Photo © Zoe Zimmerman.
Estelle Laure is the author of young adult novels This Raging Light, which has been widely translated throughout the world, and the newly released (HMH April 2017) But Then I Came Back. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, is an agency associate at Folio Literary Management, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives in order to be better people. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her family where it is easy to believe in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths, which she does.
What are you reading? What's on your nightstand?
I just finished Kids of Appetite by David Arnold and am just beginning The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. On the nightstand is The Obstacle is the Way, for when I’m feeling defeated.
Where do you go to get inspired?
My first instinct when I’m feeling blocked is to go to books, read The New Yorker, read articles about the stars. It’s like feeding the monster that needs to know everything. But sometimes, I go outside and sit very quietly, or take my dog for a walk, have dinner with my daughter and really listen to her, or read one of my son’s comic books with him. When I’m in that mood, almost anything can feel magical and important.
What is something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?
I decided I wanted to move closer to my kids’ school and a couple of days later the perfect house came available. I loved that, because it makes me feel more like there are forces at work and I’m not completely alone in the world. It was the equivalent of a big hug from the universe and it was a huge, unexpected surprise.
Where do you write?
I write in lounge chairs and sometimes in bed (Truman Capote did that, so it makes me feel fancy), because of back and carpal tunnel issues. Writing at a desk is impossible for me. I have to get creative, but it’s usually so comfortable I’m practically a cat.
What/who makes you laugh? Why?
My favorite thing is something really meaningful that also has a funny component to it. Like Louis CK kills me, but he’s talking about real things that affect all of us. I also just saw a movie called Captain Fantastic. It was so sad I was crying half the time, but the other half I was laughing hysterically. I also love it when my kids make me laugh, when they surprise me with their wit. I just heard my daughter tell a friend who had just woken up that she looked like a family road trip. I died.
Who is your favorite fictional character ever?
I have to go with Dally from The Outsiders. He’s naughty and loyal and a total loose cannon. I cannot. He’s the best.
What do you want readers to know about you and your books?
That they mean something. I don’t really go for books that have a lesson spelled out for the reader. I want my readers to work it out. But I do write with larger themes in mind. In This Raging Light it’s about resilience and bootstrapping, and about finding yourself in a moral quandary and climbing out of it. In But Then I Came Back, I’m talking life and death and why it’s worth it to live even though it’s hard. These are big things that I’m extremely passionate about because of what I’ve gone through in my life. I’m connected to every sentence and I hope they will be too.
What are you working on?
It’s a YA novel called The Unusuals about a family of girls all with extra gifts whose last three generations have died by the time they’re twenty. I’ve been having the best time playing with magic and writing really powerful girl characters. It’s a departure for me, but I think writers should write as widely as they read.
“Laure revisits characters and the landscape of This Raging Light (2015) with the romantic and thoughtful story of Eden Jones, a 17-year-old dancer. Eden is the twin of Digby, whose fierce love for Lucille (Eden's best friend) drove that debut novel...Fans of the first title will be happy to see Lucille through Eden's eyes, but this companion novel stands solidly alone.”
— Booklist Review
“Nursing a seriously bruised ego, out of sync with friends and family, Eden slipped, hit her head, and plunged into the icy river; in the coma that follows, she's approached by a strange girl whose urgent message she's unable to hear. Her deliberate, almost meditative present-tense narration chronicling her metamorphosis is punctuated by excerpts from a book she reads about near-death experiences, anchoring readers to her existential journey. Rendered with insight and compassion, Eden's struggles to make peace with the human condition add up to a riveting coming-of-age story.”
"“When a teen is left on her own to care for herself and her sister, the most inconvenient thing possible happens: she falls in love...A heartbreakingly hopeful, lyrically told exploration of the abandoned children-selfish parents trope."
“Most importantly, readers will empathize with and invest in Lu emotionally and cheer when romance finds her in her darkest hour. A late-in-the-story tragedy tips toward melodrama, but Laure's debut stands out for her keen understanding of the spectrum of human emotions, and her ability to put tough feelings into beautiful prose."
“VERDICT: A good choice for savvy readers and book discussion groups; this title will invite comparisons to Cynthia Voigt's contemporary classic Homecoming.”
—School Library Journal