Congrats on your first published book. Tell us a little about it.
BridgeKeeper is a fun, fast-paced ghost story for teens published by The Big Fig, a new YA imprint of an awesome, independent publisher, The Little Fig®. We’re both having our debuts! The McCurty brothers, Will and Seth, (Will narrates the story) have a rough time learning to cope with recently inherited psychic powers. Will, the youngest, agrees to become his older brother’s Keeper/protector. Seth follows in their father’s footsteps and becomes a medium, a Bridge between the living and the dead. There’s a ghost of course, a murder, a missing classmate, humor, a touch of romance, and a lot of action!
What was the inspiration behind your debut novel?
Believe it or not, inspiration hit about fifteen years ago! A television series called Supernatural started its run. My sons started high school. And I wrote my first and only piece of fanfiction. My first novel, Coven, was posted one chapter at a time on fanfiction.net. People all over the world followed along. There’s nothing as heady as having fans! That experience hooked me on writing, but I wanted to create my own original stories. That meant I needed to learn to write, my background is in theater. And I needed to dissect Supernatural to get to the essence of why I found the show so compelling. I love the paranormal genre, the action and adventure, but more importantly, I loved watching the deep bond between siblings tested in both dramatic and comic ways. Writing for young adults made perfect sense. I did a lot of spying on my sons and their friends. They even helped choreograph one of my fight scenes! Ultimately, in BridgeKeeper, I created my own set of brothers adventuring in their own ghost-filled world.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
There’s no right way to become a writer. Don’t burden yourself with self-imposed barriers. Ignore that voice in your head that says you can’t succeed if you don’t have an MFA, or you’re a failure if you don’t publish within a certain time. Arbitrary restraints squeeze the joy out of writing! As long as you’re studying your craft, improving, and loving the process, you’re not wasting time. A great book called Page after Page by Heather Sellers gave me some good advice. She doesn’t talk about the craft of writing, but rather about allowing yourself to live a writer’s life with confidence and passion. Find a community, a critique group, workshops and dive in. Also, these days there are many pathways to publication. Don’t be afraid to explore the non-traditional ones.
Do you have a critique group? And if so, how has that group been beneficial to your career?
My critique group is why I have a career. I’m not exaggerating. One of the first things I did when I stepped away from fanfiction was join SCBWI. As I said, I needed to learn to write - that’s a process that never ends. Through them, I lucked into an incredible group of people. Every week, the wise and patient writers of the Wednesday critique group ripped my chapters to shreds in the most kind and encouraging way. They never gave up on me. They held my hand for years as I accumulated many, many rejections in my search for a literary agent. Slowly, but surely, I improved and so did my WIP. Then a few years ago, a new member joined our group. Sherry Bushue started her own independent publishing house and had great success publishing picture books. When she decided to open her YA imprint, I submitted BridgeKeeper. Sherry was brave enough to buy a YA manuscript with boy protagonists - a rare item. The rest is history.
What is the best conference you've ever attended and why?
The KS/MO Middle of the Map Conference is at the top of my list for sure. But our chapter does another event every year that’s my favorite - the Conception Abbey Writer’s Retreat. In the farm country in northern Missouri, the grounds at the abbey are vast. It’s easy to find a secluded nook to write in along the hiking trails or near the beautiful ponds. Everyone has a comfortable, private room and lots of private writing time. No phone or television, no distractions. Seriously, when do you ever get that at home? The best part is spending a weekend with friends new and old who get me. A guest editor or agent spends the weekend too, giving one-on-one critiques and group shop talks. I always leave, exhausted in the best way.
What do you do when you are not writing?
This time of year, I’m gardening and canning veggies. Ripe tomatoes wait for no man or woman! Year round, I’m a tombstone tourist. I love wandering through cemeteries. I’m not a genealogist or historian, it’s the stones and the stories they tell that inspire me. Cemeteries are great places to find character names, story ideas or a peaceful, evocative place to write. My husband and I love to travel so I visit them all over the country. I always take a notebook and my camera, and post pictures on my blog, www.idiggraves.com.
What are you currently working on?
BridgeKeeper book two! And I’m prepping writing workshops for teens. I’ve got several scheduled in libraries around Kansas City. Those will be fun!
L. S. Moore is a longtime member of SCBWI. Except for brief stints in Italy and Chicago, she’s always lived in the Kansas City area. She studied theater and tried her hand at acting in the Windy City until her passion for storytelling found a home in writing. Her website is https://lsmoore.com/. Check out her Kirkus review and the BridgeKeeper book trailer.