Friday Five: Laurie Alice Eakes

January 27, 2012

Today I’m honored to feature the talented novelist, Laurie Alice Eakes. She is a fellow client of my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray and an award-winning author. Her books have won numerous awards, including The National Readers Choice Award. She was also a Carol Award finalist. In the past three years, she has sold six books to Baker/Revell, five of which are set during the Regency time period, four books to Barbour Publishing, as well as two novellas to Barbour Publishing and one to Baker/Revell. Six of her books have been picked up by Thorndike Press for large print publication, and Lady in the Mist, her first book with Revell, was chosen for hardcover publication with Crossings Bookclub. She also teaches on-line writing courses and enjoys a speaking ministry that has taken her from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. She blogs regularly here. Here latest book is  A Heart’s Safe Passage

Today Laurie was kind to take time out of her writing day to chat with me about the writing life: 

A lot has been going on in your life since you have begun writing, including moving several times. What tips can you offer writers who are facing life changes while working under deadlines?

Learn to write where and when you can, whether that is in a moving vehicle, in a crowded airport, or the kitchen table of relatives while small children run about, meals are prepared, and any number of other distractions are going on. Waiting for the right place and time just isn’t an option. 

Would you like to live in Regency England or Colonial America? Why or why not?

I had to give this one some serious thought. My conclusion is Regency England if I were at least middle class. More amenities and comforts. I admire our forefathers even more after researching the time period for my two colonial-set novellas coming out in 2012. Even the rich didn’t live what we would consider well. As one professor put it, It was like camping with servants. Camping is not a favorite pastime of mine, and if one didn’t even have servants. . .

Regency England was a bit more civilized, at least as long as one wasn’t living in the London “stews”. Life for any poor person was rough regardless of location. For those with some income, however, Regency England was relatively comfortable. At least one had access to a fairly varied food source, medicine, and books. Definitely books, newspapers, churches. One wasn’t quite so isolated from other people as most colonials were much of the time.

All that said, I think life in colonial America would have been fascinating in many ways. Imagine the beauty of the barely touched forests in the Virginia mountains and the clarity of the rivers. Imagine listening to the great men—and women—planning the future of our country.

For living, I’ll still choose Regency England, and I’d like a few time-travel visits to the colonial era. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge of writing historical novels as opposed to contemporaries?

What we don’t know. As hard as we look, as much as we read, as deeply as we delve into wonderful resources available through places like the Gutenberg Project and Google Books, we still have no true idea of how people interacted in their most personal thoughts and deeds. We can make a lot of presumptions, and those are based on contemporary standards. And those contemporary standards lead us to another problem: If we really wrote as to how things are, we would too often turn off the contemporary reader. Most just wouldn’t accept that our hero probably smells like a lot worse than the classic horses and leather, and the heroine wouldn’t wash her hair more than every couple of weeks. At the same time, the contemporary reader thinks many things about history that aren’t necessarily true, so one has to walk a fine line between expectation and as much reality as one is free to write.

With contemporary fiction, research can also be intense, and we have a much clearer view of how people think and act, since we see it around us every day, read it on social media sites, read it in e-mails. I don’t mention TV or movie portrayals, as those are generally not particularly real.

Tell us about your latest project.

A Necessary Deception is my latest release from Baker/Revell. This is a romantic suspense novel set in Regency England. Or maybe one can call it an espionage thriller set in Regency England. A lovely widowed heroine, a dashing and mysterious Frenchman, and the heroine’s incorrigible sisters form romance, intrigue, and family drama. 

Tell us about your speaking ministry.

God has blessed me with a lack of stage fright, probably because I’ve done public speaking since I was a small child. So when opportunities started presenting themselves for me to speak, I decided to take them.

My main focus is to the writing community—workshops on writing and historical subjects; however, I also speak to organizations, so far women’s organizations, about faith. Often the two combine in my talks about risk taking. If one is called to write, then one is called to take risks, and if one is called to take risks, then one needs faith. Nothing like opening up my heart and spirit to others regarding these subjects and having my words tested, and the more they are tested, the stronger my faith grows and the more I want to take risks for the Lord.