Wrote the book
Having won our 95-word fiction contest more times than I can recall, Laura Newman took her writing to the next level by seeking out a publisher for her collection of short stories, Parallel to Paradise: Addiction & Other Love Stories. The book hits the stands Oct. 3. Also big news, one of the stories has been accepted for publication on the Huffington Post's series Fifty Fiction. She'll have a book reading at Recycled Records on Oct. 11, at 5 p.m., and Junkee on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.
How are you?
I am so excited. My book after all this time is finally going to be out in less than three weeks. It comes out October 3rd. I'll have it in hand before October 3rd, but October 3rd the publisher will have it ready. I just finished most of the galleys this weekend. We're getting really close. We're not done with the back cover yet. I've got the front cover.
What’s the book about?
It's a book of short stories. That makes it a little more difficult to say what it's about. My little tagline that I say on it, “It makes the ordinary, askew.” There are stories: Georgia eats her blanket; Aiden gets drunk on red-eye and falls into wallpaper paste; Alice falls in love with a one-legged Mexican cowboy. So it's actually a group of sort of “tough” stories. They're definitely not intended for a young audience. They have a sense of lyricalness, a beauty to them, because I put people in really tough situations, or they put themselves in really tough situations, but they never lose their humanity. And I do have a lot of characters. It seems like it came out with a lot of characters that are addicts, but I don't glorify them.
Except in the name of the book, Addiction & Other Love Stories.
Yeah, but they're not really glorified. They get better or they might die. As I was going through it with the publisher, the stuff I tend to write about is the stuff I tend to write about. There's addiction, of course, there's love, relationships and a lot of stories about finding god, but not religion, not church, you know. Like I write a story about a Catholic girl who is contemplating getting an abortion. What's that like? If you're Catholic, that's harder. I have a gay boy growing up in the wild, wild West. So it was a little bit harder. These things kind of set it off. A mother and a heroin addict. Those are tough situations.
I’ll say. What were the steps you took to get a publisher to notice you?
Very difficult. I wanted to be a writer since I was like 8; I've tried this before. I sat down and said, “I'm going to try one more time. So I went about it systematically. I wrote 101 publishers and agents. I got some good feedback, but mostly rejections or no answer at all. And my 101st query and last one was to the local press, Le Rue Press. And I sent it there because I figured she probably would have seen my work in the News & Review, and maybe that would make her take a second look at it. And she's the one that said yes. … I really think the News & Review helped me a lot. Most of my stories started out as News & Review 95-word stories.
That’s awesome! Will I recognize some?
The first place winners, all of them, they're in my book. They absolutely are. Especially the ones that have been winners. They've all been made into full-blown stories, including the one that's going to be in the Huffington Post.