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Interview with ‘The Ark’ Laura Liddell Nolen

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Laura NolenLaura Liddell Nolen grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent lots of time playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. They supplemented their own stories with a steady diet of space- and superhero-themed movies, books, and television. The daughter of a comic book collector, she learned how to handle old comics at an early age, a skill she’s inordinately proud of to this day.

Laura began work on her first novel, The Ark, in 2012, following the birth of her daughter Ava, a tiny rebel and a sweetheart on whom the novel’s main character is loosely based. Completion of The Ark was made possible in part due to an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award.

Laura loves coffee, dogs, and making lists. She has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children, and their dog Miley, who is a very good girl.

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About the Book:

The Ark 2There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.

If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Laura. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

It’s my first time! Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I’m with Harper Voyager, the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. A little while back, they put out a call for unsolicited submissions, and I sent in The Ark. I think Voyager received around 5,000 manuscripts, so it was never something I expected to “win.”

When I got the call, I was so excited. I jumped up and down like a crazy person.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I signed last summer, and The Ark was published March 26. The paperback is out this fall!

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It’s fantastic. Like a lot of your readers, I’d been dreaming of getting to that point for a long, long time.

As for celebrating, it was more like a series of smaller celebrations than one big hurrah. Finishing the first draft was a tremendous accomplishment for me, even when I thought nothing might ever come of it. I wasn’t totally sure I had it in me to get that far. So was finishing the second draft! I’ve already mentioned doing my happy dance when I got the call from my editor that I’d been chosen. Signing the contract called for another joyous jig, and of course, there was much rejoicing the day the book finally came out.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Harper Voyager was kind enough to give me an interview and a guest post on their blog. You can find them here and here.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

So far, my time has been spent promoting The Ark. But it’s only been three weeks. Another difference is that although I was always trying my hardest, I am doubly inspired to put out my best work possible. Before, I never knew anyone would read it. Now, I know it’s going to be published! No pressure there.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I’ve said this before, but the single most amazing thing about the publishing industry is the support of my fellow writers. I’ve had a few readers reach out in the past couple of weeks to say that they enjoyed the book, and that’s really special, too. I even heard from a mother who told me her daughter hadn’t been so engaged by a book in awhile, and that was an awesome feeling.

I will admit that most of the people who reached out mainly just wanted to tell me not to end the next one on a cliffhanger, to which I say: THANK YOU for reading my book! And we’ll see…

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Knowing my kids, especially my daughter, will one day get to read the words I wrote. Wanting my children eventually to understand me as a person is a secondary goal in parenting, but it’s important nonetheless.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Keep writing! You can do this. I truly believe that anyone- anyone- can improve with practice. Practice involves reading as much as you can and thinking about the way better authors put their stories together. But, alas, it also involves writing.

So keep writing.

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