An interview with Laura Resnick

Cat_243_dover_15 From Mary Jo:

Though a lot of Word Wench posts are related to history and historical novels, all of us read much more broadly.  Which is why today’s special guest author is Laura Resnick, author of romance, fantasy, crossover, and interesting other things.  A popular favorite with the Wenches, Laura has a November release: the mass market edition of her very funny Luna book, Disappearing Nightly, which was released last December in trade paperback. (See photo of Laura in Old Jerusalem below.)

Besides Disappearing Nightly, Laura’s fantasy novels Lauraoldcityinclude In Legend Born, The Destroyer Goddess, and The White Dragon, which made the "Year’s Best" lists of Publishers Weekly and Voya. Under the pseudonym Laura Leone, she is the award-winning author of more than a dozen romance novels, including Fallen From Grace, which was a finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Rita Award. You can find her on the Web at www.LauraResnick.com

MJP:  Laura and I first met at a Romantic Times conference in San Antonio a lot of years ago.  She was there to accept the RT award for best new category romance writer.  There have been a lot of years and a lot of books since then! Laura, will you tell us something about Disappearing Nightly?

Disappearing_nightly LR: This book combines a lot of my favorite things—in life as well as in fiction!—romance, comedy, mystery, action, cops, actors, ancient tomes, and ice cream. Set in contemporary New York City, it’s about an actress, Esther Diamond, working in an off-Broadway musical, who inadvertently gets wrapped up in a strange and wacky fantasy adventure in which she must find out why performers in disappearing acts all over Manhattan are really disappearing.

Along the way, she meets a sexy cop (who’d ask her out if he didn’t suspect she’s an insane felon), a 350-year-old wizard whose mission is to protect the city from Evil, a Texas condom king, a nervous society boy, and a bevy of drag queens. It’s a novel that I hope will appeal to romance readers as well as to fantasy fans.

MJP:  For years, you wrote wildly popular columns on writing for Nink, the newsletter of the all-genre writing organization Novelists, Inc. I understand that the columns will be published as a collection soon.  Can you tell us more about this?   

LR:  Yes! I’m delighted to report that my collected columns will be published by Jefferson Press in spring 2007 as a book called Rejection, Royalties, and Romance: The Wacky World of a Working Writer. It’s about how working writers wrestle with the demands and chaos of the long-term professional writing life, rather than being a "how to write" book. In addition to the audience of professional writers it addresses, I hope it will interest aspiring writers—and, indeed, anyone who just likes books and wonders how novelists live and work.

MJP:  How long have you been writing?

LR:  I think it’s been 18 years. (Ohmigod. It’s been eighteen years?)

MJP:  You write both romance and fantasy—among other things!  How do you feel about your different genres? >>

LR:  What I like about writing romance is the focus on relaFallen_from_gracetionship and characterization; and I think that starting out my career in romance was a huge factor in shaping what kind of writer I am now: No matter how big the tale or how spectacular the fantasy premise, I’m still always fundamentally writing about characters and their relationships. What I like about writing fantasy is the traditional, classic, high-adventure kind of tale that has always strongly attracted me to fiction as a reader, whatever the genre.

There were numerous factors in my migration from romance to fantasy, but certainly a major one is that, while I love a good love story, I am at heart a huge adventure fan; and fantasy gives me the opportunity to write adventure tales that happen to include various kinds of love stories.

MJP: What was your first book, and how well do you think it characterizes your latest work?

Sultryold LR:  Talk about a trip down Memory Lane! My first-ever book was a Silhouette Desire called One Sultry Summer, published in 1989. When I started writing, my goal was to get published. So I sat down with the Silhouette guidelines in one hand and a notebook in the other (I wrote the book by hand and later typed it), and I did my best to write exactly the kind of novel I thought Silhouette Books was looking for in the late 1980s. And I would say that book is wholly UNcharacteristic of anything I’ve written in years!

MJP:  Everyone I know who has read Disappearing Nightly adores it.  How do you manage the humor?

LR:  In the first lay-down of a comedy scene, I mostly let the characters do and say whatever they want to do or say. I find that if I’ve developed the characters right and I’ve put them in the right kind of scene, then they do a lot of the initial work for me. (So a lot of my work involves character development and figuring out what scenes to write.)

