Saturday, 10 March 2018

Diana talks to Laura Libricz, author of 'The Soldier's Return'

Hi Laura, it is great having this chance to chat with you...

I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!
My question is: Mountains or the sea? I’d never thought about the importance of this question until my ex-husband, to my horror, said he preferred mountains over the sea any day. This is something one should clear up beforehand.  (I totally agree. It is as bad as finding he sleeps with the window closed!)

What is the genre you are best known for?
Right now, I am known for historical fiction but I hope to be known also as an urban fantasy author and screenwriter.

If your latest book, The Soldier's Return, was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
I hold myself back from thinking like that because I am the writer, not the director or the casting department. But, in the role of Katarina, the female lead role, I would like to see a non-Hollywood character actress with dark, curly hair, earthy good looks and a real nose! Likewise with the characters of Herr Tucher and Pieter, I would like to experience “real” actors, theater actors in these roles. I am disappointed and tired of big name Hollywood actors and actresses.

What made you choose this genre?
I began this writing project because I wanted to read books set in Germany during the Thirty Years War, written in English. I couldn’t find the ones I wanted.

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
I watch and listen. Real people are so fascinating. You can’t make this stuff up.

Favourite picture or work of art?
Historical paintings are the snapshots we have into the world we are trying to recreate. The Dutch Golden Age is a particular favorite of mine because of the everyday scenes, as well as the incredible use of light. I love Rembrandt. I also like the Pre-rafaelites. As far as wall hangings go, I love Art Nouveau and photos of industrial and architectural landmarks.

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!)  you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
I am working on an urban fantasy screenplay. I’ll let you know more about it when the time is right!

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. I remember being in third grade and telling the teacher I wanted to be a song writer. Or a hit man! I started writing seriously ten years ago. I was 45 at the time.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?
I absolutely hate Marmite. But I love anything black licorice. That’s another one of those controversial tastes.  

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
Writing is work so I sit at the computer and turn it on. For me, there is no such thing as writer’s block. There is working and there is being lazy. I do like a good distraction, of course, in the form of Yorkshire Gold in my ‘Little Miss Trouble’ cup and a homemade cookie.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
I am very lucky to have a supportive family, so they understand when I am working. But that is now. I waited a long time to start writing seriously. When the family was young, I couldn’t divide myself between my children and my writing. I have a lot of respect for those writers with young and teenage children. I couldn’t do it.

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I have done so many different jobs in the past: factory drone, office girl, cleaner, guitar builder, aerobic teacher, bakery worker, landscape gardener. Writing is my dream job. That’s how I want to spend my days.

Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Coffee? Yes, and strong, please. Yorkshire Gold? Yes, please. No red, no white. I am a recovering addict and have been clean and sober for four years now. (That is remarkable. Thank you for being so honest. Diana)

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
I am very much a planner. Call me a control freak but I need to know where I’m going. I hate to waste time. The worst thing I can think of is writing page after page of material I’ll never use, unless it is a free writing exercise.

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
(laughing) I am a TNR girl, 12 pt, double spaced. I would want my book printed in TNR, 12 pt, single spaced.

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
Right now I am after the protocol of the Nuremberg City Council from April 1632 to December 1636. I hope this exists. (Oh!!)

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
I think I mentioned I am a control freak so these characters do what I say or it’s off with their heads!

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
OMG, do I research! I sometimes have to stop myself researching in order to write. Because I am leaving Germany now after 27 years, and I am in the middle of the third book in the Heaven’s Pond trilogy, I need to finish the research in the next six weeks. That’s actually a good thing, because I will research and then stop. And get on with writing.

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
Because this time period, Germany in the early 17th century, is sparsely documented, I was left lots of room to fictionalize the first and second books. I was grateful when people and shreds of truth were there to form a framework.

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
I am now working on the third book, Ash and Rubble. This is based on a well-documented event, the siege of Nuremberg in 1632 by the Swedish troops. I want to get as close to the documented facts as I can. There is one other novel that deals with this period and the author allowed King Gustav II Adolph to live. I would not alter the documented facts like that.

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
Absolutely. Even with all this research, I don’t think anyone is getting the facts. We are getting the man-in-charge’s opinion. It’s up to us, historical novelists, to read between the lines. Just wait, what they will make of our society, 400 years in the future? They will think we were a bunch of blood drinking, brain eating, sadistic maniacs!

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
I like to read short fiction and blogs for pleasure. Yes, I read novels but I have to read so much nonfiction that novel reading has to take a back seat because I have to work. I do read and review indie authors on a regular basis and find plenty of enjoyable novels in the process! That, I consider to be part of my responsibility as an author but it also comes under the heading of work.

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
A natural herb tea chosen to accompany the phase of the moon. When you’ve finished reading for the day, absinthe and water.

Last but not least... favourite author?
I love to be pleasantly surprised by lesser-known indie authors. I also love to discover a gem and leave a great review. I’ve found lots over the past ten years. My favorite author, the one who inspired my young life, is Kurt Vonnegut.

Laura Libricz was born and raised in Bethlehem PA and moved to Upstate New York when she was 22. After working a few years building Steinberger guitars, she received a scholarship to go to college. She tried to 'do the right thing' and study something useful, but spent all her time reading German literature.

She earned a BA in German at The College of New Paltz, NY in 1991 and moved to Germany, where she resides today. When she isn't writing she can be found sifting through city archives, picking through castle ruins or aiding the steady flood of musical instruments into the world market.

Her first novel, The Master and the Maid, is the first book of the Heaven's Pond Trilogy. The Soldier's Return and Ash and Rubble are the second and third books in the series.

© Diana Milne January 2018 © Laura Libricz 2018

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