Author Interview with Laura Loup (@lauraloupart)
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of my fellow authors, Laura Loup. I came across her on twitter some time go since we run with the same writing communities. I got her book, shopped at her online store, and wound up reading from the Tarot in Space deck she designed and drew.
Her and I both have books coming out this month, so I reached out to her to do this interview. There’s a lot about Laura I don’t know, so I took this opportunity to learn more.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Laura. I’ve read the first Audacity book, and I loved it. I’m really looking forward to your sequel: Audacity 2: Time Warp. Did you always plan on this being a series when you started, or did the idea for more books come later?
And thank you for interviewing me! The Audacity is a nebulous world of interconnected and often contradictory stories that has been a comic, an animated TV series pilot, a radio show, and a gritty-live action movie starring one of the Chris’s and Beyonce. It’s an episodic story that has always been pitched as sort of an on-going, Doctor-Who-esque plot monstrosity.
Short answer, yeah. Yes. It always needed a series.
Was the Time Warp song from Rocky Horror Picture Show stuck in your head while you wrote this book? I know it’s stuck in mine every time I type it.
You know, the subtitle actually came after I wrote the book! It’s working title was “The Sphere of Time” (and I think some very special limited-edition paperback copies floating around will reflect this). But now? Every single time I see the subtitle I want to do the Time Warp again.
I loved the characters you’ve created. May and Xan are incredible together. They had all the makings of an intergalactic buddy comedy from the moment they first came together. Is there anything you can tell us about the cosmic duo? Was there anyone from the real world that inspired them?
They’ve been with me for about 12 years, so they’re really their own people at this point! But yes, there are definitely some real-life people that have bits and pieces mashed in there. May’s got my workaholism and my best friend, Trista, gave her that extremely dry (but not unkind) sense of humor. Xan’s a bit a mystery. My husband definitely gave him that signature sweetness, and he’s got a kiss of Freakazoid about him. Freakazoid isn’t real-world, as far as I know. But he’s in there.
You don’t pull your punches when it comes to your characters’ sexualities like some authors do in order to not offend. I respect any author, indie or not, who represents the queer community in any way with their stories and characters. Have you experienced any praise or negativity involving these themes in The Audacity at all? How do you deal with it in either case?
Not at all! Actually, most people don’t realize that May’s asexual, so in a late draft of book two (after a few betas chimed in) I had to get out the “She’s Asexual” skillet and bonk a few heads with it. The queer community is amazingly supportive (in fact, it wasn’t gay enough for one reviewer!) and fortunately, perhaps due to the extremely unconventional cover, I don’t think any entirely straight person has given it a second glance.
What was your inspiration for the story in general? What kind of media was consumed before you came up with the idea for The Audacity and its spinoffs and sequels? What made you want to venture into space and spoof the sci-fi genre?
It all started with a crush on a guy who gave me a book. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The guy didn’t stick, but the book sure did, and I’m super grateful to him for that (we still keep in touch). Between that, Red Dwarf, and Doctor Who, I was hooked on British sci-fi which, while often dealing with serious issues, never takes itself too seriously. I needed a much, much gayer version of H2G2. The most unbelievable thing about that series is that there are straight aliens. Straight. Aliens?! Absurd!
I’ve noticed you do all your own art too, and you’ve even created your own tarot deck based on The Audacity’s universe (the AU). Does the art influence the stories, or is it the other way around?
It’s hard to say at this point! The book came first, then the art, then the book again, then the animation, then the art, then the book, then MORE art…The process is really linked in for me.
I’ve come to know you a bit through your writing and our interactions on Twitter. I know the tarot is another big part of your life, as is your spirituality. Does this affect your writing at all? Can spirituality as we know it here on Earth have any implications to alien races in the universe you’ve created?
I’d like to say that my spirituality and my creations are separate, but they really aren’t. I find myself accidentally sneaking some very Buddhist themes into my books. The idea of simplicity in life, of contentedness, of feeling okay and steady in any situation…that really permeates the books. Honestly, Xan represents that spiritual voice more than anything. He’s “accidentally Zen” which is the most honest way of being Zen. The funny thing about peace is that the more you reach for it, the farther away it gets.
Sci-fi is a great genre in which to write. I’ve gone there before, and I love the feel of being able to do anything and everything under multiple suns. Creating a humorous book under these conditions is even better, because you can even better, because you can poke fun at the genre while you’re writing in it. Do you find this to be the case as well? What’s your favorite piece of the genre to flip over and give a good spanking?