Then I do a lot of subsequent rewrites to keep sharpening what’s on the page. Prose and dialogue seem very musical to me; and I think of comedy, in particular, as percussion music. So taking a scene that’s potentially funny and making it actually funny is a question of revising, rewriting, polishing, and rearranging the prose and dialogue until I’ve found and hit all the right beats. This is organic, not a writing technique I can explain or teach in a workshop, but it probably originates in my years of studying acting (before I started writing). My acting training included tremendous emphasis on timing in comedy, and I think that’s translated to this percussion music that’s in my head when I write and revise comedy.

Additionally, comedy is about truth. It may be the too-honest thing someone says Fevernewor does because of the heightened emotions of the moment, or because of the heightened stakes–or because of the catastrophically lowered stakes (by the time the heroine of Disappearing Nightly finds herself trapped underground with a hungry tiger, a stripper, and a demon, there’s not a lot left to lose)! And certainly one thing that I, at least, find indelibly true is that mundane concerns always intrude on life’s attempts to be grandiose. So someone saving the world still gets phone calls from her mother and can’t realistically afford to miss a half-price shoe sale.

Also, I think comedy has to be smart. A comedy protagonist who’s too stupid or inept to get smoothly through a day that I could get through smoothly, isn’t funny to me; she’s just tedious and silly.

MJP:  What was the biggest mistake you made when you first began writing?>>

Whitedragon LR: I made so many, I can’t even recall them all, let alone figure out which was the biggest! More importantly, though, I know the one thing I did RIGHT: I just kept writing. When rejected, when told the market was dead, when told I had no talent, after losing a contract, after losing an agent or being unable to find an agent, after having multiple projects rejected, after losing an editor, etc., etc. I kept writing. It’s the only reason I had a career, and it’s the only reason I still have one. You have to keep writing. That’s the one thing I’m positive I did right, amidst many, many, many mistakes.

MJP:  Which of your characters is your favorite, and why?

LR:  Well, I’m very partial to Esther Diamond, the heroine of Disappearing Nightly, because she’s a character I wanted to write for years, so it’s like finally getting to meet someone you’ve always wanted to meet. She’s funny, she’s ethical, she’s got guts, she’s impatient, she’s a trifle tactless, she’s eccentric without realizing it, and she never loses faith in herself, her friends, or her talent.

MJP:  Which book, if any, was the most difficult for you to write, and why?

LR:  Most of them were "the most difficult" at the time I was writing them, no joke. But I’d have to say that The White Dragon and The Destroyer Goddess count Destroyer_goddess as the most difficult. This is a massive two-volume fantasy epic with a dozen point-of-view characters and half a dozen major plotlines that weave together into a series of interrelated climaxes. So, in terms of craft and commitment, it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever written. Happily, it’s also the work for which I get the most letters from readers who say I destroyed their personal and professional lives for days or weeks because they couldn’t put this story down until they got to the end!

MJP:  What do you consider key elements of a great story?

In_legend_bornLR:  The single most important thing: Absorb me, make me care. If I don’t care about the characters and feel absorbed in their story, then it doesn’t matter how clever the plot is, how well-researched the setting, how unique the premise, etc. I have to care and be absorbed, or the book is a waste of paper, as far as I’m concerned. Note that I say "care about" a character rather than "like" them. While it’s usually easier to care about someone we like, I think (in fiction) it’s a question of making characters compelling—they may or may not be "likeable," but they must be someone I can’t "look away from," in effect. Fiction can have anti-heroes—even villains—who are deeply compelling, though not necessarily someone I "like" or want to invite over to dinner.

MJP:  What is the best part about being a writer?

LR:  Writing.

MJP:  The most frustrating?

LR:  Dealing with the publishing world.

MJP:  Laura, though you’re not considered a historical author, in fact your epic fantasy novels take place in a medieval world—Sileria just happens to be invented rather than taking place on this planet.  What kind of research did you do?  Do you like writing in historical settings?

