Kathrine LaFleur has written picture books, middle grade and young adult novels.
Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Kathrine. Tell us a little about yourself.
Kathrine LaFleur: I’m an introvert, but I love the limelight. That might be one of the reasons I enjoy teaching. I have a captive audience! Other things I love include redwood forests, fairytales, good food, and furry creatures.
Ferrante: You’ve written picture books, middle grade and young adult novels. Do you have any preference?
LaFleur: No, I enjoy writing for each of those categories equally. It just depends on which story happens to be calling out the loudest. At some point I’d like to try writing for adults, too.
Ferrante: The Elephant Girl, a young adult novel about a girl raised by elephants seems like a challenge to write. How did you go about researching the lives of elephants?
LaFleur: I remember going to Half Price Books and buying everything they had on elephants. I also found some helpful sources online, like The Elephant Listening Project. Finally, after several weeks of researching, I realized I was putting off the writing because the researching felt a lot safer. I told myself that the emotional connection between the characters, elephant or human, was more important than coming off as an elephant expert, and dove in.
Ferrante: You just finished the second Cardonian Chronicles book, Moonlight Hunting, a young adult fantasy. Do you plan on continuing the series? Do you prefer writing fantasy to realistic books?
LaFleur: Yes, I’m starting on the third book right now, and thinking there might be a fourth as well. I do think writing fantasy is more fun than writing realistic books, because I can make anything happen. At the same time, it’s a lot of work coming up with an imaginary world and sorting through which details will be fantasy and which will come from the Real World. For example, do I stick with the units of measure that are widely known, such as hours, or make up my own?
Ferrante: What inspired you to begin your first book?
LaFleur: I got sick with strep throat, and for over four months it kept coming back. As a believer of the mind-body connection, I finally got in tune with what my body was trying to tell me: communicate your truth! Up until then, I had kept my writing aspirations hidden. I wanted to be an author so badly I was afraid of what might happen if I tried. Once I faced those fears and committed myself to writing, the strep throat went away. I stuck to a regular practice of writing, doing exercises and stream of consciousness. One morning I woke up with a dream fragment still in my head, something about love between a human and an elephant. I was so happy to have my first true inspiration!
Ferrante: What was the most difficult book to write? What was the easiest?
LaFleur: The Dream Traveler was the most difficult book to write. I had never juggled that many characters and storylines, and the task of building the world of Cardonia felt overwhelming. It got a little easier with Moonlight Hunting, so now with the third book I’m planning to expand a bit beyond the Cardonian borders.
The easiest book to write was Sir Henry’s Birthday Quest. It was a birthday gift for my nephew, and was originally a handmade book that came together within a few hours.
Ferrante: What or who was the basis for your book,The Stomp Away Queen?
LaFleur: This question makes me laugh, just remembering what prompted that book! I was teaching second grade and I had one of those classes. Big on emotion and small on impulse control. I try my best to put myself in my students’ shoes, so if they’re having a tough time we can start in a connected place. The Stomp Away Queen was partly my endeavor to better understand my students.
Ferrante: Do you have a writer whose work you greatly admire?
LaFleur: Edward Ormondroyd is number one in my heart. His books are like comfort food to me. Same with Alexander McCall Smith’s The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. I also very much admire Daphne du Maurier. Her descriptions flow so beautifully, and I love that she was willing to explore themes that I imagine were very daring for ladies to write about in the early and mid twentieth century.
Ferrante: Through the use of aTime Machine, you are traveling back to the year 1850. You may take with you one, and only one, product or invention from the modern era. What would you take with you to impress and awe our forebears?
LaFleur: I would take a portable back massager. Of course, we’d have to imagine there were electrical outlets at that time. I think people would pretend to think such a device is scandalous and vulgar, but inwardly they’d all want one.
Ferrante: If you had to describe your personality in terms of a farm animal, which animal would you choose?
LaFleur: I would be a mule, because I can be emotionally strong and carry heavy burdens when needed, but if I don’t want to do something someone else wants me to do, good luck getting me to do it!
Ferrante: If you are an airline pilot and were told to choose any route that you would have to fly for your entire career, what two cities would your flights connect?
LaFleur: My flights would connect Oakland, CA so I could stay close to family and Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. Not the tourist village, but the original Avonlea. Let’s just say I’m flying a magic plane. I’m a big L.M. Montgomery fan. I grew up reading her books and watching the movies and shows they inspired, and most of my childhood daydreams were set in Avonlea.
Ferrante: Thank you, Kathrine, for participating in this interview. Best of luck with all your projects.
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/authorkathrinelafleur
Publishing site: http://www.storyminepress.com/
Kathrine LaFleur’s book The Dream Traveler will be reviewed here on October 21, 2016.
Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.