Meet Laura Bontrager – a new romance author

February 11th, 2012 by Anna von Veh § 10 comments § permalink

We asked Laura Bontrager (@lily_bart), author of the forthcoming novel, Fences, to tell us about herself. (To find out how we discovered Laura, read Writing undercover on the web.)

What’s your story?

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, but my parents are from Ohio and California. They never expected to stay in Memphis when they came, and they spent a lot of time keeping me and my brother away from the Southern accent. So I’ve grown up with an interesting mixture of Southern, Californian, and Northern heritage.

Laura Bontrager

I graduated with a degree in English, and then worked as a behavioural aide for a boy with autism, and my poetry was published in various magazines and journals. Currently, I work in the library of a boys’ private school in Memphis. And I write.

When did you start writing and why?

I started telling stories first with my Barbie dolls as I created scene after scene of soap-opera-worthy tragedy. And then I wrote down stories because I wanted to illustrate them, not because I particularly loved the words. I felt I could show the pictures in my head better by creating pictures (but I turned out to be only a mediocre artist). Then I really got down to writing somewhere around 12 years old; the stories needed out. It was Holocaust survival tales (I was fascinated with WW2), and ‘magical realism’ (wizards and secret quests). And then those morphed into what is now called fan fiction. I wanted my favorite characters in my favorite TV shows to get together, to realize their love for each other, or to face certain doom and triumph. I rewrote episodes or I gave the characters backstories. I still didn’t think of it as writing though. » Read the rest of this entry «

Writing undercover on the web

February 3rd, 2012 by Anna von Veh § 21 comments § permalink

Confession: I’m a serious fan of the TV show, Castle,  which stars the ‘Geek God’, the witty Nathan Fillion, and the beautiful, and enviably multilingual, Stana Katic. What does this have to do with publishing, you may ask. Well, a lot it turns out.

I tweet about Castle under a ‘Castley’ pseudonym, and fangirl with the best of them (many of them teenagers, but also a fair smattering of English majors, doctors, teachers, film/media types, and of course, Firefly fans). What became increasingly interesting to me as I watched the show and followed fans on Twitter was the way the show crossed the usual boundaries of fandoms, media types and genres. I was particularly fascinated with how a show about a crime writer seemed to be encouraging young people to read long-form narrative that they might not have read otherwise, if they read books at all.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Would we still have heard Nabokov’s ‘Laughter in the Dark’ without ‘Lolita’?

December 25th, 2011 by Zirk van den Berg § 0 comments § permalink

Reading habits are formed by repeated acts of disposal. Read a book you don’t particularly enjoy and the writer will probably be discarded from your reading list. As you read more books, more authors get a figurative black mark next to their name. The survivors are what we refer to as our favourite writers.

Even these favourites may lose their place on the reading list as the years go by. Either our tastes change or we simply finish reading all their books or at least all the best ones.

Looking back over more than 30 years of serious reading, there is only one author from those very early years whose books I still read. » Read the rest of this entry «

On opening Andre Agassi’s ‘Open’

December 16th, 2011 by Zirk van den Berg § 0 comments § permalink

I can’t play tennis for shit. Or money. But I am a committed fan, perhaps one that should be committed. Mornings when I trade the world of dreams where I spend my nights for the world wide web where I spend my days, it’s a toss up between first checking my email, bank balance or the ATP tennis results.

I write for love. And money. Over the years, » Read the rest of this entry «

Police procedurals – judging on the evidence

December 8th, 2011 by Zirk van den Berg § 0 comments § permalink

The police procedural, the sub-genre of the crime novel that focuses on the police investigation of crime, has never been high on my agenda. However, on the evidence of Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s excellent Martin Beck books (discussed here), I was compelled to investigate. » Read the rest of this entry «

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