Visiting today is fellow The Wild Rose Press author Laura Strickland. People say the old ways are the best. That seems to be true for Laura who writes her stories in longhand first then types them into the computer. As I always say, whatever works.
Welcome, Laura. Please tell us about yourself.
Hi, and thanks so much for having me here today! I guess I’d describe myself as a person who lives but lightly in this world – a dreamer, I guess, with one foot in reality and the other in the realm of imagination. It’s always come naturally to me to spin tales, maybe because I’m descended from a long line of Celts who love to share stories – and exaggerate them, too. My grandfather was a great storyteller. I can still seeing him sitting with his pipe in his mouth, ruminating about what tale to tell us next. (He walked eight miles to school, uphill both ways!)
I’m a woman who likes beauty in her life, not necessarily the kind that requires expensive purchases or shiny cars, but the kind found in the changing colors of leaves or the inky hue of the sky before a storm. I try to share that with my readers through my writing – that there’s beauty everywhere, even in hardship, if we can only see it. I love music, animals and writing. I dislike cruelty, above all things.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I wrote my first “book” in third grade, a mystery with the highly original name of “The Haunted House”. It was hand printed with a construction paper cover. Little did I know then that writing would become a lifelong obsession. But so it is … I’m not happy these days unless I have a writing project in the works. Writing is the first thing I think of when I wake in the morning. I always say it’s like the old commercial, “A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine” … for me, it’s “a day without writing” is a lost day. I’ve been fortunate to find The Wild Rose Press, where they feel the same way about books and authorship as I do.
Writing, I feel, is a lifelong journey. That book I wrote way back in third grade might have been far from perfect, but so were many of the other manuscripts I subsequently turned out. Each one has been a lesson that turned into a stepping stone. Each one has led me to where I am today.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I’m a very fast writer. I still use a spiral notebook and pen for my initial write, and I sometimes scribble so fast I can’t read it later when it comes time to type it up. I’ve been known to complete this stage of a book in as little as a month. In fact the first book I published, Queen’s Knight, was written in a month.
These days I’m working full time and I don’t have as many hours to devote to writing as I had when my daughter was small and I was a stay-at-home Mom. If a book’s flowing well and I’m in full spate I may get it written in three months. Of course, that doesn’t account for the hours and hours spent typing, editing and then reediting, which can take up to a year.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I tend to rise very early in the morning, and that’s my most prized writing time. My husband and I heat our home with wood and I’m always the first one up to kindle the fire. While the house is still quiet and it’s just me and my dog, Shannon, astir, I love to write. In the summer, when there’s no fire and the windows are open, I’m usually up early enough to hear the birds when they start to sing. The light comes and finds me as I work and it’s so peaceful, my ideas just flow.
When a book is really rolling along and demanding all my attention, I try and grab some writing time on weekends as well. But like everyone, there are a lot of other obligations to be met. The greatest gift anyone can give me is a block of free time I can spend with my muse.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love music and one of my favorite pastimes is listening to my CD collection. It’s pretty far-ranging, everything from British Psychedelic Rock to Celtic Folk to Swedish Fiddle music. The good thing about listening to music is I can combine it with other activities, like folding the laundry or cleaning. And I always have music on the stereo when I’m writing. One of the few things I’m willing to spend big money for is a prized collector’s CD.
My husband and I also love to attend local festivals of all kinds. It started years ago with the Irish Festival and moved to the Celtic Festival in Olcott, New York. Now we take our dog, Shannon, who is the undisputed Queen of Festivals. She has attended the Maple Sugar Festival and many different Farm Days (even a Tractor Festival), and she’s quite the celebrity at our local Pirate Festival. This year the pirates presented her with necklaces and rings – her own booty!
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Since that first book in third grade, there have been more books than I can count. I wrote habitually in High School and passed the books around to my friends, who read them. As a young wife, I wrote everything from love stories to westerns. But I don’t think it was till I began my Celtic series I truly came into my own as a writer. It’s as if a door opened in my mind then, and the ideas just began to come through.
