"Don't Be Like Me": Having Grace for First Drafts--in the Kidlit Studio with Laura Taylor Namey
I was introduced to Laura Taylor Namey a couple of years ago through her agent, Natascha Morris. After a couple of emails, Laura was kind enough to read over the opening of my WIP and shared feedback with me. She had some really great insights, but also was so incredibly kind with her encouragement and her pinpointing of what was working in the first chapters that I became a fan of Laura-the-human. When her YA debut novel, The Library of Lost Things, was published, I became a fan of Laura-the-writer (who is also quite human).
In The Library of Lost Things, protagonist Darcy immerses herself in the pages of happily-ever-afters to handle (or avoid) stressful real life situations. This was totally my vibe! Her second book, A Cuban's Girl Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, has hit the New York Times Bestseller’s list and was featured as the November 2020 YA pick for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. In this cozy novel, Lila, struggling with grief, is sent by her concerned family to spend some time in England with her aunt. She does not want to be there…but soon changes her mind. It’s a love story, as well as a love letter to Miami and to England. Her third book, When We Were Them, comes out November 2021 and deals with the traumatic aftermath of friendship break-ups (and the cover is gorgeous!).
Today, Laura shares a few things that wrench her heart and make her sigh.
1. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Personally, having a loving family and raising two kind, empathetic, funny, intelligent
teens. Professionally, hitting the New York Times Bestseller list was a dream come true.
2. What is your most treasured possession?
I received a huge original painting of my book cover by amazing artist Jane Mount from
Reese’s Book Club, and I just want to stare at it all day. Is there a limit on how many
times you can thank someone for a gift?
3. What is it that you most dislike?
I dislike all types of bullies a whole lot.
4. What is your greatest extravagance?
Definitely travel. I love visiting beautiful and historic places as much as possible.
5. Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be a better dancer!
6. Where would you like to live?
I would love to live in England, in maybe a cute cottage right outside of London.
7. What do you most value in your friends?
I have the best friends! And, well, loyalty is something I value a lot.
8. Who is your favorite hero/heroine of fiction?
I have this gigantic soft spot for Owen Meany from John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen
9. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I think I would like to have more grace for myself when I’m drafting a new project.
I expect it to be closer to perfect than it comes out--way too soon. Don’t be like me!
10. What is your favorite and least favorite word?
My favorite word is midnight, and my least favorite word is moist.
11. What is your perfect environment for creative work?
A quiet space, at least two types of drinks, and a few good hours where I don’t have to
worry about or be anywhere else.
12. What’s the weirdest thing about you that you’re willing to share?
I have synesthesia. Specifically color to days of the week and numbers. Part of that, I
kind of hear random music in my head all day and it’s hard to turn off.
13. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I think I would love to be in marketing. I’m really interested in helping people build
their brands or trying to see the best in a product or service and showcasing it.
14. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year? (Doesn’t have to be kidlit.)
The Half-Orphan’s Handbook by my amazing critique partner, Joan F. Smith.
15. What is the favorite book of your childhood?
Without a doubt, I loved Anne of Green Gables so much.
16. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God/Goddess say when you arrive?
Welcome! We have coffee, dogs, and plenty of books!
More about Laura:
Her website: https://www.laurataylornamey.com/
An interview with her: https://diversebooks.org/how-laura-taylor-namey-wrote-a-book-about-grief/