Hi Laura! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! We are so pleased to have the pleasure of speaking with you about your break-out novel, The Little Seer.
Thank you so much! It’s really my privilege.
Let’s get started….
A: The Little Seer is about a young girl who discovers, through prophetic nightmares of the destruction of her church, that God is not who everyone told her he is, and neither is she. It is a waking dream–a novel of symbolic dreamscapes, teleportation, and angels and demons fighting over a girl’s destiny–but it’s also a story about discovering the importance of your life, and learning how to love through great pain.
Q: How did you come to write The Little Seer?
A: I have always had vivid dreams, but when I was about eight years old, I had a dream that I was in a classroom, and there was a conversation going on in front of me. Sometime later, I was in my classroom, and that exact conversation began to play out. It happened more than once, even into high school, and it rocked my ideas about what was possible in the world. I grew up with a resulting feeling that the way I experienced the world didn’t fit with other people’s experience, and I dealt with quite a bit of rejection and bullying, which left me terrified that God was secretly angry with me too.
But when I was a teenager I was literally flattened to the floor with a vision at the Toronto Blessing Revival in Canada, in which God revealed to me that the rejection and unforgiveness I had been carrying around my whole life was like a boulder on my back. He revealed Himself to me as extravagantly loving, and as I forgave one person at a time who had wronged me, the weight began to lift. I had to be carried out of the building, it was such a profound experience for me, and I was never the same again.
I also went through a church split on top of my wedding that split my new family down the middle and cost me most of my mentors. As autobiographical as it sounds, The Little Seer is not what happened to me at all, but I wanted to write a book that acknowledges the pain that people go through from spiritual abuse, and explore how someone could learn that they were loved after experiencing rejection.
Q: The publishing of The Little Seer is unique, yet following in line with a new type of publishing I’ve been seeing…launching part by part, each with a different name. Can you tell us about that, why you chose it, and finally how you think it has worked?
A: Well for this project that was an easy decision, because the novel naturally divides into three parts, each with its own story arc, but each fitting into the larger story. I knew that as an indie author my only real chance to get my work out there would be to give people a way to experience it at very low risk, so I made the first novella, Exodus, free for five days after launch, and before I knew it, thousands of people were reading my story, and it was climbing the bestseller lists for free titles on Amazon.
Q: What accolades has The Little Seer already accomplished that you are excited about?
A: Most awards and even reviews are closed to me as an indie author, though I can see that changing in just a few years with the way publishing is evolving. So my focus is on what readers think, and how many people are finding and reading The Little Seer.
Because of my launch promotion, The Little Seer shot to #2 on the Amazon Kindle Bestseller list for free Christian Suspense titles, and #5 in Occult/Supernatural. And despite its controversial content, readers began to give the book mostly 4- and 5-star reviews, saying it was riveting from beginning to end, and that if you don’t know you are loved, read this book. I can’t think of any better accolades than that. Even a blogger reviewing the book on this blog tour told me the book touched her on a very personal level. I’m so grateful right now, just that people are giving me a chance.
Q: Where do you hope the novel goes from here?
A: Because it’s an indie title and I’m just starting my career, word of mouth is really going to have to drive this thing. I hope people enjoy the story in its own right, but it does have the potential to mean something to someone who needs to know the value of their life, so if the story speaks to people, I’m hoping they will join The Aria Project, which is something I set up on laurakcowan.com to give people ideas on how they can help me spread the word.
Q: What do you hope readers take away with them from you book after they complete reading it?
A: Life is more than meets the eye, and so are you.
Q: What kinds of readers do you feel will enjoy your book?
A: Spiritual seekers of any kind will love this book, but I think it also appeals to the child in all of us that loved adventure stories and imaginative tales of things that sparkled in the darkness and spoke of destiny.
Q: How do the words supernatural and speculative fit into religion? I’m guessing some would think those words don’t….
A: Yes, it’s very controversial. The Bible is a supernatural book, filled with teleportation and miracles, symbolic visions of the apocalypse and talking animals, but there’s something about Western culture that has stripped Christianity, and some other religions as well, of their awareness of the mystical nature of life and faith.
Speculative novels just ask the question “What if?” What if the world doesn’t work quite the way we think it does? And in that way, speculative supernatural novels are more religious than some modern expressions of religion. It’s a blind spot of Western culture, in my opinion, possibly caused by the need to filter everything through rational and empirical processes in order to accept it as part of life. Too bad life doesn’t fit in our boxes, and neither does religion.
Q: Is this book only for the religious? Those of Christian faith? Why or why not?
A: I hope not. I think this book has a lot more to say about relationship and love than anything else. I kept hesitating to publish the book, because I wanted to make sure I had rooted out as much preachiness as I could, and just left enthusiasm for loving people back to wholeness. I’m sure it’s not perfect, but the early reviews are really encouraging me that I succeeded on some level in getting the real message of compassion across, and that transcends religions.
