I knew I wanted to write a story about a couple who was reunited during a wedding years after they broke up. I wasn’t quite sure how to shape the story and tabled it until I read Jane Austen’s Persuasion. So many of the themes and elements were timeless, and I could see them playing out in today’s world. My story idea meshed with the classic novel, and the result was The Marrying Type, a contemporary reimagining of Persuasion (which is available from Marching Ink on Feb. 24).
2. When did you take up writing?
I have been writing my whole life, but I seriously considered writing a novel for the first time the summer after my freshman year of college. I scribbled a few thousand words, outlined the book, and created character sketches, but it never resulted in a finished project. It wasn’t until more than five years later, during National Novel Writing Month 2010, that I actually started what would become my first published novel, Hard Hats and Doormats.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Though I don’t typically go into long, descriptive prose about the settings of my stories, I do spend a lot of time thinking about where a novel and its scenes are set. I’m better able to imagine the actions and words taking place if I can see the location in my mind. The setting can also shape aspects of my characters or the story.
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite, but in The Marrying Type I adore the main character’s best friend Smyth. He has a sassy attitude and style that make me wish I could travel the world with him if he truly existed. And of course I love Eric, the main character’s long, lost boyfriend. I’d probably be tongue-tied around him if we ever met in real life, though, because I have zero game when it comes to wooing men. Fortunately I seem to have a better grasp of it in my writing career.
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Write every day. I heard this from Stephanie Bond, who was a speaker at a conference I attended back in college. She said it was important to work on your story every day to keep it fresh in your mind, even if you only wrote 100 words. I don’t always accomplish this goal, but I have found that if I don’t spend at least a little bit of time with the book every day during the first draft, I easily fall off of the writing wagon.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
I wish. I’m one of those people who desperately wants to keep a schedule for everything from writing to exercising. Keep is the key word, because I do make schedules. I work a full-time job, so when I’m in the thick of a story, I get up at 5 a.m. every weekday morning and write for two hours before work. Then, I sit down at my computer again at 7 or 8 p.m. to write until bed a few nights a week. On the weekends, I start writing first thing in the morning and try to go until about lunchtime. Again, this is usually just during the first draft of my book. I’m not quite so disciplined when I don’t have the deadline from my editor or NaNoWriMo.
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
I’m definitely a plotter. Every time I’ve tried to be a pantser, I always end up stopping one scene into the book and having to outline the rest of it. I keep my outlines loose. I sketch out the rest of the scenes, usually with one to five sentence explaining who, what, when, where, and why this scene is taking place. It helps me keep track of pacing. That said, my outlines are fluid and subject to change. Sometimes the direction of a scene, and the whole story, will change once I start writing.
8. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
If I could only grab three or four books that I could take with me for the rest of my life at this moment, I’d grab my Jane Austen Anthology (it’s actually seven books, so what a deal?), Saving Grace by Julie Garwood, Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught, and These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder. These have been my favorites for years, and they’re ones I regularly re-read.
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
I’m finishing the second draft of my third novel, which has a name, though I’m not sharing it right now. It’s a contemporary chick lit novel set in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. The local interests definitely flavored this story, but I won’t say quite how just yet. I’ve also set this one up to be the first in a series, which was fun, because my other two novels are standalone. I can’t say much else just yet.
10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
The most important thing is to keep writing. This isn’t always easy to do, because life is busy and there are a million distractions. It’s also easy to have your confidence shaken, but you have to keep believing in yourself and having faith that someone somewhere will connect with your story. I can’t remember where I first heard this, but whenever you feel like giving up, remember that you are the only person who can tell your characters’ stories. With you, no one else will ever have the chance to know them.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, today. It truly warms my heart to count so many supportive authors among my friends.
Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it).
With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress.
Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future.
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About the Author
Laura Chapman is the author of The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats and the Autumn and Tuck series, which appear in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfills her dream of landing a British husband or becoming a Disney princess, you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.