LR:  I tend to do quite a lot of research on traditional weapons and combat for my fantasy novels, particularly exotic weapons and fighting styles. These are high adventure novels in which I’m writing about characters for whom deadly combat is a way of life and weapons are daily tools, so I like to learn enough myself for this to become second-skin knowledge and skill for such characters—without, I hope, clobbering innocent readers over the head with all my brilliant research. (I want the reader to feel the character is a combat expert, not that I’m trying to turn the reader into one.)

Hags I’m currently working on a fantasy novel called Arena, set in a tribal horse culture, so I’ve done a lot of research on horses and on ancient and medieval cultures that were built around the horse, such as Scythians, Huns, and Mongols. Physically, psychologically, religiously, and even gastronomically, this is a very different setting from various other "historical" lifestyles I’ve researched for my fantasy novels. But such research is an element of characterization, like the combat research. Because the point isn’t to show the reader how much I know now about living as a nomad with a herd of horses. It’s to give a sturdy foundation to characters who are part of this culture, to find all of the points of strangeness and discord for characters who are merely visitors to this culture—and, of course, to figure out how someone who is part of this culture nonetheless comes to be at odds with it (since protagonists are usually people who rise above or sink below the current water level of their communities).

MJP: As a result of your Master’s in Journalism program, you ended up earning an internship in Jerusalem.  Have those four months in a conflicted part of the world influenced your writing?  Given you new story ideas?

LR:  Pretty much everything that happens to a writer influences her writing and gives her story ideas. And a place as strange and intense as Jerusalem is bound to have a strong effect. Certainly a city that’s been inhabited by so many gods, religions, prophets, warriors, and dynasties over a period of more than four thousand years is a treasure trove of ideas and research for a fantasy writer. (Jerusalem has been completely sacked seven times, and conquered more than 30 times.) For anyone interested in reading more about what I did in Jerusalem, there’s a "Dispatches from Israel" page on my website at www.LauraResnick.com .

But it’s only over time that we see precisely how such influences and experiences unfold in a writer’s work. For the time being, what those four months have mostly done is make me late on my existing fiction obligations!

Blonde_in_africa MJP: Thanks so much for visiting us, Laura!  The last Laura book cover I’ll add is for Laura’s first non-fiction, A Blonde in Africa.  Laura Resnick doesn’t just write adventures–she lives them!

Mary Jo

57 thoughts on “An interview with Laura Resnick”

  1. Laura, you are one of my heroines of the industry! I admire the way you cross genres, and balance fiction and nonfiction writing (not an easy thing to do, I’ve found, but always rewarding.)
    When I got my MA in Journalism, I didn’t do anything so fantastic as going to Jersusalem.
    I urge all writers to hasten to a bookstore next spring to buy her collected columns. I know I will, even though I’ve probably read a number of them already.
    Wishing you continued success with every endeavour!

    Reply
  2. Laura, you are one of my heroines of the industry! I admire the way you cross genres, and balance fiction and nonfiction writing (not an easy thing to do, I’ve found, but always rewarding.)
    When I got my MA in Journalism, I didn’t do anything so fantastic as going to Jersusalem.
    I urge all writers to hasten to a bookstore next spring to buy her collected columns. I know I will, even though I’ve probably read a number of them already.
    Wishing you continued success with every endeavour!

    Reply
  3. Laura, you are one of my heroines of the industry! I admire the way you cross genres, and balance fiction and nonfiction writing (not an easy thing to do, I’ve found, but always rewarding.)
    When I got my MA in Journalism, I didn’t do anything so fantastic as going to Jersusalem.
    I urge all writers to hasten to a bookstore next spring to buy her collected columns. I know I will, even though I’ve probably read a number of them already.
    Wishing you continued success with every endeavour!

    Reply
  4. Jayne and I both adored Disappearing Nightly. It had some of the best dialogue we had read in a long time. Since Luna hasn’t picked up the second in the series, I hope that your work will find a new home.

    Reply
  5. Jayne and I both adored Disappearing Nightly. It had some of the best dialogue we had read in a long time. Since Luna hasn’t picked up the second in the series, I hope that your work will find a new home.

    Reply
  6. Jayne and I both adored Disappearing Nightly. It had some of the best dialogue we had read in a long time. Since Luna hasn’t picked up the second in the series, I hope that your work will find a new home.

