Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Laura Perry

Author: Laura Perry
Best Known WorksAriadne’s ThreadJaguar Sky
Where you can find her: Website / Facebook / Goodreads / Blog
Top Writing Tip: Never give up. That’s the hardest thing, especially when you get negative feedback (and believe me, we all get plenty of it). But if you keep believing in yourself, and keep working, eventually you’ll reach your goals.

Hi Laura, we know that you're an avid reader of the Spotlights, so thanks for taking the time to do one yourself.

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself? 

My most recent book, Ariadne’s Thread: Awakening the Wondersof the Ancient Minoans in Our Modern Lives, is an outgrowth of work I began about 20 years ago in preparation for earning my second degree as a Wiccan priestess. Part of the requirements for that degree involved choosing a pantheon and constructing a set of rituals around those deities. The Minoans have always held a special place in my heart, so I chose Ariadne and her tribe for that assignment. Over the ensuing two decades I enacted most of the rituals – a year’s worth of seasonal rituals and a lifetime’s worth of rites of passage – with the groups I belonged to at the time. I tweaked the rituals and edited them based on my experience in ritual, also taking into account the occasional ‘thump upside the head’ from the gods, who had their own ideas about how those rituals should go.

When did you realise that you were Pagan?

I knew what I believed and how that connected with the world around me – the cycles and seasons, the natural forces of the universe – in high school, though at the time I had no idea what it was called. My introduction to Paganism came through the world of art. In 9th grade I took an art history class that began with works of art from the ancient world – the Venus of Willendorf, the colorful frescoes from the Minoan temple-palaces, the beautiful paintings from Egyptian tombs. These creations touched something in me that resonated on a very deep level and I began to search for their meaning. I discovered the worldview of their creators, the idea that everything is holy, that there is no separation between ‘mundane’ or secular and sacred.

Where do you go when you need to recharge?

The Appalachian mountains are my haven. I have a few favorite places in north Georgia and western North Carolina – small towns, tiny hamlets and wilderness areas – that let me get back in touch with the rhythms of nature that have so much meaning for me.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like a writing retreat?

I would love a tiny cottage in the Lake District of Britain or the corner of southwestern Scotland that faces Ireland. My ancestors come from that area and I have found a connection there that feels magical and sacred. I’m sure it would inspire my writing in ways I can’t even imagine.

How did you begin writing?

I guess I’ve always been a writer. A watershed moment for me came early, in 4th grade, when I wrote and illustrated a story as a class assignment. The teacher told us to create a tale that included some sort of miracle or amazing event. At the time I was steeped in the pioneer world (Little House on the Prairie was my favorite book) so I set my story on the American frontier, telling the tale of a boy my age who saved his family from a pack of ravenous wolves by miraculously managing to hit nine of them with a single bullet. The title of this gripping three-page long tale: Nine-in-a-Row Johnny. At that point I realized that writing was a way to express my imagination and build a world of adventure. It took many years and a lot of ink and paper to hone my skills to the point that other people were willing to pay for what I wrote, but that little story was the beginning of it all.

What do you enjoy reading?

My favorite fiction takes me out of the ordinary world and into a magical place, generally with a bit of humor involved. I love The Dresden Files and everything Neil Gaiman has ever written. I’m a longtime fan of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett; I dearly wish I could write like they do. Another one of my favorites is not so well-known: The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea. It’s a delightful bit of old-fashioned storytelling and adventure that centers around the deities of Ireland.

Are you published or self published, and what has been your experience of this process?

I’ve done it both ways. My three non-fiction books are conventionally published and overall I have enjoyed the process. I guess I’ve been lucky to be able to work with experienced  professionals who made the process relatively pleasant, if not painless. Though I have a literary agent to represent my interests, I chose to self-publish my first novel, Jaguar Sky, due to concerns about timing. My agent was shopping my novel, which has a Mayan theme, to publishers a couple years ago and discovered that their contract lists were already full of Mayan-themed works by big-name writers, so they weren’t interested in anything from little ol’ me. As I recall, this was leading up to the big Mayan end-of-time circus in December 2012. So I decided to put Jaguar Sky out there for my readers as a gift. I posted it on my blog, one chapter every Friday, ending on December 21, 2012. Several readers demanded a single-source version of the novel so I self-published it via Kindle and Smashwords, but it’s still up on my blog as well.

Is this your first published piece or have you had work published before?

In addition to the three non-fiction books and the novel, I have had articles published in a number of magazines, both Pagan and mundane, over the past 20 years.

How did the topic of your books come to you?

My first two non-fiction books – Ancient Spellcraft and The Wiccan Wellness Book – were subjects the publisher wanted, and I was happy to write them because they were right up my alley. As I mentioned above, Ariadne’s Thread is an outgrowth of spiritual work I began many years ago. Jaguar Sky was inspired by a trip to Belize; instead of hanging around the coast and snorkeling with the other tourists, we spent the whole trip visiting Mayan temples and sacred sites. I have actually been to the places the characters visit in the novel.

Do you plan your stories before you begin?

I do. I have to know where the story is going before I start writing it. I’m what’s known as an ‘outliner’ – I like to have the framework of the whole book completed before I plunge into the details, whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction. Of course, sometimes I end up changing the outline in the middle of the project when I realize it isn’t working as well as I would like, but I do feel the need to have it there in the first place.

Who encourages you?

My husband and daughter are both very supportive and I have a group of friends who keep me going. Something that really inspires me is hearing stories from other writers about how they stuck with it until they became successful, like the number of times J.K. Rowling’s books were rejected by publishers or the long list of novels Jim Butcher wrote before he became successful with The Dresden Files.

Tell us a bit about your story, key characters and plot.

Jaguar Sky is the tale of a young woman, Maddie Phoenix, who travels to Belize on a college archaeological expedition. She accidentally ‘wakes up’ the energy at a Maya sacred site, and her own Maya ancestry draws her deeper into that world. Being young and inexperienced, in the process she manages to wreck the archaeological mission, fall in love with her professor and almost get deported. In the end she lands with her feet on the ground, but not everyone is happy about that.

What are your future plans for writing?

My next novel is in my agent’s hands, ready for the right publisher to take it and run with it. It, too, is a mystical adventure novel, but it’s set in the north Georgia mountains instead of Central America. And I’m working on another one as well, a tale that has required me to delve into the world of grimoiric magic in order to flesh out the adventures of an Atlanta-based artist and entrepreneur.


Thank you once again for taking the time to talk to us, Laura. We look forward to your next novel.

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