Author Interview - Laura McNeill

Posted on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 4:00 AM
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Hello Everyone!

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Laura McNeill author of Center of Gravity. Her suspense novel with Harper Collins / Thomas Nelson releases July 14th!

Hi Laura, thank you for agreeing to this interview.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was raised in a small town in Upstate New York where in the winter we skated on frozen ponds and in the summers, vacationed in the Finger Lakes. I enjoyed school, sports, and my friends. Growing up, my parents kept the TV off all summer, every summer. While I wasn’t thrilled at eight years old, at about age 28, I discovered it was the best gift they could have given me. I trekked to the library and back by myself almost every day of the summer and it grew my love of reading exponentially. As a mom, I’m not quite that strict, but we don’t subscribe to cable either. I’ve found that while my boys have permission to occasionally watch Netflix or YouTube, they rarely reach for the remote.

2. What were you like at school?
Over-achiever, Type-A personality, honor society, but also fun-loving. I was a soccer player, a cheerleader, and field hockey player.

3. Were you good at English?
Favorite subject hands-down. My high school English teachers have been so supportive of my writing career. I went on to study English literature in college and journalism in graduate school.

4. What was the hardest part about writing your book?
Center of Gravity is a very personal story for me. I began my career as an author writing Southern women’s fiction under the pen name “Lauren Clark.” I really enjoyed these fun, frothy tales, but halfway through the writing of my second novel, my marriage fell apart. Everything that I had built and trusted had come unglued. I wasn’t sleeping or eating; I was worried about my children, about my job, and about my future. I shelved the novel, moved into a new house in a new neighborhood, and restarted my life.

Months later, it hit me that I missed writing. But I couldn’t bring myself to write comedy and romance. This time, I tackled a serious storyline, a suspenseful story about a family in peril. I had spent the past year or more talking to other women and men about their stories of love and loss. It seemed that everyone I talked to had an aunt, a cousin, a best friend, or a sister who had been through a tragic, heart wrenching break up. Some involved children, some didn’t. Many included alienation from friends and family. Some involved violence. The majority involved a long, drawn out court battles. All of the stories left me feeling, somehow, that I was not quite alone. I began writing the novel which would become “Center of Gravity.”

5. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It’s my hope that readers connect with Ava – a woman who finds strength deep within herself when almost everyone else has given up on her. Like so many of the women I’ve met over the years, Ava is tenacious, smart, sensitive, and, as it turns out, a bit naïve, when it comes to trusting and believing in the man she’s chosen to marry. She’d like to cling to the fairytale of having a perfect marriage, but eventually sees through her husband’s charming façade.
My message is that women are stronger than they believe, love can persevere, and there is life after betrayal and tragedy. 
6. Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Ava Carson definitely reflects some of my personality traits. She is an optimist who fiercely loves her children. She’s also a people person, enjoys spending time with friends, and is involved in her children’s activities. Like me, she prefers a simple, no frills lifestyle, adores handmade cards from her children, and doesn’t mind driving a car that isn’t brand new. She enjoys cooking, but is better off baking cookies and preparing BLTs than attempting to prepare a gourmet, seven-course meal.

7. What are you working on at the minute?
My second HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson book will be released in April of 2016. Sister Dear is the story of a woman, Allie Marshall, who goes to prison for a crime she doesn’t commit, leaving behind a 5-year old daughter. When Allie is paroled 10 years later, she hopes to reclaim her quiet life and move on, but her daughter, now a teenager, soon challenges her innocence. In her quest to find justice, Allie discovers that the one person she trusts most committed the ultimate betrayal a decade earlier.

8. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
SO fun!  I love this!
Ava Carson - Emma Stone
Emma Stone is best known for her roles in The Amazing Spider-Man and Crazy, Stupid Love, and would play Ava in Center of Gravity.
Mitchell Carson - Christian Bale
Bale is best known for his role in the Dark Knight (Batman) trilogy. He would play Ava's husband in Center of Gravity.
 Graham Thomas - Chris Pratt
I see Chris Pratt play lawyer Graham Thomas in Center of Gravity. Pratt played major supporting roles in several television series, including Parks and Recreation, and film roles in Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty. In 2014, he starred as Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Jack Carson - Jonathan Morgan Heit
Carson would play Mitchell and Ava's 8-year-old son in Center of Gravity. He is best known for Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Date Night, and Bedtime Stories. 
 Dr. Lucy Olsen - Carla Gugino
Carla, best known for her role as the mom in all of the Spy Kids films, also starred in Watchmen and Race to Witch Mountain.

9. Do you write full-time or part-time?
I hold down a full-time job and am the single mom of two boys. To keep things exciting, or because I have simply lost my mind, I added in another master’s degree last year (Hello, graduation July 31st!).

10. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I tend to do my best writing in the morning. I stay in my yoga pants and a t-shirt and type in my tiny office, sipping coffee that I made myself. I like to write from 6 am until 8 am, when I spring up from my chair and race to grab a shower, find decent clothes, and get to work. In the evenings, it’s Mommy-mode, and I help with homework, take my boys to activities, or do my own homework.

11. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
 I find that 1200 words is the sweet spot for me. Some days, it’s a struggle, and other days, I’m done in 90 minutes.

12. Where do your ideas come from?
I’m lucky, my ideas just come to me. I have more than I know what to do with, sometimes. When an idea sticks with me, when I am thinking about it when I’m at work, or driving home, it’s usually a sign that it’s a viable and that I can stick with it for 80,000 or 90,000 words.

I love what author, blogger, and story structure master Larry Brooks has to say about making sure your idea is “high-concept.” Brooks says, “High concept suggests a dramatic scenario or device—be it clever, unexpected, unseen, terrifying or just plain brilliant—that becomes the landscape upon which characters reveal themselves.”

13. Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I am definitely a plotter. While many of my author friends prefer to work without an outline, I need a road map of some sort to guide the way. My outlines are detailed, several thousand words, but I keep the process fluid and don’t mind deviating from the path if a great twist or character idea pops into my head!

14. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read a lot and write a lot. In addition, find a story you love and want to write about
This might sound obvious. Of course you are going to love the story you write about! Until, that is, you don't love it, and it isn't working. So, make sure you love Minnesota, or the Civil War, or the year 2050, or the character you're going to spend 85,000 words with. It's an investment.

15. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Pre-Order On Amazon 
Website Blog |  Twitter |

Pinterest | Goodreads | Instagram Facebook |


Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

 BIOGRAPHY


Laura adores hot coffee, good manners, the color pink, and novels that keep her reading past midnight. She believes in the beauty of words, paying it forward, and that nerds rule the world. Laura is a fan of balmy summer nights, fireflies, and pristine mountain lakes. She lives in Mobile, Alabama with her two sons.

You can find Laura Tweeting @Lauramcneillbks and blogging at lauramcneill.com. After July 14th, Laura’s suspense novel, Center of Gravity, can be found wherever fine books are sold. 
Loren Mathis
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