Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Interview with novelist H. Laurence Lareau

Author H. Laurence Lareau joins me today and we’re chatting about his new contemporary workplace romance, Love. Local. Latebreaking.

During his virtual book tour, Laurence will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky, randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

H. Laurence Lareau fell in love with romances the first time Pride and Prejudice came home from the library with him. Since that high school summer, he has earned an English degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, worked as a television and print journalist, built a career in law, and has remained a Jane Austen junkie through it all.

The Newsroom Romance series draws from his careers, his voracious reading, and his curiosity about the tensions between real life and real love.

Real life now is dramatically different from the real life of Austen’s times—privileged women no longer choose between eligible members of the landed gentry, nor are they imperiled by the sexist mysteries of the entailed fee simple estate in land.

Modern women with the privileges of education rather than birth now embark upon careers that can satisfy many personal and material dreams. Seemingly inevitably, though, careers fall short of the promise that they’ll fulfill women as people.

Strong, modern women have defined Lareau’s professional and personal lives, and strong women fully occupy center stage in their own newsroom romance stories. Their high-profile journalism and legal careers matter deeply to them and to the people they serve.

Then love comes walking in. These book boyfriends don’t have kilts or billions or pirate ships, though. Their career goals meet and often clash with their romantic counterparts, requiring both the men and women to make hard choices about what happily ever after should look like and how to achieve it.

When he isn’t writing, practicing law, or raising children, he’s working on martial arts and music.

Welcome, Laurence. Please share a little bit about your current release.
In Love. Local. Latebreaking., Karli Lewis follows her TV-news reporter’s ambition to Des Moines, Iowa—a place she views as a quick stop on her way to a major market like Chicago. According to plan, the skilled photographers she works with bring her great reporting to vivid life on the airwaves. Jake Gibson’s inspired images help her stories get the attention of prestigious newsrooms. But he’s gotten her attention, in a frustratingly inconvenient—and sexy—way. Staying with him means staying in Des Moines; moving on to fulfill her career means moving on from a connection she’s found with Jake and no other man, ever. Can Karli find a way to keep her career together and keep their love together?

What inspired you to write this book?
Professionals are often conflicted between their work lives and their love lives. Building a whole life—one where professional fulfillment and personal fulfillment are both attainable—is a monumental challenge. The obstacles can be overwhelming, and one or the other is usually sacrificed in some degree.

The story of the modern romantic quest to reconcile those two competing needs is too seldom explored. Real life doesn’t involve pirates or billionaires or kilted Scotsmen who spur in to the life-threatening rescue, and though those stories can be amazing fun, they can also be untruthful to what genuine romantic experiences—and the obstacles to achieving them—have for people who must deal with the reality of contemporary life.

Karli and Jake work in a very public, incredibly stressful profession. Portraying them with fidelity to the truth of those stresses and the hope for overcoming them seemed an important riddle to present and solve.

Not that there’s anything new about this conundrum. Jane Austen dealt with the same questions, just in a different time and place. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett struggled enormously to find economic security at the same time that she sought a genuinely connected and loving relationship. Throughout the book, she watched other men and women try their hands at that dual quest and fail tragically. Her happily-ever-after with Darcy—accomplishing everything she worked for—is one of the greatest resolutions to any romance novel ever.

There are, of course, many other aspects to a modern happily-ever-after. The expectations men and women bring to modern relationships—personal (even sacramental) fulfillment, great sex, best-friendship, sports partnership, domestic burden-sharing, and all the rest—bring sometimes overwhelming pressures with them. L.L.L. explores only some of those, however, focusing on those that precede the happily-ever-after.

No book is worth reading just because it solves problems, though. L.L.L. takes the reader on a ride through any number of exciting headline news stories—from guns-drawn drug busts to fatal accidents to house fires to natural disasters—each more riveting than the last. Plus there are the characters’ own tragic losses, drunken hilarity, passionate and deeply connected lovemaking, despairing heartbreak, and triumphant climax.

Excerpt from Love. Local. Latebreaking.:
(Karli’s newsroom gal-pals, Production Assistant Mary Rose Meyer and Anchor Bailey Barber, are genuine ride-or-die friends. When Karli had a rough day—another reporter talked the news director into giving her a series that Karli had done most of the preliminary reporting work on—they met for drinks at downtown Des Moines’ Hotel Savery):

