Talking books with Laura Liddell Nolen

Happy Monday, everybody!  It’s a great Monday, isn’t it?

If you said no, then prepare to have your mind changed, because today I’ve got with me Laura Liddell Nolen, author of the fantastic book The Ark.  So kick back, relax, and let’s talk books!

KK: Tell us about yourself.

LauraLNolenLN: Hi! Thank you so much for having me! I do love your site. I’m a sci-fi/fantasy fangirl turned writer. I grew up in Mississippi, and I live in Texas now. The Ark is my first book.

KK: And The ArkWhat’s it all about?

LN: It’s about a young convict trapped in prison on the last day of earth. She wants her family to forgive her for her crimes, since her decisions have torn them apart, but now they’re all scheduled to leave the planet without her. If she wants to find them, she’ll have to break out of prison and stow away on the Ark, a massive bioship designed to carry earth’s survivors.

So the closer to redemption she gets, the more of an outlaw she must become.

KK: What inspired you to write this story?

LN: I was pregnant with a girl, and I thought, here’s this person I’ve never met, and I love her so much it hurts. I would do anything for her. What if that’s not enough? What if she can’t find her way in the world despite my dead-level best efforts?

So I created Char, another girl I fell in love with, and gave her all the “flaws” I’m most afraid of. She doesn’t see the world in black and white. She doesn’t follow rules she can’t make sense of. She’s fiercely independent, but not as independent as she believes herself to be. Her understanding of good and bad are much more complex than mine, a quality I find inspiring in others and terrifying in a daughter. And I gave her friends and enemies who bring out those attributes in her, as well as a mother who really, truly loves her.

KK: What is your favorite part of the writing process?  Least favorite?

LN: It’s hard to pin down the best part of the writing process. I love the feeling of being in that zone where everything seems to be working: you’re accomplishing multiple things with every scene, and you know where every element of the story is headed. It’s so much fun. That’s usually how I feel when I write a good chase or a fight scene. But it’s also great fun to edit, because that’s often when some of the best stuff starts shining out. And I love writing that final scene in the story, too! So I’m not sure what my favorite part of the whole process is.

The worst part is an easy answer: writer’s block. It’s the moment(s) when you’re working on a manuscript and everything feels pointless and you question why you ever thought you could be a real writer.

The Ark_version 1KK: That has got to be the best description of writer’s block I’ve ever read.  It’s exactly what I’m struggling with at the moment.  Do you write in any other genres, or is sci-fi it for you?

LN: I love fantasy! When I’m done with The Ark series, I’m going to finish writing an adventure story I’ve had in mind for a year or two. I can’t wait to get to it!

KK: What was it about sci-fi that initially captured your imagination?

LN: I love the authenticity of this genre. We sci-fi fans are united in our ability to suspend disbelief in all the right places, in order to better understand the underlying truth of the story being told.

KK: Will The Ark have a sequel?

LN: Yes! I’m writing it now. Char is a long way from home, so to speak.

KK: Woo!  Thank goodness! 🙂  Assuming you weren’t terrified of blasting into space, where would you like to go if you had the opportunity to visit any planet in the universe?

LN: Jupiter. Go big or go home, right?

Ooh, or anywhere with advanced life, like in Perelandra or Stranger in a Strange Land. Although no one would believe me when I got back!

KK: I haven’t read either of those, but they sound fascinating. 🙂  If forced to choose (there can be only one), which would you prefer: Star Wars or Star Trek?

LN: Star Wars. No question.

This is a fairly deep question, though, if you think about it. I wonder what it says about a sci-fi fan to choose one over the other.

I do love Star Trek, and I’m crazy about the new movies. I am a major fan of Zoe Saldana, kinda like everyone else, so I can’t wait for the next one. Honestly, I always thought there was a chance she’d be cast in the new Star Wars movies, given her career so far! But they’re not out yet, so one can always hope.

KK: And finally, if you could recommend one book, what would it be and why?

LN: Maybe Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. I just surprised myself by recommending nonfiction! I love how she writes, with the themes building on each other so seamlessly, and how she doesn’t bother distinguishing between writing tips and life advice.

KK: Another book I’ll have to check out!  Thanks for the recommendation, and thanks for stopping by!

Stick around, because tomorrow I’ll be reviewing The Ark!  You won’t want to miss it!

About The Ark

There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.

If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

Get your copy here!

About the author

Laura grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent an excellent childhood playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. The Ark is the direct result of those stories and a lifelong devotion to space-themed television. It received a Work in Progress Grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Laura has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Texas with her family.

You can find out more about Laura at her website, or you can follow her on Twitter!

(c) 2015.  All rights reserved.

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