The Blonde Bookworm: Author Interview: Lauren Faulkenberry

Author Interview: Lauren Faulkenberry

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Lauren Faulkenberry is author of the novel BAYOU MY LOVE (Velvet Morning Press, 2016), the novella BACK TO BAYOU SABINE, and the children's book WHAT DO ANIMALS DO ON THE WEEKEND? She is a contributor to the anthology HUNGRY FOR HOME: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas With More Than 200 Favorite Recipes.

Lauren divides her time between writing, teaching, and making artist books. Originally from South Carolina, she has worked as an archaeologist, an English teacher, and a ranger for the National Park Service. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Georgia College & State University, where she attended on fellowship, and earned her MFA in Book Arts from The University of Alabama. She was a finalist for the Novello Festival Press First Novel Award, won the Family Circle short fiction contest for her story "Beneath Our Skin," and was nominated for an AWP Intro Award.

She currently lives in western NC, where she is at work on her next novel in the Bayou series. 

- Goodreads -

I reached out to Lauren and she was kind enough to let me read her novel as well as answer a few questions for me. The post prior to this one is a review of her novel, Bayou My Love. Please check that out as well if you haven't done so already! Now, let's get to know Lauren!

1.Describe yourself in 5 words. 

Sassy, funny, creative, calculating, warm-hearted.

2. What was your inspiration for Bayou My Love?

Years ago, when I was in graduate school, a friend and fellow writer dared me to write a romance novel because he thought I was shy about sex scenes. Of course I had to pick up that gauntlet, so I banged out a draft to prove I could do it. I finished my grad program, set that manuscript aside, and forgot about it for a while as I wrote in a more literary style. But it haunted me. I loved the characters and the premise, so I reworked it to make it more like my real way of writing. While writing the original draft, I just combined some of my favorite things: firemen, feisty headstrong women, voodoo, mystery, humor, and romance. I’ve always had a soft spot for Louisiana and its eclectic culture, so I built the story around that setting. Once I had the characters in mind, the writing became a what-if game for me: what if a woman inherited a house and found a man living in it? What if she found that man irresistible? What if an odd little romantic Louisiana town unleashed all kinds of drama in order to push them together and pull them apart?  

3. What has been the greatest moment of your writing career so far? 

Having first my publisher, then readers tell me they read the book and “couldn’t put it down,” has been a compliment that keeps me going though the times when I have doubts. Knowing that people enjoy what I write (maybe even as much as I enjoy writing it) just makes my day.  

4. What books or authors made you fall in love with reading and writing? 

Oh, dear. So many. Some of my favorites: Flannery O’Connor. Julie Orringer’s “How to Breathe Underwater.” Nanci Kincaid’s “Pretending the Bed is a Raft.” Larry Brown. Ron Rash. Karen Russell. Jeanine Frost. Michael Chabon’s “Wonder Boys.” Tana French. I just read Ernest Kline’s “Ready Player One” and Belinda Bauer’s “Rubbernecker” and devoured them both. I’m all over the place with what I read, but what keeps me hooked is complex characters, compelling stories, a blend of humor and pathos, and a mastery of language.

5. What was the hardest part about writing Bayou My Love?

The hardest part for me is always what happens in the middle. I know a lot of writers say they struggle with plot, but for me it’s a hard line to walk sometimes: upping the ante and creating enough drama, but not making things over the top. I keep going back to the advice I heard in grad school: decide what a character wants and then deny her that thing. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’s a bit sadistic, but it works when I get stalled. It keeps the story moving, because characters’ needs and desires change—but keeping that idea in the back of my mind (along with the constant introduction of monkey wrenches) keeps me moving forward through a story.

That being said, writing the ending for Bayou My Love was tricky. I rewrote it several times based on my overhaul of the manuscript, wanting to hit the right note. Since this is a series, I had to work around that idea as well. I’m in that camp that believes stories have inevitable endings based on the way they begin—but a series demands an ending that isn’t too final sometimes. 

6. And lastly, what advice do you have for aspiring writers? 

Never stop writing. Never stop reading. Write the bad first drafts. Get the words out. Find your tribe of other writers. Go to the workshops, retreats, and conferences. Carve out time to write. Make time for yourself and your passion. Watch sunsets. Send thank you cards. Talk to strangers—sometimes they have the best stories.

I could suggest books that helped me: Stephen King’s “On Writing,” Charles Baxter’s “Burning Down the House,” Anne Lammott’s “Bird by Bird.” Everyone’s needs are different of course, but for me, being in a constant cycle of reading and writing has helped me tremendously.

Also, write the book you want to read. Whoever first said that is a genius.

Lauren, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself! Everyone be on the look out for the next book in the series! 

- The Blonde Bookworm 


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