Karli drained her glass with a thoughtful expression and considered Bailey’s assessment. When she spoke, her words’ edges were softened by the liquor. “There’s a lot to what you say, Bailey. But it’s still complete bullshit that Sophia has this series and I don’t, and I want to be pissed about that right now.”
“Yes!” Mary Rose cried, raising her beer glass. “Let’s hate Sophia!” She brought the beer to her lips and drank deeply. “She’s a snooty bitch anyway, regardless of this series thing,” she whispered to Bailey and Karli.
“That’s not terribly constructive, you know,” Bailey chided. “So what’s up with Jake and the kissing?” she said, shifting the subject abruptly. “Any news about that?”
“He hasn’t even been to work in forever,” Karli slurred. “How’m I supposed to kiss him if he’s never around?”
Mary Rose, who had not heard about Jake and the kissing, goggled at her friends, her open-mouth and bugged eyes flicking from one to the other, looking for answers to obvious questions. “Jake and the Kissing? That sounds like a great band, but it also sounds like something I need desperately to hear about. When did you and Jake start in with the kissing? He has never even hinted that you guys were getting wild and nasty! And besides, Sophia wants him even more than she wants your series. I’m surprised she didn’t slink that exotic figure into the kissing a long time ago!”
“Mary Rose, no. Just no. We never kissed at all,” Karli said, defensiveness in every syllable. “And besides, he’s a complete asshole.”
“Then what’s with the new band?” Mary Rose’s face was covered with suspicion, as was the tone of her voice.
“It was just a thing,” Karli sighed. “We watched a movie together, and then there was this moment when it seemed like we were going to kiss, but then it all went bust. So no kissing.”
Bailey saw that Karli needed rescuing, so she chimed in with, “So what happened when he came back for the drug bust story? He didn’t even stick around to edit that package, did he?”
Mary Rose cut in ahead of Karli’s response: “No way Jose—or Josephine, I guess, since you’re a chick—he split and then I cut it together, and I did an awesome job, too, I might add.”
“And you’re fun to work with, Mary Rose” Karli added. “But why again won’t they assign you to field shooting—because of some departmental accounting thing?”
“Yeah, Mary Rose’s great,” Bailey seconded enthusiastically. “But what scared him away that day?” Bailey asked. “Everyone has been wondering, but Vince just says to shut up and tend to our own knitting.”
“I don’t know,” Karli very nearly whined. “We had a scary morning, yet things seemed kind of normal when we headed out. Then he got all emo in the truck. He talked about not needing the job and not being able to keep people safe or make good decisions or something. He was all pissed about giving me his Kevlar vest, too, like it was some cop’s fault, and I couldn’t understand what the problem was there, either. I was trying to thank him for giving it to me, but it all blew up and went weird. It was like having a conversation with a mentally ill person.”
“This is AWESOME!” Mary Rose boomed. She raised her beer and solemnly intoned,
“Here’s to hating Sophia and to bullying Jake for being demented!” She chugged the beer, heedless of the scandalized looks on Karli and Bailey’s faces.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The second book in the Newsroom Romance series, Traffick Report, is already out. (Each book stands alone, so it isn’t necessary to read them in order.) Where Love. Local. Latebreaking. is nicely steamy, Traffick Report frankly explores places along the sexual-encounter spectrum, from meh to really nice to soulful and life-altering. Bailey and Mary Rose are both front and center, each trying to find their own happily ever after. Bailey’s quest takes her into a sizzling series of encounters that reveal how utterly different great sex is from sex that is not deeply connected and mutually self-giving. Mary Rose, on the other hand, knows what she wants (no kink to speak of), and engaging her boyfriend in getting it results in a major awakening for him.

Much of the story surrounds a young sex-trafficking victim and how the criminal justice system tries to re-victimize her. Bailey and her man come together and then clash over his defense of the girl’s court case and her reporting.

The third book, Storm Sirens, is in process. We’ll meet the meteorologists in this one. In addition to actual storms, we’ll encounter the storm of controversy surrounding the opioid-addiction crisis that is becoming ever more horrifying.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My entire adult life has been in writing. From stultifying, mind-numbingly dull work such as my law review article, Rights of Surface Owners on Federally Patented Lands, 10 U.Ky.J.Nat.Resources & Envtl.L. 13 (1995), to a martial arts story on Tai Chi’s Energy Borrowing in Kung Fu-Tai Chi Magazine, to comedic educational video scripts to straight-up journalism and countless other endeavors, writing and public speaking have been at the center of all my work efforts.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes and no. My day job is as a litigator. Although I try to bring some life and color to my legal writing, it isn’t nearly as satisfying as working with the characters in my novels. The only way I can comprehend having found time to write two novels and have a third in progress is to believe that there is some kind of recurring distortion of space-time that gives me intermittent bonus hours.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Most authors’ characters become pretty real to the writer. When my characters find their way to an intimate encounter—which is always important to them and to the reader—it feels voyeuristic to write the details of their interactions, and I usually wind up furiously blushing while I try to get through the scene as quickly as I can.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professor of French literature. Preferably one who lived in France, ate lots of baguette, and bicycled to campus every day.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Like every author, I hope readers enjoy my books. But if they don’t, or if they’re not super-enthused about certain things, I would love to hear about from them. Writing books is hard work, and I want to do everything I can to make sure readers find something relatable and truthful in them.

If you’re looking for the books, they’re available in paperback and as e-books. Love. Local. Latebreaking. is also available as an audiobook. The narrator and I dated for a summer in college. She went on to a fairly glamorous theater career and is now an English teacher.

Here’s to your own happily ever after!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


James Robert said...

I enjoy these tours and have found some awesome books for my sisters and daughters so thank you so very much. tHanks also for the great giveaway and the opportunity to win.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed getting to know your book and thanks for the chance to win :)

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing, sounds like a wonderful book!

Bernie Wallace said...

What types of books do you like to read? Thanks for hosting. I hope that I win. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

H. Laurence Lareau said...

Bernie, I'm an omnivorous reader. Right now I'm completely captivated by my first time reading A. S. Byatt's Possession. She's a genuine master of the language, crafting platinum-level sentences in every single paragraph while telling a gorgeously romantic story. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files are a long-time favorite, and way outside the romance genre. His characters are so fully fleshed out, I feel like I could meet them for coffee on any given day. Lindsey Fairleigh's Echo in Time trilogy (plus bonus stuff) features one of my all-time favorite book girlfriends. Jane Austen is probably the all-time greatest English-language novelist (and Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennett is another fave book girlfriend). Simon Winchester's historico-sciencey books are amazing. I read lots of Roman any Byzantine history and historical novels (William Rosen's Justinian's Flea and Robert Harris's Cicero Trilogy are recent faves). And the list goes ever on and on!!
H. Laurence Lareau

Ally Swanson said...

Congrats on the new book and good luck on the book tour!

Danielle merkle said...

Sounds like a good read