Friday 14 July 2017

Interview with Laura Frances and review of Slave

I am delighted to be welcoming Laura Frances to the blog today for an interview and a review of her book - Slave. Let's find out a little about Laura.

I grew up a shy thing, my head too full of daydreams. Now I'm a thirty-year-old wife and mother of two, living in Japan and teaching the English language. Slave (Book One) is my debut novel.

And onto the interview!

 What made you want to be a writer?
I have always had a big problem with daydreaming. I see something happening in real life, and my mind goes wild, shaping it into something over the top and ridiculous. (There's a reason The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one of my favorite movies!) And in highschool, I loved creative writing assignments. When others were groaning, I was already crafting the whole thing in my head. So I guess creating stories is a built in part of me. I also find writing to be an outlet. I can express myself clearly and freely, in a way that I'm not always comfortable doing when talking. 

What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
All kinds! I love Tolkien, Austen, and C.S. Lewis, but I also love to read YA Dystopian (my current genre of choice), fantasy, historical fiction, clean romance... really anything that captures me. I'm really into characters. Obviously a solid, interesting plotline is important. But my favorite stories are the ones that make me feel like the characters are real and make me experience all of their emotions.

What kind of writer are you: plan or not?
I want to be a plotter, but I can never seem to do it. I write very much by the seat of my pants. I do have several notebooks that have random notes, diagrams, lists, timelines, ect from moments when I was working something specific out, but as for plotting out the whole book in advance...never happens.

How does your average writing time go?
A lot of listening to music and staring at the wall. I try to write in a cinematic way, so music helps me visualize the scenes as they might play out in a movie. Music also helps me feel the characters' emotions, so I always begin with my headphones on. Once the story starts coming out, I prefer dim lighting, a quiet corner, and a tall glass of water or matcha to sip.

What book/character of yours is your favourtie?
Hannah, my main protagonist, is easily my favorite. I suppose that's in part because I spent so much time shaping her. I tried to create a character who is brave, but also flawed and damaged. She's been fear-conditioned through the process of her childhood, so I aimed to make that feel realistic. In the end, I find she is someone I want to be like; she sees the courage in others and does the hard things, because if she doesn't she knows someone else will have to.

If you had the chance to write anywhere, where would you choose?
A cottage on the coast of Maine in the dead of winter. Weirdly specific, I know. But it's nostalgic for me. I only lived in those exact conditions for a short time, but I loved ever minute as a child.

What attracted you to your chosen genre?
I love the process of watching a person/character scramble out of the dark, dim life they've always known and into freedom, whether that be physical, emotional, whatever. It's the process that I'm obsessed with. And also that great moment of realization when everything suddenly makes sense, their eyes are clear, and their entire world shifts. I love the build up to that moment and tend to get emotional when they reach it.

How have other writers influenced your own writing?
The first YA Dystopian books I ever read were Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series, followed by Veronica Roth's Divergent series. Their first person narratives, especially Roth's, really impacted the way I tell stories. I was completely absorbed, reading them from the protagonists' minds.
Another writer I love is Julianne Donaldson, who writes in a completely different genre from me. But she creates such vivid characters. I can see them clearly and get a real sense of their personalities, and that makes for a vibrant reading experience.

Do you have a writing playlist?
Or do you prefer silence? I do have a playlist. Lots of Sia. Some Amber Run. A couple songs by Fleurie... But it changes often depending on the scene I'm working on.

Do you have any hobbies?
I live in Japan, so my biggest hobby right now is learning to speak Japanese. It's hard!

What's your favourite kind of scene to write?
Any scene that deals with intense emotions. Scenes of overwhelming joy, devastation, fear, anticipation... Those tend to come the easiest and are kind of cathartic for me, because as an introvert/socially anxious type individual I tend to internalize a lot of my own (much less intense) emotions.
There is no sun. There is no moon. There is only gray—the smog belched from coal-fueled factories. The Workers silently shuffle to their assigned posts. The Outcasts watch from the alley walls. On every corner, a Watcher stands stone-faced, a rifle in hand. This is the only life that exists. Beyond the mountains is a dream. But dreams are foolish in a place like this.

Hannah has spent nineteen years dodging Watchers and doing as she is told.

Do not look Watchers in the eye. Don't give them a reason to notice you.

But when she wakes to the valley exploding in revolution, Hannah is forced onto a dangerous path, where nothing is what she believed. Suddenly freedom is in her grasp, and the way there requires working with the men she fears most

My review: 5 stars
I love me a good dystopian fiction and this is definitely one of the good ones. As a d├ębut novel it is brilliant. I loved the way the story was introduced and told from the first page. It was engaging and intriguing for how it worked. It didn't fall into tropes and it was original and told in a way that made it exciting and new. I loved Hannah and her story. Living in a world where a worker never questions or even makes eye contact with the watchers, it was an excellent story with many twists and turns that kept you turning the pages and going along for the ride. Highly recommended!

You can follow Laura on Facebook or Twitter.

Join Joey here on the blog on Fridays for interviews, reviews and guest bloggers. If you'd be interested in doing any of those, you can contact Joey here.

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