Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Authors are Rockstars: Emmy Laybourne Guest Post + Giveaway

Authors Are Rockstars

I am beyond excited to be hosting Emmy Laybourne today as part of the Second Annual Authors are Rockstars tour, hosted by FiktshunTwo Chicks on Books, and Magical Urban Fantasy Reads

So why do I think Emmy Laybourne is a rockstar? I was lucky enough to meet and interview Emmy last year when she was on tour with Fierce Reads. I was so nervous to meet all of the authors, but I was most nervous to meet Emmy. That's because she is more awesome than you could imagine. Prior to becoming an author, Emmy worked as a comedian with the likes of Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, and Zach Galifianakis, among others. I'd seen her in Superstar and thought she was hilarious. All of my fears vanished when I met her, though, because she was so nice and friendly. She immediately put me at ease and spent so much time and care answering my questions.

Not only is she as sweet as can be, but she writes fascinating and exciting books filled with realistic characters. Prior to reading it, I didn't actually expect to like Monument 14, but I was blown away by it and its sequel, Sky on Fire. I quickly and deeply fell in love with the characters and needed to know more about what happened to their world. I count them among my favorite books and Emmy among my favorite authors.

So without further ado, here is Emmy's fascinating guest post about how her time as a performer--especially doing improv--affected her writing! (And stick around after that because I've got an amazing giveaway to share with y'all!)

About Emmy:

Emmy Laybourne is a novelist, teacher and recovered character actress. Emmy's first series, MONUMENT 14, tells the story of fourteen kids from Monument, CO who are trapped in a superstore as civilization collapses outside the gates. The sequel, MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE, picks up the story as some of the kids leave to try to make it to an evacuation site in Denver, while others are forced to remain behind. The final installment of the trilogy, SAVAGE DRIFT, is expected in 2014.

Emmy graduated from UCLA with an MFA in screenwriting in 2006. She now lives in upstate New York with her web developer husband, two children, and six chickens.

Being a novelist is my dream job. I get paid to write books, which is wonderful because a) I love writing books and b) if I didn’t get paid, I’d have to do some other job ‘cause the kids need shoes.

But - what’s even more strange and delightful is that I used to have ANOTHER job that people dream about and I also loved it just as much (almost). That job was being a professional comic actor.

The best part about being in the comedy world was the people I got to work with. When you’re doing a scene with Will Ferrell or Eric Stonestreet or Molly Shannon or Zach Galifianakis or the Sklar brothers or Angela Kinsey, and you’re doing it well, you feel like a million bucks because, quite simply, they’re the best. With people that talented, you can play so hard, and make such outrageous connections in your improv and take risks so scandalous that you can make audience members laugh so hard they get a nosebleed. I am not kidding.

I gave up that world when I stopped acting and improvising professionally in 2004. While I miss performing comedy terribly, it was a choice I had to make for my own sanity and for my family. I miss the people, and I miss the improv shows, but man, oh, man, do I not miss auditioning. Auditioning was excruciating for me. It’s a miracle I made it out of LA not addicted to one substance or another. Again, not kidding.

My consolation? I use things I learned as an actor and an improvisor every day in my writing. Here are a few of them:

As a professional actor I learned to take care of my “instrument” (aka my body) -- if I allowed myself to get too tired, too hungry, too crabby, I couldn’t do a good job as an actor. I follow those same guidelines for my life as a writer. When I sit down to write, I am well fed and well rested. I turn off all devices that might distract me. I put in my ear-buds and play music to set the mood. And then I write and I write hard! That practice of taking care of myself - of keeping my brain in top condition so I can perform well, is one I learned in my many years as an improvisor.

Another set of tools I learned as an actor involves creating characters. I have a bunch of different exercises I
can rely on to help me figure out how a character walks and talks and thinks. I use the same techniques to create characters for my novels that I did when creating the character Helen Lewengrub in the film "Superstar."

One of my favorite exercises is called “Mall Stalking.” When I’m having trouble nailing down the attitude of a character or seeing the world through their eyes, I go to the mall. I sit and wait for someone to come along who looks like the character I’m working on. Then I follow them. And I copy their stride. Yes, I walk like them. I put my body into the cadence of a bossy girl shopping with her mom, or a super-hip teen guy breaking in a new pair of Vans.

Do I look like a crazy person? Sure. But it’s another gift I took from my life as a comic actor - I don’t care about how I look anymore! Oh, of course I try not to let them see me following them. That would be really creepy. But I don't care that the other shoppers see me loping along like a 14 year old. For all they know, I have a wicked case of scoliosis.

When I think about it, being free from self-consciousness is probably the biggest gift I took from the world of comedy.

You can check out the gallery on my website, emmylaybourne.com, for some of my favorite scenes from the work I did on TV and in film. And who knows, as my children get older and don't need me quite so much, maybe I'll get back into the world of improv. By the way, my advice to all writers, is to take an improv class, just as my advice to all improvisers is to study story structure!

It’s been such a pleasure to be here on Paper Cuts, one of my favorite book blogs! We're doing a giveaway, so sign up so you can win a copy of my newest book - MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE. (You can meet the characters in the book and see how I did in creating them!)

Please keep in touch with me on FB at www.facebook.com/Monument14 or on the Twitter @EmmyLaybourne.

About Monument 14: Sky on Fire:

Trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical weapons spill, brothers Dean and Alex learned how to survive and worked together with twelve other kids to build a refuge from the chaos. But then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, and bringing both fresh disaster and a glimmer of hope.

Knowing that the chemical weapons saturating the air outside will turn him into a bloodthirsty rage monster, Dean decides to stay in the safety of the store with Astrid and some of the younger kids. But their sanctuary has already been breached once. . . .

Meanwhile, Alex, determined to find their parents, heads out into the darkness and devastation with Niko and some others in a recently repaired school bus. If they can get to Denver International Airport, they might be evacuated to safety. But the outside world is even worse than they expected. . .
As part of the tour, Emmy is giving away a hardcover copy of Sky on Fire, a Greenway tote bag (like the store in the book! These are so cute!), and some swag.

  • US/CAN only.
  • Must be 13 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway will end at midnight EST on September 4th.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly through Rafflecopter, contacted via email, and will have 48 hours to respond.
  • Prize will be sent directly from author.
Good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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