Ask the Author: Laura Segal Stegman
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m a big fan of middle grade kidlit, and though being an author was not what I planned, I’ve always loved writing. As a kid, I wanted to be an actress, and I remember dreaming up stories to “star” in. When I grew up and went into public relations (I’ve owned my own arts publicity firm for many years), business writing became an important part of my work. After doing some free-lance non-fiction articles and interviews for newspapers, magazines and blogs, I realized how much I loved storytelling and began writing a middle grade fantasy, which eventually became Summer of L.U.C.K. It’s funny how life takes us to unexpected places!
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
Summer of L.U.C.K. is a middle-grade story about three kids finding their way to self-acceptance with the help of a ghost who haunts a magical carnival. Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin’s been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, they’re granted power to communicate without words by mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse. When they sneak inside to find out why, the dark, empty space bursts into a carnival that echoes with sounds of happy children. They’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help reconciling his estranged family. In return, he takes the kids on magical adventures where they learn to find their voices.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
The Diamond in the Window, my favorite book when I was a kid, had a main character who was an 11 year-old, the same age as I was at the time. She had freckles, and so did I. And, she hated her freckles, just like I did. And I’ve never forgotten that this character learned to accept not only her freckles but also herself. It was really the first time I recognized myself in a book, and it made me feel like I wasn’t so alone. I realized that I could love myself, freckles and all. Although it took many more years to learn that kind of self-acceptance, that character’s journey spoke to me so powerfully that I remember it all these years later. And in Summer of L.U.C.K., I got to tell a different version of that journey through the character of Darby.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
Oh my, how do I choose? I have several, but the kids’ adventure in the Hall of Mirrors scene was one of the most fun, and one of the most emotional. Justin, the character whose father died just before Summer of L.U.C.K. begins, discovers that the mirrors reflect what he’s imagining in his mind. So he pictures himself as a sky diver, Navy Seal, jet pilot, astronaut, that kind of thing. “His reflection changed uniforms as fast as the words left his lips.” But then, he wonders if he can imagine saying goodbye to his father, an experience he never had. (To find out what happens, check out Summer of L.U.C.K., wherever books are sold.) I probably rewrote and revised this scene more than any other to give Justin – and readers – the richest experience possible.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Besides The Diamond in the Window, I had lots of favorite kids books that I read again and again, not only back then but also as an adult. Many are still in bookstores today, like Half Magic by Edward Eager, Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Clearly, and the All of a Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. Since they brought me great joy, and the characters felt like old friends, they inspired me to write a middle grade story that I hoped would mean as much to readers today as those stories meant to me.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Read voraciously in as many genres as possible (besides middle grade, I love crime fiction!). Find other writers to work with as critique partners and Beta readers. Connect with the online writing community and explore opportunities to get mentoring from published writers. Work hard, keep writing, and believe. Don’t give up. Miracles happen!
Summer of L.U.C.K. is available now in hardcover, paperback and e-book. Order through Children’s Book World hardcover and paperback for an autographed copy and Official bookmark! Also available at Amazon (hardcover, paperback, Kindle e-book), Barnes & Noble (hardcover, paperback), Indiebound (hardcover, paperback), Bookshop (hardcover, paperback) and wherever else books are sold.
Summer of L.U.C.K. on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54211718-summer-of-l-u-c-k