I struggle to grasp and portray. So a lot of the time I just try to have male beta readers help make sure I stay on point.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I mentioned this before but almost all of my books are based on dreams. I wake up and furiously scribble notes on the plot. Once it’s hashed out, I talk it out with a sister or a friend until I feel like I have the biggest plot holes and problems covered, and then the characters develop as I write. I often use the Save the Cat beat sheet by Blake Snyder to make sure I keep up with my pacing.

Q.6 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I’ve written ten books so far but only seven are published under Laura M. Drake. The Japanese Hauntings quartet is a series of ghost stories and the Chronicles of Andar trilogy is sort of like Harry Potter meets Avatar: The Last Airbender.

It’s hard to choose a favorite because my quartet is novellas based on Japanese ghost stories (which I obviously love because I’m a huge fan of Japan), but I’d probably have to choose Unexpected Magic. It’s not necessarily my best writing, but you can’t read any of the other Chronicle of Andar books without starting with the first, and that series is really dear to my heart. It showed me the power of writing and the motivation I can get from receiving raving reviews from readers. It showed me how much a story can improve with beta readers, and it was my official first published novel. It’s hard to beat that.

Q.7 What was the hardest part of writing this series?
The most difficult part of the process for me is the final revisions from betas after having gone through it so many times already. Then, once I finish that and believe it’s ready to go, I read each chapter of my book aloud (which is terrible because I’m so sick of the story at that part.) This part always feels like it takes the longest.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably go back to being an elementary school teacher. I taught fourth grade before, and I love the kids. I miss them every now and then, but writing is so fun that I rarely consider going back.

Q.9 If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
I’d love for Emma Watson to play as Emmaline in the Chronicles of Andar but I’m not sure who I’d pick for Selena from the Japanese Hauntings series-maybe Emma Roberts?

Q.10 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
This is the hardest part of writing for me and one I’m still figuring out. I’m working to build my email list by including bonus scenes for my stories to entice readers to sign up. I’m also trying my hand at Amazon ads. I’m hoping to do a better job with my next release, so maybe I’ll have more info for you by February when I release the Japanese Hauntings series as a box set.

Q.11 What draws people to horror novels? Why do we, as readers, like to be scared?
This is tricky because I’m not completely sure and yet I read them, too. I also love watching suspense movies like Disturbia, When a Stranger Calls, or The Others. I think that feeling of being kept on the edge of your seat and of being slightly scared sends a delicious chill down your spine that you often don’t find in your everyday life.

Q.12 Do you feel any competitive pressure from horror movies? If not, why not?
Not particularly as horror really isn’t my main genre. I wrote the Japanese Hauntings series because I a) love Japan and b) enjoy trying out different genres, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Q.13 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start writing earlier!

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your book, who is dear to you and why?
I love Neil Mastiff from my Andar books and Lincoln from the Hauntings books. Gray is goofy and sweet and always pulls through for his friends, and Lincoln is this thoughtful half-Japanese guy who is fluent in two languages and whose biggest fault seems to be insecurity.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select him/her?
A. Lara Wynter
designed my Hauntings covers, and Maria Spada designed my Chronicles of Andar covers. I think I found them both on Facebook, and I’m so grateful for the chance I had to work with them! I love all of my covers.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
So far I just pick names that I like haha.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I’ve received plenty of negative book reviews with a series I’m co-writing with a friend under a pen name (which I won’t mention now) and we’ve found the best way is to not take it too seriously. One review said “highly unlikely this person will succeed as an author” so we decided to make shirts with the quote and take a picture in them each time we published the next book in our series.

It’s far too easy to let the negative reviews outweigh the good ones, but it’s more important to focus on the people who enjoy your stories. Sometimes I don’t even look at the negative reviews (which is probably a healthier way to deal with it when I have that kind of self-control.) But I love reading the positive reviews and hearing how much people enjoy the worlds I create. It gives me the motivation to keep writing because I want to keep bringing happiness to people.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I’m guessing it’s too cliché to say “Jesus” so I’ll say I’d love to meet George Washington and see America when it was being founded.

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
I love almost anything by Tamora Pierce, Karen Lynch, and Shannon Hale. Tamora Pierce was someone I read when I was younger and her stories and the way she connects the worlds always gripped me. Shannon Hale’s writing style is something I adore, and Karen Lynch had such fascinating plots and characters that I was immediately sucked into her books as an adult.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
So far I’ve learned that it isn’t enough to just produce good books, you have to write and market yourself if you want to succeed. But I’ve also learned the joy of a good review, the satisfaction from watching a book develop from idea to publishing, and the work that goes into revisions and working with others. I’d recommend everyone write a book at least once because it’s such an incredible experience.

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