My name is Avah LaReaux and I’m a saga fiction author. My current novels are three installments in my Lost & Found saga series. The first two releases are What’s Done in the Dark and Song of the Siren. The most recent entry to the series is entitled Bastards. Though Bastards is the third book in succession, it is the last of the prequel piece of the series and tells the story of the Clayton family, specifically the main character Marcus, from the beginning.
Have you ever had an idea for a story which scared you after you began writing it?
I actually have been apprehensive of some of my storylines. My concerns usually stem from the desire to present a well researched product, but also touch on issues that are often uncomfortable to approach in conversation. Broaching many subjects often means running the risk of touching a sensitive spot with some readers. As an artist, that is very uncomfortable at times.
Have you incorporated actual events from your own life into your books?
My books focus on issues that are common to all people. I personally haven’t experienced each of them, but like many people, I know those who have. My work doesn’t focus on a set of events so much as the motives and underlying issues at the heart of the events.
How much research do you do? Do you research first and then write, or do you write first, then research as needed?
I do both. Which method I employ depends on the subject matter. With the Lost & Found saga series, I explore issues that required a great deal of research. The works involved medical issues, social complexities, and cultural traditions that must be presented in an accurate light. With this series, I’ve done hundreds hours of research. That’s actually the fun of writing.
Is there any message you want readers to take from reading your work?
The message for readers depends on the series or individual work. Each series has a focus, be it human motives or self-actualization. Each individual work also has a theme or purpose. Over all, I want readers to go away from my novels with a better understanding of the characters and the effects those characters had on everything around them.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? And have you ever had a story take on a life of its own?
I’m big on plot and all my stories have their own lives. A story has to be built from the ground up just like a sturdy building. Fiction is meant to entertain, true enough, but that is only achieved with a solid plot and well-developed characters. Scenery and voice make the foundation (plot) stronger. A story without a strong plot is like a paper without a thesis.
How long did it take for you to be published?
My first novel was published in 2008, but it was completed in 2006. I had actually been writing the series since 2002.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything when you first began your writing career, what would you say?
“Don’t worry about the critics. Tell your story, your way. Don’t worry about the powers that be. Make your mark on literature the way all artists have, be they Modernists or Renaissance artists. Tell the story for the readers. Be relentlessly true to yourself.”
Laptop or pen and ink? What are your ‘must-haves’ when writing?
Both. I usually type the first “sounds” of my novels and then make notes on specific facts or details I want to be clear about. I need both to build the foundation.
Who are your favorite authors? Who would you say influenced you the most?
I have an extensive list of favorite authors. I won’t fill the page with them all. I’m a poet first so Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou. Novelists include [James] Patterson, Eric Jerome Dickey, Nora Roberts, Toni Morrison. Those are just a few I draw inspiration from. I LOVE James Patterson and Nora Roberts:)
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
My readers would be surprised to learn that I am inspired by the British Women’s Suffrage Movement.
What is your favorite Spring Break vacation?
I don’t travel during Spring Break. I prefer to spend my time with my daughters, lounging and enjoying each other’s company.
Favorite St. Patrick’s Day memory or ritual? (ie: Do you wear green? Fix corned beef and cabbage? Speak with an Irish dialect for fun?)
I always take advantage of picking up Shamrock Shakes for me and my girls – if they are available. They’re hard to find sometimes.
I’m a March Madness fan. Do you follow the college basketball tournaments? If so, who’s your favorite team?
I don’t watch as much college basketball as I have in the past, but because I’m from Kansas City I always keep an eye on Kansas. My favorite college team, basketball or football, is Oklahoma, however.
Thank you for being here today! Please tell us where we can find your books.
Thanks for having me, Molly. Book lovers can always find me in Avey World at www.avahlareaux.com. I’m also on FaceBook atwww.facebook.com/avah.lareaux or they can follow me on Twitter as Avah LaReaux. All my books can be purchased online or at your favorite bookseller.Blurb:
One life truly affects another. How much more accurate would that statement be if the lives were linked by blood? Meet the young Marcus Clayton and the residents of the Bradhurst community as they live, learn, and love according to their own rules. Will morals win out over physical desires or will lust overpower better judgment and foundational teaching? Join the journey, meet the players, and discover how what’s done in the dark leads to a siren’s song.
