laura andersen laura andersen laura andersen
laura andersen


How long was your path to publication?

Short answer: Ten years.

Longer answer: Following a dare from my friends, I began writing seriously in 2003. I was thirty-four, I had four children between the ages two and ten, and I have always been motivated by the threat of public humiliation. I wrote a hundred pages of a late Victorian mystery novel, joined an online writing class, finished the mystery, continued to take classes, wrote a second mystery novel, moved through online classes to an online critique group, wrote the first version of what is now The Boleyn King trilogy, and set a goal to be published by the time I was forty.

Life intervened (not to mention rejection letters). Depression reared its shadowy head. A family member died. I spent a year in bed with mono. And in 2008, my second son was diagnosed with cancer at the age of eleven. During his ten months of treatment, I began writing a time-travel YA novel that eventually landed me my astounding agent, Tamar Rydzinski. (The path didn't get easy then: that novel remains unsold.) Afraid of losing Tamar (see above re. public humiliation), I sent her the original version of my Tudor alternate history, to which she said, "I love it! Make it a trilogy."

Less than nine months later, The Boleyn King sold at auction to Ballantine on the day my oldest son graduated from high school. That was 2011. Fast forward (okay, more like slow-crawl forward) two years, and publication date finally came.

Only four years off my 'published by forty' goal. (And my second son is healthy and driving and dating.)

Why historical fiction?

Because I'm not any good at writing contemporary fiction. Because that's where virtually all my story ideas live. And because there aren't a plethora of corsets or swords in my everyday life and I want more. I enjoy wallowing in the past and then returning to the present for hot showers and cheesecake.

Will you continue to write about the Tudors?

Not immediately. I'm not a historian, of the Tudor or any other time period, and the last thing I want is to compete with specialists, particularly in the somewhat crowded field of popular Tudor fiction. Also, I'm fickle and have a short attention span. I have story ideas ranging from 12th-century Wales to post-WWI East Africa, so who can tell where I'll land next?

What should I read if I want to be a writer?

Anything and everything you want. Read widely. Read deeply. Read voraciously. Read because there's nothing else in the world you'd rather do. Read until there is one thing you'd rather do, at least some of the time—write your own stories.

Non-fiction books about writing can be useful, motivating, or downright dispiriting. Choose wisely those guides that inspire you to reach deeper and work harder, and quickly lay aside any that promise you The Secret to Surefire Success. More importantly, read as many books as you can in your chosen writing genre; agents and publishers will want to know that you have done your homework and, trust me, they will recognize it in your manuscript. Besides, if you're not interested in reading in your chosen genre, than why on earth would you be interested in writing in it?

back to top