Y’all, ten years ago I was living the life. I was in the middle of junior year of high school, had just topped the top picks list on inkpop and just before my birthday, I was featured as inkpopper of the week. Given that it’s been a decade and 2020 is nothing like we anticipated it, I thought it would be fun to go back through the interview and give some 2020 answers in comparison to my original answers. Enjoy!
inkpopper of the week
Then: I’m sixteen going on seventeen, until Wednesday (the 17th), then I’ll be seventeen going on eighteen! I’m a junior at my school, I live in Texas where the weather is the most bipolar thing on the face of the earth, I’m in two AP classes, and I walk my dog every night, well, almost every night.
Now: The song doesn’t quite go the same way, but I’m twenty-six staring at twenty-seven in the eye. Also bringing you this update from a pandemic. I have a full time job, Texas weather is still utterly ridiculous and I spend days on end without leaving my apartment.
And when she’s not walking her dog, or digging her way out of the pile of homework her AP classes require, Laura is doing what she can to leave a mark on the literary world via her series about Cassie Dreandry.
Q: You just received a gold star for your inkpop project The Assassin and are awaiting your review from the HarperCollins editors. What is going through your mind right now? How does it feel to have made such an impact on inkpop?
THEN | Laura: Nervous. It took me a while to get up there, but I’m excited to finally have succeeded. I’m anxious to see what my editor thinks I need to work on and what I’ve got going right, and I’m most certainly excited for it. I totally think it’s crazy that a story about a teenage killer can get a gold star, but crazy things happen every day, and I’m thankful for that.
NOW | Laura: Ten years is a long time and so much changed for that book after getting a top pick star. Cassie is no longer the assassin, she’s not a teenager, and she’s definitely a lot snakier. Even between The Assassin and the books I’m working on now, Justice and Lies and Hit List, the snark is off the charts.
Q: The three projects you have on inkpop, The Assassin, Revenge of the Rossetts, and Secrets Revealed all center around character Cassie Dreandry. What is it about Cassie that makes you want to continue her story as opposed to moving on to something new, a new character, etc.?
Then | Laura: Cassie was my first character, and I hand write all of my books first. When I finished the first one in eighth-grade, I didn’t know what else to do, so I wrote another one about her. Her story has evolved so much in my mind that I’ve still got seven more books to write about her. It’ll be really hard when I finally write the ending to that last book because Cassie and I have been through a lot in the past few years, and I think that’s why I keep writing about her.
Now | Laura: Man y’all, those titles are something else. They’re so soap-operay and I love it. Obviously Cassie was my first character and there is a lot of her story left to tell but I have written other books since then, like a whole series of novellas about a TV reporter.
Q: What makes your writing unique? What sets it apart from other inkpop projects and books that have already been published?
Then | Laura: I don’t think most people would come up with the idea of a teenage assassin, then again,I ‘m not most people. I think what sets it apart is how Cassie’s two worlds are so totally different and then all of the sudden these worlds are forced to co-exist. The hiccup scene at Lorriane Benson’s house is a really good example of that. I mean, have you ever thought about what happens when assassins get the hiccups while on a mission?
Now | Laura: LOL I forgot about the hiccup scene. That never made it into a published book but I might have to add it into one of these upcoming books.
Q: All three of your inkpop projects fall under the general fiction/adventure/mystery genre, would you say this is your favorite category to write? Would you ever contemplate writing within a different genre?
Then | Laura: Mystery is my favorite genre for sure. I love the suspense but hate it at the same time. And right now, I’m actually hand writing a romance book, so it’ll be interesting to see how that turns out without a mystery to be solved!
Now | Laura: Nowadays, I like to say I love my mystery and suspense with a side of romance. You’ll find that in all my books.
Q: What is your favorite place for thinking and why?
Then | Laura: When I walk my dog. For twenty minutes a day I have nothing but my dog, my iPod and my walk to worry about. Last year I wrote the last book in The Assassin Saga and all of my major plot points, I came up for them while walking my dog. I get to let my mind just run free while I walk her.
Now | Laura: I guess in my apartment where I spend all my time because I’m living in a pandemic and have to socially distance from everyone.
Q: If you had the chance to star as a character in any book what book would it be and why?
Then | Laura: Um, I’d have to say Em Watts from the Airhead series by Meg Cabot. I read those books having chills down my back, it was an amazing story and I love Em’s thoughts and the way she handles things.
Now | Laura: Eve Dallas because she’s an absolute badass and she has Roarke. That’s all.
Q: If you could have a dinner party with five of your favorite authors who would they be and why?
Then | Laura: Janet Evanovich, she has humor and mystery in all her books and I’m always laughing out loud at the crazy schemes she creates; Meg Cabot because she writes really good, lighthearted stories that make great books for when you’re in a bad mood; Philippa Gregory because she writes amazing historical fiction; Rhys Bowen, because she’s also great at historical fiction; and Richard Castle, because who doesn’t like Castle?
Now | Laura: I’d have to say J.D. Robb because she’s the queen of great story telling, Shari Lapenna who writes such crazy twist and turns in her novels, Katharine McGee because the Majesty Series was incredible. If I kept anyone on the list, it would be Janet Evanovich.
Q: Do you hope to make writing a career; or do you have other aspirations?
Then | Laura: I’d love to be writing as a career, but I’ve grown up in a home where I’ve learned to have a back up plan. I really want to do something in the law field when I get older. I’d be a lawyer, but law school has no appeal to me.
Now | Laura: works at a company where we deal with lawyers and legal filings all day.
Yeah, about the law school thing….
Q: What do you think makes good writing?
Then | Laura: Knowing your plot and characters is a really good start, and being able to know what works within your writing style. Basically, I think knowing your own writing style is the best way to know good writing. You have to know what works and doesn’t work.
Now | Laura: BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR WRITING, LAURA! That’s all.
Q: Who is your favorite character(s) in any of your work and why?
Then | Laura: Probably Cassie because I’ve known her the longest and I know her the best. Cassie is a lot like me, so I can relate to a lot of the stuff I put her through.
Now | Laura: I feel like Cassie is a badass version of me if I had guts, so let’s go with Cassie.
Q: What’s on your fall/winter reading list?
Then | Laura: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway; The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (both for English AP); Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen; The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory; Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich. I read a lot of adult books, and AP books.
Now | Laura: I’m currently reading Beach Read, I’m going to read the newest Shari Lapena book and I’ll be snagging the latest Stephanie Plum novel later this month.
Talk about a throwback, y’all. I always get a kick out of checking back in at what my books were like back then and just how much the stories changed before I ever published them. Storytelling and writing a fascinating things.