Interview with Laraine Herring

I want to welcome the fabulous Laraine Herring to the First Line blog! Laraine is the author of the novel, Ghost Swamp Blues, as well as Monsoons, a fiction collection blending prose and poetry, the non-fiction work, Lost Fathers and the two great books for writers that I reviewed here yesterday, Writing Begins with the Breath and The Writing Warrior.

1. What is your favourite word?

Cat. Followed closely by chocolate and monkey.

2. What was the best advice you received as a writer?

Believe it or not, it was that I should stop writing. This was from a teacher I had in grad school and it made me so angry that I think I have written more than I might ever have. :-) To answer more what I think your question was aiming for, the best advice I ever got was to shut up and write. Not to over-think, over-plan, over-outline, but to listen to the writing itself and to get out of its way.

3. What book do you think every writer should read?

Tao te ching.

4. If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be?

I honestly cannot imagine what else I would do. Since I already teach as well, those are the two things I’m half-way good at on this planet. Although, if I had the talent, being a blues singer like Janis Joplin would be a pretty cool thing.

5. Describe your work habits. When do you write? Where?

I write mostly over winter and summer breaks since I have a full time teaching job that takes up a lot of my time during the academic year. There are ebbs and flows to a semester though, and I try to take advantage of the times when there’s less grading to do. I write at home and at the library. I’ve got a separate room at home and then one of the schools in my area has a beautiful library where you can get a whole view of the town and the mountains, and there’s a stream below the window. The building is made of real wood and smells like a forest. It reminds me of North Carolina, I think. :-)

6. You write both fiction and non-fiction. How does the process differ for the two?

To me, they are not any different from one another. I approach both of them from a pretty even place of not knowing what the heck I’m going to write about and then I see what happens. Nonfiction often goes a bit quicker for me, once I figure out what I’m trying to say, because it’s easier to figure out the purpose, audience, etc. Fiction is just one big mysterious dream for me.

7. What inspires you?

Animals. Other writers. Science. Remembering that I am going to die (that’s not as morbid to me as it might come across). I have a note taped to my computer: Memento Mori — which means basically remember you will die. That helps keep things in perspective and helps keep me moving forward.

8. If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Truman Capote. You have to ask why? :-) I would probably be afraid of him, and he would probably say something snarky about me, but he was a force of nature, not to mention wickedly talented, and I would have loved to be in the same room as him.

9. Do you have any other creative talents? Do you paint? Play a musical instrument?

That’s hotly debated. :-) I enjoy dancing and calligraphy and watercolor, but certainly it’s only in the “wow, I love doing this” place. I took piano lessons for many years as a child, but I don’t have a piano now and although I can still read music, I can’t really make good music. I also really love fashion (not the $4000 per sock kind, but putting together fun and funky outfits.) I think I express a lot of myself through clothing.

10. What are you working on now?

Quite a few things actually — two young adult novels, one adult novel, and another book in the same vein as Breath and Writing Warrior on sustainable creativity.

To learn more about Laraine Herring visit her website at:

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