Friday, December 4, 2009

Interview with Laurie Alice Eakes

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Laurie Alice Eakes. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called The Glassblower. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

The Glassblower is set in New Jersey in 1809 and is the first book in the New Jersey historical series from Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing. Colin Grassick travels from Scotland to Salem County to become the master glassblower at a glassworks. He loves his work and hopes to bring the rest of his family to America for a more prosperous life, but his love for his boss’s daughter could cost him his job and his life.

The Glassblower is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

With all three of these books, I wanted to go for simplicity. Somehow, focusing on one character from each book just stuck in my head. It’s mainly about a glassblower. Besides that, it’s not a usual occupation for a protagonist in a historical, so I thought it would get people’s attention.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love history. Although I’ve played with contemporary fiction, I haven’t found a niche there. Frankly, I’m more comfortable in historical settings than contemporary ones.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I wanted to write a series on New Jersey. It’s kind of an unjustly maligned state for which I have a great deal of affection for various reasons, so I picked up an old Bicentennial general history of the state. The chapter on the glassblowing industry wouldn’t leave my head.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

That depends on the time period and subject matter. I have hundreds of them. The ease of getting public domain books from Google Books makes the selection even broader. I usually start with some kind of general history and go on to the specific from there. I love original sources, too, like diaries and memoirs.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Colin. He just got ahold of my imagination and heart and I loved making this artistic and sensitive, but strong artisan.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I use an Excel spreadsheet and focus on goal, motivation, and conflict for general purpose, romantic conflict, and spiritual conflict. I add in things like eye and hair color for reference later, and fears and strengths, etc. I also write down the epiphany they achieve in the story, what lesson they have to learn.

As far as research, it is highly important. Colin is a Scot, so his speech is going to be different. I like my characters to use words and expressions of their time and place, to talk like someone from their time and place rather than a contemporary person from Hollywood. Research matters in attitudes. This is especially important with female characters. My nineteenth century heroine is not going to sound like a feminist, though most of my heroines are independent. They’re simply independent in a historically accurate way.

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

I like the styles of the early 1800s. Far more comfortable for females than previously or later. Men, too, in many ways. Speech? That’s more fun in the Regency novel, of course. One thing I find interesting about the nineteenth century is how God is such an integral part of everyone’s life. Talk of religion, God, and spiritual matters was not a time for everyone to bristle or keep under the rug. It just was.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Oh, yes, several. Patricia Veryan, Jo Beverley, Georgette Heyer, I could keep going.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Keeping my name in the public eye through blogging regularly, posting on Facebook, and, above all, writing a book that people like. The Glassblower was one of the editor’s five favorite historicals of 2009. She loved my hero.

What do we have to look forward to next?

The other two books in the New Jersey series: The Heiress and The Newcomer and When the Snow Flies, from Avalon books, come out in April and August of next year. I have several more books coming out after that, my first trade paperback, Bride of the Mist, will be released from Baker/Revell in January of 2011.

Thanks, Laurie!

To celebrate her book release, Kim has a free book of The Glassblower that one lucky commenter on today's blog can win. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

Laurie will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes does not remember a time when books did not play a part in her life; thus, no one was surprised when she decided to be a writer. Her first hardcover was an October, 2006 Regency historical from Avalon Books and won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency, as well as being a finalist for Best First Book. After selling her first book in the inspirational market, she also wrote articles and essays for Christian publications. A brief hiatus in publishing climaxed with her selling eleven books in nine months, to publishers such as Barbour, Avalon, and Baker/Revell.

She is an active member of RWA and ACFW, and started the Avalon Authors group blog. A graduate of the Seton Hill University Master of Arts Degree in Writing Popular Fiction, And a Bachelor of Arts graduate in English and French from Asbury College, she is an experienced speaker, and has made presentations at local and national RWA conferences, as well as local universities and libraries.

Until recently, she lived in Northern Virginia, then her husband’s law career took them and their dogs and cats, to southern Texas, where she writes full-time and enjoys the beach whenever possible.

Check out author’s website at though I confess I haven’t had time to update it. My blog is more up-to-date on what I’m up to


Kim Watters said...

Good morning Laurie ALice. Thanks for joining us today. Wow, you're one busy lady. How do you keep everything straight? I love the idea of using a spreadsheet for your character. SInce I'm always having to refer back to notes or another part of the book, I may give that one a try. Thanks. Have a great day with us and enjoy your chocolate!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments. I am always looking for different authors to read and have added this one to my TBR list.
I like reading books set in this time period
Happy Holidays

Tia Dani said...

Nice interview, Laurie Alice. Love the spread sheet idea. As a team writer we have to make sure to keep on the same path to avoid rewriting scenes. We make a lot of sticky notes and keep a notebook handy, but might give the spread sheet a try. Anyway, it is great to meet you and learn about your books. Definitely you will go in our TBR pile. Thank you for visiting this blog. Always something interesting going on here. Good job!

Donna Hatch said...

Hi Laurie,
I admit, I'm intrigued by the whole idea of a glassblower as a hero. I love the strong, yet sensitive and artistic types. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of your book.

Estella said...

Cannot wait to read your book. Don't think I've ever read a book with a glassblower as a hero.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

It's always nice to read about a fellow Avalon author who is achieving other publishing feats. Congratulations on your series, Laurie Alice. I enjoyed the intervsiew.

Tina LaVon said...

Thanks for stopping by MCTT!

I love that your historical is set in America. Also, glassblowing is an interesting profession.

Good luck with your series and happy holidays!

Donna Del Grosso said...

Your book sounds wonderful! I like the setting in New Jersey as well as I was born in Pennsylvania and wouldn't mind visiting that part of the country again! Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

joder said...

Your new book sounds great and the cover is lovely. It's reminiscent of a Masterpiece Theater/Jane Austen production.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

Gwyn Lacy said...

I enjoyed reading this article/interview with Laurie Alice Eakes. I too thought it was interesting that Laurie uses a spread sheet for her characters. I aspire to attend Seton Hill University and am glad to see that it helped Laurie attended. Definately a new author for me to add to my TBR list as well! Best wishes this Holiday Season!