Greeting’s, and thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m Layla Dorine, a midwestern author originally from the East Coast. I love traveling and am officially down to one state remaining that I haven’t seen yet, Alaska, after the road trip to GRL this past October. In fact, traveling has been an amazing way to generate ideas, meet new people and just get inspired through new experiences, exploration and simply having fun and relaxing. There are still days when I wake up and look around my office and think to myself, hell yeah, because the only thing I ever wanted to do in life was become a writer.
I’m 43, and my mother still has some of the poetry that I wrote when I was nine, ten, eleven years old. Words were fun, words, not spelling, I never could spell well, thank you dyslexia, but I love to read and I love the way words come together and over the years I have penned everything from song lyrics to one act plays.
My favorite part of the process, though, is the moments of inspiration and pulling the scenes together that will eventually formulate the storyline. Over the years, it’s led me to dirt bike trails, long horseback rides, and romps through the woods that run from sunup to sundown. Of course, being that this is Iowa, we have at least four months out of the year that none of those things are possible, but that just means I retreat to bookstores, coffee shops, libraries and museums, to people watch and think.
Halfway to Someday is my 14th full length novel, and one of the angstiest of them all, which is saying something, considering the tearjerkers Guitars and Cages and Gypsy’s Rogue turned out to be. I hope readers will agree. It was a joy and a pleasure to tell Jesse and Ryker’s story.
Halfway to Someday Author Interview #2
What was your favorite childhood book?
Oh man, just one? I can’t even. I’ve got so many from when I was a little kid that I have hung onto and still have in my library to this day. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is timeless in my opinion. It never gets old and I reread it a few times during the holiday season. Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree, which turned out to be my youngest son’s favorite too. I love the disgruntled look on the tree at the end, when it’s branches have been stripped bare and a bloated cookie monster lay sunning himself beneath it. I still love all of the Winnie the Pooh stories too, and read, re-read, and read until it fell apart S.E. Hinton’s the outsides. Those four books sum up the things I loved in my childhood, and I am glad I got to share them with my children when they were little.
Explain the title of your book.
Well, the original title was going to be Rockin’ Ryker’s World, but as Jesse revealed himself to be anything but a fun, flirty, party going rock star, I came to realize that the title simply wouldn’t fit. Still, I had no clue what would, until a conversation between two characters ended with the line: I’m Halfway to Someday. It struck me in that moment that it was the perfect title for the book, and I couldn’t help but play with it a few more times over the course of the story too. I like the rhythm and flow of it when it’s spoken and could just imagine it as a rock ballad. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll pen the lyrics for it.
What was your hardest scene to write? Oh man, ever? Or in this book? If you mean the hardest scene to write over the course of all fourteen books and numerous short stories, then it has to be the moment when Alexia in Guitars and Cages, is banging on her brother’s apartment door after he’d slammed it in her face. I cried right along with Alexia as I was writing it and I still cry whenever I read it. If you mean in Halfway to Someday, well, let’s just say that there is a moment when Jesse is in his truck, reflecting on the past, that was particularly difficult.
Which character was your favorite to write? As much as I hate picking favorites and in no way want to upset Ryker, considering I have plans to have them pop up here and there in other stories, I have to say that Jesse was my favorite character in Halfway to Someday. I think that was because he reminded me of an old friend and the songs we’d write and play together. I could picture several moments in the cabin clearly and vividly, and in my mind’s eye, the visual equivalent of Jesse is my old friend, Tommy.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Aside from the fact that I still hand write my rough drafts, I prefer to write from places that aren’t my home. The desk is great for typing and editing and working out plans for projects, but for actually writing, I prefer to be in public places, even if it’s just a sidewalk bench that happened to be close by when inspiration hit. I love heading out to the woods to work on a story too. Listening to nature and the bubbling of a creek helps me put aside things that might be stressing me out in order to zone in on my characters and tap into the story they want me to tell.
Which of your books was the most enjoyable to write? So hard to choose just one. Each had some amazing components and experiences associated with them. Working on Burning Luck and Midnight Musicals inspired me to make several trips out to Seattle, some on a bus, others on a plane, which offered plenty of opportunity to observe people and create some interesting characters along the way. I loved writing Tripping Over the Edge of Night. It was how I spent the very frozen winter here in Iowa last year. Simply getting to remain in my easy chair wrapped in blankets was awesome, especially when there were copious amounts of Buttershots and Hot Cocoa involved.
Warnings: Flashbacks of domestic abuse, and combat situations, suicide ideations
Heat level: Nonexplicit (though there is frottage at the end)
Rocker Jesse Winters just wants to be left alone. If he could melt into oblivion he would and bid farewell to the wild child of rock n’ roll so many have dubbed him in recent months. Truth is, there was never anything reckless, wild or even deliberate about most of the things that had happened on Wild Child’s last tour, but had anyone cared to listen? No! Which was precisely why he was sitting in a cabin high up in the Colorado mountains, hoping the incoming blizzard would bury him forever.
