How old were you when you first realized you wanted to write?I’ve always loved books, ever since I learned to read when I was about three, so writing was more or less an offshoot of that love. I didn’t start writing seriously until I graduated from college, got a real job and found out what working for a living was like. (“You mean, you expect me to dress up and come here every day?”) Like most writers, I still have the dream of one day supporting myself with my writing, but until then, I do it for love.
Tell us a little bit about the book.Aladdin’s Samovar is humorous paranormal suspense: Amber Polaski finds a sexy genie in an antique brass samovar and wishes to find her long-lost father, only to find out he’s on the run from the Mafia. People get shot at, shrink wrapped, and pounced on by a pack of Happy Puppies—and Amber is forced to defend herself against Mafia assassins with common household appliances. Just another day in Jersey!
What made you choose this genre?Well, the genre kind of chose me. I was taking a writing workshop and the character of Amber popped into my head, with the idea that she would own a thrift-store samovar which turned out to have a genie in it. Then I got the idea to turn the story into a novel, and to have Amber’s wish to find her father come true, but be complicated by the fact that he was on the run from the Mafia. So…genie + Mafia = paranormal suspense. And Amber and the genie turned out to be funny, so there you are.
Most authors have an unusual story or way that they come up with their ideas for books…Do you have one?Usually I have a major character or idea pop into my head—I don’t know exactly where they come from. (I think the idea fairy flies over my bed while I’m sleeping and whacks me with her wand.) But all the smaller ideas that make that first idea into a novel…those I have to track down and stab with my pen to keep them from getting away. I do a lot of brainstorming on paper and/or the computer screen, with lots of questions: (What did Dad steal from the Mafia? Did he do it for money, or to bring down the bad guys? Who’s the guy in the Hawaiian shirt? Why is he in the coffee shop? etc.). I try lots of different answers until one feels right and I get excited about it. Eventually, I put the plot together like a jigsaw puzzle.
What is the key element in your character creation?I have a very bizarre imagination, I guess. (Or my characters are really alive in a parallel dimension.) As I’m visualizing scenes, the characters start doing things in my mind—like a mental movie. A lot of what they do and say is funny, so I write it down. So I guess the key is just to give myself time to alternate typing and staring into space, so they have an opportunity to do their thing.
What was your biggest influence that steered you towards writing?
I have to ask, what are the hardest scenes for you to write?For me it’s the emotional scenes. Even though Aladdin’s Samovar is a comedy, there are scenes where Amber is dealing with her feelings about her father, and where Amber and Jasper’s relationship is developing. Those were the hardest for me—especially since Amber is pretty sarcastic and doesn’t like to show her feelings. It was difficult to get the right tone, to keep the humor and yet show the genuine emotion coming through.
Are sex scenes difficult for you to word?Aladdin’s Samovar doesn’t have full sex scenes, so I was able to skirt around the issue of how much to describe and which words to use. The book does have a lot of sexual references and innuendo, but I tried to keep it fairly PG—to suggest things rather than state them explicitly. In general, I think you have to be aware of your readership and what they enjoy. Some readers like extremely hot, erotic books, but many people are made uncomfortable by explicit sex. I wanted this book to appeal to a wide readership, so I tried to keep the sexual references light and humorous, in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book.
Do you see yourself writing in another genre?I like lots of different genres—mystery, fantasy, historical, romance—and I’d like to write in all of them! I plan on living to be about 137 in order to accommodate this desire.
Has your family been supportive?
Are any of your characters reflective of you?I think all three of my main characters—Amber, Jasper the genie, and Amber’s mother Indigo have aspects of my personality. Amber has my control-freak side and my martyr complex (“How come I’m responsible for everything?”). Jasper has my mischievous side, and Indigo is the hippie new-age side of me multiplied by at least a thousand. But since it’s a comedy, I get to exaggerate all of that and play it for laughs, which is fun.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?Read, of course! I also like to sing karaoke (especially cheesy country songs), and I ice skate. Right now I have a new skating routine (jumps, spins and all!) that I’m learning for a competition in August.
Who is your favorite book heroine?
Do you have any unusual habits that revolve around writing?Wow, what a great question! I wish I did have some bizarre quirks that would prove how unique and creative I am, but I can’t think of any. I’m almost tempted to make one up. Like, I only write while wearing red underwear. Or between the hours of midnight and 3 am, while standing up and facing east. Alas, I’m not that interesting.
What is your favorite mystical creature?Definitely the Pegasus. A flying horse—how amazing would that be? For me, they symbolize the freedom of spirit we all need to be creative. (Plus, they’re really pretty.)
What were some of your biggest challenges at the beginning of your career?
How do you feel about reader comments?
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Where are your books available?
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/aladdins-samovar-lauren-sweet/1107757235?ean=2940013516885&itm=1&usri=aladdin%27s+samovar
What can we expect from you in the future?
Where can we reach you and become informed of updates?
Please check out my website, www.laurensweet.com. Also, I’ve recently discovered the coolness of Goodreads, and hope to see many of you there!
Book description: Aladdin’s Samovar (Samovar Mysteries #1)
A nice, normal, boring life—that’s all Amber Polaski ever wanted. One where she’s not unchaining her flaky New Age mom from endangered trees, bailing her out of jail, or getting dragged to naked pagan rituals. But when Amber finds a sexy genie in her antique brass samovar, any hope of normal goes up in smoke.
It’s just one tiny little wish—to find her long-lost father. What could go wrong?
Plenty. Dad shows up, all right—with a computer drive full of stolen data and angry mobsters hot on his trail. Now Amber has Fugitive Dad holed up in her Manville, NJ duplex, fending off the Mafia on one side and the FBI on the other. And she has Jasper the genie lounging in her blue plush recliner, conjuring chocolate chip cookies and passing himself off as her boyfriend. While Jasper is trying to tempt Amber with more disastrous wishes—and his seriously hot thousand-year-old body—Amber and her mom are forced to fight off Mafia assassins with nothing but chutzpah and household appliances.
It’s time for Amber to call in the B-team: Iggy the homeless dwarf, Tim the ecoterrorist, and Wanda the Fairy Dogmother with her pack of Happy Puppies. Together, they need to save Dad before the Mob makes him disappear again—permanently!
Lauren Sweet was born and raised in New Jersey, spending her formative years sneaking books under her desk to read during math class. After working in business administration for way too many years, she finally escaped to Alaska and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Lauren now lives near Portland, OR, and is a freelance writer and editor. Her other esoteric skills include astrology, figure skating, and the ability to do a perfect split.