Author Spotlight: Laura Creedle talks The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily
So excited to have author, Laura Creedle on the blog today! Laura was a 2015 Pitch Wars mentee with The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily which hits shelves on December 26th! In preparation for her debut, I invited her to do a little Q&A so that we can learn more about Laura, her book, and her writing style.
But first, check out this awesome quote from Kirkus about The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily!
Hi, Laura! Welcome and congrats on the release of The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily. Can you tell us a little about the story and the inspiration behind it?
Hi Megan. I was in a graduate level reading program and I wasn’t doing very well in school. I’m dyslexic and ADHD, and the program had a rubric I couldn’t read. It was printed on dark green paper, it had all these squares with abbreviations and three different type faces. They kept trying to explain it to me—as though I’d remember 40 different abbreviations and their placements on the page. I just couldn’t read it. It reminded me so much of all the frustrations and random rules of high school.
The first scene I wrote was Lily failing the craft project diorama because she couldn’t read the rubric. Ripped from real life.
You signed with literary agent, Jim McCarthy through Pitch Wars 2015. How do you feel like Pitch Wars prepared you for the rigors of publishing?
I can’t say enough good things about Brenda Drake and Pitchwars, and most of all my Pitchwars editor, Marty Mayberry. Marty went through my novel with the very specific goal of upping the romance. She was wonderful to work with. The publishing process is very collaborative and you have to be ready to trust your vision to other people. Pitchwars prepared me for that. Must say that I’ve been very lucky in that respect. Jim is an amazing editor and he really understood what I was going for. Margaret Raymo, my editor, put painstaking work into making my novel the best it could be, both editorially and design-wise. I couldn’t have asked for better.
I can’t imagine a better compliment than Kirkus calling The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily: "Entertaining, thought-provoking, and unsettling—in a good way." What do you most hope your readers will glean from Lily and Abelard’s story?
I was very happy with that review. A lot of neurodivergent, and in particular ADHD people rely on medication to be functional, but it often comes at a cost. I’m certainly not against medication or other treatments, but the interplay between personality and neurology is not all that well understood. When you rely on psychoactive drugs, you have to constantly think about the line between your own personality quirks and pathology. It’s never easy. I wanted people to think about how much of Lily’s personality IS her ADHD, so I pushed the science forward a couple of years and gave her a more permanent option to change her brain. I wanted it to be unsettling.
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
The hardest part of writing is getting to work in the morning! I am a world-class procrastinator, and tangential thinker. I can spend hours going down the internet rabbit hole, so I turn the internet off before I start writing. I resist doing that, because so many ideas come from random searches about the floor plans of Irish castles, or advances in Neuroscience. But I do have to get stuff done. Lately, I’ve been meditating before I write.
The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily has a very character-driven plot. Did Lily’s voice come naturally to you, or was it something that evolved over many drafts?
It evolved over a couple of drafts. That said, it was very easy to slip into Lily’s voice because it is very close to my own. As a writer I work very hard to keep myself on task, so it was a joy to let go of executive function. I wrote a lot of run on sentences, tangential thoughts, and em-dash asides. The hardest part was getting out of Lily’s voice. I’m working on another novel, but her voice creeps back in.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
Making my readers cry. My skeptical, hard-eyed bf cried when he read a particular chapter. I’ve been practicing reading for my book release, and my husband cries every time he hears it. I expected that ADHD people would relate. I didn’t expect people to cry. I didn’t set out to write a romance, but I’m enjoying the response.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently infatuated with?
I’ve just started A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. So far I love it.
The neurodivergent representation in The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily has been praised as highly authentic. While this is big for neurodiverse readers, I think it’s huge for neurodiverse authors as well. Do you have any words of wisdom that you’d like to share with those writers in particular?
A lot of Lily’s experiences are fictionalized stories from my own life. The first draft of a true story tends to be pretty raw, personal and painful. Not easy to write and certainly not easy to read. But I do think this is a necessary step. I want to write as honestly as possible, because readers know when something is real and when it isn’t.
But then I step back from what I’ve written. I think it’s important to find a filter, a way to make the experience universally recognizable to people who don’t live inside your head.
For me, that filter is humor. I don’t think you have to fail a school project because of an impossible to read rubric to laugh at Lily’s assessment of random craft-project diorama specifications. Anyone who has ever wandered off to school with a construction paper and lego diorama of Washington crossing the Delaware inside a shoe box has wondered; “why this random craft project."
Many thanks go out to Laura for taking the time to delve deeper into the inspiration behind The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily, as well as her words on neurodivergent representation. Be sure to add Laura's debut to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) pre-order your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie.
And, as always,