Q: What kinds of novels do you like? What writers inspire you?
A: Oh wow, what a topic to get me started on! I love anything that sparkles with life, really, especially that twinkle you only catch out of the corner of your eye when the angel doesn’t think you’re looking at him.
Nature writing such as Ralph Waldo Emerson or the poetry of Juan Ramon Jimenez blows me away, because of its passion for the universe and the harmony of all things, and I grew up adoring spiritual fantasy writer Madeleine L’Engle as well as intellectual mystery writers like Agatha Christie or writers with a witty edge like Mark Twain. Hemingway is a huge favorite because of his vivid descriptions that are so face-slappingly efficient.
But of course supernatural novels are my first love, especially literary ones like Thornton Wilder’s. I read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness as a kid and knew I would always be looking for more books with angels and demons, and with the veil to the spiritual pulled back to give the reader a peek beyond the everyday.
A: I’m excited about my second novel Music of Sacred Lakes, which is about a young man in crisis whose redemption comes through the haunting of a girl he accidentally kills and through the voice of Lake Michigan speaking to him about his connection to the land that birthed him. It’s a weird and wonderful story about reconnecting with your life and the source of your joy, and I can’t wait to offer it to the world.
I’m also working on a speculative short story collection called The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, which takes 30 different “What if?” questions about how the physical and spiritual worlds interact and spins them in all different directions. It’s me letting my hair down and really having fun with some fascinating stories–everything from portals to time juxtapositions to fairy tales.
Q: What is your writing process like? How do you find the time to fit it in?
A: Oh, goodness. I’m a mother of a preschooler, a wife, a (very) part-time journalist, and I’m launching this career as a novelist. My experience as an editor helps me keep everything organized, so for instance I have a notebook recording checklists of edits for each project I’m working on. If I can break things down like that into a series of tasks, I can do anything I need to even in the midst of a busy life. But my writing process really amounts to doing my best to relax and give myself space to dream. As Madeleine L’Engle used to say (maybe I’m paraphrasing?), you had it all in the beginning. You have only forgotten how to walk on water.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge on your book journey?
A: Balance. I don’t know if any mom ever gets it right, if there is any such thing anymore, but for me, a person who has struggled with workaholism and perfectionisms and all the -isms you can think of that tie a person up in anxiety, the key is believing that there will be enough time and energy for me to take care of myself and everyone else, and still do the work. It’s a struggle, every day.
Q: What is the thing you’ve been celebrating about the most?
A: I have the great privilege of seeing my work reach people before I made any money at it because of the free book launch promotion, and it was that night that 3,000 people downloaded my book that I realized I already had what I wanted, and the money didn’t matter so much. Not everyone has the opportunity to sort out their motives so clearly and prove to themselves that their heart is in the work itself. That’s really a gift.
Q: Are you self-published or have a publisher? Explain the process to that, either way.
A: Technically Amazon is my publisher, but I’m the modern indie author for the moment, using tools to put out books largely on my own. I had the cover designed for The Little Seer, but everything else is me, from beginning to end. But these days that’s not so hard. It helps that I have editorial experience and writer friends who can give me great feedback on my books, but the technology for getting a book into the world has never been more accessible. I may not always be an indie author, but right now I’m playing it by ear. It has never been a better way to start.
Q: You seem to be taking the marketing tactic of building a community, much like Ted Dekker (one of my favorite authors). Are you modeling this concept? Why or why not, or if similar, why unique?
A: All I really want to do with my books beyond entertain people is to connect with them, and encourage them to engage with their spirituality. I think that happens powerfully in a community. I don’t care if it centers on me or my work or just the ideas that draw people together. It’s the community that counts.
Q: Where can readers contact and/or interact with you?
A: I post all news to my website laurakcowan.com, and people can always email me directly at laurakcowan [at] gmail.com. I love to hear people’s stories, so please feel free to say hello.
Thanks, Laura! I wish you much more successful momentum on your book and your thoughts. I hope to talk to you again further in the future!
I hope so, too. Thank you for having me!
The Little Seer, Synopsis~
A young girl wakes from a dream that a tornado destroyed her church and her pastor ordered crows to peck out her eyes, only to discover deep cuts on her arms where she was attacked. Soon her dreams begin unfolding in her waking reality, her church and family begin to fall apart, and the only anchor of her sanity is a strange man who keeps appearing in her ever stranger dreams. What is happening to Aria? How is it that her dreams can tell the future? And why is her identity key in a spiritual battle raging over her church and town that could decide not only her fate and that of her friends, but that of the whole country or even the world? A story for the dreamers and the truth tellers, The Little Seer never averts its gaze from the tragedies and possibilities of modern American Christian spirituality, and provides a vision for the hope of another great spiritual awakening that could be just around the corner–if we have eyes to see.
