Interview With Author Laurie Bell

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

My name is Laurie Bell. I am an Australian author and a lover of fantasy and science fiction of all kinds. I volunteer at my local theatre company and am often found in coffee shops or on trains writing madly in one of my many notebooks. Oh, and I love chocolate and coffee! I maintain an active blog of science fiction, fantasy, and flash fiction pieces, reviews and rambles. You can discover more about me at https://solothefirst.wordpress.com.

Below is a little about my published books.

The Butterfly Stone (Book one of The Stones of Power)

Believe in the magic.

Something is after Tracey Masters, a Mage-kind teen in a mostly non-magical world—a world where people like Tracey are often feared, and oppressed. Add to this stress a crazy family life, the overwhelming pressures of school, friends, and bullies, and working a boring job as an assistant at her uncle’s detective agency for magical types, and life isn’t just hard, it’s chaos! That is, until a mysterious woman walks through the door with a case about a missing necklace known as the Butterfly Stone.

The Tiger’s Eye (Book two of The Stones of Power)

Remember

Tracey Masters is ready to train harder, dig deeper, and get more in touch with the magic that is pulsing inside of her. She has faced the threat of the shadow, and it nearly consumed her. Clawing at the edges of her mind—of her memories—she senses a new evil encroaching. As Tracey sets off in search of the other Stones of Power, she continues to wrestle with questions about her past. Racing to discover who she really is, Tracey must decide how far she is willing to go to protect her family and friends.

White Fire: A Toni Delle Adventure

Everybody lies. Watch your back.

Toni’s mission is to find and stop a new weapon being manufactured and smuggled into the hands of criminal elements all over the galaxy. And hey, while she’s at it, can she also find the missing weapons designer linked to these shipments? She would have refused if it wasn’t for the insane amount of money… Oh, who was she kidding – danger, betrayal, secrets, lies – these were all the things she loved about her job. The only problem? She has to rely on information provided by The Smuggler. And he may not be the only one capable of betrayal.

The Good, the Bad and the Undecided

Everyone – The good, the bad and the undecided – has a story.

A collection of twelve short stories set during the thrilling events of White Fire. A cast of guns-for-hire, undercover agents, revolutionaries and rogues reveal their part in Toni’s adventures. Because everyone – the good, the bad and the undecided – has a story.

About and social links: https://solothefirst.wordpress.com/about

Book purchase links: https://solothefirst.wordpress.com/my-books

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

My Stones of Power series was originally written as a 1000 word prompt response. I loved the character (a magical girl stuck in a cupboard) and the idea so much I expanded it into a book and then into a series. I was lucky enough to find a fabulous independent publisher Wyvern’s Peak Publishing and luckily, they loved The Butterfly Stone as much as I did. Wyvern’s Peak Publishing has book three now and I am working on book four as I write this.

White Fire and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided were written together when I was 17. As a young adult, I couldn’t find any great sci-fi that featured a female hero (there were plenty out there, but my local library sure didn’t have any,) so, I wrote what I wanted to read at the time. I worked on it throughout the years, workshopped it and eventually split off White Fire (Toni’s story) as a novel. My amazing editor, Libby, suggested I turn the short stories I had left into an actual collection of short stories which became The Good, the Bad and the Undecided. I am working on book two of Toni’s adventures.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

Go with your gut. And ask the experts. My publisher organised the covers for The Butterfly Stone and The Tiger’s Eye through Flirtation Designs. I absolutely adore what they came up. For White Fire and The Good, the Bad and the Undecided I gave my cover brief to my project manager, who organised it with Red Tally Studios. I sent some example covers and movie posters to give a feel for the book, a summary of the book and then some character descriptions and left it up to them. They did an amazing design that I think really pops.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

