Author Interview - Laurie Woodward
My guest this week is fantasy author and teacher, Laurie Woodward.
Laurie is also an award winning peace consultant and blogger with a focus on anti-bullying.
Thank you, Laurie, for sharing a little bit about yourself with me and your readers.
About Writing/Books/Being an Author
1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you - in what way and what was the name of that book?
I read Walden when I was sixteen and was enraptured by the idea of isolating one’s self in a deliberate way to get the most from every moment.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?
When I was ten, I wrote my first poem, a love limerick to a boy I had a crush on. Even though throwing that note at him during recess while he was playing basketball ended in disaster with his buds teasing him and him yelling, “Never talk to me again!” I was so proud of that poem I kept writing and studying.
3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?
I love Dean Koontz, Lois Lowry, Jodi Picoult, and Catherine Ryan Hyde all for their love of humanity. My favorite book of all time is Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land because it represents the utopian dream of peace, I wish we were working towards in the real world.
4. Where do your ideas come from?
All kinds of things inspire me. Dreams. Things I read. A shape in the clouds. The idea behind Forest Secrets began when I was traveling in Alaska. I remember looking out the window at each of the trees and thinking how each was unique, almost human, as if the trees were morphing form. I began The Artania Chronicles when our government started putting so much emphasis on test scores in schools. It felt like overnight that creativity was being replaced by rote learning. As teachers were told to do less art, music, and other creative endeavours, it felt like we were squelching a beautiful part of children, their creative selves.
To me, that creativity is magical. Thus, in Artania, every time a child sketches, paints, or sculpts, it births a beautiful part of children, their creative selves. But when people turn away from their true selves it gives rise to these monsters, I call Shadow Swine whose purpose is stop all creation.
5. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?
I am a talented dancer. I minored in dance in college and performed in both jazz and modern
productions. Because I’m often very goofy on the dance floor, I have the ability to make people around me relax and let go. I also have the gift of compassion, which makes me a good teacher. I can put myself in my students’ shoes and deliver instruction that’s fun, meaningful, and comprehensible. I like to get silly with my class and am known as the goofy teacher on campus.
6. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?
I am currently finishing up the fourth book in my Artania Chronicles series. When a mystical art-created land is in danger it’s up to an unlikely trio of kids to save it. Once they enter this magical place, Alex, Bartholomew and Gwen join gods, goddesses, and painted beings in a battle against an evil race bent on annihilating all art. But it won’t be easy as only the true art will keep Artania safe. In this fourth novel, the Impressionist Republic is under attack and my young heroes are trying to battle it. But things are not going well. The Shadow Swine have a new power and the heroes keep popping in and out of Artania at the most inconvenient times; in the middle of a fight, while fighting a raging fire, or when chatting with that cute girl.
A Little More Personal
7. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?
I am superstitious and here’s why:
I was a young mother raising two kids the best I could. It was a Saturday and I had promised to take them to see The Incredibles matinee. But as usual, I tried to do too much and was running late. I strapped both of them into their seats, revved up the old Volvo, and stepped on the gas.
We were halfway down the long drive when, boom. Thud.
I slammed on the brakes.
“What was that, Mommy?” Jess asked.
Heart pounding, I got out of the car and looked under. There lay our black cat, Cuzie, matted fur around her sweet head.
I started to tear up.
“Do something,” Nick, who had jumped out of the car, ordered, a desperate plea in his voice.
Gently I scooped up the gentlest cat we'd ever had, placed her in Jess's lap and started racing for the local vet. Both kids crooned to Cuzie telling her it would be okay in one breath, chastising my stupid driving with the next.
With shaking hands, I carried her into the office calling, "I hit my cat! She's hurt. Help me."
The receptionist immediately ushered us into an exam room and within seconds the vet was there. He placed Cuzie on the table and began to probe gently with his fingers. The kids and I stood by, stiff bodied, barely breathing.
After about five minutes he declared that Cuzie was fine but should have quiet place to rest. “And keep an eye out. If you notice any change, call me,” he said caressing Cuzie's ears.
Back home we placed her bed in a little nook near the back door, gave her water and a soft blanket, and stroked her back. She mewed and snuggled down to go to sleep.
It was still early so we headed to the theater. Even got there on time.
To this day, my question remains. Was Friday the 13th bad luck for us because we hit Cuzie? Or did a black cat crossing our path on that fateful day counteract bad fortune, saving her life.
8. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?
I am a fifth-grade teacher to 25 wonderful kids. Monday-Friday from 7:45-2:10 I am privileged to share time with them. I coach our school’s Battle of Books team, a group who read from a preselected list and participate in Jeopardy-like competitions. I also am our school’s Student Council advisor in charge of spirit days, anti-bullying campaigns, and organizing our yearly talent show.
After work I love going to the gym. I take dance classes and grin ear to ear as I lift weights or work-out on one of the machines. On the weekends I love hiking the trails around our beautiful Central Coast, dancing to live music, and working in my garden. (After I’ve done my writing of course.)
9. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?
As a child I went to summer camp on Catalina Island and shared a cabin with the actress Jodi Foster. She was brilliant even then and I remember being awed by her mature vocabulary and poise.
Overview of Laurie Woodward
I believe there is a magical part inside all of us, our creative side, that when nurtured, births amazing things. Films. Paintings. Stories. I’ve seen both children and adults light up when creating. An educator, I am the author of the fantasy series: The Artania Chronicles,and Forest Secrets, which I perform in the video series, Laurie Reads. Artania I: The Pharaoh’s Cry and Artania II: The Kidnapped Smile and Artania III: Dragon Sky are currently available with Artania IV slated to be released this summer. I also cowrote of Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, I am now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. More about my work can be found on my website Artania.net or on my publisher’s website Creativia.org.
Social Media Links
Amazon Link to books https://www.amazon.com/Laurie-Woodward/e/B00JCPIX5I/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Website and Blog