I would like to thank Lauren Clark
for taking time out of her busy schedule
to be with us here at Nose In A Book!
Lauren Clark is the author of Stay Tuned and Dancing Naked in Dixie. She writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets.
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Herbig loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website atwww.laurenclarkbooks.com.
Welcome to Nose In A Book. I thank you for taking the time to join us. Could you start out telling the readers a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York, walked to school, played sports (field hockey, soccer, swimming), and was a cheerleader. I was NOT shy. I was precocious--in fact, my mother tells a story about how I slipped away from her in a department store when I was four years old, got into the elevator, and was met by a saleslady who asked me "Where are you going?" Evidently, I looked at her and said, "I'm going UP."
I am married with two boys, ages 7 and 14, and they are my world. I'm the mom who goes along on all of the field trips, loves to help with school projects, and cheer on my children in whatever they decide to pursue! I'm so happy that they adore books as much as I do--my 14 year-old has his own Kindle. I also love being silly with my boys--we make up stories, build Legos, play superheroes (I regularly tease my 7 year-old by telling him that I am "Super Mommy to the Rescue" with a pink cape and boots ... and he rolls his eyes and laughs. It's our special joke!)
When and how did you know that you wanted to become a writer?
I started trying to write stories as a teenager, but had a lot of distractions (sports, cheerleading, school, boys) so I didn't stick with it. When it came to college, I went into Journalism and Public Relations, so spent a lot of time interviewing, editing, and writing. That said, it was good experience, but it wasn't the same as learning how to write fiction.
Most writers' first novel never see the light of day. Can you share the summary of the first book you wrote?
(Cringe) It was about a teenager girl who shoplifts on a dare, then ends up stealing on a regular basis because it makes her feel temporarily better about her life (with a workaholic mother and minus a father).
How did you come up with the title?
Dancing Naked in Dixie jumped into my head one day when I was thinking about a novel about a travel writer who comes to Eufaula. My first idea was to have the protagonist discover some fabulous "dessert" or treat that was so good it made everyone want to dance naked! The more I thought about it, though, I felt it would be straying too much from the plotline that needed to be Julia's journey--a physical journey from New York to Eufaula, Alabama, but also a personal journey of growth and discovery about herself and her own family.
My first novel, Stay Tuned, came from being in the television business for a long time. I wanted something catchy, short, and easy to remember.
What was your favorite chapter to write and why?
I love the chapter in which Julia is trying to catch a cab in New York and two wealthy women get there first. In typical Julia fashion, she tells a little fib and says she's sick with Athazagoritis (which she also made up and isn't even an illness). He little white lie haunts her later in the book, when the two women want to send her flowers and cards at work...but none of Julia's co-workers knows what they are talking about!
What is was the most fun scene to write in Dancing Naked in Dixie? That would have to be the scene with Julia trying to get the cab from the two wealthy women in New York City. Julia's tired, cold, and wet, she really wants to go home and the two ladies are rude so she makes up a story that's she has an illness (Athazagoritis), which, of course, is also not real. The women buy the story, though, and spend the next twenty minutes quizzing her on medications, recovery, and the sickness itself. This scene is so Julia, she's very impulsive, though not meaning any harm to anyone. When she acts before she thinks, then Julia often ends up regretting it -- as is the case for these two ladies, who continue to try and "take care of her" long after the cab ride.
What was the most emotional scene to write? Hands down, the night where it starts snowing in Eufaula. It's a weather rarity, so people get really excited and race outside to see it. Of course, a light dusting of snow looks really magical, like someone sprinkled powdered sugar on rooftops and front yards. Add that to a starry, bright night, and it's the perfect setting for romance. Unfortunately for Julia, Mary Katherine thinks so, too, and makes a public display that Shug is still her boyfriend.
Where did you get your ideas or inspiration for the characters in this book? I lived near Eufaula for many years and it is one of my favorite places to spend a long afternoon. The homes are amazing, the food is fabulous, and the people take a lot of pride in their community. The Pilgrimage is a great event, especially the candlelight tour!! I had the idea of a big-city travel writer coming to the Deep South for a story--and Eufaula seemed like the perfect place for her to visit. Throw in some controversy, secrets, danger, and romantic tension, and it all fell into place! For the characters, many people in Lower Alabama (LA, as the locals call it) are die-hard Auburn University football team fans. "Jordan" is the last name of one of the famous coaches at Auburn, and I thought it would be fun to name a whole family after people or things that represent this much-loved university.
Is there anything in this book readers may not pick up on that you want to point out? I'd love for readers to take away that --like Julia-- we all have had preconceived notions about people or locations that may seem different or foreign. Dixie is about opening up to experience everything that life has to offer -- and finding happiness in the most unexpected places.
I love superheroes and know waayyy too much about the powers and history of different characters. For Mother's Day, I went with my two boys (7 and 14) to see "The Avengers" movie! I think I liked it as much as they did (And of course, it helped that all of the good guys were pretty darn hot ... and that Scarlett Johansson kicked butt as Black Widow.
What is your current work in progress?
I am researching for my next novel, The Pie Lab, which is a real restaurant in Greensboro, Alabama. This story will follow a girl who’s gone off to a big city (like Atlanta or New York) and vows NEVER to come home. She’s forced to return to Greensboro, though, when her romantic relationship falls apart. Since she’s burned a lot of bridges, it will be interesting to see how she makes amends. The Pie Lab, as a business, is a great concept, as it offers on-the-job training and the owners are very active in the community. Added bonus…the pies are delicious! The Pie Lab has been featured in Southern Living and The New York Times.
What is your favorite part to research for a book?
I love to research a new town or city. With Dixie, I had lived near Eufaula for several years and visited many times (including during the Pilgrimage). When I was writing Stay Tuned, I researched Macon, Georgia -- the businesses, the city's population, ethnic makeup, colleges nearby, etc -- I want to know everything that I possibly can to make the setting authentic. I like to print out pictures of the place I am writing about so that I can glance up at them while I am writing.
What's your favorite gadget?
I love my Macbook! I had a Dell until it died, and switched over to Apple. I've never looked back :)
Name three book crushes.
Shopaholic Series - Sophie Kinsella
Paris Series - Juliette Sobanet
Guilty Wives - James Patterson
Where can your readers stalk you?
My blog: www.laurenclarkbooks.com
My Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/
My facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/
Is your book in Print, ebook or both? BOTH