Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Interview with Laura Sibson

Good morning, everyone. I come bearing a gift in the form of an interview. This time we're talking with a fabulous aspiring writer whom I got to know through a contest. She's so nice I had to introduce you all to her. Let's welcome Laura Sibson.

Hi, Laura! Tell the readers a bit about yourself.

I was raised in Maryland, just outside of Baltimore but I’ve lived outside of Philadelphia with my husband for a long time. We have two sons (ages 10 & 13) who keep us quite busy. Up until about a month ago, I worked as a career counselor at Swarthmore College, a selective liberal arts college in suburban Philadelphia. I loved the work, the students and my co-workers but after I decided to go back to school, I felt that I couldn’t handle all of it.

How long have you been writing?

In my dreams? Since I was seventeen. In reality – about two years. I’d stopped and started many pieces over the years. Took writing classes but I never finished anything I started. Two years ago, something lit a fire under me. I understood how to frame a story and believed I could write it. And I did. I finished it last September but I can’t seem to stop fiddling with it.

What is the name and genre of the manuscript you're currently pitching?

DAUGHTERS OF BRIGIT is a young adult fantasy with a time-slip element. There’s some paranormal in there, too. And it’s mostly contemporary – except for, you know, the time slip element…

Here’s the part where you pitch it. What’s your story about?

Daughters of Brigit is about two people living centuries and continents apart and the unexpected ways their lives intersect as they comes to terms with their magical ancestry. Grace is a teenager living in suburban Philadelphia who learns that the women in her family have magical powers. Owen is a teenager living in 17th century Ireland whose mother has been hanged as a witch. Each of them is learning about family secrets and hidden power.

Sounds intriguing! How did the idea of the story come to you?

Initially, it presented itself as a question about family traditions and what happens when traditions are no longer passed down. How is the next generation defined by that lack? Because I love fantasy, I began to frame it in terms of a family who stops teaching the next generation about their magical powers and what happens when two sisters learn about the magic but have no frame of reference for how it works or what could happen.

What else have you got in the works?

I’m currently working on a paranormal fantasy inspired by a Maryland ghost story. I also have a dystopian fantasy in which women rule the world. (I love the main character of that one but the plot needs some tweaking).

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I can’t imagine doing this alone. I am surrounded by lots of people who help me through this process. A few are friends who just read for readability. Three are fellow writers with whom I share work. They always spot things that I’ve missed but also are able to identify what’s working.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Confidence. Believing that I have something to say. That I’ll be able to pull another story through from inception to completion. On a basic level – keeping my butt in the chair. I’m easily distracted so I tend to think in hour long blocks. Longer than that without getting up makes me twitch. In terms of craft, I always need to dig in deeper on my characters’ feelings.

I'm with you there on all counts. You recently went to VCFA in Vermont. Can you tell us about that?

VCFA (Vermont College of Fine Arts) is amazing. It’s a two-year MFA program in writing for children and young adults. The ten days were packed with lectures on craft, writing workshops and readings. The people are amazing – many are already published but are there to improve nonetheless. Holly Black was the visiting writer for this residency and she spoke about world building. M.T. Anderson gave a reading that was worth the price of admission alone. If you want a place that will support and grow your writing and people that will geek out about kid lit as much as you – VCFA is the place to be.

Sounds incredible! Let’s get to know you on a deeper level. What do you absolutely have
to have nearby when writing?

Headphones always. They help me block out the world around me and allow me to focus on the page. A beverage (coffee in the winter, lemonade in the summer) and maybe some dark M&Ms. Oh, and my laptop. I’ve met a few longhand writers lately but I’m a laptop girl and if it weren’t for Scrivener, I’m sure I’d still be lost in the plotting of my first novel.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Oooh, sheesh, you’d think that with all the superpowers I’ve given my characters, I would have thought about this one. The thing is that each of them has a drawback, right? But I think it would be handy to be able to apparate. No need for cars or quarters for parking. I like that.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: cantaloupe, Mozart, and breakdancing.

After applying my favorite cantaloupe-flavored lipgloss, I cranked up my latest brilliant mash-up: Mozart meets Usher and practiced my breakdancing moves in the mirror.

Hehe, Mozart meets Usher? I'd love to hear that. Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Whom would you like to give a shout out to?

My husband, my two kids – especially Mitch, the younger one, who lets me bounce plot ideas off of him. My critique partners, who are very talented writers: Morgan Baden and Christine Norris. And my friend, Lisa Maginnis, who heard my whispered confession that I wanted to write a book and then encouraged me to try. And you! I love the way my writing community has grown through ‘meeting’ writers on blogs and Twitter. It’s awesome!

And finally, where can people find you online?



Thank you so much for letting us get to know you, Laura. I wish you tons of success with your novels. I can't wait to read them!


Unknown said...

Laura's book sounds very cool. Thanks for another great interview, Dorothy!

Shelli said...

Laura, your book sounds wonderful. Thank you, Dorothy, for introducing us to another up and comer to keep an eye on!

Gina said...

Interesting...the general (very general) premise of DAUGHTERS OF BRIGIT reminds me of a book I read last year (I think) called IMMORTAL by Gillian Shields. Hmm...that's a good thing though since I enjoyed that one very much. Best of luck!

Dorothy, how DO you find all of these great authors-to-be? Seriously...great job once again! ^_^

Tahereh said...

so awesome! great interview, ladies!

thanks so much!!

Laura Sibson said...

I can't thank you enough for doing this - it was such a hoot!

GMR - uh oh, guess I'd better read IMMORTAL...

Now, back to writing...

- Laura

Shelby said...

Great interview, and my first visit to your blog *bookmark*. I met Laura at VCFA and have to add that she's pretty much one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet, in addition to being a very talented writer!

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! Welcome, Shelby!

Laura is great. I really do look forward to reading her book someday. :)