    Reply
  7. Hi Laura,
    nice to see you here in Wenchland.
    Disappearing Nightly is a hoot.It’s great to see magic as the main paranormal thread instead of “monstrous heroes” — the vampires etc.
    Was that a hard sell?
    Jo

    Reply
  8. Hi Laura,
    nice to see you here in Wenchland.
    Disappearing Nightly is a hoot.It’s great to see magic as the main paranormal thread instead of “monstrous heroes” — the vampires etc.
    Was that a hard sell?
    Jo

    Reply
  9. Hi Laura,
    nice to see you here in Wenchland.
    Disappearing Nightly is a hoot.It’s great to see magic as the main paranormal thread instead of “monstrous heroes” — the vampires etc.
    Was that a hard sell?
    Jo

    Reply
  10. Hey, Laura, welcome! Have a virtual cup of Irish coffee on this gloomy day, put your feet up, and tell us stories! You’ve had so many adventures that if you wrote twenty pages a day for the next hundred years, you couldn’t possibly run out of them. I adored Disappearing Nightly. When’s the next book due out?

    Reply
  11. Hey, Laura, welcome! Have a virtual cup of Irish coffee on this gloomy day, put your feet up, and tell us stories! You’ve had so many adventures that if you wrote twenty pages a day for the next hundred years, you couldn’t possibly run out of them. I adored Disappearing Nightly. When’s the next book due out?

    Reply
  12. Hey, Laura, welcome! Have a virtual cup of Irish coffee on this gloomy day, put your feet up, and tell us stories! You’ve had so many adventures that if you wrote twenty pages a day for the next hundred years, you couldn’t possibly run out of them. I adored Disappearing Nightly. When’s the next book due out?

    Reply
  13. “Also, I think comedy has to be smart. A comedy protagonist who’s too stupid or inept to get smoothly through a day that I could get through smoothly, isn’t funny to me; she’s just tedious and silly.”
    I’m so glad to hear you say this because the comedy element has had me ambivalent about reading Disappearing Nightly. I’ve heard only good things about the book but comedy usually comes off as silly to me. “Humorous” or “hysterically funny” in a book blurb is guaranteed to make me shy away. Armed with the knowledge that your comedy is smart :), I’ll definitely be looking for Disappearing Nightly next time I’m at the bookstore.

    Reply
  14. “Also, I think comedy has to be smart. A comedy protagonist who’s too stupid or inept to get smoothly through a day that I could get through smoothly, isn’t funny to me; she’s just tedious and silly.”
    I’m so glad to hear you say this because the comedy element has had me ambivalent about reading Disappearing Nightly. I’ve heard only good things about the book but comedy usually comes off as silly to me. “Humorous” or “hysterically funny” in a book blurb is guaranteed to make me shy away. Armed with the knowledge that your comedy is smart :), I’ll definitely be looking for Disappearing Nightly next time I’m at the bookstore.

    Reply
  15. “Also, I think comedy has to be smart. A comedy protagonist who’s too stupid or inept to get smoothly through a day that I could get through smoothly, isn’t funny to me; she’s just tedious and silly.”
    I’m so glad to hear you say this because the comedy element has had me ambivalent about reading Disappearing Nightly. I’ve heard only good things about the book but comedy usually comes off as silly to me. “Humorous” or “hysterically funny” in a book blurb is guaranteed to make me shy away. Armed with the knowledge that your comedy is smart :), I’ll definitely be looking for Disappearing Nightly next time I’m at the bookstore.

    Reply
  16. Hi folks,
    Cool to see a blog with so many of my favorite people/writers in it!
    Disappearing Nightly was indeed a hard sell, largely because it’s so evenly cross-genre, rather than a straight-genre novel with some inter-genre hooks.
    Luna was supportive of the material, but unfortuantely, this series got caught in Luna’s nosedive and dropped, so I’m looking for a home for the second book (and, I hope, many more to follow). It’s called DOPPELGANGSTER and is mostly-written, so here’s hoping.

    Reply
  17. Hi folks,
    Cool to see a blog with so many of my favorite people/writers in it!
    Disappearing Nightly was indeed a hard sell, largely because it’s so evenly cross-genre, rather than a straight-genre novel with some inter-genre hooks.
    Luna was supportive of the material, but unfortuantely, this series got caught in Luna’s nosedive and dropped, so I’m looking for a home for the second book (and, I hope, many more to follow). It’s called DOPPELGANGSTER and is mostly-written, so here’s hoping.

    Reply
  18. Hi folks,
    Cool to see a blog with so many of my favorite people/writers in it!
    Disappearing Nightly was indeed a hard sell, largely because it’s so evenly cross-genre, rather than a straight-genre novel with some inter-genre hooks.
    Luna was supportive of the material, but unfortuantely, this series got caught in Luna’s nosedive and dropped, so I’m looking for a home for the second book (and, I hope, many more to follow). It’s called DOPPELGANGSTER and is mostly-written, so here’s hoping.

    Reply
  19. Laura, welcome to Word Wenches!
    Great interview (and a nod to MJ here for inviting you), and you bring up some very interesting points.
    I so agree about comedy in writing, there has to be an instinct for it, or it falls harder and faster ‘n a lead balloon ever could. Slapstick doesn’t work because that’s visual, silliness doesn’t work because it’s tedious. The humor in your books always works. The author has to have an inner feel for the comic subtleties, and you have that.
    And you’re so right about character. If I’m not invested as a reader with those characters, the book is never going to work for me, no matter what other strengths it offers.
    I loved In Legend Born — really savored that one. Absolutely masterful writing and storytelling. I’ll definitely look for Disappearing Nightly. I’m very intrigued and looking forward to reading it.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  20. Laura, welcome to Word Wenches!
    Great interview (and a nod to MJ here for inviting you), and you bring up some very interesting points.
    I so agree about comedy in writing, there has to be an instinct for it, or it falls harder and faster ‘n a lead balloon ever could. Slapstick doesn’t work because that’s visual, silliness doesn’t work because it’s tedious. The humor in your books always works. The author has to have an inner feel for the comic subtleties, and you have that.
    And you’re so right about character. If I’m not invested as a reader with those characters, the book is never going to work for me, no matter what other strengths it offers.
    I loved In Legend Born — really savored that one. Absolutely masterful writing and storytelling. I’ll definitely look for Disappearing Nightly. I’m very intrigued and looking forward to reading it.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  21. Laura, welcome to Word Wenches!
    Great interview (and a nod to MJ here for inviting you), and you bring up some very interesting points.
    I so agree about comedy in writing, there has to be an instinct for it, or it falls harder and faster ‘n a lead balloon ever could. Slapstick doesn’t work because that’s visual, silliness doesn’t work because it’s tedious. The humor in your books always works. The author has to have an inner feel for the comic subtleties, and you have that.
    And you’re so right about character. If I’m not invested as a reader with those characters, the book is never going to work for me, no matter what other strengths it offers.
    I loved In Legend Born — really savored that one. Absolutely masterful writing and storytelling. I’ll definitely look for Disappearing Nightly. I’m very intrigued and looking forward to reading it.
    ~Susan Sarah

    Reply
  22. Laura, I loved, loved, loved your dispatches from Jerusalem. I read every single one of them just now when I saw this post. You cetainly have a wonderful way with words: I could see the concerte corridoors into Bethlehem, feel the shoving crowds, see the beauty of the old town and the pulsing vibrancy of the new town. Thank you for an armchair trip to Jerusalem.

    Reply
  23. Laura, I loved, loved, loved your dispatches from Jerusalem. I read every single one of them just now when I saw this post. You cetainly have a wonderful way with words: I could see the concerte corridoors into Bethlehem, feel the shoving crowds, see the beauty of the old town and the pulsing vibrancy of the new town. Thank you for an armchair trip to Jerusalem.

    Reply
  24. Laura, I loved, loved, loved your dispatches from Jerusalem. I read every single one of them just now when I saw this post. You cetainly have a wonderful way with words: I could see the concerte corridoors into Bethlehem, feel the shoving crowds, see the beauty of the old town and the pulsing vibrancy of the new town. Thank you for an armchair trip to Jerusalem.

