We received an advance review copy of the novel, and found it a very enjoyable read. The book is an intriguing romp through an overseas arts academy, where the enrollees include not only artistic prodigies, but students who are gifted in... other ways. 16-year-old Libby Tanner finds herself in the midst of dangerous secrets - within the halls of the academy, and within the frames of her own oil paintings.
The blog tour for Canvas Bound is underway now! You can enter for prizes with the form at the bottom of this post.
Now, on to our conversation with Laura!
Welcome, Laura, and congratulations on your new novel! In a few words, how would you describe your book to someone who hasn't heard about it?
Hi there! *waves* Thank you so much, I'm excited to be here today. CANVAS BOUND is about sixteen-year-old Libby, whose paintings come to life and the boy who is trapped inside them.
Can you give us some insights into your approach to writing?
This was the first novel I wrote non-linearly. I had a bunch of scenes in my head that I needed to get out and eventually they all tied together. I can't say I approach all my stories that way, but it worked for this one.
Your novel's main character, Libby Tanner, is an artistic prodigy. The scenes of her interacting with the canvas are vividly drawn (or should we say painted!?). Do you have a background in the arts?
I wish I did! It might have come in handy when writing this, but sadly, no. I'm pretty good at paint by number, though.
We enjoyed your novel's rich cast of memorable characters, including Libby, her academy classmates, and teachers. What's your technique for creating memorable characters?
You have to love your characters enough to want to spend the kind of time it requires to produce a quality novel. You even have to love the 'bad guys'. If our characters are boring or don't interest you as the writer than you can't possibly expect your readers to like them either. One of the things I love most about writing is discovering new things about my characters as the story progresses, things I hadn't planned on. It's often these traits that are most endearing about them.
The setting in an overseas arts academy, full of eerie secrets, provides a vivid setpiece for the novel. What inspired that setting?
In the very first few scenes I wrote, Madam Harris was actually in on an evil plot to 'collect' gifted students and the art academy was just a way for her to find them. That story line changed drastically, but the academy remained, as well as the 'gifted' students.
Tell us about the book's cover and how it came to be. It's very appealing.
The final cover ended up being very different from where is started. When I saw the first image I was so excited just to have my name on a book that I didn't really think about what it looked like. Something about it nagged at me though, and after showing it to a friend of mine that owns a bookstore, we decided the imagery was too young for a YA novel. So, the awesome folks at Streetlight Graphics went back to the drawing board and put together the beautiful cover I have now. There are so many things about it that go perfectly with the story and the model is super close to how I picture Libby to look.
Writing a novel is a common "bucket list" desire for many people. Tell us how you made this dream a reality!
Blood, sweat and tears. Okay, maybe not blood, but I did sweat over whether I had written a good enough story for anyone to read and there were plenty of tears, both sad and happy ones, along the way. Also, the thee 'P's, persistence, perseverance and patience.
You have a job and a family. How did you carve out time to write a novel?
I broke my leg, sort of. Between 2011 and 2012 I had to have three knee surgeries which kept me pretty immobile for about nine out of twenty-four months. I don't recommend this if you're trying to find more time to write, though. Nowadays I write in the evenings after my daughter goes to bed and on Saturday and Sunday mornings before my family is up and around. It is taking me much longer to write book two than it did to write book one.
When did you start writing the book, and how long did it take to complete it?
I started writing it in November of 2011. It took me sixty days to write the first draft, but it wasn't ready to submit to agents or publishers until almost a year later. I went through several rounds of edits before Red Adept Publishing picked it up, and I still had edits to do afterwards in order to get it ready for the public.
What did you learn from writing this novel that you'll carry forward in your future writing?
Your story will never be perfect. Even now that CANVAS BOUND is out and people are reading it, there are still things I think I might have done differently. Nothing major or plot changing, but a word here and there that I had to learn to let go. The 'editing' is done and now it's time to move on to the next story.
Were there parts of this book that required research for you? Tell us how you went about that.
Well, since I don't know a whole lot about art, I had to research different artists and their styles. I also, had to look up some cultural differences between the U.S. and England.
What advice would you give to other writers or would-be writers?
The same advice that got me to where I am now, keep going! If your current project isn't working for you, write something else, but never ever stop writing.
Okay, let's get a bit more personal. Tell us five random things about you!
1) I'm afraid of snakes, as in I can't even see a picture of one without being a little freaked out. My daughter has a toy/stuffed one that I make her keep in her closet because I can't stand looking at it when I go in her room.
2) My black lab, Duchess, is allergic to pine, oak, cedar and grass molds. This is a problem because I pretty much live in a forest.
3) I once ate jelly fish. It was kind of chewy and crunchy at the same time.
4) When I was a kid, I wanted to be little orphan Annie. I had a red haired wig and my mom made me all the clothes like Annie wore in the movie.
5) I wear socks most of the time. My feet are often cold, but I don't like slippers because you can't sleep in them.
We're always on the hunt for good books - and are glad we've found yours. What's on your reading nightstand now?
I recently started reading THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo. I'm only a little ways into it, but it's good so far.
Canvas Bound is the beginning of the "Captive Art" series. When can our readers expect the next book!?
I hope this time next year (or sooner). I have a few other projects I'm working on, but the next book in the series picks right up where CANVAS BOUND left off. Instead of being entirely from Libby's point of view though, the next book switches point of views between her and another character. (And no, not Dean, but that's all this hints I'm giving.)
Laura, thanks for talking with us. We're pleased to feature your book on KBoards!
Thanks so much for having me here! I had a great time
Canvas Bound is available now to download to your Kindle! And be sure to check out the Canvas Bound blog tour celebrating the book's release - for interviews, reviews, and a chance to win SWAG from the book's publisher, Red Adept Publishing.
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