Ryker Jorgensen left the VA hospital with a bunch of prescriptions and pamphlets on how to deal with reentering the civilian world, not that he’s in any hurry to do so. His nightmares still keep him up at night, and every new limitation he discovers gives him more reason to believe that he’s hopelessly useless now. Better to drive up to his cousin’s cabin and lick his wounds. Come spring, maybe, he’d look into being around people, if only for long enough to make the kind of money he’d need to buy his own secluded place.
The last thing he ever expected to see was the man whose face had been plastered in his footlocker and his dreams for the better part of the past six years, but Jesse Winters is nothing like he imagined. When trying to leave Ryker out in the storm doesn’t work, Jesse resorts to ignoring him. But two wounded souls trapped in a snowed in cabin have little choice but to reach out for one another when emotions get frayed. His only hope is that Jesse will trust him enough to let him drag him back from the edge before he’s just another burned out star in the legacy that is rock n’ roll.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083YW8DLW
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Halfway-Someday-Wild-Child-Book-ebook/dp/B083YW8DLW
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Halfway-Someday-Wild-Child-Book-ebook/dp/B083YW8DLW
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Halfway-Someday-Wild-Child-Book-ebook/dp/B083YW8DLW
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places. Currently she has seen forty-nine of the fifty states, with plans to visit her final one, Alaska, in the upcoming year. Every journey is an inspiration and every shred of inspiration gets sprinkled into her tales.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes it’s aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book, a kitty on her lap, and her dog, Jinxx, by her side.
Email (public address): email@example.com
Other novels by author:
Guitars and Cages
Guitars and Choices
…And All Shall Fade to Black
Broken Prince, Mismatched Eyes
Midnight Musicals and Coffee Ice Cream
Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!
Helping me this morning is one of my favourite Steampunk writers Kara Jorgensen, author of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series!
Good morning Kara, thank you so much for coming to help me it is so nice to welcome you back to my soup kitchen again, I hope your journey here from your won dimension was a good one?
…. It’s always a little rough this time of year, but luckily, I made it in one piece. Thank you so much for having me.
Oh you’re most welcome , Dear, it is lovely to have you back! And have you brought something delicious with you today to share with the orphans?
I have brought some Tamatar Palak Ka Shorba, or Indian spinach and tomato soup. Here’s the link to the recipe:
Thankyou! Now while that is simmering away nicely, why don’t we have a little peer into its depths and see what images it can conjure up for us from the aether?
Ah yes, the Steampunk genre is certainly full of characters who sport mechanical prosthesis of one form or another isn’t it? I wonder why that is?
I’ve wondered that myself. A lot of it I think is merely due to aesthetics. You can add all sorts of gizmos and gadgets to a prosthetic, like knives, guns, rocket launchers (if you’re a little more modern in your punking). Plus, then your character has some steampunk flavor beyond just their clothing. Now they are actively part of the genre, so to speak. If it’s an actual limb, your character will also regain most of their function or even more, depending on how functional the prosthesis is.
Prosthesis feature prominently in your own writing, not simply as an aesthetic to support the genre but as key elements which shape the narrative, was this a conscious decision?
Yes, it was definitely a conscious decision. While I enjoy the aesthetics of steampunk, I had read a story where the prosthetic served no other purpose than to look cool. I didn’t want that with Eilian and his arm. Disabilities aren’t a costume, and I didn’t think a character with a disability should merely be used to strengthen the genre’s aesthetic. I wanted to show Eilian’s struggles with coming to terms with his disability and eventually progressing enough that he could function without an arm or prosthetic. I felt that journey was necessary before I introduced the prosthetic arm into the story. Instead of having the prosthetic “solve” his problems, I wanted him to solve them himself.
Of course to Eilian and Hadley, prosthetics have a huge impact on their lives in many ways…
Oh yes, well, poor Eilian is minus one arm, so his prosthetic arm plays a large role in his story. Going from an active world-traveller to an invalid, even temporarily, is a huge blow to him, but he eventually adapts to his burn scars and missing arm. His first prosthesis is horribly cumbersome and not worth wearing. After he meets Hadley, well, I won’t give too much away, but she devices something much more functional. Prostheses are Hadley’s business, so they are her livelihood. As a woman in the Victorian Era, she is expected to keep house and have children, but because she is the last surviving member of her family who can create prostheses, she totally goes against the norms of the time by actively working on mechanical devices.
But for Immanuel, his eye injury is not remedied by technology or medical science. Did you ever think that he might choose to try and repair or replace his injured eye, or was that never an issue for his character?
It may sound silly, but I don’t think Immanuel likes to admit that his eye bothers him. In several scenes, his partner has suggested he get glasses, but I don’t think there would be any other technology that could “fix” his eye. In my writing, I only use materials that were at least semi readily available during the Victorian Era, so I can’t make anything too complex. A moveable arm is one thing, but an eye is a much higher level of complexity. I couldn’t think of a way to make a device to help him see that wasn’t completely anachronistic.
