Thursday, September 19, 2013

Writers Like Us - Jennifer Laam

So excited to have Jennifer Laam here to share her Writers Like Us answers. Her book, THE DAUGHTER OF THE TSAR is out in October by St. Martin's Press. Jennifer is a total sweetheart and her book is my Anastasia-loving dream come true! You can find her website here or tweeting under @JenLaam.

Her Writers Like Us answers are below in bold.

Jennifer on Writing
  • I've written two books, and one is (about to) see the light of day. The other one, my first novel, currently resides in the back of a closet, as far away from the light of day as possible. 
  • My favorite scenes to write are those that involve first dates, new romances, and all sorts of delicious awkwardness. When I’m attracted to someone, my first impulse is to tease them. Unsurprisingly, my characters tease each other all the time. 
  • No matter how long I've been writing, I still have issues with procrastination. I spend lots of time daydreaming about what I want to write, getting to know the characters, and visualizing how it will all play out. At some point, though, I need to plant my butt in a chair and get to work. I feel like I spend too long getting to that point in the process. And then once I do, I make way too many notes to myself to the effect of [insert dramatic change of circumstances/life altering realization here].
  • A typical comment from my critique partners is “'ground' this obscure reference." It is a fair point. Interestingly, though, I have received positive feedback on a reference I think is obscure. At one point, my two main contemporary characters listen to “Terrible Love,” the opening track of the National’s album High Violet. Lo and behold, my amazing editor, Ms. Vicki Lame at SMP, is a huge fan of the National. That’s what I call kismet! 
  • The book I wished I wrote is Jane Eyre. Why not dream big, right? I also wouldn’t have “minded” writing L.A. Confidential. That book is massive and yet so tense and exciting.

Jennifer on Getting Published
  • If my agent, the magnificent Erin Harris of Folio, really knew how neurotic I was, she would find out I often want nothing more than to hide under my bed. When I start to feel overwhelmed by the day to day stresses of life, my first instinct is to run and hide. In my defense, though, I would crawl out eventually. If I stayed under the bed forever, I might miss out on a great cupcake or some breaking Kardashian news. You can’t let life pass you by! 
  • When I was querying, I felt awkward. Oh so very, very awkward.
  • The biggest mistake I made querying was waiting and waiting to bite the bullet and just do it. (See also “No matter how long I’ve been writing, I still have issues with procrastination.”)
  • The craziest thought I've ever had while being published: “What if no one buys this book?” At least, I hope that’s a crazy thought.
  • When I got "The Call," my first thought was “I am going to go have a happy cry!” And then I did.
  • When I saw my book sale in Publishers Marketplace, I hoped to God this wasn’t all some awful misunderstanding. 

Jennifer on Life Outside Writing
  • If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be a professor of "star studies" (aka “celebrity gossip”) at a liberal arts college. Thanks to the amazing Anne Helen Petersen, I know this is an actual job. I could read US Weekly as part of my research. If I end up in a heaven, it will be stocked with US Weekly. And maybe some back issues of Tiger Beat for nostalgia’s sake.
  • Secretly, I'm terrified of leaving the house with my clothes on inside out. 
  • My secret boyfriend is...oh wait. I keep an imaginary harem of secret boyfriends. Current imaginary secret boyfriends include Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, and Gary Lightbody-the lead singer of Snow Patrol (obscure reference grounded). My favorite fictional secret boyfriend is Mr. Rochester. So grumpy. So hot.
  • Sometimes, when no one is around, I sing the roles of Jean Valjean and Javert in Les Miserables. I use different voices and try to sing both parts of their duets. I really get into character(s). It is horrific. 

Jennifer Laam’s The Secret Daughter of the Tsar is an ambitious historical novel that traces the lives of three women from different time periods -- Veronica, an aspiring historian living in present-day Los Angeles; Lena, a servant in the late imperial Russian court; and Charlotte, a former ballerina living in World War II occupied Paris – whose stories converge when a long-held secret concerning the Romanov family is finally revealed. By turns a tender love story and suspenseful page-turner.

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