I read Coming Home by Laurie Breton some time ago, and the charming characters stuck with me. I love a good love story set in the music world. You can get Coming Home for free here: myBook.to/ComingHome_LaurieBreton
I reached out to Ms. Breton and she agreed to do an interview! Here it is:
What was your favorite subject in school?
In grade school, English. In high school, French. In college, psychology. I find psychology fascinating, and think it’s a great foundation for a fiction writer.
Who or what inspired you to love reading?
That’s a hard question to answer. Both my parents were voracious readers, although my WWII Marine father liked historical romances and my mother preferred non-fiction. I can remember my mom reading to me when I was very small, and I had a collection of those little Golden Books. I don’t have any memory of learning to read, but it was always my favorite pastime.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. Before that, I used to make up stories in my head while I was lying in bed at night, waiting to fall asleep. One day, I picked up a pen and started writing them down. I’ve been doing it ever since.
Do you write full time or part time?
I write part-time. My goal has always been to quit the day job and become a full-time writer. I’m making enough money now from self-publishing that I might be able to do that in a year or two…now that I’m almost at retirement age (I’ll be 62 in November). LOL
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Was it a gradual decision or did you just suddenly know?
It was simply part of who I was, right from childhood. I submitted my first really bad short story to American Girl magazine when I was about nine. They turned it down. I can’t imagine why! I wrote another really bad story for an English class assignment in junior high school. Embarrassingly bad, florid and angsty. By the time I was thirteen, I was writing longer stories…novels…which I never finished. I’ve lost track of how many I started and then let wither. But there were always stories in my head, fueled, I’m sure, by my love of reading. Eventually, my stories got better. I sold my first short story to Modern Woodmen magazine for $50 at some point in my mid-thirties. That was a huge thrill! Writing is really the only job I ever wanted to do, once I got past the teenage dream of being a rock star. Instead, I wrote a book about a rock star. Probably a much better option!
What made you decide to write in your genre? Or if you write in several g enres, what do you like about each one?
I write love stories. I hesitate to call them romance, although some are more romance than others. Anybody who’s read Coming Home should understand why I say that. My stories are reality-based, and bad things sometimes happen. People who don’t read romance call them romances; people who DO read romance, and know the expectations of the genre, will say they’re not really romances, for very specific reasons. I hate to categorize, but if pressed, I call them women’s fiction. And I didn’t decide to write in that genre. I sat down with a pen and a pad of paper, back in the day, and that’s what came out. I’ve learned to listen to the voices in my head, because so far, they’ve never steered me wrong. Before I returned to writing about Jackson Falls after a fifteen-year hiatus, I wrote seven romantic suspense novels, which was fun, but even my editor at the time told me, “You don’t write romance. You write relationship stories.” I think most writers follow their obsessions, and return to the same themes, over and over. For me, I think that theme is finding out who you really are and where you’re supposed to be in life. Watching how life molds and shapes people, how they grow and change. These are the stories that haunt me. To paraphrase a quote attributed to Stephen King, when asked why he’d chosen to write horror stories: “What makes you think I have a choice?”
What time of day to you prefer to write?
Whenever I can squeeze it in around the day job. When I was in my twenties (and happily unemployed), I would pop the baby in the playpen and write for twenty hours straight, sleep for four or five, and go back to writing. That baby is now 38 years old, and those hours would KILL me now. Sometimes I can stay up a little later than usual, but generally, the best time for me is first thing in the morning. I’m awake by 4 every day anyway, and after getting up so early and working all day, by evening my brain is too fried to write fiction. So I’ve found that 4-6 a.m. is a good time for me. Then I can head off to the day job feeling as though I’ve actually accomplished something.
Do you have a special writing space?
Yes, but it alternates. I have a spare bedroom that I’ve set up as an office, but I also have a sort-of-finished room in the basement that I’ve dubbed the Bat Cave, and some of the time I write down there. It’s actually my painting studio, but I’ve been too busy to do any painting the last couple of years, so I set up my laptop down there. It’s a good place to escape from hubby’s 50-inch flat screen TV.
Do you outline your books ahead of time or just go for it?
If you sat me down, held a gun to my head, and told me I had to outline my next book, I would take the bullet. I am a 100% pantser. I’ve read multiple books on different outlining methods, thinking this would make writing easier for me. It doesn’t. I simply cannot do it. I’ve tried, and I’ve tried, and I can’t. My theory, for what it’s worth, is that this is because my books are character driven instead of plot driven. I don’t know everything that will happen until it does. For me, plot arises from character. So planning ahead is pretty much impossible. This doesn’t mean I have no idea of what’s coming next. I write pages and pages of notes before and during the writing, and at some point, usually halfway through, I’ll sit down and make a list of scenes I know will happen. But the writing, especially in the early stages, is organic. I’ve always written to entertain myself. Learning what’s going to happen when it happens, surprising myself, is part of the charm of writing for me.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
Although I hate the term, yes, I’ve had spells when the writing just wouldn’t come. And I’ve heard all the arguments that plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, doctors don’t get doctor’s block, they just show up and work, boo-hoo-hoo. And while I agree to a certain extent, all I can say is that the creative process is not plumbing or doctoring. Sometimes, the ideas, the words, simply aren’t there, and it’s maddening. I’ve had books that pretty much wrote themselves (I wrote Black Widow in 36 days). And I’ve had books (including my current WIP) where the words flowed like massive, knife-edged boulders mired in quicksand. How do I deal with it? I drive around a lot on the back roads of Maine, thinking, thinking, thinking, trying to work it out in my head. Or I do something else creative, like painting or photography, to try to knock the words loose. Sometimes, I’ll take a day trip to Boston, where I always seem to find inspiration just walking around. But sometimes, when I’m really, truly stuck, instead of beating myself up or trying to force it, I step away for a while and refill the well. Because I think that writer’s block is really a form of burnout, and the best solution I’ve found for burnout is time away from the project. Eventually, the ideas begin to flow again, but if I try to force them, it always makes things worse.
Who are your favorite authors?
I don’t read as much fiction as I used to. Most of my reading now is non-fiction (books about writing, art, photography). But I love Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, Lisa Gardner. I adored Robert B. Parker, and went into mourning when he died. I’ve recently discovered Louise Penny and Kristan Higgins, and love both of them. One of my all-time favorite authors was LaVyrle Spencer. Her books could always make me cry, and I always wanted to write books that made people cry. Because to me, ultimate success as an author is to be able to touch people’s emotions.
What was your favorite story or character that you have written?
My favorite character, by far, who has now appeared in all my Jackson Falls books, is Rob MacKenzie. He started out as a minor character, but that didn’t last long. He just waltzed onto the page one day and took over. I’m so very glad he did!
Where can we get your books?
They are all available at Amazon.com
The first in the Jackson Falls series is available for free here: myBook.to/ComingHome_LaurieBreton
Do you have a website?