I Laura and I met for the first time in person in Munich, Germany early last year. Laura had traveled from her town of Saarbücken to meet me while I was traveling around Europe during my semester abroad. We had an evening of pizza and ice cream where she let me know that Canadians are indeed too nice! She and I have known each other for years. We met online and quickly became friends. We bonded over our passions for writing, reading, and social activism. Over the years, I have gotten to know her to be equally nice and kind as she is talented.
Laura has been a published author in Germany for three years. Her first book came out when she was just sixteen years old called Shapeshifters: The Beginning. However she originally wrote the book when she was thirteen years old. Last year, Laura made the bold move of having her book, which was originally written in German, translated into English. The story of Shapeshifters: The Beginning is one of courage and bravery. I sat down (virtually) with Laura to get her story on reading, writing and love of literature. Here it is:
- When did you start writing? What first inspired you?
I started writing around the age of 8 or 9. We learned how to write stories at school and I really liked it, especially because I loved reading. The inspiration for my first stories came mainly from fairy tales. I disassembled them and put them together in a new way.
- What kind of books did you read growing up?
I started out with Comic books, “Asterix” to be specific. Then detective stories, which brought me to “Fear Street” and then “Goosebumps”. Finally, I ended up in the fantasy genre.
- What genres are your favorite to read?
Fantasy has stuck with me over the years, if I have a choice, I’d always prefer a good fantasy book. But thrillers shouldn’t be underrated either. There is one German author, Sebastian Fitzek, whose books are so perfectly written, that you never know who the killer is or what’s going on, till the end. Agatha Christie’s books will always have a special place in my heart too.
- Why did you pick fantasy as the genre for your own writing?
Fantasy is great, because you can let your imagination roam freely. If you write in a genre which isn’t fantasy, you have to follow so many more rules. Even Science Fiction expects of you that at least a little bit of the science is believable.
Also, I like dragons. And it’s really hard to sneak dragons into a book that isn’t a fantasy book.
- Do you think about the audience you are writing for or do you prefer to write for yourself?
I completely write for my audience. For every book, I choose several people who give me feedback while I’m writing. If they don’t like something, I change it. If they want to know something, I explain it in the next chapter. I probably would have stopped writing a long time ago without these people. They all have different ages too, so that I can evaluate which age group my book should be aimed at later. Currently, my test-readers are between the ages of 13 and 50.
- Do you stick to a writing schedule? How often do you (try to) write?
While still at school, I was able to write once a week, at least while working on my second book. Since 1.5 years, I study biology and my writing has suffered a bit because of it. I try to write at least once a month, although that’s still too much when I have exams. When I have the time (and motivation) to write, I usually produce between 3 and 14 pages. It varies, depending on how far I want to get in the story on that day.
- What advice do you usually give new writers?
Never give up, no matter what happens. Writing itself works different for everyone, so I don’t think I could give good advice on this matter, but the biggest issue is, that most new writers give up because they don’t think it’s good enough. Don’t. Keep writing. Get people to read it, listen to what they say about it. Accept criticism and learn from it. It’s like with everything, practice is the key.
Visit Part 2 of the interview here!
By: Fatima Ahmed