Meet the author: Julee Laurent

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Tell me a little about you:  After spending nine years as a freelance journalist I am focusing my attention of writing books. The idea for ‘Lola and Lazlo’ was inspired by two things, first, seeing the collective noun ‘A Bevy of Beauties’ as a name for a local all female improv group in Chicago. It made me look up other collective nouns and I thought they could be crafted into a fun children’s adventure. secondly, I had a  disagreement with my 14 year old son that ‘Prolly’, ‘Nother’, and ‘LOL’ were not real words; even though they are popular texting language. He said they were ‘text language’. It made me realize the rise of cell phone use and tablets among very young kids has created a diminished curiosity of the written word and I wanted to find a new way to instill lessons in language to kids. So we disguised a journey through collective nouns in a book that literally  translates the words so that kids learn something, and have a fun read. We also included a glossary on the back so that kids don’t have to look up a word on their phone, that way the book is self contained and the phone won’t come in and distract from the book. I have been published in Gannett Press Newpapers, Redbook, Marie Claire, Village Voice Media, Tribune News Papers, DiG Magazine, Censored Magazine, InReview and was a copywriter for Diesel Clothing and Coca-Cola. Right now we are working on part two of Lola and Lazlo, as well as a book about a little seagull with big dreams!

– When you were my age (9), did you like to read? I always loved to read. I would spend my summers in 4th, 5th and 6th grade in the bubble window at our local library curled up in there reading. We lived in Gulf Breeze Florida so it was nice to sit in the air conditioning and escape to wherever the book would take me.

What was your favorite author or book? I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. And then when I got into Middle School I loved Stephen King.

how do you get your story ideas? Imagination is the key, do not limit your mind or creative thoughts. Some people stop the creative process because they worry that what they are thinking is a weird idea, or that nobody will like it. What we do to often in our society is put limits to our other peoples opinions. I think that is why I like the movie Shark Boy and Lava Girl, the director gave us a reminder of what its like to imagine freely and incorporate that imagination into our daily lives.Dream on!

is it hard to write a book? In short, yes, and no. Its a matter of just sitting down and doing it. That is harder than it sounds. It’s work, but its work you enjoy, work that lets you create and make something new. Finding the time as a person with a day job and two kids is challenging, but you just have to be disciplined and get it done when you can find the time, also you have the be able to summon your creativity when you have time. I have songs or art I listen to and look at if I know I don’t have much time so that I can kick start the creative process and get the most out of my short amounts of writing time.

what authors do you like right now? Any lesser known ones you can recommend? I am reading Donna Tartt right now and Phil Roth. Both genius writers. I also read the real life story of Henrietta Lacks. Its a great story because she passed away a long time ago but her cells are still helping the fight against Cancer.

what is the best part of being an author?  When you get that 1st shipment of physical book that you wrote in the mail and open the box. Its an “I did it” moment!

– I met you at a Comic Con. What is that event like as an author? Fun Fun Fun! Going back to what I said earlier about people having to limit their imaginations in our society does not apply at Comic Con. In fact its all based on imagination and a love for creating. I also love that everyone is welcome and accepted at a Comic Con. Since my book is not the normal type of children’s book you see, I wanted to be there because I knew that this crowd would understand what Lola and Lazlo: Into the Woods was trying to accomplish. And they did. I always have biught books for my kids at Comic Cons. A few years ago I bout one at Motor City Comic Con called ‘Nawrg’ by  Tyler Kirkham. Its a book about adoption but in a beautiful fairy tale style book. You never know what kind of fun things you find in Artist Alley.

any advice for a kid who wants to be an author? Write, write, write. As much as you can. Also, don’t get too attached to your words because you will always have to edit some away to make the story flow better. Lastly, embrace your creativity. Nobody thinks like you do so whatever you create from your imagination is uniquely your own.

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