Laura Tims writes thoughtful and pacy novels for teens. PLEASE DON'T TELL was her debut novel. She currently lives in California.
Laura Tims is a young writer with two YA novels already under her belt. PLEASE DON’T TELL debuted with HarperCollins in 2016, and her second novel – THE ART FEELING – will follow soon.
She is an undergraduate in Creative Writing at Goucher College, Maryland, though originally from Maine – but now calls California home.
When and how did you start writing?
I’ve always done it automatically, like sneezing. I decided I would be a writer at about the same time I figured out people had to be something. Asking myself what I was going to be when I grew up kind of felt like asking a tree if it was still going to be a tree in a few hours, you know?
Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? Who were your childhood storytelling heroes?
I fell in love with the Harry Potter series, like every other kid in the universe. I pretended to be Hermione for an entire year in elementary school.
Can you talk us through the writing of your first book? What were the key moments?
The nicest moment was when it stopped being “time to go write” and started being “time to go hang out with Joy” because that was when I realized I really knew my main character, and I liked her, and that meant the book was probably worth writing. The first draft took a month. It was a rad and scary month, and full of homework that did not get done.
Was it hard to get an agent? Can you talk us through the process?
I majorly lucked out in that it was relatively quick and painless, because I had some great people telling me what not to do. I wrote the book in October, revised in the first half of November, sent out the first queries in the second half of November and signed with Sarah in the beginning of January. The best part of it was knowing I made the right choice by going with her.
Describe your writing day. Where do you write? How do you organize your time? Where do you look for inspiration?
I love to write outside! (When it’s too cold outside I write in bed like a slob.) I usually write in the morning for a couple of hours and then I squeeze it into any free time I have during the rest of the day. Inspiration to me is the same as hard work. It’s nice when an idea just comes to you, but more often I have to sit down and brainstorm until I come up with something that works.
Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?
Don’t be afraid to change direction when you’re first starting out! If your first book isn’t the book that gets you published (and it rarely is) try taking your second book in a totally different direction. You might discover that the genre you never thought you’d write is the genre that comes easiest to you. Experiment – this is the best time for it!
Can you describe three aspects of writing craft that have been most important as you’ve developed as an author?
Realizing what it means to know a character has been one. Pages of notes do not mean you know a character. That only comes through writing. It’s also been nice to realize that I really do need to plot things out in advance – some people don’t, and I’ll always be jealous of them! The last important thing that I’ve realized may not be part of the craft, but it’s that I love being part of the community. There’s nothing like feeling that you’re not alone.
Which favorite authors would you invite to a dinner party? What fictional character do you wish you’d invented?
Uh oh—Arya, Daenerys, Brienne, Lady Catelyn, Cersei, and Sansa from A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, please. Add in Katsa from GRACELING and the titular Bitterblue from BITTERBLUE and Elisa from THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and Hermione and Evanjalin from FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK and Gemma from A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and…
I’d invite them all to a dinner party and I wish I’d invented them all!