You guys, I am so excited to share this interview with you! I absolutely loved The Woodlands, and I feel honored to have been able to interview talented author Lauren Nicolle Taylor!
This interview is part of the Juniper Grove Book Solutions tour for The Woodlands.
Title: The Woodlands (read my review here)
Author: Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Word Count: approx. 92,000
Genre: YA Mature Dystopian
Content Warning: Violence
Recommend Age: 14+
Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.
After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.
In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released on August 30, 2013. Currently, Lauren has finished her manuscript for the second book in the series titled: The Wall, as well as partially completed the third book in the series which at this time is unnamed.
Excerpt from The Woodlands:
They called my name. Paulo put his hands firmly on my shoulders, holding me in my place. His intense stare was impossible to look away from. “Don’t shame your family,” he spat at me.
And with that, he made it easy to leave. I could feel the blades starting to move, my hair whipping around my face. I stripped away the fear and anxiety, leaving a girl that was fierce, empowered by his hatred.
“Don’t worry, Paulo, I’ll stir it up, make a little noise!” I shouted through the wind. The Guardian that let me sign up was watching me, probably regretting his decision. My mother was standing rigidly, her handmade skirt billowing as the air churned around her, her hand outstretched, pleading. I could see it in her eyes—please Rosa, don’t cause more trouble. She couldn’t stop me, no one ever could.
My Interview with Lauren Nicolle Taylor
What inspired you to write the story of The Woodlands?
Racism. I’m of mixed race background (Indonesian, Thai, Chinese, French, Scottish and Irish!) and the idea came to me: If there was a massive race war, what kind of society might rise from the ashes? If the reason for this war was based solely on race, a possible dystopian society could be founded on eliminating racial characteristics. Similar to Hitlers Arianism, the founders of The Woodlands would strive to make every citizen look the same.
Do you think any of the themes in The Woodlands can help today’s youth navigate the challenges they face in the real world?
The Woodlands covers several real world issues facing the youth of today such as bullying at school and at home, issues of self confidence and believing in yourself, differences and challenges between social classes, racism/bigotry, duty versus desire, young motherhood and developing trust in a relationship.
In your opinion, how does the design and cover art for a book play into its success?
The design and cover art are the first impression for a book. If you can’t draw someone in with an intriguing, eye-catching cover, they are very unlikely to scan their eye down to read the blurb. I know you can’t judge a book by it’s cover but if the cover doesn’t have the power to reel someone in to read further, it doesn’t even get a chance to be judged.
As a busy mom of three, do you have any special time management tricks that you use to keep writing?
My writing has had to come in fits and starts. I write whenever I have a spare moment and I have to accept that even when I’m on a roll, sometimes I have to stop midsentence and attend to my family. In terms of tips, Always carry a notebook with you everywhere. Whenever you have an idea or a great sounding description write it down as soon as you think it. Pull over the car if necessary. I can’t write everyday unfortunately and I’ve found I don’t have to, so I set aside one day a week purely to write. I knock out all my housework the day before including dinner for the next day, I send my kids off the school and childcare and I write.
How have your experiences as a mother helped you become the writer you are today?
Through my children I’ve experienced some of the most powerful emotions of my life. Love, fear, extreme happiness and also sadness. Having nearly lost my two eldest kids when they were babies, I’ve been challenged a great deal as a mother. I feel I’ve channeled a great deal of that emotion into my writing. Also, my kids have such quirky, one-of-kind personalities, I find I often inadvertently use them in developing the characters in my books.
How does the “write what you know” philosophy play into your book, which has a theme that is quite far from reality?
I met my husband when I was fifteen, and in some ways I still feel that intense, heart-stopping teenage love I did then. I loved writing about Rosa’s relationship with Joseph for that reason.
I have a Health Science degree with Honors in OB/GYN. I used my knowledge in that area to develop some of the more science related parts of the story such as the breeding program, the specifics of childbirth and the complications that can arise. I relied on my own varying experiences of childbirth and pregnancy to add the realism I hope comes across. I also studied Genetics at university, which plays a significant part in The Woodlands.
The setting is removed from our current reality but the themes are relevant and based in actuality.
Do you have any other stories in development aside from The Woodlands series?
I’m writing a New Adult book focusing on a developing relationship between a popular, yet disenchanted and aimless, all rounder boy and a mentally ill, recently deinstitutionalized girl who is unwilling to give up her delusions. The story revolves around a road trip, where both wrestle with their demons. Can the boy accept her as she is, delusions and all or will the girl give up her invented life to live in the real world with the boy she loves?
You used an Indie publisher for The Woodlands. What benefits are there for publishing a story through smaller publishing house?
This is my first publishing experience but I have to say it has been a very positive one. The advantage of this particular publisher has been the lack of waiting. So far every decision from cover art to edits has been extremely prompt and downright speedy! This meant I went from unpublished to published author in one month. The other thing I would say about this Indie publisher is the approachability and personable nature of the staff. I can ask any question and have my answer within the hour. I have also had input and been given final approval over the cover art which was important to me.
Did you have troubling finding a publisher for The Woodlands? What advice would you give to others trying to publish their first books?
It took me year to find a publisher for The Woodlands and I think that was mostly to do with the fact it wasn’t ready when I first sent it out. My queries weren’t too bad and I did get requests but the responses were often, your writing has a lot of potential but you need to do this, this and this. I took every single piece of constructive criticism and used it to revise my manuscript. So my advice to other authors trying to get published would be revise and then revise some more. Readers want to know what your character is doing and feeling, try not to info dump and if the information is not absolutely essential to the plot, cut it.
And most importantly, if you believe in your story don’t give up.
Thanks so much Lauren for answering my questions in such a thoughtful and thorough manner!
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
GRAND PRIZE: Print copy of The Woodlands, bookmark, surprise Clean Teen Publishing swag gift, and reader’s choice of two digital Clean Teen Publishing books.
GRAND PRIZE: $10 Electronic Amazon Gift Card, The Woodlands bookmark, surprise Clean Teen Publishing swag gift, and reader’s choice of two digital Clean Teen Publishing books.