Laura, welcome to Writers on Reading! Your Young Adult books look so fun. I love what Stephen Colbert (New David Letterman) said last year, when he described YA books as regular novels that people actually read. Stats claim the majority of YA readers are adults. (I know I’ve read a lot of YA these last years, and I’m guessing you often have, too.) But even so, that doesn’t narrow your reading habits down enough for me. So, when picking your next reading adventure, are you more often drawn to historical or modern settings? Light and fluffy or dark and brooding? What themes do you look for?
I read a bit of everything—from picture books to thrillers. My absolute favorite genre is YA though. I love coming of age stories where a character finds out who they are. That’s why I started writing Christian YA—because as a follower of Jesus, I don’t think we can truly find ourselves without finding the One who created us.
What a wonderful way to look at YA! Definitely shows why you write it. As a writer, you should know better, but as a reader, you know we all do it…so, when did you last “judge a book by the cover”? How did it work out?
I do judge books by their covers. I bought The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase because I loved the simple cover. I’d never heard of her and only skimmed the back of the book, but I still bought it. That’s the power of a great cover.
That is actually a really artistic cover. I can see why it resonated with you. Do you find time to read during the months you spend writing a book? If so, what did you read while working on your last book?
I’m a school librarian, so I read a lot. So, while I worked on my last book, I probably read 75 or more books, mostly picture books and some middle grade.
Oh my, that's a lot of books! With that many under your belt---and while you were writing!---I must ask: Did a book recently make you laugh/cry/sigh/shiver?
I think the only book I’ve ever read that made me do ALL of those things was Sold by Patricia McCormick. That book is simply amazing. It opened my eyes to the sex trafficking business, and the author handled it gracefully, offering a realistic view with a bit of hope.
Were you the kind of kid/teen who loved reading? Which novel do you first remember reading?
Yes, I loved to read. Mary Higgins Clark was my first favorite author, and I still love her. I own every single one of her books.
One of my earliest book-related memories is my cousins teasing me because I was reading The Battle of New Orleans when I was in third grade. It was a thick book, and I don’t remember anything about it or the Battle of New Orleans except they made fun of me.
Oh, I just love that! Thank you for sharing! With such a strong love for books, when did you know you wanted to write? Did any or multiple books influence this desire?
I taught middle school language arts, and I wrote a lot with my students. When I became a librarian, I missed writing. So, I opened up a Word document and started typing.
That's perfect! Has any book stuck with you recently? What created the lasting impressions?
Ally Carter’s newest one All Fall Down is fantastic. Ally is one of my favorite YA authors because she writes so tightly and weaves a complicated plot together smoothly. This book is a little darker than her earlier books, so I was left wanting to reread it as a reader and as an author because it was wonderfully done. (Ally Carter writes mainstream YA, but it’s super clean. Recommended to anyone 12 and up.)
Well, that's a solid recommendation. With summer on, what is on your to-read list? And what is your ideal summer reading experience?
I’m off all summer, so I have a lot of books I want to read. These are just a few.
Taken by Dee Henderson
A House Divided by Robert Whitlow
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Skin by Ted Dekker
Bake Me a Match by Erynn Mangum
Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund
Graceful by Wendy Mass
The Melody Lingers On by Mary Higgins Clark
And my pile of Lisa Wingate books that I’ve been saving for summer so that I can read them slowly and soak it all in
I’m in Alaska this week, and I wish I could stay here all summer. It’s the perfect place to read. Today, I laid back on a hill that faced a lining of trees, then a body of water that lapped a mountain’s edge. It was breath-taking. I read a little bit there today---Sarah Dessen’s latest book Saint Anything, and I’m hoping to go back before I leave to read a little more.
Here’s a picture I took before I started reading.
What a great glimpse into your reading life. Looks like a fantastic summer list, and wow, that is an idllyc summer reading experience, Laura! I feel like I'm there. One last question before I let you get back to your view and your reading: If the girls from your books were to pick a book from today’s shelves, what do you think it would be?
Ellie Lansing from Worth the Wait would read the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn, which is one of my all-time favorite YA series because she can relate to Christy.
Lindsey Hamilton would read Jenny B. Jones’ books because they are hilarious.
Sounds like perfect answers and more great recommendations! Thank you, Laura, for sharing. It was a delight to get to know more about you as a reader. Folks, you can continue to connect with Laura---and find out more about her books!---at the following links, but first, her bio:
I love books—I serve as the librarian of an elementary school during the day and come home to write YA books at night. I love writing stories about girls finding out who they are in Jesus Christ. I’m also passionate about Jesus, trees, cardigans, and the Houston Rockets.
PURCHASE AND CONNECTION LINKS: