could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York and now live in the Deep South in a mid-sized city near the ocean. We own a historic home, which is constant need of fixing (the porch, a window, the fence). I have the friendliest neighbors and both the elementary and high schools are only a block away. I'm the mom of two fabulous boys, the wife of a smart, generous man, and the daughter of two wonderful parents. Of course, I didn't think my mother and father were wonderful as a child, when they turned off the television all summer, every summer.
This decision, however, turned into one of life's biggest blessings because that is how I developed my love of books and reading. It was a gift. Though I am not as strict with my own children, television time is limited, and my boys are both huge readers! The younger one loves Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Tree House Series. My older son is a big Rick Riordan and Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) fan!
My experiences and personality are definitely injected into my novels. Like Julia in Dancing Naked in Dixie, I'm a klutz and a big coffee drinker. Unlike Julia, I am terrified of flying. It's completely irrational--and because I live so far from my parents--travel is a necessity. My iPod comes in handy for relaxation, as does holding my husband's hand in a death-grip. I'm still waiting for a shot to knock me out for the entire flight.
I did draw from many of my experiences as a news reporter and anchor when writing Stay Tuned. TV is such a fun industry and the people you meet out in the field are amazing and fascinating. Because it's a deadline-driven business, the pace is insane. I worked 2 am until 10 am for almost three years. I worked all holidays--Fourth of July, Christmas Eve, New Year's Day. There are no real "days off" because the news is always happening.
3.Most people think authors live glamorous lives. Describe a typical writing day.
That's a great question! My life is decidedly un-glamorous. (Is that a word?) When I'm working hard to finish a book, I disappear into the basement of the library at a nearby university. I find a study carrel or empty classroom and park myself there for several hours with a cup of coffee (yes, they allow drinks with lids!). It's ideal because it is so quiet and the only place that I can't log onto the Internet because I don't have the school password. I also wear my yoga clothes in case I decide to go to class on the way home. No makeup. Hair in a ponytail. I rush home by 3 pm when school lets out and resume mom-duties (which also are lacking in the glamour-department: Dinner, Laundry, Cleaning, Paying Bills).
Every day, I also try to spend a few minutes on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and my website. I love connecting with readers and am so fortunate to have a great circle of fellow authors to connect with (Dina Silver, Jen Tucker, Juliette Sobanet, Rebecca Berto, Samantha March, Kimberly Kincaid, Tracie Banister, and Lynnette Spratley). There's also an amazing, supportive group of bloggers out there who've supported Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie. I am forever indebted to each and every one of them!
4.When writing a new book, how do you decide on a theme, genre, or topic?
I generally start with a What if question and a location that I'd like to write about. For example, the question for Stay Tuned, set in Macon, Georgia, was "What if two anchors fist-fight on a live television show?" For Dancing Naked in Dixie, my question was "What if a big city travel writer will lose her job unless she goes to the small-town Deep South to cover a story?" I had lived near Eufaula, Alabama and attended the Pilgrimage, so I knew that setting would work perfectly.
My next novel, The Pie Lab, is about an actual restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. The question I'm working with is "What if a girl is forced to come home to her hometown after burning all of her bridges?" Should be FUN!
5.All of your books sound like fun. If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
Sophie Kinsella, because she is so funny! I laugh out loud when I read her novels. She's brilliant and smart and has a lovely way of writing endearing characters that stay with a reader. Perhaps I could talk her into adopting me as her sister (I could be Lauren Clark-Kinsella )and we could collaborate on her next book! LOL
Jodi Picoult, because her books are amazing, well researched, and always pose a significant question or dilemma in which there are no easy solutions. I love books that make a reader think hard about an issue or problem. Though I might not always agree with her characters or endings, she is an excellent author and a writer than I respect very much.
This was so interesting, Lauren. Readers, let's read an excerpt from Dancing Naked in Dixie.
Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.
With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.
Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?
I’m a travel writer at Getaways magazine. Paid for the glorious task of gathering up fascinating snippets of culture and piecing them into quirky little stories. Jet-setting to the Riviera, exploring the Great Barrier Reef, basking on Bermuda beaches. It’s as glamorous and exhilarating as I imagined.
Okay, it is a tad lonely, from time to time.
And quite exhausting.
Which is precisely why I have to get organized.
I sink into my chair and try to concentrate. What to tackle first? Think, think.
Third reminder. Uh-oh.
Marietta rolls her eyes and jerks a thumb toward the inevitable. “Guess you better walk the plank,” she teases. “New guy’s waiting. Haven’t met him yet, but I’ve heard he’s the ‘take no prisoners’ sort. Hope you come back alive.”
I grope for something witty and casual to say, but all of a sudden, my head feels light and hollow.
I’ve been dying to find out about the new editor.
Every last gory detail.
“I’m still in another time zone,” I offer up to Marietta with a weak smile. My insides toss from side to side as I slide out of my chair.
Marietta tosses me a wry look. “Nice try. Get going already, sport.”
I tilt my head toward the hallway and pretend to pout. When I look back, Marietta’s already disappeared. Smart girl.
“Fine, fine.” I tug a piece of rebellious auburn hair into place, smooth my wool suit, and begin to march toward the inevitable.
Our new editor.
My neck prickles.
I’m not going to worry. Not much anyway.
My pulse thuds.
Not going to worry about change. Or re-organization. Or pink slips.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com.