January 18th, 2019
I asked Laura where she would like to interview:
We are immersed in the fug of a truck stop in Canada: Eagle Plain, a little ways south of the Arctic Circle. This being the Yukon, most of the fug is cigarette smoke, but some is me: wet wool sweater and unwashed armpits. I’ve been camping. Outside the window is a view of a vast windy plateau, densely green, with patches of alizarin so bright they hurt my eyes: fireweed. The distant mountains are ultramarine. This is a land of saturated color. The sky is a deep gray. I tell you about the grizzly I saw yesterday and the trio of gyrfalcons on the rocky cliff that overhung my campsite this morning. I ask what wildlife you have seen. I ask this knowing that soon, even as soon as five or ten years, the animals will be gone. It is ironic that we burned fossil fuels to drive up this road—which was created for the transportation of fossils fuels—to say good-by to this cold blue Eden.
Laura Mae: Hello Laura! Thank you for talking with me today! How’s your day been so far?
Laura Koerber: Well good mostly I volunteer at a cat rescue so that is how I spent the morning.
LM: Oh that’s so cool! How long have you been volunteering there?
LK: Just a few month.s I volunteered at a dog rescue for about ten years, but cats are more relaxing.
LM: I agree! I personally love cats and they are very chill — for the most part! Haha! Were you able to fit in any writing today at all?
LK: I am going through, chapter by chapter, a book that will be published in about a month. I am entering the manuscript in a literary contest for unpublished work, so doing that last inch by inch check for the odd missing puncuation or wrong word not picked up by spell check.
LM: Very nice! Would you mind telling me a little bit about it?
LK: Sure! It’s based on the Ojibwa folk hero, the Wild Hare, a trickster like Raven or Coyote. The main character is half human, half nature spirit of the wild hair clan. It’s a mediation on the limits of fighting back: not becoming the mirror image of the enemy. The MC, Bobby Fallon lives by the wild hare code of “feed, fuck, fight.” have you ever been acquainted with an unneutered male rabbit?
LM: That seems very interesting. But no, I don’t believe I have! Haha!
LK: They have piss fights. Not sweet little bunnies.
LM: Oh wow! Sounds intense! So where did your inspiration come from to write this particular story?
LK: The death of the natural world. The possibility that the Republican party will succeed in their effort to turn the US into a one-party kleptocracy. The book is very focused on small town life in the north woods of Minnesota and the events are all within the range of the relateable–no wars, battling gods, grand drama. But it is a dystopia about fighting back against repression.
LM: I like it, Very different and you seem passionate about it! How long have you been working on it? And does it have title yet?
LK: The Wild Hare. About six months. It was a lot easier to write than The Eclipse Dancer, more straight-forward.
LM: Oh, I see now. Fitting! So how long have you been writing in general? Do you remember the first thing you did OR do you have a favorite something you wrote?
LK: I started writing about five years ago after I stole a dog. I went up a dirt road in the woods to the home of a crazy man and cut his dog out of the chicken coop where he was confined and got the dog onto to an underground railroad for abused animals that animal control refused to help. He went to an out of state rescue. The experience was so fascinating that it turned into The Dog Thief, That got me started on the stories in The Dog Thief and Other Stories which was listed in Kirkus Review as one of the one hundred best indy publications of 2015.. That affirmation gave me the confidence to be a writer.
LM: Crazy! I love your affection for dogs and pets and I’m fascinated that it inspired you to write! That’s really awesome. What do you think your favorite part of writing is? And least favorite if you have one.
LK: I think my least favorite part is the initial proofing of the rough draft because I am a terrible typist and literally misspell every other word. So it is a slog through just to get it readable. My favorite part is working with the rough draft to develop it, make it more effective. I love the shaping part. It is a lot like painting. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but my degree is in art.
LM: I agree about both things! Proofing is such a pain! And I did not know you were an artist, how cool! Creative all around! What type of art do you mostly do?
LK: Painting and ceramics. And combinations of painting and ceramics.
LM: That’s awesome. Kudos to you! I’ve tried painting and I’m so bad at it! Haha! So Laura, do have a favorite author? And why are they your favorite?
LK: I like Ben Aaronovitch a lot. His Rivers of London series. I read them for the escapism. I wish they were real! I also love the Raven Cycle books. And the Midnight Mayor books. As for why: escapism. I wish magic was real They all write about magic on a human scale, magic as part of ordinary life, nothing overly dramatic. Also all three authors can WRITE, that is, show rather than tell, put words and sentences together in a particular way that is their voice. They all have a quiet, wry humor that I appreciate.
LM: I love things like that, too! I might have to check them out! So what are you currently reading right now? And what are your thoughts of it so far?
