Author Interview: Laura Bowers on Beauty Shop for Rent

Laura Bowers on Laura Bowers: “I’m a wife, mother of two active boys and I live in a house where baseball season never ends. (Go ahead, ask me the rules on balking!) As a kid, I was a total tomboy who loved everything about horses. As an adult, I’ve had a lot of job titles: waitress, gym membership salesperson, data entry, telemarketer, real estate agent, receptionist, secretary, and in my broke college days, a roving character in costume at holiday mall parades. In 1998, I made the decision to add my favorite job title: writer. (But dressing in costume was pretty cool, too!)

Could you tell us about your path to publication, any sprints or stumbles along the way?

I’ve had many, many stumbles and lots of trials and errors! My trials? The time spent trying to write sophisticated books like Sidney Sheldon or epic novels like Jean Auel first comes to mind. That didn’t exactly work out. My errors? Thinking I could be the next Dr. Seuss during my picture book phase is one of my many errors. Sprints? The editing process of Beauty Shop for Rent (Harcourt, 2007).

Was there anything during your apprenticeship that you felt was especially helpful? Was there anything you wish you’d skipped?

It’s such a blessing to have fantastic writer friends who love and support me. Having someone in your corner is a definite must in this biz! What could I have skipped? The many times I procrastinated instead of writing. But hey, live and learn, right?

Congratulations on the publication of Beauty Shop for Rent (Harcourt, 2007)! Where did you get the initial idea for this book?

For years, I would pass a sign posted in front of a charming old house that read, “Beauty Shop for Rent…fully equipped, inquire within.” The rusted corners and the way it started to slant with time intrigued me and I was often tempted to pull up the driveway and find out what the owner was like. Was she old? Longing to retire? When I asked myself what would happen if a young girl was left on her doorstep, I realized the sign wasn’t just a curiosity–it was a book!

What was the timeline from spark to publication, and what were the major events along the way?

September 2002: Began writing.

Spring 2003: Talked myself out of it and quit.

October 2003: Had an editor tell me she loved the first chapter at a conference. Knew I had to tinkle or get off the pot. Wrote book.

February 2004: Submitted manuscript to editor, found an agent.

May 2004: Editor said no. Darn.

November 2004: Agent submitted to eleven publishers.

May 2005: Was offered contract from Harcourt. Screamed “Hallelujah!”

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, logistical) in bringing it to life?

As you can tell from my timeline, I was sometimes my biggest challenge by the way I’d let those nagging feelings of self-doubt take over. This is when my awesome writer friends would kick in with all their encouragement!

What is it like to be a debut author in 2007? What moments already stand out?

Wow, it’s a lot of things. Wonderful, scary, exciting, surreal. I’m also fortunate to be a part of Class of 2k7, a group of mid-grade and young adult authors with books debuting in 2007. It’s awesome being surrounded by so many talented writers who are all going through the same wonderful, scary, exciting and surreal experience as me!

What do you love about the writing process and why?

Editing. I love taking that big, fat rough draft and molding it into shape. Most of all, I love those rare and wonderful moments when you finally figure the story out, or when you fall so in love with a new, dynamic character and can’t wait to tell their story!

What about do you wish you could skip and why?

Writing the first draft! And, while I do enjoy marketing, it’s hard to strike that balance between writing and marketing.

How about publishing? What do you love about it? What do you abhor? And again, in both cases, why?

I loved working with my editor and the folks at Harcourt. They made the whole process relatively painless. Abhor? Waiting for reviews. It’s agonizing when you know your book–your baby–is on someone’s desk, waiting to be judged!

What advice do you have for beginning writers?

Find a writing buddy who can hold your hand when things are rough, always be true to your unique voice, and take time to celebrate your accomplishments, whether it’s finishing a rough draft, getting a contract, having an article published or figuring out the perfect title!

How about those interested in writing for the young adult audience in particular?

Be true to the story and characters, rather than publishing trends.