It is my deep pleasure and privilege to introduce the brilliant MG writer, Laura Noakes! Besides writing sparkly, magical stories, she’s also an excellent critique partner (whom I love to minuscule bits). Welcome, Laura! 🙂
Tell us a little bit about your writing!
I write middle grade fiction, and I’ve written MS’s that are fantasy, sci-fi, historical and
magical realism! Basically, I write everything, although all my MS’s generally feature a touch of magic and a lot of quirk! All my main characters so far have been girls—I LOVE girl MC’s. I also have a penchant for writing characters who love science (my dad is a science teacher, that might be where that comes from), and girls who are kind of scrappy and tomboy-ish (Lyra from His Dark Materials is one of my absolute favourite female characters). My current WIP is probably my most personal work so far. It’s about a girl with hypermobility, a disability that I also have, who is a complete superhero nerd!
What are some strategies you’ve used to find creative flow during times of stress?
I think the best strategy is knowing when and if you need to take a day off. Sometimes you just need a day where you take a bath, see friends, watch a great movie and where you don’t think about writing one iota. I also think living life to its fullest is a great way to find creativeness—going to museums, or to the library, or saying yes to that date—those things seem to re-energise my creativity. A hug with my dog, Stanley, never fails to destress me and make me smile
What are a few of your favorite ways to unwind? ^.^ Do you have any side hobbies?
I am a member of my local amateur dramatics group. We put on shows and perform at
events. In the last year, I’ve played Buttons from Cinderella, Lizzie Bennet (which was seriously a dream come true!), Dorothy Gale and I’m just gearing up to be a very evil cat named Spindleshanks in Sleeping Beauty! AmDram is such a fun hobby and is also another way I get to be creative. Plus, it’s great for my writing—I don’t know how many ideas I’ve got from playing around at rehearsals or doing silly sketches. I also crochet (very badly), and play on my Nintendo 3DS!
Favorite tv shows/foods?
AH, so many! I am constantly re-watching Pushing Daisies, Parks & Recreation, Gilmore Girls and 30 Rock—they are my forever favourites! My favourite current shows are Jane the Virgin, iZombie, Stranger Things and any kind of historical/crime documentary that I can get my hands on!
Food wise, I am so British—I love a roast dinner and some Cadburys’s chocolate! I’m also a bit of a fruit fanatic—give me a banana/pineapple/strawberry any day and I’m happy!
If you could give a writer working on their first MS advice, what would it be?
First of all, take your time before querying. One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make on their first MS is to query too soon.
Secondly, find some trusted CP’s (Hi Ashley! 😉 )—they are worth their weight in gold and writer friends are the best!
Thirdly, research research research! Research agents and their interests, agencies and their sales, get on QueryTracker, and Absolute Write and Preditors and Editors and know your stuff. Fourthly, and most importantly, remember that whatever happens with your first MS, whether you get an awesome agent and score a book deal that leads to you hitting the NYT Bestselling Books list or if you query but hear nothing but no’s, this book matters. Your first MS is like a university degree—you learn SO much, and everything you learn is channeled into your next MS. So write, write bravely, and remember that this MS matters, so much.
What are hidden ways social unrest might affect #ownvoice and marginalized writers, and how can the writing community facilitate their well-being and success?
After Brexit, and a certain person’s election in the US, I am more determined than ever to support diversity in books. Books have such an impact, they are one of the essential building blocks of a fair and democratic society, and as such, it is crucial that they reflect our society.
It’s important for me (and for the book community as a whole) to uplift and support #ownvoices writers, to buy #ownvoices and diverse books, and to promote #ownvoices and diverse books on social media. I think it’s also really important to listen to marginalised writers and those talking about diversity—Claribel Ortega is one of my favourite people on twitter, and Disability in Kidlit is such a great resource.
“…imagine being a child with a disability and watching somebody like yourself constantly and repetitively coded as evil.”
It’s also important to acknowledge where your privilege is. For me, as a writer with a disability, I spot microaggressions that other people might not pick up on, like characters with a disability nearly always being the baddie in TV shows/films. For example, I really loved the new Series of Unfortunate Events series on Netflix but (SPOILERS) I noticed that the only person with a disability was one of Count Olaf’s minions, and that one of Olaf’s disguises involved having a ‘peg leg’. This might not seem like a big deal, but imagine being a child with a disability and watching somebody like yourself constantly and repetitively coded as evil.
However, as a white and straight woman, I’m not going to have that insight into potentially racist and homophobic microaggressions. I think the best thing the writing community can do is listen to marginalised writers, uplight and support them, and ultimately support their work.
Laura is a storycatcher and daydreamer from England who writes quirky MG fiction. When she’s not writing, she spends her time drinking Earl Grey tea, reading ALL the books she can get her hands on and walking her dog, Stanley.