I’ve come to realise that reviews are not for the author, they are for the reader and for other readers. Everyone’s view is valid and as different as there are books in the world. There are so many books out there and hey, there books I don’t really enjoy too. I try not to read the bad reviews. Everyone is entitled to not finish a book or to not like a book. I can’t control how someone will respond to any of my books. I just hope the ones that do enjoy them, tell others about them and will read more.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I think over time I have gotten tighter, more focused with what I’m doing. Practice makes perfect, right? I just keep working at the craft, at my joy of writing, at my love of telling a good story. I talk with many other writers too. I’m always listening to what I can do to make something better. There is always something to learn. I now know I prefer to write the first draft manually, what pens I like, and the notebook I like. That I write about 1000 words to 2000 a day (and I write better on the train or out at a cafe – tricky in covid times) and that I don’t have to write every day. I write more dialogue and movements in the first draft and flesh out the locations and thoughts/emotions on the second draft as I type it up. I write at least 6-8 drafts before it goes off to my beta readers. (Used to be 15 drafts or so). My beta readers will always see something I missed – an emotional arc or an idea or backgrounding that I can add. I think each draft gets deeper, more detailed and more layered as I go.

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

I’ve learned to enjoy the editing process, though I still know next to nothing about commas! I used to hate editing, but now I find it really fun… being able to tweak a story until it works, adding ideas, cutting words, adding layers. Also, I’ve learned I have to trust my ideas more. Many times, I find – to my surprise and delight – that I have layered in an idea or theme all along – that I never knew was there until someone points it out to me. Obviously, the back of my brain knew what it was doing, though I might not have been fully conscious of it at the time!

I think the worst thing about the process – is just how painful waiting on the system is. Every step takes time. Writing the first draft, self-editing, waiting on beta readers, editors, publishers, agents, everyday readers to read and hopefully post a review… everything about writing a book takes time. So, I write something new while I wait.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I am always writing to serve my readers. I want them to enjoy the adventure. A reader wants a satisfying conclusion. However, I also know that readers don’t always want all the answers. Sometimes the best hook is to leave them wanting more. It’s finding the right balance that’s the key. I think the reader is satisfied when a character achieves their goal or get what’s coming to them (for good, bad or indifferent). It’s the emotional journey that is interesting while they get from A to B. I think if you set up a goal in the opening chapters you have to pay that off by the end, otherwise you end up with some very unhappy readers.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

Ooooooo, I think emotions play a LOT of roles in creativity. Emotions will really direct the mood that comes out in a scene when I am writing. When I am angry, cranky or happy it all comes out in my work! Perhaps I might write a dark scene when I am mad, or an action scene when I am buzzing on coffee, or perhaps I will write a moment of reflection for a character after I have been pensively thinking about my life. I also think the mood (emotional arc) of my characters is really important. Emotions drive a character to make decisions… both good and bad. Characters (people) make decisions when they are angry, happy, are hoping to be happy, out of spite, out of fury, drunk, tired, attraction… and it’s those decisions that drive a story forward. Bad decisions might lead to a tragedy and then it’s how they rectify that action that makes a story compelling. Can they fix it? That’s another thing. Can a character fix a mistake? Can they live with what they have done? It’s what they do next that makes the best story telling.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

Music can influence my mood and emotions, Certain TV shows or movies too. Weather can influence mood. Or reading certain books. It all depends on what I’m trying to trick my brain into doing, usually the words flow from there.

# What are your plans for future books?

I have two more Stones of Power books to write (5 in all). I am working on Toni’s next adventure in my sci-fi series. I have three other WIP (An Aussie supernatural thriller with a dash of comedy, A MG/YA SFF with alien dragons and alien elephants and a darker sci-fi (that’s a bit noir and a bit horror – and seems cursed not to ever be published!) I have plenty of other ideas milling about in my brain too. Some more short stories, a futuristic thriller and some other bits and pieces. and I’d like to turn some of my books into audible books at some point.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I have taken singing lessons, acted on stage, worked backstage, been an assistant to the director, been an assistant stage manager, dresser, written radio plays (as a kid – that I then starred in), narrated stories, written fan fiction, drawn (badly) picture books, built and managed websites, been a teacher, a travel agent, an administrator and have two degrees, but through it all I have always written stories.