Laura Stoddard was born in Idaho, and spent her formative years running amok in the great outdoors. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Laura’s own vivid, completely insane dreams provided the inspiration for The Dreamosphere, her debut novel. Laura enjoys hiking, rowing, reading, racquetball, volunteering, and spending time with family. She currently lives in Phoenix, Ariz.
AN INTERVIEW WITH LAURA
List three interesting facts about yourself
1) I’m an adrenaline junkie. Skydiving, whitewater rafting, shark cage–I’ve done it all! I have yet to ride in a monster truck though, and that is one of my bucket list items.
2) I abhor, detest, and loathe gum. I know. Weirdest thing ever. Seeing, hearing, or smelling it in another person’s mouth almost makes me physically ill. So gross! When I’m having a conversation with a gum chewer, and they’re standing and I’m sitting, all I can focus on the whole time is that blob rolling around in their mouth, because I just know…just know…that it’s suddenly going to self-project itself at me.
3) I kind of really dig conspiracy theory. I’m not a paranoid fanatic with tinfoil over my windows or anything…but I love reading about unsolved/misunderstood mysteries: the Bermuda Triangle, Atlantis, Freemasonry, the paranormal, etc. etc.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I employ the vomit-of-the-mind method. 🙂 I just write down every single thing that comes to mind, not in any kind of order. I don’t spend time outlining or structuring my stories. I just start writing. Once it’s all out (and it will keep trickling afterwards), I put it all together. Yes, I just came up with that disgusting, wonderful analogy right now.
Are experiences in The Dreamosphere based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
A good deal of the people, places and events are based on my own childhood. The treehouse that plays so prominently in the story, is a combination of several actual treehouses my dad built. We really did have mud fights and chase fireflies, like Gwen and Brooke. And the dreams, which are the central focus of the story, are based on my own dreams. Like Gwen, I dream every single night, and I remember all of them–in staggering detail. The good, the bad, and the bizarre. All of the dreams in the book are dreams I actually had, tailored a bit to accommodate the flow of the book.
Why Edgar Allan Poe? Isn’t he a little dark to include in a book for young readers?
At one point in the book, when Gwen is asked why she likes Poe, her quiet response is, “We understand each other.” I guess that’s me projecting a little bit, because that’s how I feel about him. His personal life was a roller coaster of sweet moments, triumphant victories, colossal tragedies, and unfortunate decisions that ultimately lead him down a path of destruction. He experienced both profound sadness and darkness, and overwhelming joy and solidarity in the arms of his loved ones. We all struggle with inner demons. Poe just mastered the art of putting those demons down on paper; in a very human way. Poe’s work can be gut-wrenching, terrifying, poignantly beautiful, and heartbreaking. I love all of it. What initially made me think to include him in The Dreamosphere was the fact that he’s written so many poems about dreams. Beautiful poems. Incorporating one of them into the story just fit. And the context in which it is included is pretty clever, if I do say so myself.
Do you have any advice for young or up-and-coming authors?
Remember that vomit-of-the-mind technique I mentioned? Use it. I’ve been writing down all my random story ideas for as long as I can remember. (I still have tattered notebooks from my tween days). The Dreamosphere is one of those stories that simply grew and grew, until it was suddenly book-length. No one was more surprised than me when that happened! 🙂 Write down all your ideas, and hold onto them. Let them roll around in your brain for a while. If the ideas or words aren’t coming, leave it alone for a while. Inspiration and motivation can hit at the most unexpected times. Write for the joy of writing.
Name some books or authors who have influenced you
Some of my all-time favorite books: Fahrenheit 451, The Fountainhead, The Count of Monte Cristo, A Wrinkle in Time, The Giver, The Last Days of Pompeii, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland
Some of my favorite authors: Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Lois Lowery, Jasper Fford, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Dave Eggers