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Advice from IR Approved Author Lauren Speeth: “Keep your focus. Stay strong, keep writing, and don’t ever let your critics define you.”

Thread for Pearls: A Story of Resilient Hope received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Lauren Speeth.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Thread for Pearls: A Story of Resilient Hope. Ebook now available, hardcopy was published Sep. 6, 2018

What’s the book’s first line? 

What a strange and sudden stillness.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

Set during one of the most politically divisive eras in American history, Thread for Pearls is a coming of age tale that takes us on a young heroine’s journey to faith and freedom amidst a turbulent family dynamic. The book opens with a car accident, as if to signal, “fasten your seatbelts, folks, this is going to be a bumpy ride.”  In the pages that follow, we are treated to the ups and downs that made the ‘60s and ‘70s legendary: be-ins, Vietnam war protests, communes, the drug culture, and the New Age. The book outlines a very unique familial dynamic spearheaded by three driven, unbalanced and hard-headed adults, and peripheral characters who play an important role in helping Fiona find her way forward. It’s a story of resilient hope that questions whether it’s the events of our lives that define us, or the thread on which we choose to string them.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

Students really inspire me, with the way they’re making their voices heard on issues they care about, and I thought today’s generation might be interested to hear about the marches that were happening in their grandparents’ day, surrounding civil rights and the Vietnam War. Because I wanted to tell a balanced story, I did a lot of research before writing Thread for Pearls. I tried hard to bring a slice of history to life, and share it in a relatable way, through young eyes.  Also, a spate of teen suicides in Palo Alto about ten years back led me to the whole topic of resiliency and how do we grow it? I think one way is by telling ourselves inspiring stories, and being each other’s cheerleaders. So, I set about to write a book that would touch on some of the things that can erode hope, while weaving a story of a relatable teen and her creative responses to the challenges of life.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

I think there are many reasons to read this book. If you’re an historical fiction buff, Thread for Pearls offers a window into a certain period of history.  If you like coming of age stories, I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know young Fiona Sprechelbach through her journey to adulthood. And there’s also a lot there for readers who are seeking resiliency in today’s “interesting” times.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

Fiona reminds me a little of Anne of Green Gables. She’s had hard times, she’s bookish and precocious, she holds on to hope despite setbacks, and she’s even an aspiring writer.   Fiona shares Anne’s resiliency. She’s like a dandelion, still managing to pop up, and maintain a tenacious optimism, despite events that could mow a person down. There’s something fierce about that sort of choice. Some readers may not understand this, and that’s okay. Unless you’ve lived through a period where you’re just getting through life and where looking too closely at what’s going on could take you down, you can’t really understand Fiona’s lack of introspection.  Her dandelion-like “it’s okay” attitude is a shield, a necessary coping mechanism. Life just isn’t safe enough for young Fiona to delve deeply, right now. Fiona may be “California Dreamin’ in her own way,” but her choice of threading together her story on a cord of hope is exactly what she needs to do, to make it to adulthood.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

I can see Darby Camp as young Fiona. Darby has a vulnerability about her and coupled with her red hair and sassy spirit, it just works.  I’d love that for onscreen Fiona.  For an older Fiona, Ava Bianchi could be outstanding.  She’s lived on both coasts, and is already involved in philanthropy. I think she might have a heart for the role.

As for Fiona’s parents, two of the cast members from Big Bang Theory – Johnny Galecki and Mayim Bialek – could be outstanding as Wolf and Hanna. There’s an interesting chemistry already, and they’re both onscreen scientists in their roles. Bialek is also a scientist offscreen, which is an added plus. Finally, for Peggy, how about the brilliant and beautiful Jessica Chastain?  Peggy’s such a quirky role, and a good medium for showcasing Chastain’s penchant for strong-willed women and feminist themes.

When did you first decide to become an author?

In 2007, right before the Great Recession. I thought I’d try to create a coffee table book and illustrate it with “pretty pictures of urban decay,” and that this might get some serious conversations going.  I wrote Tracks of Hope, The Forgotten Story of America’s Runaway Train and How We Can Change Its Course.  Well, it didn’t sell like hotcakes, because, well, who wants urban decay on their coffee table unless it’s the makeup brand?

Is this the first book you’ve written?

It’s my first novel. I’ve written three other books before this, though.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

When not dreaming up stories, I lead Elfenworks Productions, LLC, a pro-social business with internationally acclaimed media content, and The Elfenworks Foundation, with a team of social entrepreneurs focused on projects that foster the greater good. Also, I have two adorable puppies, Ginger and Nutmeg, that come to work with me every day and disrupt the office.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

When I was writing Thread for Pearls, I dedicated every Friday to it. Right now, I’m taking a break from writing until the next inspiration hits.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

Everyone will tell you that the fact that you make the decisions is both overwhelming and freeing, but for me the best and hardest part was setting my own schedule. I am a perfectionist, and I could find picky things to fix until the end of time. Over the years I’ve learned to set artificial deadlines for myself.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

When you’ve got a good draft ready, print out copies of your book to send to a few very close friends who are willing to give honest feedback. Don’t do this electronically, and don’t publish until you’ve considered their input. I did this iteratively and I’m grateful for the suggestions I received, which really helped me hone the story. Then, when your book is done and you’re satisfied, own it as your own bit of art, and try your best to ignore negative feedback. It’s not so easy to write a book and put it out there in public. Don’t worry about the rejections. I could have given up when my own early work was rejected by the literary agency founded by own late grandmother, but I am glad I didn’t. Keep your focus. Stay strong, keep writing, and don’t ever let your critics define you.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?  

I’d consider the offer, because I’d like this book to reach as many readers as possible.  Also, I’ve worked with traditional international publishers before for that same reason, and enjoyed the collaboration very much.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune? more sex?)

I’ve got strong Irish roots, so I just feel compelled to tell stories. Maybe I give them more importance than they’re due. I think the right stories told in the right place and time have the power to change the world.  I must admit, the 4.2 star (review) from IndieReader is very motivating, also. It’s got me thinking about writing another novel.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Ursula Le Guin, who kept on writing after five of her novels were rejected, and whose novels were so rich and complex, so filled with insight, they influenced my thinking.  She was one of the true greats.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

None. I don’t wish I could write anyone else’s book. A violin teacher of mine once told me to never compare myself against him, and that I should only compare myself against my own best work. I think that’s great advice; comparing myself to the great masters would only make me feel inadequate, and comparing myself to beginners wouldn’t be fair.



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