In honor of the release of Lauren Skidmore's third book, The Fairest Poison, we're sitting down to have a chat, reader to author. Watch out for a series review of her books later this month, and be sure to check them out. The Fairest Poison is the third in the series, but can be read standalone. (But don't be silly, read all the books! I loved them!)
Lauren Skidmore grew up in Kansas, with stints in Ohio and New York, and currently lives in Utah. She attended Brigham Young University where she earned a BA in English Teaching with an emphasis in Teaching English as a Second Language and Japanese. She then spent a year in Japan teaching and travelling. She hasn’t made it to Europe yet, but it’s on the list and has been to 30 states in the U.S. so far. When she’s not exploring new places, you can probably find her on the internet with fifteen windows open and looking at just one more thing before actually getting something done.
You wrote What is Hidden as a Nano novel. Had you written anything before that?
What is Hidden was my first original novel, but I had written a few novel-length fanfics before. That kind of background lends itself really well to doing fairy tale retellings, since both are based on taking an already established story or characters and molding them into something new.
How did you find the inspiration for Venesia's culture? The masks, the hierarchy, ect.
I find the masks of the real-word Venice so beautiful and inspiring that it didn't take much for me to create this whole culture that really surrounds them. I also liked the way I could play with literal and figurative masks because I enjoy wordplay and it makes me feel clever. The fashion industry also influenced my idea of the culture because we base our opinions of people by the way they dress in our own world all the time, and I thought it would be interesting if we could just look at a person and know everything about them based solely on what they wore, in the colors and designs or patterns.
Have you ever written a character that was based on someone you knew?
Not really, though my three younger brothers have requested cameos. I almost used them as bodyguards in The Fairest Poison, but it didn’t work out the way I wanted, so I’m saving them for a future project. I do write characters inspired by other characters occasionally. Bianca was influenced by Kayley from Firefly, for example. They're both incredibly optimistic and look for the best in people, no matter what.
What is Lost is centered around the antagonist of What is Hidden. Did you feel like you were taking a risk by writing a book about the person everyone hated by the end of book 1?
I never really thought of it in that way. I wrote what I wanted to, and I thought it would be interesting to see what happens to the villain after his plot fails, so to speak, and it's not something I've seen a lot of in other books. I had a lot of fun with the Chameleon’s character and how he developed throughout all three books.
The third book in the series is called The Fairest Poison. Why did you decide to ditch the "what is" theme?
Originally the title was going to be What Is Found, but my publisher wanted a title that hinted more at the fairy tale I was playing with, as well as make it more accessible as a stand-alone read. So we decided on The Fairest Poison.
Will we get to catch up with Evie and Aiden in The Fairest Poison?
Oh yes. We get to see Aiden in a new way, and wherever he is, Evie is, too.
It's really interesting how each book takes on aspects of a fairy tale. Do you plan on writing anymore books like that?
Maybe. I have a lot of fun twisting fairy tales into new stories, but retellings also come with a lot of limitations. I have a couple more fairy tales I’d like to do, but I’d also like to branch out and do something new.
What's your favorite Disney/childhood movie?
Beauty and the Beast. I toyed with the idea of doing a retelling of that one set in the Venesia world, but ended up going a different route. I also love Mulan.
Are you working on anything new or taking a break?
I’m taking a little break, but I definitely have ideas for future novels. Right now I’m feeling out a few different ideas and haven’t settled on one yet.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Ask yourself: how badly do you really want it? Do you want it more than you want to catch up on a tv show, or more than spending time online? If you can answer yes, it’s a lot easier to make the time to write, and that’s often the most difficult part.