Love, magic & hard truths Estelle Laure

ESTELLE LAURE

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Molly Boyle

This Rag­ing Light charts a fa­mil­iar young-adult plot­line through first love, heart­break, and self-dis­cov­ery, but also tack­les is­sues like de­pres­sion, ad­dic­tion, and adult aim­less­ness. Lu­cille’s voice is orig­i­nal — raw, vul­ner­a­ble, and stub­born — and through it, Laure chan­nels the tough co­nun­drum of a girl grap­pling with the pre­ma­ture on­set of adult­hood all by her­self.

At age six­teen, au­thor Estelle Laure was liv­ing on her own, sup­port­ing her­self by work­ing at a Taos video store. “It was fun, but I was broke,” she told Pasatiempo. She had dropped out of high school in her se­nior year; af­ter skip­ping two grades, the school ad­min­is­tra­tion in­formed Laure that in or­der to make up the re­quired cred­its to grad­u­ate, she would have to re­peat ninth grade. In­stead, she left school to rent an apart­ment with two grad­u­at­ing friends; her mother had al­ready moved out of state with her younger brother.

More than two decades later, the au­thor bio for her first novel states, “Estelle Laure is a Von­negut wor­ship­per who be­lieves in love, magic, and the power of hard truths.” Her strik­ing de­but, This

Rag­ing Light, is nar­rated by seven­teen-year-old Lu­cille, a New Jersey teenager who is abruptly aban­doned by her par­ents and left to fend for her­self and her younger sis­ter. The book was pub­lished in De­cem­ber by Houghton Mif­flin Har­court, and for­eign rights have been sold in more than 10 coun­tries. This Rag­ing Light charts a fa­mil­iar young-adult plot­line through first love, heart­break, and self-dis­cov­ery, but also tack­les is­sues like de­pres­sion, ad­dic­tion, and adult aim­less­ness. Lu­cille’s voice is orig­i­nal — raw, vul­ner­a­ble, and stub­born — and through it, Laure chan­nels the tough co­nun­drum of a girl grap­pling with the pre­ma­ture on­set of adult­hood all by her­self.

Though she, too, was liv­ing self-suf­fi­ciently as a teenager, Laure, now forty­one, said that This Rag­ing

Light is def­i­nitely fic­tion. She even­tu­ally earned a BA in the­ater arts from New Mex­ico State Univer­sity, had t wo chil­dren, and be­gan writ­ing fic­tion af­ter her son was born. Af­ter get­ting an MFA from Ver­mont Col­lege of Fine Arts in writ­ing for chil­dren and young adults, she said, “This was the story that came to me. ... I have never hon­estly had an idea that didn’t have a main char­ac­ter in that age range. I chalk it up to hav­ing a very strong six­teen-year- old in­side of me, who is still alive and well and wants to ex­press it­self.” As for how the novel is in­formed by her ex­pe­ri­ence, Laure said, “I had a very close-knit group of friends — who are still my friends — here in Taos, and we went through a lot to­gether. So I knew that it was pos­si­ble for a girl that age to sur­vive with­out par­ents.”

Laure calls t he jour­ney to her novel’s pub­li­ca­tion “one of those fairy-tale things .” She first got an in­tern­ship, and then a job, work­ing re­motely for Fo­lio Lit­er­ary Man­age­ment in New York. Af­ter the agent she worked for asked to see Laure’s own book-in-progress, she im­me­di­ately sent Laure a con­tract. Soon af­ter, Laure had sev­eral pub­lish­ing houses ea­ger to make her an of­fer. “I got two pre- empts and then it was po­ten­tially go­ing to an auc­tion, and I just called it. I to­tally con­nected with my editor at HMH. She came in with a bid that de­cided it, be­cause it’s re­ally risky go­ing to auc­tion … then they can come in how­ever they want. I had a phone con­ver­sa­tion with El­iz­a­beth [Bew­ley, her editor], and I thought she was amaz­ing and per­fect. I mean, why mess around?”

The book has done well over­seas, and Laure will be tour­ing schools in Lon­don and go­ing to book fes­ti­vals in Ro­ma­nia and Italy this sum­mer. She said she’s par­tic­u­larly pleased by how Ital­ian teens have re­sponded to This Rag­ing Light: “Italy has been un­be­liev­able — I get th­ese bro­ken English fan let­ters. I mean, I get them from the U.S. too, quite a bit, but it just tick­les me when I get a fan let­ter from Italy, be­cause they have to make such an ef­fort, and it’s so awe­some that they do. They send all kinds of cool pic­tures, too.” Laure’s next book, Th­ese

Mighty Forces, is sched­uled for a July 2017 pub­li­ca­tion, and fol­lows the same char­ac­ters but with a new nar­ra­tor. In jug­gling work, two kids, and a book con­tract, Laure cited yoga as a habit that com­ple­ments her writ­ing reg­i­men. “I think yoga gets a bad rap. Es­pe­cially around here, it can be so New Agey or what­ever, but I do a lot of hot yoga and it is re­ally hard. It’s some­thing that I don’t al­ways en­joy, and mak­ing my­self go back to it over and over again helps me when I hit the wall in my writ­ing. It re­quires the same kind of tenac­ity.”

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