You do a marvellous job of showing the complexities that Eilian has to face, both physical, logistical and social when he loses his arm, do you think it’s important to explore these issues in Steampunk and not just have characters ‘slap on a clockwork prosthetic limb and jump back into the fray’ ?
Very. It’s one thing if the story takes place a long time after the character lost their limb or they have always used a prosthesis (as in someone who has a birth defect). Then, it would make sense for them to slap on a prosthesis and go, but to lose a limb is a life-changing event. To brush it off as if it were nothing is unrealistic and kind of insulting to those who have gone through similar traumatic experiences. One thing I try to teach in my creative writing classes is that characters are people, too, so you have to give them human psyches. Exploring these psychological and sociological complexities are what make works of fiction rich, and in my writing, I try very hard to give my characters realistic experiences that readers can connect to.
Immanuel certainly has some physical injuries remaining from his ordeal with Lord Rose (goodness that monster’s name sends a shiver down my spine!) but what affects his life the most is PTSD, isn’t it?
Definitely, his PTSD is far worse than any physical wound. In time, those heal and disappear, or scars at least lessen, but PTSD never truly goes away. As I mentioned before, my characters are written to be human and have human limitations, as far as trauma goes. After being kidnapped and tortured for nearly three months, he has deep psychological wounds. I try not to overdo it in his stories to the point that his PTSD is comical or makes him seem completely dysfunctional, but it affects his everyday life. There are times when something triggers flashbacks to Lord Rose (such as cigarette smoke) or he has a panic attack that tears his mind away from reality. As the series goes on, his PTSD lessens to a point and the psychological issues associated with it change with the healing process.
Prosthetics are very popular in Steampunk cosplay but do you think there is ever a line of tension between creating worlds where varying abilities and needs form major narrative / aesthetic devices, and making those worlds accessible to real people with varying needs and abilities?
I’m not someone with a physical disability, so I can’t say for certain but I could definitely see how that tension could arise. When a disability is used as a prop, it may look cool to the average reader, but to someone with a similar disability in real life, it could be disheartening to see themselves used to further an aesthetic while in real life they struggle for accommodations that would help them live a more normal life. Having a disabled character float through life, especially Victorian life, without issue is hard to believe unless a very high percentage of people in that world are also disabled. No one’s hardship should be used as a prop, whether it’s a disability, their sexuality, or their race, just because it makes the character more exotic or interesting. These things affect people’s lives, and to treat it as nothing more than added flavour, is disrespectful to those living with it.
Do you think more can be done to make sure that Steampunk fiction and conventions are made accessible and welcoming for all fans of the genre?
With conventions, it is fairly easy: make sure the events are all on one floor or have elevators and accommodations for those who need them. The Steampunk World’s Fair does a good job of being inclusive for those with disabilities, differing sexualities, nationalities, etc. Panels on writing/creating characters different from yourself would help a lot to create awareness among writers that their stories could hurt people with disabilities if they don’t do proper research. Going off that, writers of steampunk fiction can take these things seriously when they write and be aware of what having a foreign or disabled character really means and what bad representation does to those that character represents.
Thankyou Kara for those wise and insightful words, I absoloutely agree with you. It really has been so wonderful to chat to you today, thank you so much for coming to give me a hand in the kitchen again! Now then, the kettle is singing so why don’t we pour a nice brew and you can tell me about what is new in the world of Ingenious Mechanical Devices; I know you have Selkie Cove which has just been released ?
Oh yes, Selkie Cove, book five of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices, came out in late July. It’s my latest book child, and I’m super stoked to have it out in the world. In Selkie Cove, Adam and Immanuel get involved with a magical government agency called Her Majesty’s Interceptors, and for them to join, they must first solve a case involving a murdered creature called a selkie. The selkies are seemingly half-human and half-seal and dwell in the northern waters between England and Scandinavia. Along the way, they find more dead bodies, new powers, and that Adam has been holding back more than he’s let on.
And do you have any new titles planned for next year?
Several, hopefully. I’m currently writing a story about Emmeline Jardine that takes place around the same time as Selkie Cove. She finds new love, some interesting lore about her family, and a new direction for her life. In 2018, I’m hoping to write another Eilian and Hadley story as well as an Immanuel and Adam story. With those, I only have a vague idea of what those might be about, but the Emmeline story should be out by Spring 2018 at the latest.
Well that certainly is alot to look forward to! Oh! I must say that soup smells delicious. I think it must be about ready so shall we start dishing it up?
Mmmm, I can’t wait. Thank you so much for having me. Bon appetit!
Thankyou all of you for joining us in the kitchen today, if you would like to find out more about Kara’s writing you can find her on the aether-web here…
Blessings on your brew my dears!