Name: Happy LaShelle
Author of: According to Audrey (Clean Teen Publishing)
Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?
Well, like a lot of writers I stapled and taped my own books together when I was a kid. My mom saved a bunch of them and they’re kind of precious to me. One of my favorites is The Donkey Advensher wherein a girl takes her donkey on a ride through the forest and finds a rabbit, a frog, and a silver dollar (ha!). But my first serious project as an aspiring author was a little historical chapter book about a young girl enamored with the London stage in the early 20th century.
Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to becoming a published author?
Yes, and I’m so grateful forever to her! I happened to start following author Susan Dennard on Twitter back when she had just received her first book deal on her first series. She had tweeted about how to write a query letter, and when I followed her advice I started getting requests for my manuscript. I emailed her to say thank you, and it began a lovely friendship/mentorship for me. She would check in every few months to see how things were going for me and offer advice. She’s an incredibly generous person who gives back to the writing community in every way. She now has a whole following of writers who learn from her posts and newsletters.
How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?
Honestly that’s a great question I wish I knew the answer to. According to Audrey took me years of writing, rewriting and revision, but there was a big learning curve there, so now that I’m diving into writing the sequel I’m hoping for the best. I think every book is different. If I’m guessing I would say 6-9 months to write it and 3-4 months of revision, so… 9 months to a year, maybe.
Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?
I like to have a general outline in my head of the plot, but it’s amazing how it takes on a life of its own and starts twisting and turning, and then (sometimes) serendipitously comes together in ways I could never have planned. I have a YA historical project that I’ve only written a bit of, but I’ve done weeks of research on the details of the time period. A historical calls for that, though. For my contemporaries I’ll just stop sometimes in the middle of writing and look up questions that arise.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (The things you’d never want anyone to know?)
I don’t think so? I was at a writing conference once and for fun you were supposed to share if you had, say, a lucky pen or a superstitious quirk in your writing routine. And I was thinking… no… not me. And then later I realized – yes! – I totally do have a favorite pen that I use for everything. Something about it feels happy and magical to me, and it makes my writing look pretty. It’s this special light blue color and I used to be able to order it in bulk. Now I have to buy a pack of 10 colors just to get one of my special pens! I do love the act of actually writing my drafts with a pen, though. I find my ideas and thoughts flow more fluidly than they do when I’m typing.
Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage-or any interesting research-for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?
Last summer we visited Great Britain and I was bombarded with so many fun ideas for my next book. History is my passion so I love to travel and learn and soak in the stories of the past. My great-grandparents on my mom’s side came from Scotland and my dad’s grandparents emigrated from England so I feel this close connection to the culture. Let’s just say that it’s not a coincidence that the sequel to According to Audrey is set in England and France.
Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?
I enjoy reading most categories and genres but… no surprise here… historical fiction is at the top of my list.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?
No secrets really, but in According to Audrey I did include some symbolism for myself that I didn’t think anyone would necessarily pick up on. For example, on the opening page Dove is sketching a tethered sailboat in the harbor, then in the last pages she admires a painting of a sailboat bobbing freely on the open sea. Also some foreshadowing – like in Chapter 4, Leo tells Dove that if she gets too close to the fire the flames could burn her. Little things like that.
As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?
I cast a St. Bernard in Pottermore and I really love my patronus! It’s described as warm, bright, playful, thoughtful, positive, adventurous, sensitive, and offering a ray of light in a dark world. I’d like to think that innately my best self is these things.
Is there one thing you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?
Yes, I wish I were way better at deep POV. I’m making progress but I feel like I’m always relearning how to delve deeper into the point of view of the character in order to better immerse the reader into the story experience. I’ve leaned a lot from Susan Dennard’s written teachings on this subject, actually.
What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?
Keep going. The process can take a long time, but let your passion propel you forward. Let the rejections (and there will be many) make your work better, and don’t take no for an answer. Do something for your writing everyday – for me, reading about writing and the writing life is hugely inspiring. One of my favorite writing mentor books is Page After Page by Heather Sellers. Her funny, straightforward style is charming, and her wisdom is so encouraging to everyone on the author path.
In what ways do you pay it forward to help other aspiring writers?
I read and critique works-in-progress for fellow writers trying to get published. I also chime in on writing blogs and websites where people post their work for review. I think it’s so important for us all to support each other. If we’re further along on the path, it’s our duty and honor to turn around and offer a hand up to the person right behind us.
Want to know more about Happy?
Visit her at her website
Visit and like her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/happylashelle/
Follow her on Twitter
Check out the pics on Happy’s Instagram
See what Happy is reading—and writing—on Goodreads
According to Audrey
What would Audrey do?
Cautious and introverted, seventeen-year-old Dove spends most of her free time pursuing her one true passion: painting. The twinkling lights of Balboa Island, the ferryboat to the peninsula, the fire pits on Big Corona Beach…these have long been the subjects of her canvases as she daydreams about finding an Audrey Hepburn-film kind of romance.
A hotshot jock is exactly not the type of guy she’s been looking for—but when Leo Donovan drops his cool act to show his vulnerable side, Dove begins to question everything. But first she’ll have to navigate her way through claim-staking mean girls and disapproving parents—and still keep her focus on attending the art school of her dreams.
Being in love turns out to be more complex than the average silver-screen classic. Can Dove follow her heart (and Audrey’s cues) to create her own perfect Hollywood ending?
Fans of Audrey Hepburn and the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s will love this fun coming of age story.