Saturday, December 10, 2016
Interview with Laura Frances, author of Confessions of a Crispy Mom
Laura Frances grew up in the south, residing in North Carolina for most of her life. While she is southern, she is no southern belle. She loves the genuine, authentic people who call the south home, and is constantly inspired by the stories of their lives. For more on Laura, visit laurafrancesauthor.com.
Confessions of a Crispy Mom: A frazzled working mom of three, Delia Gray, struggles to keep her career, family, and sanity in tack. During one particularly bad day, she lashes out at everyone around her, including her father who has stopped by to visit. When she goes to apologize to him, he gives her a stack of letters from her mother who died when Delia was ten—something her mother asked him to hold onto until he felt Delia needed it most in motherhood. Delia's conflicted feelings towards her mother and the cancer that stole her life leaves her uneasy about whether or not to read them. But, when she does, she discovers a woman she never knew—who struggles with the same things in motherhood that Delia does. Funny and poignant, Confessions of a Crispy Mom is a deeply encouraging novel that will have you asking yourself: How do I make my years as a mom count the most?
You have truly been an integral part of my writing process for years, Heidi. You’ve made me a better writer by constantly challenging me. Thank you for that! As far as my ideas, I basically get them from the people I encounter in real life. Very often I’m a quiet observer, so I overhear a lot of conversations—not the same as eavesdropping, lol—and watch how people react to each other. I’m fascinated with relationships between close family members and the dynamics that often exist there. For this particular story, I was inspired by the heartbreaking situation of a friend and neighbor who discovered she had stage 4 breast cancer. We lost her so soon after her diagnosis that I was struck with grief over how someone so young, with such young children, could go so quickly. I thought a lot about how a mom prepares herself and her children to face the future without her, and how she dealt with her last moments with them. Delia’s story arose out of that.
Delia is a delight in how she deals with life, she is so genuine. You write in first person. Your writing, your voice, is so uniquely southern and easy to read. Tell us what goes into writing a chapter and the difference between the first draft and the final.
I typically have a loose idea of where I want the chapter to go before I begin writing it. When I say loose, I mean very loose. Often, it takes an unexpected turn that I didn’t see coming when I started. I sort of envision the scene like a movie in my mind and then start writing by describing what I see on the “screen.” My first draft and final draft tend to be very close story-wise. But, I find that I do have to go back in and add the senses to the story so the reader can see/hear/smell/taste what my character is going through. And I tend to write pretty tight, so I sometimes have to go in and add additional scenes with smaller characters to round out the story. As far as my voice, there are so many great characters in the South. It’s easy to find a good voice and “become” that person in my writing when creating a character.
I think one of the reasons I enjoy your writing is the small things you insert that truly make me feel like I am there with the character. How do you do that?
Thank you! I’m a very visual person and I pay close attention to people’s little quirks and habits. I think that truly defines a person’s uniqueness. So, when I’m writing I try to discover what would make each character unique as far as their quirks and habits and consistently add those into the story. I think it helps the reader to connect to the characters on a deeper level because they either know someone with that trait, or have it themselves.
Ahh, so true. Time for a fun question . . . You are alone and stranded on a desert island and can have ONE food product and ONE drink, what would they be?
Ok. This is embarrassing. My children tell me I’m addicted to Diet Mountain Dew. They try to keep it from me at times because it’s the one thing I HAVE to have in the house. I actually hissed at my son (jokingly) one time when he tried to take it from me, so now we all do that. Foodwise, I want to say donuts. I know I’m a total health nut. But, I guess if I was stranded and would only have one food for life, I’d get sick of those so I’ll go with almonds.
Almonds? Say it isn’t so . . . I thought for sure chocolate would be in there somewhere, oh well. What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with raising three children, being a single mom, and working full-time?
Making myself just sit and write. There are a million things that get in the way, especially now that I’m a single mom. Honestly, my writing has decreased significantly in the last three years as I’ve adjusted to that new lifestyle. But I finally feel like I’m getting a grip on it and am starting to plan a writing schedule for the New Year. It helps that my children are getting older and can at least make a sandwich when they need to if I’m overloaded.
Hmm, did my pantster writing friend just use the word schedule? Interesting, but getting back to the interview. How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
I came to faith later in life, at the age of 30. So, I tend to build characters that have everyday problems. They aren’t perfect. They often are failing in their faith. And they don’t typically fit into the roles that publishers of Christian fiction allow. I’ve been told this makes it hard for me to fit into a certain publishing categories. But one thing I can say about my characters is that they are real. Just like Christians I would meet on the street every day who are doing their best, but likely failing in a lot of faith issues. I don’t want to ever suggest through my writing that being a Christian means being perfect, or that you have to strive for perfection. I think it’s misleading and can actually turn the reader away from the faith instead of toward it.
Laura, thank you for your time today, it was fun! And congratulations again on the release of Confessions of a Crispy Mom.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been an honor. I'd love to give away a hard copy of Confessions of a Crispy Mom and one of the journals to go along with it. Thanks again for having me.
Wow, Laura, that'd be great. Alright guys, go ahead and post a comment now through December 11th to get into this drawing (leave your email addy in the comment). We'll announce the winner on December 12th at the Weekly Windup.