Interview with Laura Smith

1. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your entry for this contest?

After I had seen the call for the contest submissions, my sister told me about a dream she had had in which she and I along with our other sister were transporting this dummy in the back seat of my car when the car crashed, and the dummy flew out into the road. Everyone else on the road thought it was a dead body, and it was hit a second time which really freaked everybody out, but we burst into hysterical laughter. It was such a funny idea that I decided to adapt it into a story that would fit the contest rules. The idea to incorporate the required "that's not how cookies are made" sentence onto the billboard just came from setting the story on the road. To make the billboard feel like a more organic part of the story, I connected it to the relief that people feel when they encounter a brush with death and can't help but find an unfunny situation funny afterwards.

2. What made you decide to enter this contest?

I received an email about the contest in the Support for Indie Authors newsletter, and since it was free and had a very specific theme, I decided to give it a try. It's rare to find a genuine writing contest without an entry fee, and I liked the challenge of keeping it under 2,000 words. I tend to ramble in my writing, and it was a good exercise to write a story that was short but (morbidly) sweet.

3. Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

Since I'm a children's author, I gravitate towards my favorite children's authors such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, Beverly Cleary, Ann M. Martin, R.L. Stine, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, Wilson Rawls, John Green, and Shel Silverstein. When it comes to adult authors, I read a variety of books from many different authors, but the adult fiction writer whose work I read the most is Stephen King. I also love to read memoirs, especially by comedians, as well as comic books. My annual list of books read contains a mix of all genres and age levels from children's to comics to adult fiction and non-fiction.  

4. What is your favourite book you read this year and why?

My favorite book of 2018 was Maggie O'Farrell's I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death. It's one of the few non-celebrity memoirs that I've read that I couldn't put down. Her seventeen brushes with death are legitimate scares, and they teach you to recognize the bear traps that we all step over in our daily lives, whether it’s our health, our personal choices, or the things that we can't control. 

5. What is your best piece of advice for all the new independent authors out there?

My number one piece of advice is: don't rush. Get your story right, your cover perfect, your marketing game plan together, and read about the best way to complete each step before you take it. It can be tempting to finish your book and then immediately publish it, just so that you can see the results right away, but then you start to see mistakes and things that you want to change, and even though you can change them, you shouldn't keep altering your finished product. I've learned that the hard way, but there are better resources out there now so that you don't have to use a trial-and-error approach to become an indie author.