Author Interview with Laura Lee McKellips

Posted on October 27, 2013

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Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself:

I’m 28 years old and live in southern Tennessee. I’ve always been interested in the Civil War since I live so close to several battlefields. When I’m not writing or reading, I play softball. It’s a good way to get away from the computer for a while and not think about any character or story

Do you write under any other names? 

No.

What are you currently working on?

I’m actually working on two books at the moment. One is a companion to my first book called the Woman Behind the Letters. The other is something different altogether. It is called The Event Specialist.

How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles?

I have published one and it is called Cursed Soldier.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve been writing fanfiction for years and several people asked if I ever thought about writing a real book. I of course said no because what publishing company would publish my work and I had no clue you could self-publish at the time. In January I read a book that I loved and found out later it was self-published. After some research I found out that several books, I read recently were self-published. I had this idea that I couldn’t get out of my head so I decided to take a leap and publish it.

Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?

No that I know of, I do love having both POVs in a story. I like knowing what the girl and guy are thinking in certain situations.

How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?

Well the first one was easy since it was the story. The two that I am working on were harder. I actually just came up with them last week. I was driving to work and they just popped in my head. I started to worry since I was already writing the stories. Nothing I thought of seemed to fit.

Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?

Well my first book was really about learning to accept some things are just out of your control. It is how you deal with them that matters. It’s the same message that I find making its way into the books I am working on. Things happen that you never see coming but it doesn’t mean you stop living your life. You have to learn how to adapt.

How much of the book is realistic/true?

Actually quite a lot since it is based in history, mostly the Civil War. I did a lot of research to make sure I got the dates and facts correct. It also takes place in the Gettysburg National Military Park. I tried to keep it as accurate as possible for the readers. I want them to picture the place if they cannot journey there.

Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Alex’s relationship with her best friend is loosely based on my friendships with my best-friends. They support each other and know when the other one is hurting. Its a great relationship.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Bible,  Gone with the Wind, Where the Red Fern Grows, and The Prize.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?

I would have to go with Gail McHugh. It is because of her that I learned about self-publishing.

What book are you reading now?

Just Remember to Breathe by Charles Sheehan-Miles

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

My friends

Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?

I would like it to be a career but its just a hobby at the moment. It is a great escape for me and a way to release those characters screaming in my head.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No because it was a learning experience for me.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I always liked to read and would wonder what would happened if this happened to one of the characters. I started writing short stories in high school for my friends to read.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

“Alexandria is our best tour guide at the park.” Cole explained hoping to move this interview along. “She knows more about the park than even I do.”
“Ask me any question about the battle; I have done my research on Gettysburg.” Ben stated looking at Alex. She heard the dare in his voice, and decided that this would really be a test for him. He claimed to know about the Civil War, well she was about to find out if that was true or not.
“Okay, where were the Confederates before Gettysburg?” Alex asked, knowing that she hadn’t talked about this on the tour. Normally, she never talked about it unless she was on the extensive tour or during the reenactment. He should at least know that piece of information; it wasn’t really that hard to figure out.
“Lee had just won Chancellorsville, and moved his army north to continue his campaign for the North.” He replied, remembering those days of marching north.
“Correct.”

-Cursed Soldier

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Creating characters that stand out in people’s minds. I want my characters to stand out in a sea of characters.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Julie Garwood, she manages to create these strong men and women who somehow come together without becoming weak.

Who designed the covers of you books?

Christina French, she is amazing and deals with my off the wall ideas.

What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?

The hardest part was letting someone else read it. I love what I write but I always think no one else will like it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Go with your gut. Advice can steer you right or wrong but you are the one who knows the characters inside and out. Also take the bad with the good, everyone will not like what you write but that’s okay.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for taking a chance on me and for all the wonderful comments and reviews.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life?

Research was a big deal because of the history in the story. I covered the Civil War through letters while adding the aftermath to Ben’s life. Since he was cursed to live, he saw 150 years of history so it was important to get the facts right. His frame of mind was sometimes challenging. He was from a different time period and still held those ideals close.

What character from your writing is your favorite and why?

Alex is my favorite because there is more of me in her than I want to admit. She also has my dream job of working as a tour guide at Gettysburg.

 

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