Aspiring Writer Interview: Laura Mclain Madsen

Laura Madsen
This week's interview is with Laura Madsen, a member of the writing group I pretend to be in (I have only attended two or three meetings because of scheduling issues). She's a veterinarian with who just turned the big four-oh. She's married with two daughters, one dog, a cat, and lives here in the Salt Lake Valley. I've actually read her current book titled Ophelia's Flowers, and thoroughly enjoyed it (despite my initial misgivings stemming from the issue of me not being a teenage girl). It's an unapologetic story about the (sometimes) brutal nature of teenage relationships, and I hope you all can one day read it. I had a chance to ask her some questions for my Aspiring Writer Interview series, and she agreed to help me out. Lets jump in.

How long ago did you start writing?
If you count school-related writing, I've been writing nonfiction forever. My first nonfiction piece published was a short description of a veterinary case (a hedgehog), published in Veterinary Forum in 2001. Since then I've written many nonfiction articles, including a couple when I was bored out of my mind on maternity leave. I only started writing fiction about four years ago.

What's the project you're currently working on?
I've written two novels: a middle-grade urban fantasy and a contemporary YA (young adult). After the holidays I plan to start querying the YA novel, Ophelia's Flowers. I also have a nonfiction children's article coming up in April in the magazine AppleSeeds, about the evolution of dogs from wolves.

Have many works have you published total?
About twenty nonfiction articles, but no fiction yet.

How long have you been working on Ophelia's Flowers?
I wrote most of Ophelia a few years ago, but got sick of it and put it aside. Then I wrote the fantasy, sent out a bunch of queries, and received a bunch of rejections. After that I decided to go back to Ophelia, revising, rearranging and editing.

Tell us a little about it.
Teenage angst. The basic plot is: girl meets boy, boy turns out to be a manipulative jerk, bad things happen.

Ophelia's Flowers is full of some, frankly, gritty teenage stuff. Where did you find the inspiration for that?
I've been in a manipulative relationship and started writing Ophelia in the hope of helping some other girl who might find herself in a similar situation. Most of the plot is completely fictional, but there are little kernels inspired by real life.

What are your goals for Ophelia's Flowers?
Hopefully traditional publishing.

Have you sent out any queries? How many have you gotten responses to?
I haven't queried for Ophelia yet, but sent out roughly forty for the middle-grade fantasy. One agent requested the full manuscript but declined to pick up the project. I've got my fingers crossed.

What is your favorite book or author, and why?
Too hard of a question! I love love love the Harry Potter series, and fantasy in general, but will read pretty much anything. I just finished reading The Magician King by Lev Grossman, and started A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I also have a fascination with children's picture books and love David Wiesner's work.

What has been the hardest part about writing your current work? About writing in general?
For me, writing isn't hard in itself, but the hard part is making time for it and making myself do it. I know some writers who get up at 5 AM to write before they take the kids to school or go to work, but I'm not that energetic. I tend to go in phases when I write a lot, but then won't write again for a month or two.

What has been the best or most rewarding aspect of writing?
I guess I'm just compelled to write, to get my thoughts on paper (or on the screen). Even when I'm not doing "official" writing, i.e., writing that might eventually make some money, I also blog and write book reviews.

Do you have any "technical" suggestions for new writers?
Getting into a writing critique group is important. You need people to say, "This part doesn't work," or, "You used the wrong word here," instead of just saying, "It was good."

Do you have any sage advice for new writers?
Don't take rejections personally. After about fifty rejections you sort of become immune to them.

Do you have any online media my readers can check out?
I have two blogs, one on writing and books at, and the other on veterinary medicine and my personal life at I'm also a frequent contributor to a book review blog,

There you have it folks, stop by and check out her blog and say "hi". If you haven't already, check out my other interviews with aspiring writer Melanie Fowler and author Peter Orullian, who's hardcover The Unremembered is on sale now for just $7 on

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