Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Laurie Cameron and Laura Meagher

1) Tell us a bit about yourselves and where you live and work.

I was born and raised in Plainfield, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and still live there today with my husband, Joe, and three beautiful children. With my bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master of arts in teaching, I taught for eleven years before taking a break to stay at home with my children. But it was a luxury that we just couldn’t afford and I returned to teaching two years ago.

Laurie Cameron was born in Montana and moved to the Washington, D.C. area after finishing college. There she met her husband and took up the nomadic life in the U.S. Foreign Service. For more than twenty years, she has lived and traveled throughout many parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Laurie is currently residing in Honduras, but is packing out to move the States as we write this.

I am Laurie’s husband’s sister’s daughter (phew!). In other words, I am Laurie’s niece. We began writing together in 2007.

2) How did you become writers?

I caught the writing bug early -- in about the 4th grade. I got serious about wanting to publish a great mystery for kids in about 2004. Then Laurie came along in 2007, looked at my most recent manuscript, and proposed that we team up. Our first book, The Ghost at Old Oak Way, caught the attention of a publisher in 2008 and was published in 2009. We continued to collaborate and are now launching our second book, The Ghost at Judy Creek Station. Our third book will be launched soon.

3) Please share the background and dynamic of your writing team. How do you make this work? Have you/will you consider independent writing projects?

First, it's important to mention that, throughout the course of our writing, we have never lived in the same country! All of our collaborating was done via email. Sometimes, I would write a chapter and send it to Laurie, who would edit it and add the next chapter. At times, we would outline the storyline and decide who was interested in writing what. Then, we'd piece it all together and edit, edit, edit until we had a great manuscript.

It helps that our interests and personalities are very different. Laurie travels and lives throughout the world; I live a block away from the house where I grew up. Laurie grew up with three brothers and has two grown sons; I grew up with a sister and had two daughters before our son was born six years later. Laurie is a computer wonk; and I, well, I know where the keyboard is!

But the most important thing is that we keep each other going. Writing can be a lonely experience where self-doubt is one’s greatest enemy. Rejection letters from publishers and agents are difficult to receive. When one of us falters, the other takes up the charge.

Although we have plans to work together on future projects, independent projects are not out of the question. In fact, we would likely be of great help to one another!

4) Tell us about your recent release, The Ghost at Judy Creek Station.

We are really excited about this book! It takes place in the hometown of my grandparents, which is where my mother and Laurie’s husband grew up. We heard stories of a haunted house and couldn’t resist. Our hero Simon, a computer nerd with a bright red afro, was a support character in our first book. Mixing old with new, it has a ghost and a cyber-spy, a long ago crime, and some very current Chicago thugs.

5) Why write mysteries for young people? Will you collaborate in a different genre?

We love mysteries. As kids, we used to devour Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. We decided on middle grade because there is just something about that age, when kids are fully engaged, thinking little beings, but haven’t yet begun to acquire that edge that comes with the teen years. The plot of the middle grade novel can be just as complex as adult novels without the angst of the young adult novel.

After three middle grade mysteries, we are toying with the idea of writing a young adult novel. We have been tossing around an idea for a plot.

6) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

The trouble with middle grade is finding ways to reach our audience. How much do kids at this age use the internet and can we reach them there? We have a website, www.AcornMysteries.com, and a Facebook page www.facebook.com/AcornMysteries. Laurie does a lot of social networking to reach parents on Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads. In the past, we have used the tried and true methods of school and library visits. You can reach a lot of kids in one school visit! But now that I am back to teaching, I can’t do school visits. We are exploring the possibility of doing virtual classroom visits. Meanwhile, we have launched a major campaign in the region where the book takes place, with press releases, author visits at public libraries with summer reading programs, marketing our book through local bookstores, etc. We hear that there is a lot of buzz out there about our book.

7) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your respective reading lists right now?

Great question! I don’t have any one particular author that I'd consider my favorite, though when I read a great book, I try to read anything else that that author has written! On my summer reading list is a mystery, a love story, and a nonfiction book about the ocean. Laurie devours books. She reads both kids’ and adult books. Although she would love to read only mysteries, for kids, this is not possible because there aren’t a lot of new books in this genre out there. She posts reviews of good kids’ ebooks on our blog, www.kidsebookfinder.com.

8) When you are not writing, how do you spend your time? Describe a typical day in your life.

I am a full-time working mother of three children. Need I say more? Now that summer break has arrived, I am looking forward to playing with my kids, taking a walk, and drinking a mocha. Oh yes, and reading... I relish a bit of time to curl up with a great book! But Laurie has other ideas for me, like starting our next novel.

Laurie really has no idea how she will be spending her time. She is moving to Arizona for a year while her husband undertakes a year of duty in South Sudan. She has joined a hiking group and a gardening club there by way of Meet Up. She will no doubt join the very sizable quilting guild. A job? Maybe…

9) What projects do you have in the works?

We are currently polishing up our third book, The Ghost at Cavern Lake Hollow, and preparing for its release. After that, well, as I said, we've got a few ideas up our sleeves!

10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Don't give up! Write because you love to write, and explore all possibilities. The industry is ever changing, and it's important to think outside the box!

Authors' Bios

Laura Meagher was born and raised in Plainfield, Illinois, and continues to reside in that same Chicago suburb today with her husband, Joe, and three beautiful children. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master of arts in teaching. Laura has just wound up her thirteenth year of teaching in the public school system.

Laurie Cameron was born in Montana and moved to the Washington, D.C. area after completing her advance degree in Economics. There she met her husband and took up the nomadic life in the U.S. Foreign Service. For more than twenty years, she has lived and traveled throughout many parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. She has two sons who are both in the Peace Corps.She currently lives in Sedona, Arizona.

Laurie and Laura co-authored The Ghost at Old Oak Way, published by Untapped Talent, Inc in 2009 and are now launching their second book, The Ghost at Judy Creek Station.

Contact the Authors

Website: www.AcornMysteries.com

Blog: www.kidsebookfinder.com.

Twitter: @laucam57

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AcornMysteries

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/laucam57/


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