Please meet our very own adventurer, Laurie Smollett Kutscera. If you don’t find her sailing the high seas then she is probably writing and illustrating her next masterpiece. It’s only fitting her debut middle grade novel is titled, MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON. Please join us in congratulating Laurie on her book which will be released in the Fall of this year. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!
What would you like readers to know about you?
I love a good adventure! So, it would probably be when my husband and I, (after deciding to host charters on our boat in Tortola and St. Johns,) embarked on a four-week cruise from New York City to the Virgin Islands through the Intracoastal Waterway. We made stops in Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah, Edisto, Hilton Head, and Amelia Island. The wildlife was astounding: dolphins, manatees, turtles, and even wild boars! Once we got to Fort Lauderdale, we loaded the yacht on a transport vessel the length of a football field. (It was like being in a very large dry bathtub! The only way we could see out was to climb up on top of the pilot house.) For several days, we sailed along Cuba’s coastline. It was lush and forbidden and absolutely breathtaking! We were actually close enough to land to get TV reception. Cuba had 2 choices back in 2000- the local news or the Beverly Hillbilly’s…in Spanish of course!
What other jobs or careers have you worked in prior to becoming an author?
Oh goodness…I was an administrative assistant for the March of Dimes. I hand-set type and printed ephemera on 19thcentury platen presses at the South Street Seaport Museum’s Bowne Shoppe, (until I got my hand stuck in a press…ouch!) After college, I became a freelance graphic designer with clients both in publishing and the entertainment industry. And for a while, I worked in NYC’s Toy Industry designing lots of crazy characters and plush animals.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything what would it be?
This is such an intriguing question. As I get older—or should I say, as I become more chronologically empowered—I keep adding to the list. But, I think I would tell my younger writing-self, “Just keep at it! Get out of your own way and don’t listen to the negative voices in your head. Your life will be filled with so many marvelous experiences—so much larger than the little world you’re in now.”
Did you always want to be a writer?
Well, I really enjoyed writing short stories and poems as a child, and was encouraged by my teachers, but I never felt I had the right stuff! Writing papers was a struggle for me. Trying to organize my thoughts in a cohesive way was pure torture. I’d stare at my words, scribbled and crossed out and not be able to pull it all together. Added to that, I was not a great reader. The words jumped around the page and I would easily lose my focus (I could not get through Ethan Frome to save my life!)
To this day, I am grateful to my best friend in high school who was an avid reader. She turned me on to science fiction. A subject I found fascinating! (No offense to Ms. Wharton) I went from not reading at all—to reading Isaac Asimov and the Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka!
So, NO! The thought of being a writer never entered my mind. Not until I got older and got a Mac—with Word. That’s when the world opened up for me. I began writing seriously in 2005 and haven’t looked back!
Where do you find your ideas?
I’m a visual person. Often, it’s a photograph or a painting that inspires me. As an author/illustrator, there are times I’ll work on a drawing and the story follows. Recently, I created a series of sketches of these large playful lizards, not knowing who or what would become of them. A few weeks later I was trying to come up with an idea for Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Challenge, and a story about a nervous reptile popped into my head. Having those visuals helped me hone in on Everett, my main character, and his awful plight.
This was also helpful while working on MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON, I wallpapered my studio with sketches of every character in the book! Throughout the writing and editing process, I’d revert back to the drawings to help strengthen each character, add details and build on Alex’s world. I will also add that the text aided in strengthening the illustrations as well. It truly became a collaboration between text and art.
Julie Hedlund’s 12x12 Picture Book Challenge, Vivian Kirkland’s #50 Precious Word Contest and Tara Lazar’s Story Storm Challenge have also been extremely helpful in stirring my creative juices: I have several finished picture book manuscripts and a plethora of ideas with the encouragement of these wonderful online forums.
I think the creative process continues to work its magic even when we don’t realize it. Whether you’re collecting shells on the beach, eating ice cream or taking a hike, you’re storing information that will make itself known when you’re ready.
Where were you when inspiration struck for your story?
I was sitting in a movie theatre with my husband watching the first 007 with Daniel Craig— Casino Royale. As the opening credits appeared, these large playing cards jumped on the screen. I was totally mesmerized—there was something very appealing about their graphic nature. I asked myself, what if they were real people? What kind of personalities would they have? What type of adventures might they have encountered? That’s where it all started. The next morning, I jumped out of bed and began writing about a cast of unusual characters that would find their way into Alexander Finn’s heart!
You can see more of Laurie’s work at http://www.lskillustration.com/
To learn more about MISADVENTURES OF A MAGICIAN’S SON, and view the exciting roster of beautifully written and illustrated picture books due for release in 2019, please visit BlueWhalePress.com.