It was ten o’clock when Poppa C looked up from his work to see Chad Richardson running into the shop.
“Hey, boy, stop yo’ li’l ass right there. If you want a haircut, bring yo’ mama. If not, go back outside.”
Chad was famous for running through the Clayton house. Poppa C was in no mood to babysit.
“Poppa C, c’mon! It’s Marcus! Poppa C, c’mere!”
That statement brought Poppa C, Mr. Marvin, Mr. Tom, and Jake Jr., who was in the middle of getting his cut, out the door and up the hill to Paradigm Apartments. Before they even got close to where Marcus was, the crew from the barber shop could hear children shouting and cheering. Once the men reached the scene, they saw Marcus straddling another boy, punching him wildly. Poppa C had to drag Marcus off the boy.
“What hell is wrong with you, boy?” Poppa C asked as he smacked Marcus in the back of the head and walked him back down the hill. He left Mr. Marvin to disperse the rest of the crowd and take the punch-drunk youth, whose name was found to be Ronnie Ford, back to his aunt’s apartment.
“He deserved it!” Marcus yelled once he reached his grandparents’ house.
“You got a nasty temper, li’l boy.” Taking a quick whiff, Robert Clayton snapped, “What the hell is that smell, Dino?”
“You playing in dog shit now?”
“No, sir. We rubbed that nigga’s face in it.” Marcus was breathing hard and obviously angry.
Looking up, Poppa C saw his clients walking back to the shop. He walked Marcus inside the house and kissed his forehead. “Alright, chief, go take a shower and change your clothes. Tell me what happened when you get back…” Before he could finish his sentence, Poppa C saw Chad coming through the door. “Boy, do you ever knock?”
Laughing lightly, Chad answered, “Nah, Poppa C. This is just like my house.”
“Well, in that case, I’m just like your grandpa. Get yo’ ass home and get cleaned up. Now! I want an explanation from you and Dino in fifteen minutes. If you late, I’m beating you like I beat Dino. Got it?”
“Yes, sir,” Chad shouted as he ran out the door and to his house.
In a little more than fifteen minutes, the boys had returned to the barber shop to entertain Poppa C and his clientele. More men had arrived since the time Chad had come for help and now the shop was filled with customers. Marcus and Chad took turns telling the story from the beginning.
“I was minding my own business, Granddad, and him and his cousins came down here talking sh—” Marcus caught himself before he completed the word. He could talk freely with his grandfather, but not in front of the customers. “I mean, talking crazy and playing the dozens. I wasn’t in the mood today, Pop.”
“No lie, Poppa C,” Chad chimed in. “They came down here being punks, talking bad about everybody. He started picking on Shelly and her sisters. He started it.”
“You say he was picking on Shelly?” Mr. Marvin spoke up. Marvin was actually Marvin Brenner, Shelly’s father.
“Yes, sir,” Marcus answered quickly. He wanted to get on with the story. “It was Ronnie, though, not his cousins, Mike and Darren. They weren’t saying anything.”
Chad joined back in. “Dino just told Ronnie to shut up. That’s when Ronnie started calling him a pretty boy and a half-breed.”
“That’s what he was calling Shelly and Angie and Melly. That wasn’t cool, Granddad. You said don’t let no nigga fuck with yo’ bitches.” That comment garnered plenty of hushed laughter from the customers, not including Marvin Brenner. “I told him to go on with that shit, but he kept talking.” Some of the men were now standing and walking toward the door. Marcus’ fervor and language was causing near mass hysteria. “So I told him to kiss my ass and leave.” Mr. Tom could hold his laughter no longer. He burst into a loud roar as he doubled over in the chair. The other men laughed, too, and slapped their knees. “He swung on me and I dropped him. The end,”