Laura Kennedy

Laura KennedyRian: Tell us a little about yourself in general.

Laura: I was born in Minneapolis, which in retrospect was a wonderful city to be ejected into. As fate would have it, my mother was a successful Confession writer who basically supported the family.

I thought all mothers wrote love stories, so at the age of five asked the neighbor lady “Where’s your typewriter?” Up until that age, I’d wanted to be a movie star. But when fate stepped in and I fell and ended up with a bad scar on my leg, my starlet hopes were dashed. “Now I can’t be a movie star,” I announced to my mother. “Oh, but they can put makeup on it,” she’d consoled. “No, now I have to be a writer.” Actually, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be. Through the years I’ve sold a couple of dozen romance stories as well as have worked as a copywriter and staff writer on a motivational magazine.

Rian: What made you decide to write your debut chick lit novel See Mommy Run?

Laura: It probably had something to do with raising four teenagers who believed their father and I were not particularly bright and felt sorry for themselves that were destined to a boring middle-class fate that exposed them to little more than school, the local Mexican restaurant, and the bowling alley. No, I never ran away, but there were times when I fervently wished I were on a beach in Tahiti drinking a cold O’Doul’s.

Rian: Is the main character Margie based on you or your life (past, present or future), and if so, in what way?

Laura: I imagine there’s a lot of Margie in me. Or a lot of me in Margie. I think it’s impossible for an author to write about any character without throwing in her two-cents-worth. Margie and I agree about a lot of things: one being her philosophy about contemporary mothers who have been sold a bill of goods about the glories of combining motherhood and a career. I think motherhood is great! I think a career is great! But I also think today’s mothers are killing themselves by attempting to be Super Mom and do both. My mother used to remind me there was a time when women actually had time to arrange little neighborhood luncheons at each other’s homes. Now a woman can barely squeeze out fifteen minutes for lunch at her desk. Of course, like Margie, most mothers don’t have a choice.

Margie and I agree about other things, too, whether it’s food, clothes, men and losing weight. But there’s one major thing we disagree about and that is that no matter what, I would have never left my children.

Rian: What are your favorite books and authors and why?

Laura: I like many authors and many genres. My favorite all-around writers have to be Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. They still make me laugh at novels they wrote one hundred and fifty years ago. Jumping from the 19th to the 20th century, I choose F. Scott Fitzgerald, P.G. Wodehouse and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to name a few. Twenty-first century choices would have to include Shadow of the Wind author Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Abraham Verghese who wrote Cutting for Stone. For a good laugh it’s Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Weiner.

Rian: What are your feelings about the chick lit genre in general?

Laura: I love chick lit and think it frequently gets a bad rap. There are a lot of talented women writers out there —along with Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Weiner there are Lorna Landvik, Lauren Weisberger and Sophie Kinsella to name just a few.

Rian: What advice would you give an aspiring chick lit author. Any tips, suggestions or warnings?

Laura: As I mentioned, my mother was a successful romance writer. Anytime she’d start a new story, she’d read a romance by another author first. This would get her in the mood. I do the same thing. Before you start your chick lit novel, pick out a bestselling novel and read it. This will help set the right tone. Then write as well as you can, and edit!

Rian: Do you have plans for upcoming books, and if so, can you give us any teasers about them?

Laura: I have three other novels yet unpublished. Two are YA and one is chick lit, however, the characters are all from the same family. I’m in the process of rewriting the last scenes of the chick lit novel whose name has evolved from the Breeding of Lilacs (a line from T.S. Eliot’s Waste Land) to Affairs and Fibs, to the current Lilacs, Lies and Liaisons. LLL is centered around an impulsive, funny wife and mother, Barbie Bentley, who lives in the fictitious beach town of Coral Cove, Florida. Unhappy in her marriage to a distracted, well-meaning but insensitive husband, she wanders into an affair with a young Greek Adonis. But there’s karma around every corner. It’s the old story of sin, suffer and repent.

Rian: When writing a novel, do you have any particular routines you follow, or any strange or interesting writing quirks?

Laura: I’m afraid not. My mother used to tie an old bra around her head to keep the hair out of her eyes when she wrote up in our hot attic. The bra cups fit rather niftily around her ears, while the straps tied around the top of her head. She had such a bra on her head one hot afternoon when my teenage brother brought his new girlfriend home to meet her. She also had the habit of fortifying herself with Coke, chewing gum, and Hershey bars. All I need is a cup of Earl Grey.

When I was writing See Mommy Run I’d have to psyche myself up to write after working all day and coming home to make dinner for a husband and four children. My pep talk as I lay exhausted on my bed went something like this: Laura, do you want to spend the rest of your life putting classified ads in the newspaper? No, I’d answer. Then get up off you’re a__ and get to the typewriter. You only have to write half a page. Once in a vertical position in front of my old Royal, I’d generally write more. But the wonderful thing is that if you write only half a page a day, eventually you will have a book!

Rian: When you are not writing, what kind of things do you enjoy doing? Any hobbies in particular?

Laura: The joke around here is that I cook, clean, complain and write. I don’t really have any hobbies. Who has the time? My friends all seem to be writers. As we frequently ask each other, what do non-writers talk about? Being a writer, I love to read, but it’s a luxury I save for the evening.

Rian: And finally, if you got to travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Laura: So far I’ve been lucky enough to have visited parts of Europe. I absolutely adore Italy. I’ve also traveled to Bali and Singapore with my husband last summer for our anniversary. My next travel goal is Buenos Aires. Don’t cry for me Argentina. One of the writers in my writing group lived in Peru for many years. His writing about South America has ignited a spark to visit.