LK: I usually read several books at a time. So right now I am going back and forth between Chuck Wendig, who is very very very dark, and a book called Witchmark, by CL Polk, which is good but not going to be a favorite.
LM: Nice! I can’t read several books at a time, but kudos to you! Haha! Is there is a trope in books that you’ve seen all too much that you’re just sick of seeing?
LK: Well a lot of them are just the standard good guy or gal versus the bad guys or gals. Unless there is something special about the theme or the writing its self I am bored of that. I am also reading a dystopian series by Simon Morden that has good and bad guys, but it also has a lot of implicit political commentary and a very deft, effective. vivid author’s voice. The Witchmark is kind of same old same old so I might not finish.
LM: Oh I see, yeah there is a lot of things out there right now about the good and evil kind of stuff. It can get old after a while. Is there a specific trope you wish they had more in books?
LK: I don’t know….for me, my reaction depends a lot on the writing itself and on the setting and characters. I like things to be on a human scale. I don’t get into the gods versus gods, or wars, and that sort of thing, I read a lot, maybe five books a week , so I just maybe get picky. I’m retired, btw.. That’s why I have time for reading, writing and cats.
LM: Makes sense. But that’s cool! Congrats on retirement! You’re doing what I would do in retirement as well! Haha! Alright, so since you are a published author, did you self-publish, or traditional? And what was your experience, briefly?
LK: I get good reviews and very little sales. My books are published by a friend who has a niche publishing business that doesn’t make any money. My previous books__The Dog Thief, Limbo, and the Eclipse Dancer are very character driven, relationship driven literary fiction and I am not sure that there’s much market. Not regular fantasy market. The Wild Hare will be more marketable because their is more action, plus I know the audience better: political.
LM: Interesting! I love small publishers as well, they understand indie authors more. Haha! As far as music goes, do you have a certain type of music you need to listen to when writing The Wild Hare?
LK: I don’t listen to music while writing. I was thinking the other day about how a person can like a certain song for a long, long time. Let It Bleed was my favorite album when I was fifteen and it still is one of my favorites. It is amazing to like an album for fifty years.
LM: That’s awesome! I know you’re not alone with the not listening to anything. I wish I could not, honestly. It can be very distracting sometimes. Haha!
LK: So you do? I know that there are people who love to have music going all the time, but I am not one of them.
LM: I don’t have a specific type of music, but I do need to listen to something when write. Haha! I’ll go crazy if I don’t.
LK: Maybe it shuts out distractions?
LM: Possibly! What about literary characters? Do you have any favorites? And why?
LK: The Midnight Mayor. I’m not sure why. Partly it’s the books themselves that I love and he is embedded in the books. But I also like that he is a hero who isn’t very heroic. He’s not good looking, has a very dry British humor, is an introvert and misanthrope. And he is partly the spirit of communication, a creation of the human energy in communications. Have you read Kate Griffin’s Midnight mayor series? Set in London, and includes both modern folk mythology such ad King Rat and the Beggar King as well as traditions such as the ravens of the Tower.
LM: Neat! I love that answer, though. Alright Laura, once last question. What is some writerly advice you could give to aspiring authors?
LK: Gosh. Okay, read good writing. Lots of good writing. Show more than tell.
LM: Thank you so much Laura, it’s been fun!
LK: It has! Thank you and I hope you have a nice evening.
I live on a island in the Puget Sound with my husband and my dogs. I am a retired teacher, presently doing in -home care for disabled people while volunteering at a dog rescue. My degree is in art, and I am a painter, graphic artist, and ceramic sculptor. The writing started about five years ago, a surprise to me and everyone who knows me, since I had never written anything before.
I have published six books. The best one is The Dog Thief and Other Stories which was listed by Kirkus Review as one of the one hundred best indie publications of 2015. I also like Limbo which received a positive review in BookLife (Publisher’s Weekly). I have just published The Eclipse Dancer, but have received no reviews yet. All proceeds from sales are donated to animal-related rescues.
The Eclipse Dancer: Andy thought of flying. She imagined the air under her arms, her hair lifting and floating. She felt her heartbeat separate from the faraway beat and form its own rhythm: light, quick, a dancing thrum. When she opened her eyes, her yard was dusky and her mood had lightened. She let her gaze drift across the darkening landscape. Andy’s heart filled with exultation. She raised her arms, fanned out her fingers, and arched her feet until she was on her toes. She was assaulted by memories. Her mother was dying, and Danny had been dead for years. Her daughter was in Minneapolis, and Alana was up in the North Woods someplace. All of her childhood friends—the fairies, Hairy, Mr. Tolliver, and Kenshi—were gone.Is it true that childhood is never overcome? “I have changed,” she whispered.The light exploded into a ring of fire in a black sky: total eclipse. She gently rose up into the warm, dark air and began to dance.