“I allow my characters to take me for a ride.” –Laura Dwyer
Laura Dwyer is a long-time Book Country member and former reporter currently working in PR. Her favorite writers’ names all start with the letter “J”: Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, and J.R. Ward. As a writer, Laura has tried her hand at different genres, and is currently working on an urban fantasy with grim reapers. Laura and I chatted about finding time to write, combining reapers and vamps in her fiction, and transporting readers into the skin of her character
Nevena: Thanks for joining us, Laura! How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Laura: Hi! Thanks so much for having me. I’ve been writing since junior high (let’s face it: anything earlier was pretty much for school only), and was fortunate to have some phenomenal writing teachers who encouraged me to keep writing. I’ll never forget—in junior high I wrote this first-person POV story about a person’s last hours and death by electrocution. It unsettled everyone who read it (understandably), but since then I’ve been addicted to the visceral response I got from people. No matter what genre I’m writing, it’s that reaction—extreme emotion in any of its forms—that makes it all worthwhile.
I’ve always preferred the written word to anything else, and so a career in journalism seemed natural. But I didn’t decide to get serious about it until a few years ago.
Nevena: So how do you fit writing into your life? What do you do when you’re not writing?
Laura: Well, I write for a living, working in the PR world, so I’m called on to be creative every day. I work for an environmental management agency, so my job is to translate all that science into something more digestible for the general public.
I’ll admit, finding time to write for me is challenging. I work full time, am a mom (to a toddler) and wife, and I also try to work out in some of my limited spare time. It seems that all of those other things eat up a lot of hours, so even if it’s one sentence, I try to do a bit of writing every day. It doesn’t always happen, though.
Nevena: Sounds like you have to be a good time manager. When you do find the time, what are your favorite genres to write and read? And who’s had the biggest influence on your writing?
Laura: I really enjoy paranormal romance, historical fiction, as well as police and crime dramas. Right now, the biggest influence on my writing (because of what I’m working on) is J.R. Ward. I love her no-BS writing style, and she writes from a man’s POV. It’s refreshing, like getting the best of both worlds—a woman who thinks and writes like a man, but with a woman’s perception. And I love her characters. I hope to be like her when I grow up. 🙂
Nevena: Tell us more about the project you’re currently working on, Aequitas. How did you come up with the idea for it?
Laura: The idea came from a shorter story I’d written a couple of years ago for this web site that was soliciting short, dirty stories. Fun stuff! Reapers have always fascinated me—what an interesting job description, right? Originally, the vamps in my short story were “borrowed” from two other book series. But the main character was mine. And I fell in love with her. I realized she had much more to tell me, so I delved back in and re-wrote it.
Nevena: So why did you pair up a reaper and a vampire?
Laura: Call it a knee-jerk reaction, but my first thought—aside from my reaper—was vampire. Some might question that, but I think zombies are gross, werewolves have also been done to exhaustion, and a ghost wouldn’t have worked. I needed a “bad guy” to play against my heroine. And in my book, this vampire is a monster, not a hero, so it’s an interesting relationship. My reapers, in addition to ferrying souls, kill unnatural things to keep the balance of good and evil, light and dark. So you can imagine the conflict in that.
Nevena: Definitely. Could you describe your writing process?
Laura: My process is pretty willy-nilly right now. I started with a loose outline, but I’ve already strayed quite a bit from that. I allow my characters to take me for a ride. I try to have an idea of what’s going to happen in each chapter (I make notes to that effect), but I’ve been surprised more than once with where my writing has taken the story. As for quirks, I have a hard time NOT editing my earlier chapters to make them better. It’s why I’m still on Chapter Eight! I’m on the twenty-year writing plan, I guess. Slow and steady, right?
Nevena: Slow and steady wins at the end! What do you want to achieve with your writing?
Laura: What most writers probably want: to write an amazing book that makes people laugh, cry, and feel like they are right there in the action. I want readers to be transported into the skin of my characters. And I want them to have visceral reactions to my books.
Nevena: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
Laura: I’ve been fortunate enough to have received lots. But I think the best advice came from my grandfather, who always encouraged me to keep writing. He said that writing is an art form, just like painting (he was an artist): some days it’s great, some days it’s crap, but you won’t learn unless you do.
Nevena: I like that. So why are you a Book Country member?
Laura: Oh, where to start! My journalism professor and friend pointed me to the site. Thank goodness she did. I’ve learned too much to list here, but the community has reshaped the way I think about my writing, all the way down to not using filter words! I’ve even learned more existential writing lessons from a certain BC favorite.
Nevena: You’re being so secretive! Is there anything else you want to share with the community?
Laura: Only that it’s a wonderful resource full of great writers and amazing people, and that I recommend it to every writer I know. There is truly no other community out there like it.
Nevena: Thank you for saying so! And for chatting with me!