Oh I love that imagery! It’s got to be sci-fi, for me. I feel I can very lovingly pastiche sci-fi. I adore it, even for all its ridiculousness (perhaps because of). I think you have to really honestly love anything you attempt to make fun of, otherwise it comes off as cruelty. Sci-fi is the only genre I love enough to laugh at.
Is there anything that’s off limits for you in this genre, or is it all up for grabs?
I do like to keep it relatively light. There are a few things I will never, ever write about because they’re just too real. Every other writer out there deals with gritty, real subjects. I may touch on them, but it’s a very, very light touch. Like kissing an ouchie. Dear god, may I never use the word “ouchie” again.
What would you tell someone who is just starting out in writing? Is sci-fi the way to go, or should one stay away from the complexities of traversing outer space till they’re ready to blast off?
Don’t shy away from anything! If you DO want to shy away from something, shy away from everything. Seriously. Write something no one has ever seen before. Get weird and hang the rules. Play first, learn what a comma of omission is later (and then use them with reckless abandon because they rock).
Self-publishing still comes with a bit of a stigma. As a fellow self-published writer, I wish it didn’t. What, as a writer, made you go the route of self-publishing rather than going through the rigorous process of trying to land an agent or a traditional publisher? Are those lanes closed up to writers of science fiction and humor, or is the freedom of publishing under your own banner too hard to give up?
Shhh! I’m not self-published. I’m published by Zing-O-Matic Publishing, a small publishing company headed by yours truly. Really, though, I do hide a bit behind that to give people some confidence in the book. I’ve never tried to get published by someone else. I’ve read some real one-star books that became best-sellers. I don’t have any faith in the publishing industry.
Critics can be tough, and none tougher than the ones we create for ourselves. As a writer, artist, and spiritual reader, are you harder on yourself than your readers?
I mean…I’m extremely critical of my readers, too! But really, I agonize over each word. I’ll read a sentence outloud five times, write it ten different ways, and drive Zack mad with “Which word is funnier: cupola or belvedere?” The answer, of course, is cupola. I see that now.
Self-love is important too. What do you practice when you’re in need of a confidence boost?
I’ve got a file full of fan art, favorite reviews, and scans of fan mail that I go to when I’m feeling down. Also, I have a small succulent that I’ve kept alive for about four years, so I can’t be all bad.
Is there anyone you seek for support, or are there those who are just there for you when you need them without asking?
Zack, my husband, is always there, shadow-like. I don’t think we’ve been more than a room apart since February, honestly. He’s amazing for bouncing ideas off of. I can just talk at him and talk at him and somehow he STILL likes me. Trista is always there for me, too, and she’s my comedic inspiration. And honestly the Twitter writing community is a blessing.
There is a vast number of people in the online writing community we both frequent, and the queer writers and readers have built up a support system I have never seen before I stumbled upon it. What’s your role in this framework? Did you look to be part of a web like this, or did you stumble upon it by happy accident?
I did sort of just stumble into the community! I made an introduction post that got a ton of interaction, and I’ve been riding that wave for over a year now. I’ve made so many wonderful friends on Twitter, I just love it. It feels very homey now.
Is there anyone in the writing community, queer or otherwise, you’d want to give a shout out to? Have any particular groups or individuals stood out to you?
Well, naturally you, Daniel! I value your friendship and support so highly (and there’s a note to that affect in the ARC I just shipped you!) And Charlie Knight, who edits for both me and Zack, is also incredibly supportive. There are just too many amazing people in this community!
I want to end this on a very personal question: Star Trek or Star Wars?
Doctor Who. Kidding! Kinda. Star Trek, though. I LOVE the original Star Wars movies, but Star Trek has more meat, you know? War bores me horribly. I love Luke, Han, and Leia, but I like the stories in Star Trek better. Plus, Data is a snack and Picard is my father.
Laura Loup is a professional humorologist, illustrator of Tarot in Space, and author of The Audacity space opera series. She writes technicolor fun in space for adults with a dedication to optimism and good humor that shines through even ridiculously horrible situations.
You can find out more here: LauraLoup.com
May’s career as an interstellar rocket racer is just ramping up. She’s got a stunning ship, her best friend Xan for a co-pilot, and a rocket-full of winnings.
But obscenely good luck can’t last forever, and May has been racing in a stolen ship.
When Xan’s arrested by a tea-sipping, goddess-possessed pink robot for a crime he can’t bring himself to explain without baking analogies, May’s career is over.
With the help of an adventure biologist and her freshly un-dead girlfriend, May and Xan must find a way to change the past before the goddess of Chaos squashes everything May loves.
The Audacity 2: Time Warp drops on 6/2.