Rebecca Laclair describes the way music speaks to us, changes us, and validates us in a way that any music lover immediately recognizes. A magazine editor, and Huffington Post contributor, Rebecca has short stories published in Gravel, Skyline, Wordhaus, and Mixtape Methodology. Her short horror story was recently selected Best of Wordhaus (2015). Rebecca blogs about writing, and mentors teen writers.
Matthew Toffolo: What is the general theme and tone of your novel?
Rebecca Laclair: Radio Head is a fast-paced sex, drugs and rock’n’roll novel about a 19-year-old girl with a magical ability to hear music in others, just by touching them. One reviewer said, “This tale careens through territory that includes dark loss and abandonment, beautiful heights of creativity, and the ephemeral world of fame.”
MT: Why should people buy your novel?
RL: Radio Head is entertaining, and thought-provoking. The book is an exploration of the authentic self, and a celebration of the songs that mark our journey’s milestones.
MT: How would you describe your novels in just two words?
RL: Musical, juicy.
MT: What movie have you seen the most in your life?
RL: I think the movie I’ve seen the most times is The Sound of Music. Considering Radio Head’s protagonist Shelby’s special gift, I find this fact both amusing and ironic.
MT: Was being a novel writer something you’ve always dreamed of doing?
RL: Yes, it is my dream career, and has always been. When I was little, I thought it would be dreamy and fantastic to live somewhere in the woods, sending my manuscripts to an agent in a big city. I now live on a forested island in the Pacific Northwest, and interact with agents and editors online daily. I also edit an outdoor adventure magazine, and mentor teen writers. I love writing, and always encourage others to explore the written word.
MT: Do you have an all-time favorite novel? Have you read a novel more than once?
RL: It’s difficult to choose one book over all others. Reading a novel more than once is a huge treat, and I recommend doing it—so many elements of a story are revealed only on the second reading. I had a writing professor at UCLA who read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby every New Year. I suppose my favorite writers are those who lure me back, book after book. These include Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, Ruth Ozeki, and Colleen Hoover.
MT: What motivates you to write?
RL: Writing makes me happy. When I don’t write, I toss around story ideas in my mind, write scraps of dialogue on the backs of receipts, and toss and turn in bed picturing imaginary characters working out conflicts. The scenes in my head must find the page.
When I am writing – even if the work is going badly, or the scene is ultimately chopped – I feel a sense of joy and forward momentum. Writing is fun. I get especially excited and satisfied if I can produce something meaningful in a small window of time. When I practice uninterrupted focus over short periods, it generally results in completing work that would have taken much longer. Focus is everything; but for me, it comes in short spurts.
MT: What artist would you love to have dinner with?
RL: It’s so difficult to choose only one! It would be wonderful to enjoy a nice meal with Georgia O’Keeffe, or Frida Kahlo, or Mary Cassatt, or Emily Carr. While these visual artists hail from various points on the globe and in time, they have each left their gorgeous, unforgettable marks on history. How about we summon all these great artists for a party?
MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
RL: Like most writers, I love to read. I have an enormous garden, where I like to plant flowers, fruits and vegetables, and nurture growth. Living on an island, my passions surround me. I’m very family-oriented. Together, we’re avid travelers, and we enjoy hiking and kayaking, trying new foods, and indulging in all things chocolate. We spoil our pets, and like to play board games, watch movies, and host friends and relatives in our home.
MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
RL: Writers, you’ll hear this again and again: Write every day.
Practice, read about structure, scene, dialogue, and character development.
Never submit anything without having it professionally edited beforehand.
Write about what you think is incomplete in this world, and make it right and complete in your story.
Feel the fear and write it anyway.
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.