I'm getting to where I enjoy these email chats with my authors friends! I learn so much by asking questions, and their responses are always such a treat to read. Just in case you missed my review of this debut novel, click here.
And now, my exclusive Q & A with author Laura Hayden!
1) We have a woman running for president in this election. I know my readers will be asking this--it Emily based on Hillary Clinton?
Emily is not based on Hillary Clinton. In fact, I tried to make Emily as different as possible so that readers wouldn’t have to choose between being caught up into the fictional world I created or stepping outside of the fiction to look for deliberate similarities in the real world. However, I knew I had to give her character some pseudo-familiar background hooks that made her feel real so that’s why there are some obvious parallel to the Kennedy family and the days of Camelot. However, Hillary’s political aspirations as the first female President are certainly one of the main inspirations for the series.
2) I was fascinated by the inner workings of the campaign process. How did you gain the knowledge you share in your novel?
Research, research, research. I’ve learned--out of necessity--to make Google sing and Wikipedia tap dance. I researched both current and previous campaigns and elections, read hundreds of blogs by volunteers of both parties and found a commonality of experience that I used as a resource. I also found a website called The Green Papers (http://www.thegreenpapers.com ) that was a non-partisan fount of constantly updated facts, figures and procedures. I couldn’t have written this book without them as a reliable resource of current and past political events. In many cases, I had to adapt and replot in midstream when the primary and caucus dates kept changing.
3) Kate is an amazing character and I adored her. I've heard people say "I wish so and so wouldn't get involved in politics...it'll ruin him (or her)." What's your opinion?
Thanks. I guess you could look at the world of politicians and politics like the moneychangers in the temple. If you’re afraid to expose yourself to something or someone different than you are, how effective can you be? It’s far easier to live your faith in the middle of God’s House than in the rest God’s world. Kate has learned that the best way to demonstrate her faith is to show others how she lives it.
4) Without endorsing a candidate for office, what characteristics would you want our president to have?
Wisdom, honesty, dedication, compassion, intellect, experience, a sense of responsibility, a sense of humor, a sense of history, true leadership ability. Good health wouldn’t hurt, either.
5) I know you created her, but would you vote for Emily Benton if she ran for president?
In all honesty? I’m not sure. It would really depend on who was running against her. In the case of this fictional election, I might not have chosen her to be her party’s candidate, but I would choose Emily over the fictional candidate of the opposing party.
6) If you could change one thing about the political election process, what would it be and why would you change it?
I think the Electoral College concept has outlived its usefulness. With the advent of instant coast-to-coast communication, 24-7 news coverage in practically every inch of the country, we simply don’t need this aspect of the Presidency election any longer.
7) What other writing projects can we look forward to from you?
I’m hard at work on Book #2 in the series which continues only hours after the first book ends. Ideally, I’d like to alternate between the series and...a player to be named later. I don’t know what sort of book. But I like variety so the alternate book would likely be a stand-alone so I’m not balancing two series.
8) Tell me about your favorite place to write. What makes the creative juices flow most freely for you?
My favorite place to write is a spacious glassed-in solarium office, overlooking a serene rolling pasture. Now mind you, I’ve never owned, much less worked, in a glassed-in solarium overlooking a serene rolling pasture, crowded playground or the neighbor’s overflowing garbage can. But a girl can dream, can’t she?
Seriously, as a newly-retired Air Force family, I’ve learned to write wherever I had to and in some wonderfully inspiring locations as well as some real joy-crushing locations. Strangely enough, what makes my creative juices flow is reading/watching the efforts of another creative person. A good book will recharge me. An engrossing television show will motivate me. My inspiration comes from a continuous source of creative stimuli in the world around me. All of them help me ask that most important question for writers...What if?
I enjoyed that, and I hope you did as well. "America the Beautiful" is a stunning debut novel that is not only entertaining, but has a timely message for all of us in this election season. Thank you, Laura, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions and to bless my readers with more of your insight into the political arena!
I look forward to reading many more novels by this amazing author!