I am thrilled to inform you all that the author of Nautical Miles, N.L. LaFoille, joins us to talk about her novel! Before we meet her, let’s take a quick look at her book’s synopsis:
After being kidnapped by pirates, Rachel Starling expected the worst. But the Captain’s motives are less dangerous than thought, at least toward her. Upon the ship, Rachel mourns the loss of her life on land, marred by the betrayal of those who were supposed to love her most. She adapts to her new, dangerous life and all its adventures, including swordfights, vengeful pirates, a trip to the New World and a handsome first mate who threatens to steal something she’d thought too broken to ever give again.
(Intriguing, isn’t it?)
Without further ado, here’s N.L.!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in a small town in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula (Pop. 3,010).
I moved to Colorado with my husband in 2010. We enjoy hiking and rock climbing, and much of our time indoors is spent gathered in the kitchen, cooking and hanging out.
I studied Apparel Design and Journalism in college and am currently a freelance sewing instructor for Sew News magazine and NationalSewingCircle.com, but mostly I just run around with my 2-year-old daughter, having adventures with her dolls and making pretend soup out of leaves and sticks.
We like to travel with our menagerie of children (one human and two terriers). In fact, this year we’ve only spent 4/9 months at our home base. The rest was spent bouncing around the country, from Arkansas to Michigan to Washington state.
2. Why did you start writing?
I had such a vivid imagination as a kid and was fascinated by the different, exciting worlds presented in books and on TV. I was constantly making up stories in my head and realized if I wanted to remember and revisit them, I’d have to write them down.
3. Tell us a little bit about your book’s title.
I initially titled it Starling, which is the main character’s last name. I even had my artist make up the cover with it. But then I did a belated Google search and realized there were actually other books with this title! It pays to do the research on that first. So I changed it to something catchy with a seafaring twist: Nautical Miles.
4. Does your story have a moral?
It’s not really a moral, but the main thread tying the book together is the journey toward discovering your inner fortitude and bravery. Humans are hardy and are built to endure trial after trial, and if we can hang in and believe in ourselves, we can come out the other side stronger and better for the experiences.
5. Of the characters you’ve created, which one is your favorite?
My favorite character is actually the protagonist from my upcoming novel, a historical romance set in the American West in the late 1800s. Abby is the most obviously flawed of my characters. She’s hot-headed and stubborn, apt to throw herself into a fight before fully thinking through the ramifications. I think we all have a little bit of that in us at times, and it was fun and satisfying to write her maturing from that scrappy spitfire to a strong, determined woman who learned how to wield that passion and fire to her advantage.
6. Using five words or less, describe the protagonist in Nautical Miles.
Brave, kind, willful, resourceful, optimistic.
7. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
It’s such a private thing for me, I do most of my writing in my head first, down to the specific sentence structure. Washing dishes and walking are perfect opportunities for this. I need privacy so no one can see my screen and see the horrible, terrible first rough draft. I’m a mom so I don’t get much dedicated time to sit and write, it’s usually in one to two hour blocks while she’s sleeping.
8. What is your favorite book genre?
I love reading any book with good character development. I don’t care if it’s a suspense or a contemporary romance, I live for deep characters.
My favorite genre to write is historical romance, though I prefer to call it Historical-Adventure-with-a-Romantic-Subplot.
9. What are you currently reading?
I somehow acquired Sail Upon the Land by Josa Young, and I’m still making my way through A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.
10. What is your favorite book?
Since high school, it’s been The Hobbit. Maybe it’s partially due to the memories I have of my life while I read it for the first time, but the story always makes me feel so adventurous. Bilbo had a rough time of it, but that experience shaped him, for better or worse.
11. Any project in the works?
Always! My next novel is about 95% completed. Set in the American West in the late 1800s, it follows Abby Fraser on a trek across the desert, running from the law and the pain of her past. She meets up with a man who has even more trouble on his tail than she does. They do their best to carve out a little peace alongside the Brazos River in Texas, but their demons and the floodwaters upset the tenuous quiet and send them on adventures that test their resolve and bring out their best and worst. I hope to launch sometime in early 2017!
12. In your opinion, what makes a story ‘good’?
For me, a story has to make me feel some feelings. Delight at the lyrical flow, pain, fear or sadness for the protagonist, or ideally, warm, fuzzy and giddy at the happy ending.
13. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Just write. Seriously, practice, practice, practice. Oh, and read! Reading books is the best education for a writer! And not just in your genre. If you read mostly historical romance, take a sci-fi for a spin, or paranormal thriller, and don’t forget to pepper in some non-fiction to round you out.
And now for a game of “Which (Do/Would) You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Books, no question! If a book is made into a movie, you know the book is always better. You get so much more depth and understanding of the characters when you can be inside their head, and when you’re not limited to 2.5 hours of screen time.
2. Dogs or cats?
Dogs, all day every day. Give me all the dogs.
3. Summer or winter?
Summer. Winters in the U.P. were harsh–6 months of biting cold and slushy sleet. Yuck. Even though the winters in Denver are incredibly mild, it still gives me flashbacks to snowbanks higher than my head.
4. Ebook or physical book?
Ouch. This is a tough one. I have such a weakness for beautiful old books. The feel, the smell, the look of them. But realistically, I can’t have a house full of books, especially with our travel lifestyle. Ebooks are great because I can amass a collection and carry them all in my purse at once.
5. Living in the city or living in the country?
I grew up on 60 acres of field and forest. It’s in my blood. I love the peace and quiet of empty spaces. While I do enjoy forays into the city, and suburb life isn’t too bad, my heart lives in a log cabin shaded by oak trees.
6. Having telepathy or having telekinesis?
Telekinesis for sure. I’ve thought probably too much about this. I wouldn’t want to know what other people are thinking. Bad for my ego. But to be able to move whatever I wanted? I could do so much good with that kind of power!
7. Travelling by car or travelling by airplane?
Road trips are so much fun! You can stop off at tiny little towns along the way, find cool shops and parks. Sure it takes longer, but the journey is also the reward, not just the destination!
8. Staying in a hotel or going camping?
Camping! Give me a tent and a cook stove and I’m all set!
9. Losing all of your money or losing every picture you’ve ever taken and every picture that has ever been taken of you?
Toss the pictures, I don’t care. Toss the money too, come to think of it. I’ll have the memories of my life (most of them anyway), and the lessons those experiences taught me. And as long as I have my family, I’ll be alright without money.
10. Reading or writing?
Reading is more enjoyable at the time, but writing is more rewarding in the long run. If I could only choose one for the rest of my life, it would be writing. I just couldn’t not write.
11. To speak using ONLY rap lyrics (from songs released in the 21st century) or to speak using ONLY quotes from Austen’s books?
Austen quotes! Can you imagine walking around all, “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?” I might test that out for a day, it sounds fun.
12. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
Busy expressway! I have a fear of breaking down in the middle of nowhere at night and the schizophrenic who broke out of the nearby psychiatric hospital kills my companion and hangs him in a tree so his feet thump against the hood while I huddle in the backseat until morning. The campfire stories that stick with you.
13. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
Losing speech. I could find other ways to communicate, but to never hear my daughter’s voice again would be way worse.
14. To never read another book or to never watch another film?
Never watch another film. Has anyone ever chosen the other option?
15. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
TWD. Zombies don’t sneak around and try to jump out at you. They’re straightforward that way. Plus, I’d be a stellar zombie killer. Just call me Michonne.