    Reply
  25. Hi, Laura. It’s great to have you with us at Word Wenches. I loved, loved, loved Disappearing Nightly and hope you find another publisher very very soon because I’ve been waiting so very impatiently for the next one. Excellent point about comedy. I can laugh at dumb jokes and slapstick but the books that I remember with joy are the witty, smart-funny ones. The classic screwball comedies weren’t all pratfalls but very much dependent on wit.

    Reply
  26. Hi, Laura. It’s great to have you with us at Word Wenches. I loved, loved, loved Disappearing Nightly and hope you find another publisher very very soon because I’ve been waiting so very impatiently for the next one. Excellent point about comedy. I can laugh at dumb jokes and slapstick but the books that I remember with joy are the witty, smart-funny ones. The classic screwball comedies weren’t all pratfalls but very much dependent on wit.

    Reply
  27. Hi, Laura. It’s great to have you with us at Word Wenches. I loved, loved, loved Disappearing Nightly and hope you find another publisher very very soon because I’ve been waiting so very impatiently for the next one. Excellent point about comedy. I can laugh at dumb jokes and slapstick but the books that I remember with joy are the witty, smart-funny ones. The classic screwball comedies weren’t all pratfalls but very much dependent on wit.

    Reply
  28. I have never read your work (I blush to disclose) but after reading this interview I plan to rush to my bookstore and buy all I can find. I’m always looking for new authors because I read a lot faster than most can write. Looking forward to a wonderful new relationship. Kathy

    Reply
  29. I have never read your work (I blush to disclose) but after reading this interview I plan to rush to my bookstore and buy all I can find. I’m always looking for new authors because I read a lot faster than most can write. Looking forward to a wonderful new relationship. Kathy

    Reply
  30. I have never read your work (I blush to disclose) but after reading this interview I plan to rush to my bookstore and buy all I can find. I’m always looking for new authors because I read a lot faster than most can write. Looking forward to a wonderful new relationship. Kathy

    Reply
  31. >
    Hi Pat,
    Stories? Well, I can say with conviction that the most frightening place in Jerusalem is not any of the military checkpoints; nor the dark, water-filled, underground tunnels of City of David; nor the heavily guarded Wailing Wall; nor the security checkpoints at the government buildings in the New City; nor the insane traffic where King George Road meets Jaffa Road; nor the pitch-dark streets I walked home from work late at night.
    No, the scariest place in Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
    The priests there are like gangsters, no kidding. Also violent. They knocked me around–more than once–but mostly I saw them fistfighting with each other any number of times. In CHURCH, for chrissake.
    The worshippers there, on various occasions, hit me, brandished swords (real swords: two years ago someone was stabbed), stage riots, fought with each other, and nearly set me on fire. The whole place, which is a massive rabbit warren, is dark, shadowy, and I swear it smells like blood (though the faithful don’t seem to agree with me).
    And the only time I ever got roughed up by cops in Israel was on Christian holy days, in and around the Holy Sepulcher (I was usually the one sent to cover events there, me being an intern and therefore wholly expendable). They know what to do in a bomb scare, but when faced with fanatical Christians from half a dozen sects, they seem to freak out.
    It was after covering religion in Jerusalem that I asked to go to the West Bank to work on a story. I needed a rest. 🙂
    Laura

    Reply
  32. >
    Hi Pat,
    Stories? Well, I can say with conviction that the most frightening place in Jerusalem is not any of the military checkpoints; nor the dark, water-filled, underground tunnels of City of David; nor the heavily guarded Wailing Wall; nor the security checkpoints at the government buildings in the New City; nor the insane traffic where King George Road meets Jaffa Road; nor the pitch-dark streets I walked home from work late at night.
    No, the scariest place in Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
    The priests there are like gangsters, no kidding. Also violent. They knocked me around–more than once–but mostly I saw them fistfighting with each other any number of times. In CHURCH, for chrissake.
    The worshippers there, on various occasions, hit me, brandished swords (real swords: two years ago someone was stabbed), stage riots, fought with each other, and nearly set me on fire. The whole place, which is a massive rabbit warren, is dark, shadowy, and I swear it smells like blood (though the faithful don’t seem to agree with me).
    And the only time I ever got roughed up by cops in Israel was on Christian holy days, in and around the Holy Sepulcher (I was usually the one sent to cover events there, me being an intern and therefore wholly expendable). They know what to do in a bomb scare, but when faced with fanatical Christians from half a dozen sects, they seem to freak out.
    It was after covering religion in Jerusalem that I asked to go to the West Bank to work on a story. I needed a rest. 🙂
    Laura

