The Bravest Thing by Laura Lascarso
Cover art by Angsty G
Available for Purchase at
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Laura Lascarso here today sharing thoughts about herself, writing and her latest novel, The Bravest Thing. Welcome, Laura.
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Laura Lascarso
Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?
Well, in THE BRAVEST THING, one of my characters struggles with addiction. This has been a thread in my husband’s and my own family for many years, and it’s a topic I keep coming back to in my writing. It doesn’t always dominate the plot, but aspects of drug and alcohol abuse make appearances in my stories again and again. I’m still working through it, I suppose, and because I have some personal experience with it, I feel like I can speak from a place of compassion and understanding.
Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?
I think so. I read a lot of fast-paced thrillers and horror growing up, so even though I’m writing romances now, I like for them to be tightly plotted with a bit of psychological distress thrown in. For me as a reader, it’s all about the inner tension that makes the story come to life and keeps me turning pages, so I try to do the same as an author.
Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it? You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?
I actually just had this experience with a work-in-progress. My main character has a deadbeat dad (as did I), and I found myself drawing from my own experiences and dredging up feelings of abandonment I thought I’d put to rest. It was interesting for me, because while my rational side knew I was writing a character with an absent father, I didn’t connect it to my own life until I started to dig into the character’s backstory. That’s also one of the things I like about writing—being able to work through some of my own “issues” and process situations I might otherwise gloss over or tamp down. The world moves a little too quickly for me sometimes, and writing allows me some space to reflect and heal.
Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?
I like both as a reader, though I’ve only ever written happy-for-now endings in my own work. I think that’s because my characters tend to be younger and in stages of flux and self-discovery. I like to think that even if my characters don’t end up together forever, they are forever changed by their experiences with their special someone, which is kind of like real life. We are forever altered by the people closest to us, for better or worse.
Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?
My mother was pretty permissive as far as books and movies go, so I was reading Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins from a pretty young age. I also read just about every Sweet Valley High that was published in the late 80’s. SVH gave me both the love and devotion of Elizabeth’s steady boyfriend and the excitement of Jessica’s scandals and conquests, usually involving a cute boy. Genius, really. As for now, I’m reading a lot of great M/M romances, partly for pleasure and also to study the craft or romance and its conventions. I didn’t come from the world of fan fiction, as I’m discovering a lot of M/M authors did, so I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.
Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Now and growing up?
I’m sure I’ve been influenced by the writers I read growing up, in particular Dean R. Koontz and Stephen King, but I remember Kurt Vonnegut’s CAT’S CRADLE being a real game changer for me. The voice of that book spoke to me on a deeply personal level—both in terms of my philosophy on life and my nihilistic outlook at the time—and I went on to read most of Vonnegut’s work. It’s a special treat to have that mind meld between author and reader and I think that’s been my quest ever since, to give my readers a similar experience.
As a side note, I read all my reviews. I’m kind of addicted to feedback. The act of writing is pretty isolating, so it’s affirming to have people read your work and take the time to offer comments. I don’t even mind if people don’t like my books, because the act of reading is interpretation on a deeply personal level, and it’s their right to dislike it.
How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?
As a reader, I love ebooks—they’re convenient, inexpensive and environmentally friendly. The rise of ebooks has allowed for a much wider variety of book and reader. Any writer can find their base, and any reader can find their passion. I think ebooks will only grow over time and I look forward to being part of that revolution.
I also like the old fashioned paperback—the mustier the better. Those got me through some lonely times growing up, so I hope that format won’t be leaving us anytime soon.
How do you choose your covers? (curious on my part)
I’ve worked with AngstyG on both my Dreamspinner covers (THE BRAVEST THING and ANDRE IN FLIGHT). The background on that is I somewhat scientifically went through DSP’s catalog and picked out the covers that matched my aesthetic most closely. AngstyG’s name kept popping up, so I requested her specifically.
With regard to the process, once my books enter into production phase, I send her pictures of what I think the characters look like along with some other covers I’d like for her to emulate and she turns my gobbledygook into genius. She provides 3-5 concepts and we tweak them from there. I have such faith in her artistry that next time I think I’ll have her design the cover first, and then I’ll write the story to go along with it. ☺
Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why?
I tend to shy away from picking favorites among my darlings, but THE BRAVEST THING is very special to me. Both the characters are very endearing in their own way and the issues they’re dealing with are relevant to our times and political climate. It’s my first attempt at dual narration, and I really liked how it allowed me to get deeper into both their characters and their counter-perspectives. I think for this story it worked very well.
What’s next for you as an author?
Right now I’m finishing up a best-friends-to-lovers romance about two teenaged boys in South Florida—something on the lighter side. I also have a thriller I’ve put on the backburner that I may take another stab at. The avant garde in me wants to attempt a literary version of DINNER WITH ANDRE, but I may back out if it turns into a snoozer. One of my friends once told me that the only thing my ex-boyfriends had in common was that they were all very different, and I think my writing is a little bit like that. I’m continuously growing as an artist and trying new things, and I think my stories reflect that. That sometimes annoys the readers who want something the same, only a little different. My promise to readers is that while my next story might not be what they expected, my goal is that they’ll enjoy it nonetheless.
About The Bravest Thing
High school junior Berlin Webber is about to reap the fruits of his hard work and land a football scholarship—if he can keep his sexuality a secret from his best friend, Trent, and their homophobic coach. Then Hiroku Hayashi swerves into the high school parking lot on his tricked-out motorcycle like some sexy comic book villain, and Berlin knows he doesn’t stand a chance.
Hiroku is fleeing his sophisticated urban scene to recover from drug addiction and an abusive relationship when he arrives in Berlin’s small Texas ranch town. Initially sarcastic and aloof, Hiroku finds in Berlin a steady, supportive friend who soon becomes more. As Hiroku and Berlin’s romance blossoms, they take greater risks to be together. But when a horrific act of violence tears them apart, they both must look bigotry in the face. While Berlin has always turned to his faith for strength, Hiroku dives into increasingly dangerous ways of coping, pushing them in opposite directions just when they need each other most.
Two very different young men search for the bravery to be true to themselves, the courage to heal, and the strength to go on when things seem darkest. But is it enough to bring them back together?
About the Author
Laura Lascarso strives to inspire more questions than answers in her fiction and believes in the power of stories to heal and transform a society. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. Her debut novel, Counting Backwards (Simon & Schuster 2012) won the Florida Book Award gold medal for young adult literature.
For social critiques, writer puns, and Parks and Rec gifs, follow her on Twitter @lauralascarso