Author Laura L. Smith on combining travelling with writing

Laura L. Smith

We keep continuing with February Fiction month! I love seeing two passions coming together, especially when they happen to be my personal passions too. Author Laura L. Smith did exactly that with “The Status Updates Series” books. They feature four roommates who go through the good and bad together. All books feature a get-a-way to a European city, and that is where the travelling comes in. I wanted to dig a little deeper and asked Laura for an interview, which I’m glad she agreed on!

1. Thank you for being on the blog today Laura. How would you describe yourself as a writer?
Thanks so much for having me. I love to tell stories about girls who are going through real life issues, and I love to show how faith can bring growth and strength in the toughest of life’s situations.

2. The Status Update series follows the lives of Kat, Palmer, Claire, and Hannah. Four college roommates who each deal with their own problems and challenges. What has been your inspiration to write these books?
I live in a college town and am surrounded by bright, beautiful, talented young women. But despite their exterior appearances, they are dealing with real life struggles—just like I dealt with tough life issues when I was in school. I long to shine light into the dark places of all of our lives, reminding each of us that we are not alone, that there is hope.

3. All three books feature a European city, namely Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin. What was the reason for you to pick these cities?
I LOVE to travel. Paris is my favorite city on earth, and both Barcelona and Berlin are so rich in history, tradition and culture, that I felt they made exquisite backdrops for these stories. The first time I got to go to Paris I was blown away by all of the things I’d dreamed of seeing; The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame. I’ve been blessed to go back several times and each visit I make it a point to see Monet’s water lily paintings, Les Nympheas, at L’Orangerie, sit on the steps at Sacre Coeur, and people watch in le Jardin de Tuileries. Barcelona was overwhelmingly bustling. I adored how depsite being part of Spain, it was also the independent nation of Catalonia. The pride of these people was remarkable. Oh, and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral was mind boggling beautiful! Berlin was incredibly modern yet seeped in history. The Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie–these sights were monumental reminders of all those who were marginalized and victimized in World War 2, as well as of my freedom and those who fought for it.

Laura L. Smith

Monet’s beautiful water lilies

4. The books are fictional, but the cities and places you feature are real. How do you incorporate them into your writing? Do you do a lot of research prior to writing the book?
One of the cardinal rules of writing is to “write what you know”. Since I’ve traveled to these places, part of me knows them intimately through my first hand sensory experiences. Having my characters travel to these beautiful places gives me the opportunity to take my readers abroad, to share with them the amazing things I experienced. I also hope it will give my readers the itch to explore, and an appreciation of cultural differences. I draw upon my own experiences but then find myself researching as I write…how tall is the Eiffel Tower? How many shops does Las Ramblas in Barcelona taut? How many feet long was the Berlin Wall when it was complete? How do you say that phrase in Spanish? Did I spell it right? I want my writing to be accurate, so I research to fill in the blanks I cannot fill on my own.

5. What other cities have you visited would you love to write about? And do you have any countries/cities you still want to explore?
I would love to write a book that takes a character to the beautiful country of Guatemala. I am currently working on books exploring California and Italy. Oh my goodness, I have so many more parts of the world I would love to visit. I’m longing to visit the Holy Land, aching to spend time in Provence, France, am incredibly curious about Asia and Africa. I could go on and on. I hope I’m never done discovering new lands.

6. Last but not least, do you have any tips for aspiring writers to incorporate places they have visited into their writing?
I think incorporating your travels is such a marvelous tool to draw your readers into your stories. You can use all five senses, giving them flavors, sounds, sights, sensations and smells they may have never experienced before. Just make sure that you don’t tell your story, but allow your characters to borrow some of your experiences–a dish you ate, a hotel you stayed at, a tourist attraction you visited–but all in the context of that character’s life and story.

Thank you so much for being on the blog today Laura. It was a pleasure interviewing you. I can’t wait to read more from you and your travels.

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