    Reply
  33. >
    Hi Pat,
    Stories? Well, I can say with conviction that the most frightening place in Jerusalem is not any of the military checkpoints; nor the dark, water-filled, underground tunnels of City of David; nor the heavily guarded Wailing Wall; nor the security checkpoints at the government buildings in the New City; nor the insane traffic where King George Road meets Jaffa Road; nor the pitch-dark streets I walked home from work late at night.
    No, the scariest place in Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
    The priests there are like gangsters, no kidding. Also violent. They knocked me around–more than once–but mostly I saw them fistfighting with each other any number of times. In CHURCH, for chrissake.
    The worshippers there, on various occasions, hit me, brandished swords (real swords: two years ago someone was stabbed), stage riots, fought with each other, and nearly set me on fire. The whole place, which is a massive rabbit warren, is dark, shadowy, and I swear it smells like blood (though the faithful don’t seem to agree with me).
    And the only time I ever got roughed up by cops in Israel was on Christian holy days, in and around the Holy Sepulcher (I was usually the one sent to cover events there, me being an intern and therefore wholly expendable). They know what to do in a bomb scare, but when faced with fanatical Christians from half a dozen sects, they seem to freak out.
    It was after covering religion in Jerusalem that I asked to go to the West Bank to work on a story. I needed a rest. 🙂
    Laura

    Reply
  34. Laura wrote… “stage riots, fought with each other, and nearly set me on fire.”
    That is terrifying!… mind numbingly so. Were you specially trained to deal with such things?

    Reply
  35. Laura wrote… “stage riots, fought with each other, and nearly set me on fire.”
    That is terrifying!… mind numbingly so. Were you specially trained to deal with such things?

    Reply
  36. Laura wrote… “stage riots, fought with each other, and nearly set me on fire.”
    That is terrifying!… mind numbingly so. Were you specially trained to deal with such things?

    Reply
  37. Hi Laura,
    Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed “Fever Dreams” and “Fallen From Grace.” I would like to “say” thank you for “pushing the envelope” of the romance genre. We need more books like yours and more writes willing to take a chance!
    After reading the glowing reviews of “Disappearing Nightly” I’m adding it to my list to buy when I’m next at the bookstore.
    Keep up the great work!
    Steffany

    Reply
  38. Hi Laura,
    Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed “Fever Dreams” and “Fallen From Grace.” I would like to “say” thank you for “pushing the envelope” of the romance genre. We need more books like yours and more writes willing to take a chance!
    After reading the glowing reviews of “Disappearing Nightly” I’m adding it to my list to buy when I’m next at the bookstore.
    Keep up the great work!
    Steffany

    Reply
  39. Hi Laura,
    Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed “Fever Dreams” and “Fallen From Grace.” I would like to “say” thank you for “pushing the envelope” of the romance genre. We need more books like yours and more writes willing to take a chance!
    After reading the glowing reviews of “Disappearing Nightly” I’m adding it to my list to buy when I’m next at the bookstore.
    Keep up the great work!
    Steffany

    Reply
  40. I was very struck by this comment of Laura’s on the subject of research:
    ‘I want the reader to feel the character is a combat expert, not that I’m trying to turn the reader into one’.
    This seems to me to express very elegantly an ideal balance which is comfortable both for the reader who is simply not bothered about arcane technical detail, and would rather ‘get on with the story’, and the reader who *is* bothered – who is fascinated by unusual and specialised information for its own sake, and actually wants to acquire some of the character’s (i.e. the author’s) expertise.
    It is not necessary to deliver a lecture on a specialised subject, but anything written about it must be *reliable*, based on the writer’s much wider knowledge. The reader who wants to know more will then be pointed in the right direction, while the one who doesn’t will not be distracted from the tale itself.

