In this interview series we ask questions to people who are making a difference in our society, it can be big, it can be small, it doesn’t matter, what matters is their contribution. It can be anyone from any walk of life and from any country. Please, do send us suggestions of people whom you think we should interview for this series.
Laura Stamps loves to play with words in her fiction and prose poetry. Author of 49 novels, novellas, short story collections, and poetry books. Most recently: CAT MANIA (Alien Buddha Press 2021), DOG DAZED (Kittyfeather Press, 2022), THE GOOD DOG (Prolific Pulse Press 2023), and ADDICTED TO DOG MAGAZINES (Impspired, 2023). Winner of the Muses Prize. Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations.
Following are her response to our questions
1. Please tell us something about yourself?
I am a novelist and poet who loves to play with words and create new forms for my fiction and prose poetry. I write in a stream-of-consciousness style, arranging words and sentences much like an abstract painting. The way the brain works, especially when we talk to ourselves, fascinates me. By “new forms” I mean the sentence and paragraph. I love to push the boundaries of sentence and paragraph structure as far as I can in a way that looks random, but makes perfect sense to the subconscious mind of the reader.
2. What motivated you to become a writer?
I began my career as a painter. In college I majored in fine art with a minor in art history. After college, I worked as a professional fine artist for twelve years. My paintings and prints were sold in galleries and big box stores (Kmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond, etc.). But I’m a storyteller. I was always telling stories. Even in my art. When I was thirty I picked up a “Writer’s Digest” magazine at my local Waldenbooks. The poetry column intrigued me, so I decided to write a poem. It was terrible (of course), but I was hooked. I always say that was the day my art career ended. And it’s true. I had been told by my high school and college professors that I had writing talent. But I’m dyslexic, so I’d never considered a career as a writer. However that first awful poem satisfied me creatively in a way that painting never had. So I worked hard to overcome my dyslexia and learn the craft of poetry. Within a year I was publishing poems in small press magazines. Thirty-five years later I’ve published forty-nine novels, novellas, short story collections, and poetry books with numerous publishers. My poetry and fiction have appeared in over a thousand literary magazines and anthologies worldwide. And I’ve received numerous awards, including the Muses Prize for Best Poet of the Year, a Pulitzer Prize nomination, and seven Pushcart Prize nominations.
3. Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite short story writers are Donald Barthelme and Ann Beattie. Favorite poets are Anne Carson and Charles Wright. What I love about these writers is the way they constantly break the rules to create new forms for their fiction and poetry. And they do a brilliant job of it!
4. What are the themes that are prominently featured in your works and why?
Empowerment is the main theme in almost all my fiction and poetry. I’m an abuse survivor. I’ve survived child abuse, an attempted kidnapping, violent crime, and domestic abuse. Because of this, my goal is to offer healing through my fiction and poetry. And I prefer to do that through humor.
5. What is one thing that you would like to change about the world?
You can’t change the world. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. You have all the power you need to change yourself. If you make that your focus, your world will change automatically.
6. How has your life changed after the pandemic? How did you cope during the lockdown?
No change, really. I write every day of the year with short writing sessions scheduled throughout the day. COVID had no effect on that. The writing continued. The big change for me before and after the lockdowns was my grocery shopping. I’m vegan, and before COVID I used to shop twice a week for fruits and vegetables at one store. But when COVID and the lockdowns caused food shortages, I began to shop for small amounts every day at a variety of stores. And I have continued to do that, since grocery stores are still experiencing shortages and distribution problems. On the plus side, I’m one of those people who loves to eat and grocery shop. So I’m enjoying this new shopping schedule.
7. What other interests do you have besides writing?
I’m an avid gardener. I have seven flower gardens in my front yard and one indoor container garden in my office. I’ve also been involved in feral cat rescue for almost fifty years.
8. What would be your advice for upcoming authors?
Cultivate perseverance. 1.) Persevere in your writing. Find a way to write every day. No excuses. There’s always a way. Even if it’s on your lunch or dinner break at work (I do that a lot). Even if it’s in your car (I’ve done my share of that too). Just do the work. No excuses. 2.) Persevere in your submitting. Not every editor is going to like what you write. Rejections, lots of them, are normal. Learn from the constructive ones. Ignore the form letter rejections. Rejections are part of paying your dues, and every writer has dues to pay. No complaining about it. Rejection is an important part of the process. 3.) Persevere in learning your craft. Do what it takes to write top quality pieces. Do the work. And never stop learning.
9. What are your plans for the future in your literary endeavors?
I have two new novellas coming out in the spring. “The Good Dog” will be published in March 2023 by Prolific Pulse Press. “Addicted to Dog Magazines” will be published in May 2023 by Impspired. Both are wacky, empowering, humorous stories. Currently, I’m working on my next book, a novella-in-verse (prose poems).
10. What is your message to our readers?
Don’t try to be everywhere on every social site. Instead, concentrate on one or two social sites and dig deep by spending your time building a loyal following for your work. For me it’s Facebook. For you, it might be Instagram or Twitter. Trying to be active on numerous social sites is a formula for disaster. Plus, it’s exhausting. There are only twenty-four hours in each day, so use your time on social wisely. And don’t kid yourself about marketing and promotion. Don’t think you won’t need to promote yourself and market your work. It doesn’t matter how good you
think you are. Books don’t sell by themselves. And a social site is a great place to begin building a following and a platform for your books.
Outstanding interview. Laura’s story would be excellent reading for any aspiring writer!