Interview: Laura M. Kolar, YA Author

Laura Headshot1Though she didn’t discover her love of books until she turned thirty, as a self-declared hopeless romantic, Laura M. Kolar has spent the past few years reading and writing stories with mostly happy endings. If not at her day-job or with her family, you will find her hunched over her laptop writing or spending entirely too much time on Twitter.

CANVAS BOUND, Book 1 of the Captive Art Series, out 9/3/13 from Red Adept Publishing, is about a girl whose paintings come to life and the boy who is trapped inside them.

Check out Laura’s website.

Let’s see how Laura answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
A Chai Latte and a few hours of writing in the morning, then an afternoon at the beach with my daughter, followed by dinner and a movie with my husband and a little Twitter/reading time at night.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
This is a tough question because I love music. We always have it playing at our house which is one of the reasons I think my 6yo wants to be a rock star. I listen to a pretty eclectic mix. In fact, the other day my playlist went from LOW by Flo Rida to NEVER FORGET YOU by Mariah Carey. (Hubby thought that was pretty funny.) My favorite group is probably OneRepublic and lately I’ve been listening to SO CLOSE by Natalie Duque a lot.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I’ve always wanted to be able to play the piano.

On what occasion do you lie?
If Hubby asks me when I got a new shirt, I usually tell him I’ve had it for awhile, though I think he knows it’s new anyway.

What is your present state of mind?
Nervous! I want people to love CANVAS BOUND and I’m anxious to see where my writing career will take me.

Canvas Bound Cover 1What is your motto?
If you haven’t felt like quitting, your dreams aren’t big enough.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Respect.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I say ‘essentially’ a lot.

Your favorite painting?
Libby’s orchard painting I describe in the book. I have an artist friend, Jessica Krcmarik, who is doing a rendition of this and I can’t wait to see the final piece.

What is your favorite journey?
The one I’m on right now :)

What is your favorite time of day?
Any time I’m not at my day job! While I like the people I work with, writing is my passion and I’d love to do it full time.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Frank McCourt. I was very sad when he passed away. ANGELA’S ASHES is my all time (non-YA) favorite book.

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I’d like to see my daughter grow up into a happy, healthy adult.

Who or what is your first love?
It’s a different kind of love, but I’d have to say my best friend, Meghan. We’ve been through a lot together in the twenty-plus years we’ve been friends. Although we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, I know she’s always there for me if I need her, and vise versa.

What’s the last dream you remember?
It was about a fashion designer and her boyfriend. They were at a pier with a carnival and lots of boutiques. At the end of the dream they broke up. It was kind of sad.

What’s your madeleine?
Pounded steak. When I was little, we’d go to my grandparents’ house and my grandpa would stand at their kitchen counter, pounding on a sirloin with this mallet thing until the meat was as flat as a pancake. We ate that a lot and I haven’t had it since my grandpa passed away fourteen years ago.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Love.

Interview: Yangsze Choo, Author

YSChooByEeKimMalaysian writer Yangsze Choo’s debut novel, THE GHOST BRIDE (Morrow, August 2013) is Oprah.com’s Book of the Week, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and an Indie Next List Pick.

Set in 1890s colonial Malaya and the elaborate Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities and burned paper offerings, it’s about a young woman who finds herself betrothed to a dead man. Yangsze eats and reads too much and can often be found doing both at her blog.

Let’s see how Yangsze answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Eating a delicious meal with family and friends, with everybody talking and sharing about what’s been going on. If we’re eating crab or lobster, it’s even better!!

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
Oh dear, there are so many favourite songs! When I was writing this book, I listened to a lot of Chinese classical erhu music to develop the atmosphere of 1890s colonial Malaya amongst the Chinese population. Lei Qiang has a couple of good erhu albums to listen to.

GhostBrideFINALREVWhich talent would you most like to have?
I would really like to be a good oil painter. I was recently at the National Art Gallery and was struck by the Vermeers. They were not large, but very beautiful. I felt like I could look at them all day.

On what occasion do you lie?
When I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings and I think that the situation is innocuous enough to do so without harm. Now that I have children, however, I try not to lie. There’s usually a kinder or gentler way to communicate something – it just takes more work.

What is your present state of mind?
Tired. THE GHOST BRIDE was just published last week, and it was exciting, yet also stressful. It was such a new experience that I didn’t know what to expect. But I’m very very grateful to be published. :)

What is your motto?
How about the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Seems like a fairly good rule of thumb (unless you’re a masochist…)

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Kindness and honesty. Plus a good sense of humour.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“You know what?” When my 7 year old started doing this (and holding up his forefinger for emphasis) I realized that it’s a purely rhetorical question that’s mostly unnecessary in conversation.