    Reply
  41. I was very struck by this comment of Laura’s on the subject of research:
    ‘I want the reader to feel the character is a combat expert, not that I’m trying to turn the reader into one’.
    This seems to me to express very elegantly an ideal balance which is comfortable both for the reader who is simply not bothered about arcane technical detail, and would rather ‘get on with the story’, and the reader who *is* bothered – who is fascinated by unusual and specialised information for its own sake, and actually wants to acquire some of the character’s (i.e. the author’s) expertise.
    It is not necessary to deliver a lecture on a specialised subject, but anything written about it must be *reliable*, based on the writer’s much wider knowledge. The reader who wants to know more will then be pointed in the right direction, while the one who doesn’t will not be distracted from the tale itself.

    Reply
  42. I was very struck by this comment of Laura’s on the subject of research:
    ‘I want the reader to feel the character is a combat expert, not that I’m trying to turn the reader into one’.
    This seems to me to express very elegantly an ideal balance which is comfortable both for the reader who is simply not bothered about arcane technical detail, and would rather ‘get on with the story’, and the reader who *is* bothered – who is fascinated by unusual and specialised information for its own sake, and actually wants to acquire some of the character’s (i.e. the author’s) expertise.
    It is not necessary to deliver a lecture on a specialised subject, but anything written about it must be *reliable*, based on the writer’s much wider knowledge. The reader who wants to know more will then be pointed in the right direction, while the one who doesn’t will not be distracted from the tale itself.

    Reply
  43. I guess I must be maturing (or is it regressing?) since I’m now totally open to genres other than straight romance. Give me “human” dragons and vampires and faeries and wizards—bring on the fantasy! I can’t wait to read Disappearing Nightly. Here’s to another 18 years of publication!

    Reply
  44. I guess I must be maturing (or is it regressing?) since I’m now totally open to genres other than straight romance. Give me “human” dragons and vampires and faeries and wizards—bring on the fantasy! I can’t wait to read Disappearing Nightly. Here’s to another 18 years of publication!

    Reply
  45. I guess I must be maturing (or is it regressing?) since I’m now totally open to genres other than straight romance. Give me “human” dragons and vampires and faeries and wizards—bring on the fantasy! I can’t wait to read Disappearing Nightly. Here’s to another 18 years of publication!

    Reply
  46. Both “Fallen from Grace” and “Fever Dreams” are on my keeper shelf. I am not a fantasy reader, but after reading the interview I am intrigued by “Disappearing Nightly”. Several friends in my readers’ club are heavy fantasy readers, and I’ve been thinking of broadening my horizons and trying this genre. It sounds as if this might be a good fantasy title for me to explore. I hope you have plans for writing romance again. “Fallen from Grace” is one of my all time favorites.

    Reply
  47. Both “Fallen from Grace” and “Fever Dreams” are on my keeper shelf. I am not a fantasy reader, but after reading the interview I am intrigued by “Disappearing Nightly”. Several friends in my readers’ club are heavy fantasy readers, and I’ve been thinking of broadening my horizons and trying this genre. It sounds as if this might be a good fantasy title for me to explore. I hope you have plans for writing romance again. “Fallen from Grace” is one of my all time favorites.

    Reply
  48. Both “Fallen from Grace” and “Fever Dreams” are on my keeper shelf. I am not a fantasy reader, but after reading the interview I am intrigued by “Disappearing Nightly”. Several friends in my readers’ club are heavy fantasy readers, and I’ve been thinking of broadening my horizons and trying this genre. It sounds as if this might be a good fantasy title for me to explore. I hope you have plans for writing romance again. “Fallen from Grace” is one of my all time favorites.

    Reply
  49. Hi Laura,
    Sneaking a post in at the last minute here to say that Disappearing Nightly sounds fabulous. . . I will certainly be reading it! (Maybe I’ll even win it?–I’m crossing my fingers)
    Melinda

    Reply
  50. Hi Laura,
    Sneaking a post in at the last minute here to say that Disappearing Nightly sounds fabulous. . . I will certainly be reading it! (Maybe I’ll even win it?–I’m crossing my fingers)
    Melinda

    Reply
  51. Hi Laura,
    Sneaking a post in at the last minute here to say that Disappearing Nightly sounds fabulous. . . I will certainly be reading it! (Maybe I’ll even win it?–I’m crossing my fingers)
    Melinda

    Reply

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