Today I have Lauren Grimley on the blog and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions!
Lauren Grimley lives in central Massachusetts where she grew up, but her heart is on the beaches of Cape Cod where she spends as much of her time as possible. After graduating from Boston University she became a middle school English teacher. She has her seventh graders to thank for starting her on this path; it was they who convinced a rather skeptical new teacher vampire stories were worth reading. She now spends her time writing them when she should be correcting papers
1.) Can you describe Unforeseen in a sentence?
Well, my agent-ready elevator pitch was: Unforeseen is an urban fantasy novel about Alex Crocker, a young teacher who awakens after being attacked to discover she’s being hunted by vampires for possessing a power that she’s spent years trying to repress.
But, since non-fantasy readers all hear ‘vampire’ ask if it’s like Twilight, I’ve also summarized it this way: Unforeseen is like Twilight for readers who are past their tweens and realize Bella would have been so much better if she had learned to kick butt in book one.
2.) What inspired you to write Unforeseen?
Seventh graders. Really, I’m a teacher, and at the height of its popularity, my girls convinced me to read the Twilight series. Though I was starting to read more fantasy, I was skeptical about vampires and anything with romance. One book in, though, I was hooked. I moved from Meyer’s books to other YA series and then to adult series. I loved that each author played with the traditional views of vampires and created her own mythology, but I’m a character girl. It wasn’t until I was on a run and Alex’s character began to develop that I got really excited and inspired to write my own series.
3.) Which was your favorite male to write about? Were any of them hard to capture?
The males in general were a little tricky at first. I write in third person limited, so my narration in scenes when one of the males was the focus really needed to sound like the voice of a guy. No one will be shocked to hear that males and females communicate differently, but capturing that in writing took a little work.
Once I got going, though, Sage was definitely my favorite male character to write. I love him for the same reasons Alex doesn’t: he is surly, sarcastic, and brutally honest. As the author I have the luxury of knowing his back-story, which gives me the insight needed to be sympathetic. Surprisingly, Sage is not the male I pair with my heroine, Alex. I decided that Alex and Sage’s gifts made a relationship impossibly complicated. Alex’s new life will pose enough problems; I wanted to give her a bit of a break in her love life.
4.) I loved the idea of Seers. Where did the idea come from?
Many vampire stories have vampires who can hear people’s thoughts or erase their memories. I liked this idea and wanted to include it in my world as well, though since it seemed to give vampires a tremendous amount of power, I only gave it to a select few, Knowers. To balance that, I needed to give my heroine a power that was equally invasive and potentially even stronger. Sensing others’ emotions allows Alex insight into her allies and her enemies. But she’s still just a human. It wasn’t enough. So I added the ability to manipulate others’ emotions as well, sometimes powerfully enough to stun them for short periods of time. This made her valuable to both covens–and gave her a fighting chance of surviving.
5.) If you had to choose between being a Knower or being a Seer which would you choose?
Well, neither gift is terribly pleasant in the long run. I explore this more in the second novel of the series, Unveiled. If I had to choose, however, I think I’d be a Knower. I’m very inquisitive about people. Okay, I’m downright nosy. But I think you have to be as a writer. The ability to get inside people’s minds and listen to their thoughts would be invaluable to my writing and satisfy my snooping side. Besides, who hasn’t said or done something incredibly stupid or insensitive? How great would it be to be able to wipe it from someone’s memory?
6.) What is your favorite thing about being a writer? Are their any cons?
For the same reason I love to read: I love the escape. I love living vicariously through my characters, getting to experience the joys and pains of being human (or vampire) while still safely in my living room. I’m also a language lover. I drool over unique description and adore learning new words and playing with different sentence structures. In other words, I’m a dork.
The biggest con is that it’s very difficult to make a living being a writer. So while I’m spending nights, weekends, and vacations writing and revising, I’m neglecting the laundry, my running shoes, and occasionally even my friends and family. Luckily, I have incredible friends and family, and my laundry and running shoes have yet to lodge a formal complaint.
7.) I know some authors who need candles or music to be able to write. Is there anything you have to have?
When I actually write, I prefer no distractions–no music, no television, no noise at all. I require only my notebook and some green gel pens (which I suppose is a little picky). Before I write, though, when I’m still thinking through a scene, I need lots of distractions. I think up almost everything I write either driving in the car or out jogging, both of which I do listening to music, mostly alternative rock/pop. I create playlists for all of my books with songs whose lyrics or beat fit the mood of the various chapters.
8.) What are some of your favorite books?
This answer could be a book in itself, so I’ll stick with my more recent reads. As a teacher, I loved The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins because I thought, like J.K. Rowling, she wrote a fantasy series that appealed to all readers. That takes more than just inserting universal themes, it requires terrific world building, character development, and creativity. As a writer, I loved Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. If I thought I had it rough trying to write about a mind-reader and an emotion-detector, it’s nothing compared to how she manages to write about two characters within one body. And as a reader on her summer vacation, I loved the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, Deadlocked. I definitely tried to put a little of Harris’s humor into my own novel, because her books are just pure fun to read.
9.) If you could sit down and chat with any author (living or dead), who would you choose?
Though passing up Shakespeare would be a crime, I’d choose Joanne Rowling, without a doubt. I hated fantasy until, as an education major, I felt obligated to read the first book in the Harry Potter series. Little did I know I would become obsessed, not just with all things Potter, but with reading and writing fantasy in general. I would love an hour to pick her brain about writing and to learn more about the world that sucked me so completely into the genre I now adore.
10.) Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
If you love writing, write. I know I still have many more rejection letters in my future, and my book sales will likely never rival those of my favorite authors, but I decided somewhere along the way that I don’t care. I can’t care. If I did, I might be tempted to give up something that I truly love. I’m not willing to do that, and I hope other writers aren’t either.
Those are some fantastic answers! I want to thank Lauren Grimley for stopping by and giving me a moment of her time to answer these questions.