Where did you grow up? In Bloomington, MN, with summers spent at my grandparents’ cabin up on the shores of Jewett Lake near Fergus Falls. We actually had two different houses in Bloomington. The first was in a regular grid of residential 3-bedroom houses, and our house was a clone of every other house on the block.
Then we moved to a new house on the other side of Nine-Mile Creek that my mother designed. What I truly loved about living there was being so near to the creek and the woods. I loved spending time there in the parklands along the creek: observing damselflies and crayfish, discovering wild strawberries and daydreaming among the quiet trees.
What did you want to be when you grew up? One of my first ambitions was to be a trapeze artist in a circus – I was before-my-time Punk, and dreamed of a costume spangled with black sequins and my lipstick and nail polish in matching black. In middle school I was thinking astronaut, but I had the same experience as Hilary Clinton: NASA never got back to me when I wrote them asking about training.
But my major ambition was always to be a writer/illustrator. I’ve done both of these things separately, and have some ideas about combining them in picture book or graphic novel format.
I think you’re the first person I’ve ever known who truly wanted to be a trapeze artist! Tell us about your writing journey. It’s been a long, bumpy road. I’ve always had stories in me, but I’ve also always had multiple interests (and the challenges of daily life) so that it was all too easy for me to lose track of something that takes the kind of persistent, long-term attention as does telling a novel-length story.
I had some initial success with short stories – one of which was a winner in the City Pages annual fiction contest back in 1986. Around that time I succeeded in writing three full-length novels. Only one of those seemed good enough to me that I might hope to get it published. I found an agent, she shopped it around to eight different publishers, but it never found a home.
Given how easy it is for me to take up another interest, and how discouraging that experience was, it’s not surprising that I did relatively little writing for the next twenty years. I did have a short story or two published, and I continued to make notes on the ideas that still buzzed around my brain, but I never came close to completing another novel until 2006.
What happened then to get you back into writing? Events conspired to give me a boost. I received a windfall from my uncle Jim Sasseville’s estate after he passed away. This allowed me to take some time off from day jobs. Without the pressure of having to do what would pay, I found myself interested in writing again.
I took advantage of the 2006 NaNoWriMo challenge and produced 50,000 words of a novel. I ended up cutting about 30,000 words and then added new words to bring it up to 90,000. After revising and rewriting, it’s now something I’m pleased with. Spirited! is the tale of an artist, her djinni and their quest to bring down an ancient succubus demon threatening their friends. Last spring it sold to Champagne Books, and is scheduled to be released in April, 2013.
Congratulations! Have you written other books since then? Continuing long past the point when the money from my windfall ran out, and while searching for jobs, working temp and going on and off public assistance, I’ve completed a few more short stories, two novellas, another adult novel and a novel for young readers.
I also wrote a story, The Wind from the Lake, that was recently published in the Love in the Land of Lakes anthology. All proceeds for Love in the Land of Lakes go to benefit Midwest Fiction Writers, a chapter of RWA, which supports and educates writers at every stage in their career. The stories are all set in Minnesota, at, on, in or near one of our 10,000 lakes, and range from sweet to spicy, contemporary to historical to paranormal – a little something for readers of all sorts.
You’ve been busy. Do you plan to publish any of your completed short stories or novellas? One of the short stories sold to ‘New Love Stories’ magazine. I’ve self-published a collection of short stories called Three Wishes–tales from the files of the Fairy Godmothers’ Union (True Love Local). It will be available as a free download on February 13 from Amazon’s Kindle store, published under my pen name Naomi Stone.
One of the novellas (Sweet Mercy, a superhero romance) was just released from Champagne Books in December, and the other adult novel (Wonder Guy, also from the files of the Fairy Godmothers’ Union) sold to Lyrical Press and will be released in May.
Tell us about your current work. Currently, I’m revising a novella that’s a sequel to the one just released in December. Sweet Mercy told the story of a reverse-empath named Rachel Connolly, member of a superhero team seeking to stop a deadly super villain who has the power to control people like puppets.
The sequel, Safe Haven, tells the story of her brother, David, whose superpower is the ability to neutralize the superpowers of others. It took far longer to write this than I’d expect for a novella-length story. I was writing it in between doing rounds of edits and all the pre-production business surrounding having three other books coming out practically on top of each other.
What are your future plans and goals around writing? I’m looking for homes for a couple of my remaining completed works, and plan to keep on writing more of the stories buzzing around my brain — and I plan to keep on keeping on, while I have the wit and manual dexterity to do so. Stories have always been something that mattered to me. I’ll be reading them and writing them for as long as I possibly can.
What is a lesson you’ve learned during your writing journey? Everybody says this, but that’s because it’s all so true. The secret to writing novels is to write, and to keep on writing, and then to rewrite, until you’ve produced the best possible work you can.
Writing is such a solitary undertaking. Do you have others that you turn to for inspiration? I’ve come to truly value my critique partners. Not just for their invaluable insights and advice, but for taking my imaginary friends and their trials and tribulations so seriously, long before they were ready to meet the public.
What do you love about living in Minnesota? What are you not particularly fond of, living here? That’s an easy one. What I love best about Minnesota is that so many of my friends, family and creative communities are here! What I’m not so fond of are the icy sidewalks and sub-zero wind chills we can get this time of year.
What is something you’d like to experience in Minnesota that you haven’t yet? I’d like to join or start an all-girl band and perform at the Ren Fest (Renaissance Festival) or just around town, but that’s another story…
Love that idea! You’ll have to come back to tell us about that. What’s something most people don’t know about you? Sadly, most people don’t even know I exist, or I’m sure my book sales would be much improved. 🙂 I’m not a very demonstrative person, so most people who do know me may not realize how very important their good opinion is to me and how much I care for the health and happiness of those around me.
Thanks for stopping by, Laramie. I wish you great success as your books come out. If you’d like to know more about Laramie, stop by her Facebook page or read excerpts of her books on her Dreamspell website.
See you back here on Thursday for more Minnesota Fun Facts!