Our chat with Laura…
Story telling and books was such a massive party of my childhood I just remembering doing anything I could to extend play time or drama class, history or creating. I loved learning about Greek mythology and fairy stories, folk lore from around the world and absolutely loved and looked forward to story time at the end of the school day. I never minded which teacher read - I just loved the whole experience. I found the art form so impressive, so effective and true escapism. I think I knew from a very young age it was something I wanted to do. My parents encouraged my reading and story telling, would spend hours putting on plays with my brother and sister or any friends that would come over. It was probably at the Brit school when I was about 16 when we were auditioning for drama school that my friend complained their weren’t enough female roles that showcased her performance. That all the ‘good’ juicy roles were for men- I wrote a monologue for her and she got a place. That’s when I thought maybe I could do this for a job!
When I write something very close to home I feel more nervous about it. Even though every character I write- from an insect to a tree to a mermaid has parts of my personality in, but the more truthful- the more honest and raw - that’s when I get nervous about parting with the material because then not only are you being judged and reviewed for your ‘craft’ but also yourself! It’s a very exposing thing to do. I always try to be as honest as I can when writing, warts and all- my main focus is always to hold a hand with the reader and be their companion. It’s when I get lovely letters or emails from readers that keeps me at it.
Whenever kids bake! It’s so lovely when school children make you something to eat when you do a school visit. Sometimes they blow my mind and I adore cake and tea and really appreciate it But WOW I’ve had some terrible bakes and it’s so difficult because you don’t want to hurt anybody's feelings. I love food and will eat pretty much anything and love the thought behind cooking for somebody- it’s so kind - but Once I was handed a home made ‘cupcake’ i.e. a cricket ball of rock hard dough with raisins and hair sticking out of it - at the end of a visit at the signing table- it was covered in bright pink icing with hundreds and thousands - It looked like something from another planet- no, it was a planet itself. And the kids were so sweet when they rolled it towards me and the teachers were sort of side glancing as if to say ‘sorry!’ And a ‘you really don’t have to eat it.’ But of course I went YUM YUM ! And thanked them. They looked so excited. I carried it home with me! It weighed about a ton! I don’t think my stomach would have ever been able to digest it!
It’s so difficult but probably the BFG by Roald Dahl. He’s such a kind and caring man, he’s so adorable and teaches a great lesson about sincerity and instinct. About kindness and independence. About standing up for yourself even when it’s easier to go with the crowd. That said, now I have a toddler I am very much in love with Where The Wild Things Are. The world that Sendak has created, the minimal language and overall style and tone of the book. It has depth and guts and is timeless and fun.
Keep writing. Write everywhere all the time. Make it apart of your life. Do it on your phone, in your head, on your hand, on scraps of paper. Write the best you can in text messages, emails, integrate it into your conversation, make it apart of you. Keep it all, keep everything, practise, practise, practise. If you are writing - you ARE a writer. And your aim is not to be published but to tell your story. If you are doing that, you’ve done it, that is enough! And well done to YOU!