Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feature Interview: Lauren Scharhag

Lauren Scharhag is the author of such books as Our Miss Engel, Order of the Four Sons series, La Tutayegua, Under Julia, and West Side Girl & Other Poems. She has won the Gerard Manley Hopkins award for poetry. Ms. Scharhag hails from Kansas City where she lives with her husband and three cats, but not a dog named Toto. Because that would just be silly.

LAUREN: Yes, especially since I live in Missouri and not Kansas.

KARMA GIRL: Before we start, I'm going to give you
my usual Unusual Disclaimer:

Silent tongue is filled
With questions yet to be asked
Interview begins

Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Lauren.

LAUREN: Thanks for having me.

KG: Tell us about yourself. You live in Missouri now, but according to your bio you grew up in Kansas City. What was it like growing up there and have you ever dropped a house on someone's sister?

LAUREN: Actually, Kansas City is in Missouri as well as Kansas-- it's the older, original KC.

I had a pretty unique childhood--my mother is Mexican, so I spent a lot of time growing up on KC's west side, which is a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood.

KG: I see. So no Dorothy? No Toto? No Auntie Em griping at you for not keeping your room clean?

LAUREN: Nope, no Dorothy or Toto this side of the state line.

I never dropped a house on someone's sister--I tend to sympathize with the witch. Funnily enough, my great-great grandmother from Mexico was a Santerian.

KG: You're grandmother sounds like an interesting woman. Did she teach you the tricks of the trade? How have her beliefs influenced you both as an author and a person?

LAUREN: I didn't actually get to meet her--she passed before I was born, but her beliefs and skills were passed down the family line. I know how to read Tarot cards. She was also a big storyteller, so she passed that love of tales down to my grandmother, who told them to me. I heard a lot of great folktales and family stories growing up, which instilled in me a love of language.

A bilingual household also helped that.

KG: How would you describe your writing style? Do you have a preferred genre?

LAUREN: I would say my writing style is both diverse and literary. I try to shape the prose to suit the narrator, so I pay very close attention to speech patterns and try to replicate them accurately. My preferred genres are literary, horror, sci-fi and fantasy.

KG: What made you decide you wanted to be a writer? Who were your literary influences?

LAUREN: I've wanted to be a writer my whole life. My father taught me to read and write early. He always bought me diaries. I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading and writing. There's never been anything else for me. I wrote my first full novel when I was 13. But of course, it was terrible. I started writing for the KC Star that same year--they used to have a teen section.

My influences are all over the place: Nabokov, Stephen King, and Sylvia Plath are probably the main writers. But then I have influences like Quentin Tarantino and Joss Whedon. I think TV shows and film are perfectly valid forms of storytelling, with unique voices that I admire.

KG: You've won awards for your poetry. Is that correct?

LAUREN: Yes, I was awarded the Gerard Manley Hopkins Award for poetry.

The Order of the Four Sons
KG: Can you tell me in Haiku form how that makes you feel?


What would Hopkins say
An award in his honor?
"Write because you must."

KG: Damn you're smooth.

LAUREN: Heh. Only when I can write. In person, not so much.

KG: NaNoWriMo is upon us. I think a lot of us are using the time to work on things we should have been working on the previous year (insert sneaky expression here). Can you tell us what you are currently working on?

LAUREN: Sure. I'm working on Book IV of the Order of the Four Sons series with my co-author--it's the final book of the series, which means we are both excited and sad. I'm also working on a submission for the Dark Crystal prequel competition, and a new literary novel called Black Antler Farm.

KG: The Order of the Four Sons. Can you tell us more about this series? What's it about and who are you writing it with?

LAUREN: O4S is a sci-fi/fantasy series about a group of paranormal investigators who get sucked through a bunch of interdimensional gates and have to find their way back home again. My co-author is Coyote Kishpaugh. We met actually working on a film crew up in Excelsior Springs, MO and decided to write together.

KG: What were you filming?

LAUREN: A horror flick. Excelsior Springs used to be a tourist destination, so there are a lot of creepy old hotels up there. Coyote was an extra. I was the writer.

KG: So you are a poet, novelist, and a screen writer? A woman who wears many hats.

LAUREN: I am. And in my grown-up job, I do PR, marketing, report-writing, and grants. Words, words, words. Which is how I like it.
KG: Awesome!

Now it's time for THE SERIOUS THREE, a segment in my interviewing process where I ask you three challengingly serious questions. Please answer as honestly as possible. Are you ready?


KG: Question #1: You're not from the land of Oz or Dorothy’s home town, but maybe you can help me out with this one. The Wizard of Oz. Fanciful American fairytale or a story about two women fighting over a pair of shoes?

LAUREN: Fanciful American fairytale. But I'm generally biased in favor of fairytales.

Though, as I think of it, why can't it be both? A fairytale about chicks fighting over shoes. I mean, Cinderella did sort of set the precedent for fairytale footwear...

KG: Good answer. You have the plot for your next novel right there.

Question #2: If beauty is truth and truth beauty as Keats is quoted to have said, why is it when a woman asks a man, "Does this make me look fat?" his honesty is neither beautiful nor wise?


KG: But beautiful also? I think not.

LAUREN: There has been a lot of debate on Keats' definition of beauty and truth though. We're in the fiction business, so we like lies.

KG: You got me there.

Question #3: Where can my readers follow you (facebook, twitter, blog, yellow brick road)?



Twitter: @laurenscharhag


KG: Thank you, Lauren and good luck with your writing career!

LAUREN: Thank you! I appreciate your time.


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