Today’s interview with my fellow contributing authors on the romantic fantasy anthology First Love is with Sofi Laporte. Her short story can be pitched as “Bridget Jones meets Morgan Le Fay”, but I’ll let her tell you more.
What drew you to the First Love anthology?
Honestly? The cover! Isn’t it pretty? I totally choose books based on their covers. Then, of course, the challenge of writing a short romance story that includes elements of first love and fantasy. I enjoyed the challenge and had fun writing Chestnut Woman.
Give us a little tease for your short story for First Love.
Imagine falling in love at first sight in a really mundane place: the crowded, stuffy metro. What would you do? My heroine, shy, introverted Pamela, can’t muster up the courage to make the first move. At home she runs into her superbly aggravating, gossiping neighbour, Mrs Schmid. Who is not at all what she appears to be. Mrs Schmid gives her three roasted chestnuts that will change Pamela’s life forever. Is she going to have a second chance with the mysterious, smiling stranger in the subway?
Do you prefer your romantic fiction to end happily-ever-after, happy-for-now, tragically, or does it depend on the story?
It depends on my mood. Most of the time I prefer happily ever after, but if I’m in the right mood I don’t mind reading heavy, steamy tearjerkers.
What fantasy elements (if any) do you use in your First Love story?
A reference to Arthurian mythology and the sorceress Morgana Le Fay. Her cat Arthrapax who insists he’s in reality a dragon. Three magical chestnuts.
What major theme(s) are you exploring in this story?
The main theme seems to be love, but actually it is loneliness. It can be excruciatingly lonely to live in a big anonymous city, not knowing what your life’s purpose is. Then there is the theme of self-fulfilment: having the courage to break out of the drudgery of every-day life and to follow your dreams. Then there is the theme of appearance versus reality: finding your true self and seeing the true self of others – neighbours, colleagues, your boss, even animals. What is fantasy? What is reality? Maybe there’s more to the aggravating gossipy old neighbour than meets the eye. What if she’s in reality a powerful sorceress? Deep stuff, this.
What inspired your story?
Many little things. My cat as she looked at me with those green eyes of hers. A neighbour, when she gossiped in the hallway with an excruciatingly strident voice. A boring subway ride home where a man actually read a book instead of staring into his cell phone.
To what extent are your characters based on you or people you know?
Annoying Mrs Schmid is indeed based on a former neighbour of mine who liked to gossip to no end. Pamela, who may have been a younger version of myself. And the cat. I have a very arrogant black cat like Arthrapax so of course she had to be put into a story.
Do you know your ending when you write, or do you start and see where the story or characters take you?
Usually I have an idea of where I am going, but sometimes the ending is vague and reveals itself to me as I write.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
I like the pre-writing part when you get to daydream your story. When you just stare off into space and have this inner movie that unwinds. I love that moment.
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
When it doesn’t come out like your awesome daydream and you ask yourself for the gadzillionth time why you ever wanted to be a writer.
To what extent (if at all) do you agree with the statement “write what you know”?
It is certainly possible to write about what I don’t exactly know. That’s why we utilise two things: imagination and research. On the other hand, if I do know certain things maybe it would add a layer of depth or a certain something that my work wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Are you promiscuous or monogamous with your genre of choice?
I am all over the place! I write chicklit, YA, Romance, children’s, paranormal, historical, you name it. Except horror. But who knows, I might try that too, one day.
Which writers inspire you?
The one and only Astrid Lindgren has been my biggest inspiration since I was a child. I just read The Brothers Lionheart aloud to my younger son. It’s not just a children’s story. I marvel at the language, the story, the voice. Every single word sits perfectly. The way she grips you and pulls you into the story just fascinates me. Maggie Stiefvater (vision, depth, fantasy and plain awesome writing), Julianne Donaldson (romance in its purest form), Viennese writer Ursula Poznanski (for some of the most gripping YA thrillers out there), Robin McKinley (best fairytale rewrites) and many, many more!
What other books or short stories have you written?
This is my debut as an author! Many more stories and novels to come.
What is your current work-in-progress?
I am working on a YA paranormal fantasy/fairy tale.
What advice would you give someone who tells you they want to be a writer?
Just listen to yourself and have faith in your stories and in your own voice. The stories you want to tell are deep inside you and only you can tell them the way they need to be told.
Please come visit me at my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/sofilaporteauthor
Thank you for this interesting interview, Simon!