I cherish every book I’ve written, the way I would my children, but I think I love the books of my Celtic Series most because they’re like time travel, individual journeys back to a place I came to know and love so well. If I had to choose one book among those now in print, it would have to be The Waking Dream because the hero’s a Celtic harper, and so the music I love is also woven into the story.
What is the best part of writing for you?
Oh, this is an easy question to answer! The best part of writing, for me, is when I get totally in the zone, when the ideas are flowing like floodwater and I simply can’t write them down fast enough. There’s no feeling quite like that, is there? When it’s “right”, my characters assume their own personalities and speak their own lines. My only job is to watch what they do, listen to what they say, and then scramble to write it all down. At those moments, I’m sure the stories are coming through me, rather than from me.
If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?
I would recommend you start with the first book of The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, Daughter of Sherwood, because it’s such an accurate representation of my writing. It contains magic, myth, lore and eternal love. If you like that book, I believe you’ll like all the rest!
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
I hope that readers will take away the conviction that love never dies. That’s one of the strongest themes of The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy and is something the spirit of Robin Hood tells his daughter, Wren, in the first book of the Trilogy: nothing that is loved can ever be lost.
Life is a long journey and we all lose those for whom we care along the way … friends, pets, parents, spouses and other family members. But I believe the love we feel for them never fades or is lost. It’s that we hold in our hearts, and it’s that which makes eternal the nature of what we feel and continue to cherish. The legend of Robin Hood never died – that’s why I’ve been able to write books, even now, about his descendants. I would love it if my readers found it possible, after reading my stories, to believe in the eternal nature of love.
Champion of Sherwood – blurb:
When Gareth de Vavasour, nephew of the Sheriff of Nottingham, is captured by the outlaws of Sherwood Forest and held for ransom, he knows he will be fortunate to escape with his life. Amid the magic and danger that surround him, he soon realizes his true peril lies in the beautiful dark eyes of Linnet, the Saxon healer sent to tend his wounds.
Granddaughter of Robin Hood, Linnet has always known she is destined to become a guardian of Sherwood Forest, along with her sister and a close childhood companion. She believes her life well settled until the arrival of Gareth. Then all her loyalties are tested even as her heart is forced to choose between love and the ties of duty, while Sherwood declares its own champion.
Champion of Sherwood Excerpt:
He spun once more. A man stood behind him, wreathed in white mist pure as the moonlight.
Gareth reached for a weapon he no longer wore.
"Peace," the man said.
"Who are you? How come you here?"
"I am the spirit of this place. Some call me the Green Man. Others call me Robin Hood."
"Robin Hood is long dead." Gareth had heard the tales. Who had not?
"Aye, long dead," the man agreed, "as are many here. This is our bastion, our refuge, a place of faith and strength."
"What do you want with me?" Surely, and surely, he was back asleep on his tether, and dreaming.
"Nay, lad, you are not dreaming."
"Can you hear my thoughts?" What madness was this?
"I ask of you, young man, only one thing, one boon, one favor if you would survive this night."
"Of course I will survive. This is but darkness, and trees, and moonlight."
The man waved one of his hands. A creature appeared beside him, a pure white wolf with its hackles raised. Another subtle movement and he stood flanked on the other side by a great, white hart, its sides streaming mist. The trees overhead tossed their branches and Gareth felt the power gather, sharp and vital, around this being who faced him.
Fear such as he had never known – not even when awaiting the arrival of his father with the strap – engulfed him. He said, "What do you seek of me? What boon, what bidding?"
"I ask of you but one promise, that you should follow what is in your heart." He smiled again. "Does not a true champion, always follow his heart?"
The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191&products_id=5540
One last question, Laura. Where can readers find you?
My author web page is: www.laurastricklandbooks.com. I also have an author page on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Thanks for being here, Laura. Best wishes on your writing career.