Did you know that many authors start out in a different profession? I’ve met so many who were professors, medical personnel, and, like today’s guest, lawyers. But let’s let Sara LaFontain tell us about her background and what inspired her to become an author.
Sara LaFontain writes Women’s Fiction love stories, featuring unreliable narrators, flawed characters, and people finally finding happiness.
Prior to becoming a writer, Sara held a variety of jobs including wildlife tour guide, purveyor of fine chocolates, cafeteria worker, English teacher, domestic violence victim advocate, and family law attorney. She holds a BA in International Studies from Bowling Green State University, and both an MA in Latin American Studies and a JD from the University of Arizona. All of this means that she is overeducated and has spent far too much money on textbooks.
Sara lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and two children. When she isn’t writing, she’s rock-climbing, knitting, gardening, and bragging about desert winters.
Betty: When did you become a writer?
Sara: I like to think I’ve always been a writer. When I was a child, I wrote terrible poetry and cliché stories involving elves and dragons. As an adult, I found myself limited to non-fiction, such as grad school papers and legal briefs. There was still a fiction writer inside of me though, one that started but never completed several books.
That changed in 2016, when I decided to take a break from my legal career and actually finish a novel. It took me nearly two years, but I published That Last Summer in August 2018, finally making the transition from writer-in-my-mind to writer-in-reality.
Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
Sara: Writing skills are a lifelong development. I’ve always written, just not necessarily anything worth showing to others outside of academia or the courtroom. Most of my creative writing endeavors remain out of sight out of mind.
Betty: What prompted you to start writing?
Sara: A few years ago, I was getting burnt out trying to balance my career with parenting two young children. I reached the point that I knew I needed to take a step back from something, so I wanted to close my law practice. But I was hesitant to stop working entirely, because I didn’t know how to fill my time while the kids were in pre-school and kindergarten. I just remember my husband looking at me like I was an idiot and saying “You’ve always wanted to be a writer.
Why don’t you just…write?” That was my lightbulb moment. I finally had the time and support to pursue my dream. I promised myself I’d give it until my youngest was in first grade, and then I’d re-think things. She’s in first grade now, and I’m working on my next series, and absolutely loving my new career. I’d say it was the right choice (write choice? Haha, check out my books for more of my amazing wit).
Betty: What type of writing did you start with?
Sara: I actually started a non-fiction book, back when I was practicing law. I worked as a legal coach, guiding family law clients in self-representation. I wanted to write a book about how to find a lawyer to represent you. But honestly, it was boring, and I lost interest. And if even the writer doesn’t want to read it, that doesn’t bode well for readers.
Then I decided to write the kind of book I like. I want to read fun stories where people overcome bad situations and find happiness. I want smart protagonists, a little bit of drama, and ultimately, a happy ending. So that’s what I do now.
Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
Sara: My favorite parts of writing are dialogue. I like writing witty conversations, the kind of things that people wish they could say in real life, but don’t come up with until too late. I’m also a big fan of writing group scenes, interactions between multiple people, with different personalities playing off of each other.
Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
Sara: I learned through reading. I’ve always been a bookworm. Reading good books taught me what to do, and reading terrible books taught me what not to do.
Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?
Sara: I wish I had known more about the amazing writing communities out there. I started my first novel during NaNoWriMo, and read through the forums, but never participated or interacted with other authors. It wasn’t until after I published my first book that I discovered the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, a group that I have learned so much from and am so thankful for. Anyone reading this and thinking about embarking on a writing career, please go out and find your people. There is so much support available, if you look for it.
Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?
Sara: My books are standalone novels in a series. This particular book takes a character, Matteo, who appears as a background character in the first book. He’s a good guy, a bit lonely, and he battles an anxiety disorder that effects his ability to connect with others. I like him, he’s complex and interesting, and I didn’t want him to stay lonely forever. So I wrote No Longer Yours, and found him someone special, someone equally wounded, and let them bring out the best in each other.
Cherry Waites led an idyllic life, until she found out about her husband’s year-long affair. Broken-hearted, she flees to remote Whispering Pines Island, where her only friend is a Corgi. Well, there’s the Corgi’s owner too, but he’s awfully cute. No, not cute! Rude. He’s awfully rude. And annoying. And somehow, always there when she needs him.
Cherry Waites has just arrived on Whispering Pines Island, where she’s starting her life over again. Unfortunately, the first person she meets is Matteo, and they do not get off on the right foot.
She took a step backward for a better view, but something yelped under her foot, and she almost lost her balance.
“Christ, lady, watch where you’re going!”
“I’m so sorry!” She had nearly stepped on a small corgi. Its owner knelt down, to smooth its fur and glare at her. He looked out of place here, with his shaggy sun-kissed blond hair and his Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts. Vacationer from California maybe?
“Be more careful,” he snapped. “Lucky for you Tristan moved out of your way.”
“It’s okay, he’s probably just having a bad day. It has nothing to do with you,” she told herself, then realized she had spoken out loud.
“Sorry, I’m not mentally ill. I promise. I’ve just driven two days to get here and had nobody to talk to so I guess I’ve developed the habit of talking to myself. Don’t worry, I’m not some crazy person wandering the streets.” She laughed to show that she was joking, and expected him to smile back. After all, small towns were friendly, and she hadn’t actually hurt his dog. She reached out to pet the corgi, but the man scooped him up in his arms before she could.
“Well I’m glad to know you aren’t mentally ill. Wouldn’t want anyone like that walking around, would we?” He stormed off, and she watched him go, chagrined. She hoped her first encounter wasn’t a portent of what was to come.
Thanks for sharing your insights into your writing process, Sara, and the sneak peek at your story. Your main characters will have their work cut out for them to find a path forward to being a couple, which should make for interesting reading, too.
Happy reading, everyone!
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