Introduction by Gail Allison
**Giveaway is now closed**
She's no stranger to success...Laura Pedersen was once the youngest columnist for the New York Times, and was also once the youngest person to have a seat on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. Now, she's a best-selling author of twelve (that's right...twelve) books, and has appeared on David Letterman, Oprah, and the Today Show, to name a few. Also, in 1994, President Clinton honored Laura as one of Ten Outstanding Young Americans. You'd think all that would wear a girl out, but Laura just keeps on carrying on! She still writes, and also teaches at the Booker T. Washington Learning Center in East Harlem. Her novel "Fool's Mate" (reviewed here) is actually titled after a chess strategy.
Visit her at her website.
Thanks to AuthorsOnTheWeb, we're giving away TWO copies of "Fool's Mate" to some lucky readers in the US and Canada.
(Author photo credit: Denise Winters)
What kind of research did you do for "Fool's Mate?"
I’ve been on news channels such as CNN, MSNBC and FOX, and even had a TV show of my own for several years that ran out of a busy studio. With regard to the news biz itself, I wrote for The New York Times for twelve years and come from a newspaper family. I even reworked a couple of practical jokes that had been played by or on my grandfather, who wrote for a number of Buffalo papers and also The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with? How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
I think my heart lies with Josie, who is struggling to get her life together. Although Fool’s Mate is intended to be a funny romantic comedy, alcoholism is a serious problem, and Josie is indeed an alcoholic at the start. Even though my grandfather was a wonderful writer, the joke in our family was that the best stories weren’t by him but about him. He was often over-served at local taverns, got into mischief, and had to switch jobs with a certain amount of regularity.
I think a good story results from a strong plot and that’s something you need to plan ahead of time. Not necessarily every detail, but you need to know where your characters have to end up for the story to work.
What did you do to celebrate when first published?
When my first book, "Play Money," came out I enjoyed going to bookstores and gazing at it with disbelief. Fortunately, you don’t need an excuse to stand in the aisle and do that for long periods of time, or else I would’ve been arrested for vagrancy. I don’t celebrate by having a drink since obviously that can lead to problems in my family.
What is one piece of advice you'd like to share with future writers?
It’s for the most part a solitary profession unless you work in a newsroom, and even those are disappearing fast. I suppose if one is a reviewer then you can go out and socialize before spending time alone in a room trying to put some thoughts on paper. [For folks interested in writing, I answer the most often asked questions about that here.]
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
Having a newspaper column with a strict deadline forces you to manage your time, not procrastinate, and blow through writer’s block as well as inconveniences such as food poisoning. So usually if I don’t want to work on an essay or a book chapter it means there is a big problem with the plot or a character’s arc, in which case I need to find the trouble and create a fix or abandon the project altogether since it’s not going to work even by inserting zombies.
If "Fool's Mate" were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles?
I’m sure there are a lot of great young actresses who could play Josie as being smart, intrepid, slightly rogue, and largely self-destructive. Calvin needs to be more solid, earnest, and preppy. Josie’s boss should be an experienced loud-mouth who is dedicated to the news business and has an eye for real talent when he finds it.
Actually, I don’t see enough of the current pool of performers to decide. My six stepsisters can argue for days over imaginary casts for my novels so I’ll ask them to work on it. However, they usually reserve a few minor parts for themselves.
If you could live anywhere in the world, besides where you’re currently living, where would it be, and why?
I’ve always been attracted to the vibrancy of New Orleans. It’s unlike any other place I know and has been a magnet for many of the writers I admire such as Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, Michael Lewis, Lillian Hellman, John Kennedy Toole, Renee Peck, and Truman Capote.
Who is your current celebrity crush?
There will always and only ever be Bill Moyers for me. He reads essays on PBS that he writes himself and they are in and of themselves a Master Class in the art of writing when it comes to clean, concise and powerful prose. Otherwise, I always have a soft spot for female comedians, like the sassy waitress played by Kat Dennings on Two Broke Girls and the mother on Two and a Half Men, played by Holland Taylor.
What is your theme song?
Chumbawamba -- “Tubthumping (I get knocked down).”
Which TV show, book, or movie reminds you most of your own life?
Early Roseanne did a good job of representing life in the 1980s for the working class in the American Midwest, right down to the afghan over the back of the couch, Dads who hang out in garages, sending the check to the electric company without a signature in order to buy more time, and stretching the meatloaf with filler such as Quaker Oats. I recognized all of that.
Special thanks to Laura for answering our questions so eloquently and to AuthorsOnTheWeb for sharing "Fool's Mate" with our readers.
How to win "Fool's Mate":
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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends January 30th at midnight EST.