Success and Reviews~
The Little Seer shot to #4 on the Kindle Bestsellers List for free Christian Suspense titles within 24 hours of publication during its launch promotion, and hit #2 in Christian Suspense for free Kindle titles and #5 for Occult/Supernatural within the first week.
People are calling The Little Seer “riveting from the beginning to the end,” and saying, “If you feel that you are not loved, read this book.”
And from a book reviewer on The Little Seer blog tour:
“The Little Seer by Laura Cowan is a high-intensity, no holds barred, we-are-coming-to-get-you thriller that will open your eyes to more than you can ever imagine. It will make you think twice about what you think you see, and it will not easily let you go….The love and compassion that flows from the pages of this book will revitalize even the coldest and hardest of hearts…. This story touched me deeply on a very personal level…. It broke my heart that someone gathered bits and pieces of such a haunting, hurtful, and yet valuable part of my life and then artfully weaved them into such a thought-provoking journey that I felt so ashamedly naked but also overwhelmingly loved.”
GIVEAWAY on LAURA’S WEBSITE!
Follow this link to the book giveaway on Laura’s site, and read the instructions at the bottom of the blog post to enter for your chance to win a signed copy of The Little Seer for yourself or a friend! Thanks, Laura!
Laura K. Cowan, Biography~
Laura K. Cowan writes richly imaginative supernatural novels exploring an enduring love of spirituality, nature and dreams. Join her as she delves into the issues raised in her books, such as the relationship between music and the land we come from, the nature of the spiritual world, and the power of a human life lived truly.
Laura wrote her first story, about a mouse’s theft of an automated grocery cart, at the age of eight, about the same age she saw her first glimpses of the future: simple clips of classroom life that played themselves out verbatim in experiences that rocked her ideas about time, prophecy, and the possibilities of the world. She was a sensitive child, knowing early on her mystical experiences of the world didn’t match those of the people around her, and she became increasingly isolated, trying to earn approval through achievements and perfectionism. Bullies plagued her from childhood, when a journal entry she had written about wanting people to love her for who she was was held up in front of the entire seventh grade and ridiculed. She stopped being able to write.
Laura was paralyzed with fear that God was secretly angry with her, too. But she met God in a vision at the Toronto Blessing Revival in the 90s in her early teens, in which he revealed himself to be extravagantly loving, dramatically shifting her experience of spirituality and beginning her healing, as well as further revealing the world of angels and demons to her. Even this experience didn’t quite reach the depth of her pain, and Laura still suffered another decade with an anxiety disorder and increasingly severe migraines.
She was married at age 20 to her childhood sweetheart in the midst of a church split that divided her new family and cost her most of her mentors. Laura had seen the split coming, through prophetic symbolic dreams, but even she could not have foreseen that, through a process of drawing her out of her situation and to himself, God was preparing her to go back and help others. Laura found her healing in stages. After a long process of learning to evaluate alternative remedies for her migraines and learning an enormous amount about healing, spirituality and mysticism that was missing from modern Western culture, she was healed of migraines through the hands-on prayer of new church friends. Then, through another series of encounters, she learned to set boundaries and deal with the bullies in her life, and she had finally found her bravery. She came back to her first love, writing, and discovered that a great deal of her pain had come when she cut herself off from the people who hurt her early in life. Asking God what he could do to heal this early decision to be self-sufficient, Laura heard the words, “I will raise this one myself.” And so he had.
A lifelong dreamer and modern Christian mystic, Laura draws from subconscious depths to bring the things we believe are impossible, spiritually and physically, into the world in a literal way, to bring her experiences of the supernatural into the natural and help others come to see their infinite worth and the exquisite possibilities that exist in a world in which the supernatural is part of the natural order of things. Her mission is healing, truth, and love for a world gone mad for lack of them. Laura’s stories quite simply open the door to let heaven through, often in unexpected ways, to bless people to come into the fullness of their own lives.
Laura has worked for years as an accomplished writer and editor in genres such as green tech, green parenting, and automotive media, and has been called one of the best copy editors in the business by multiple colleagues, including late mentor David E. Davis, Jr., whom TIME Magazine called “the Dean of Automotive Journalism.” She is the founder of popular green parenting blog 29 Diapers, author of Ecofrugal Baby: How To Save 70% Off Baby’s First Year, and Road Test Editor for Inhabitat, the web’s largest green design blog. Laura’s work has appeared in Automobile Quarterly as well as on numerous parenting sites including BabyCenter, EcoMom, and Inhabitots. She has nearly 1,000 articles and blog posts to her credit, but is now happy to be able to pursue her dream of writing fiction full-time. She lives in Michigan with her husband and her 3-year-old daughter, who is already dictating her first stories to her to be published on construction paper. You can find her on Twitter at http://www.Twitter.com/LauraKCowan and LinkedIn, or connect with her at laurakcowan[at]gmail.com or on her website LauraKCowan.com.