Le verre de porto (A Dinner Table at Night), John Singer Sargent (1884)

Le verre de porto (A Dinner Table at Night), John Singer Sargent (1884)

Your favorite painting?
John Singer Sargent’s “The Glass of Port”. A very small painting (by Sargent’s standards) but incredibly evocative of an evening spent with friends. I first saw it in a museum, tucked away in a corner, and I fell in love with it. In that moment, I totally understood why people covet works of art…

What is your favorite journey?
When I was a child, I really enjoyed the long drive from Kuala Lumpur to my grandparents’ house in Perak. This was before the North-South interstate highway was built in Malaysia, and the 2 lane road wended its way slowly through small towns and rubber plantations. Sometimes it took an exasperatingly long time, especially if you got stuck behind a lorry. But I loved that drive when I was a child.

What is your favorite time of day?
Long, hot, sleepy afternoons when you have nothing to do but curl up with a good book.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Haruki Murakami’s protagonist from “A Wild Sheep Chase”. Love that book!

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
To have had deep, meaningful, and joyful relationships with other people.

Who or what is your first love?
My first love was probably a small white rabbit that I had as a pet. Then I successively fell in love with dogs, a kitten, and a boy in elementary school who always used to turn the tap on for me to wash my hands.

But I’d have to say that the love of my life is my husband, whom I met in university when we were still teenagers. ;)

What’s the last dream you remember?
Gosh, I can’t remember. But I do recall once having a dream in which I’d written an amazing story. In fact it was so fantastic that I’d jotted down notes on it in the middle of the night. In the morning, all I could see were some random chicken scratchings on the paper!

What’s your madeleine?
The smell of tropical rain. Instantly brings me back to my childhood in Malaysia, when the air cooled suddenly and everything smelled wet and alive with monsoon rains.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Journey.

Interview: Mary Elizabeth Summer, YA Author

mesummerMary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, and her evil overlor–er, cat.

TRUST ME, I’M LYING, a YA mystery, will be released by Delacorte in Fall 2014. It’s a story about a teenage con artist named Julep Dupree who has to rescue her missing dad while running petty scams for her classmates to keep the lights on. It’s equal parts law-breaking, clever disguises, family secrets, and snark, with a little bit of romance on the side.

Follow Mary Elizabeth on her website.

Let’s see how Mary Elizabeth answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
Happiness is more a verb than a noun, I think. You have to make happy happen–and not just by setting and achieving goals, but by actually choosing to feel happy. That being said, I’ve often thought that happiness is overrated. Sorrow can be just as beautiful. Desperation and desire can lead to growth, to inspiration, to breathtaking art. For me, happiness is experiencing the entire depth and breadth of the human experience. Which, I guess, means I’m happy all the time. Ha.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I am no exception to the general rule that authors love their playlists. Before I even begin a project, I generate ideas for the story from the songs that really draw me at the time that I’m brainstorming. So to pick one favorite song doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I can pick a favorite for a specific mood or from a particular band or for a particular project. But one song for all moments in time? Any answer would ultimately ring false to me.

So I’m bending the rules to tell you my favorite song from my TRUST ME, I’M LYING playlist: Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant. It encapsulates Julep perfectly and provided me a lot of insight into her character. I heard it first on the radio while driving to work. I immediately Shazamed it, and voila.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could do aerial acrobatics. It’s the closest we humans can come to flight without mechanical assistance, and besides it’s freaking gorgeous.

On what occasion do you lie?
I actually suck at lying. Big time. Just ask my mom. But I can occasionally get away with it for presents/surprises. If I don’t look the person in the eye while I’m talking. Maybe I should change my answer to which talent I’d like to have…

What is your present state of mind?
Discombobulated. I’m trying to juggle too many balls at once, as per usual.

What is your motto?
Know thyself.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Easygoing. Life is so stressful already, I need people I can relax with.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
A bit. I do a seek/destroy for all ‘a bits’ in my manuscript. There’s always a bit too many.

Your favorite painting?
The painting my mom did of my sweet husky who passed away last year. I cried when she gave it to me.

What is your favorite journey?
From bathtub to bed. I might possibly be unduly biased by the fact that it is past my bedtime right now.

What is your favorite time of day?
My morning cup of joe. I’m usually at home, playing with my daughter, relaxing and enjoying life.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Chester from BUNNICULA. He’s a zombie-fighting, mystery-solving cat. How cool is that?

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Go to Disneyland. Obvs.

Who or what is your first love?
Unicorns. No joke. I had unicorns all over my room when I was a baby, and I’ve been a horn-head ever since. I still have all my original My Little Ponies. The first book I fell in love with, which led to my lifelong passion for reading, which led to my writing obsession, was about, you guessed it, unicorns. I blame my parents.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I have crazy dreams. I often dream entire plot lines, which is seriously helpful, actually. Last night was weird, though, because I’m sick. I dreamed Benedict Cumberbatch was a loathsome, wretched, evil man. I can’t remember exactly what he did, but it was very, very bad. Which should have woken me up, in retrospect, because obviously Benedict Cumberbatch being evil could only ever happen in a dream. And once I realize it’s a dream, I wake up.

What’s your madeleine?
The smell of Irish Spring soap. Instantly snaps me back to family road trips and fantasy books and The Bangles.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?
Expression.