We're pleased to have Laura McNeill here to celebrate the publication of her second novel, Sister Dear. The last time she was at CLC, she went by the name Lauren Clark. She has several chick lit titles under that name, including Pie Girls. However, as Laura McNeill, her books have a dark side to them. Sara and Melissa A loved Center of Gravity (published July 2015) and reviewed it recently.
After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.
Laura’s writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer award. She currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama. Visit Laura at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Laura has a copy of Sister Dear for a lucky US reader!
Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows. But Allie’s return to Brunswick, Georgia, sends earthquakes through the small, coastal community. Even her daughter Caroline, now a teenager, challenges Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a campaign for the truth, digging deep into the past. Her investigation threatens her parole status, her own safety, and the already-fragile bond with her family. What Allie uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom. (Courtesy of Laura's website.)
How does writing a novel compare to being a broadcast journalist? What are the similarities and differences?
Initially, when comparing the career of a novelist and a journalist, it is easy to say that the two professions differ greatly. The novelist tells stories; tales containing fictional characters who live in worlds that only exist in the mind of a writer. In contrast, the journalist goes after the facts of each story, tracking down the “who, what, when, why, and where” from credible sources.
As a journalist, daily deadlines are required. Most of the time, the story assigned in the morning must be written and turned in by late afternoon. There is also a significant constraint on story length, as most news stories are thirty seconds to a minute and a half in length.
In contrast, a novelist has a much greater amount of time to write a story, though they may have a deadlines set forth by a publisher. This means many months or more than a year to write a story. And while a journalist may have one editor read his or her work, it is likely that a novel will go through the editorial process three, four, or more times. And though novels don’t have video clips or voiced tracks like news stories, book trailers can be used to convey a message or share a theme.
The similarities between the two careers are simple—telling the stories well enough to make people care, and getting people to wonder what will happen next. In both a novel and a news story, the author (or journalist) attempts to grab a reader’s attention, then proceeds to offer up description, dialogue, details, and conflict in order that his or her audience stay engaged and interested. In a news story or novel, if the writer can leave the reader satisfied, stimulated, and thinking about the story long after it’s finished, then both the journalist and novelist have done a good job.
What is your approach to writing – do you outline first or just start typing?
I am definitely a writer who enjoys outlining. In my first attempt at writing a manuscript, I tried to sit down and type without planning first, and it ended up being a little short of a disaster! Since then, I’ve begun every story with a “what if” idea, and then fleshed out the structure of the novel from start to finish. Even now, I don’t even begin the first page without having at least a few sentences in place to describe each chapter. I generally know the ending of the story, though some of the characters and conflicts along the way might change and grow.
What drew you into writing a novel?
I was first drawn to novel writing after spending six years as a TV reporter and anchor for two CBS affiliates. I came away from that job with so many stories—ranging from really funny to very serious and compelling. I had observed criminal trials, watched as houses burned to the ground, talked to politicians, interviewed physicians, and walked fields with farmers. My first novel, Stay Tuned, published under the pen name, Lauren Clark, was a fictional account of my time in TV news.
On your website, you say you’re a runner. What is the longest distance run you’ve ever completed?
I’ve recently moved and changed jobs, so I’ve taken a break from running for a few months, but I do find it to be excellent stress relief and a time to get away from the world and think, if just for thirty minutes. The longest distance I’ve ever completed is a little over six miles.
If money and time weren’t a factor and you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’ve always wanted to visit Greece, and specifically, the Greek Isles. I fell in love with the idea of visiting Santorini after reading the second novel in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. From the photographs that I’ve seen, the crystal blue water and rocky landscape seem idyllic. I love Mediterranean food, as well, so I’d definitely want to visit and explore for at least a month!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – which social media site are you most addicted to?
If there was a “chocolate and coffee” social media App, I’d be a big fan! That said, I’m fairly active on Facebook and Twitter, but I do like Instagram and all of the filters and features the best. I do have a lot of fun with the Instagram Layout App when I have a lot of photos from a family gathering or a fun event. I also adore looking at friends’ accounts, checking out their photos, and keeping up on their lives!
Thanks to Laura for visiting with us and sharing her book with our readers.
~Interview by Tracey Meyers
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US only. Giveaway ends April 26th at midnight EST.