Sunday, October 16, 2011

Author stop: Laura Elliot and 13 on Halloween

Reader Girls is featuring author Laura A.H. Elliot on our blog today. She has written a YA novel entitled 13 On Halloween (book one of the Teen Halloween Scene series).

So what’s 13 ON HALLOWEEN about?
Twelve-year-old Roxie wants to be like Adrianne, the peacock who gets everything she wants––a trampoline, a flock to prowl around the mall with, and most especially invitations to parties. But everything changes when Roxie invites all the peacocks in the eighth grade to her thirteenth birthday party on Halloween and they all come. And a boy, the boy, actually talks to Roxie. Roxie has the best night of her life until the peacocks decide they want to celebrate her birthday in a way Roxie never expects––in her attic, with a pact to never tell a living soul what happens there.

What inspired 13 on Halloween?
My friends made me write it! They always laugh at me when I say “I hamster,” or, “I gopher.” They said I should write the way I talk. I sort of rolled my eyes. But then it dawned on me, teenagers have their own languages too. So I decided to explore a character who uses animals as verbs, as I do, and looks at the world through a Wild Kingdom prism in order to understand her changing world and her role in it. I wanted the book to be funny.

I actually started to write a trilogy a while back, when I first started writing. The first book in the trilogy was
called Wanda and The Witch Kingdom. Wanda is Roxie’s same age and her family has lots and lots of secrets! WWK takes place in a Chicago suburb like 13 ON HALLOWEEN. The story of WWK never left me. I see Roxie and Wanda as friends. I believe that Wanda will meet Roxie in book 2 of the Teen Halloween Series, 14 ON HALLOWEEN

How much of yourself is on the page?
In middle school I had a very best friend. And one day, that very best friend became really good friends with another girl. It was the three of us for a while. But for some reason the threesome didn’t work out and my best friend became very best friends with the other girl. Middle school is dramatic. Friendships are important. I wanted to write a humorous book that explored popularity and friendships probably because of what happened to me in middle school.

Do you believe in luck?
So much of 13 ON HALLOWEEN explores what it means to be lucky. I think the way we look at things has a lot to do with luck. I think positive people get lucky more often. I don’t really have one good luck charm or a lucky outfit like Roxie, but I do have some yellow polka-dot socks like her because they are just so adorable and I like to write in them. My husband and I lived in Big Sur for two years. It’s a very remote place along the coast of central California. It’s beautiful and so rugged even the Spanish missionaries wouldn’t venture into the wild. The Spanish labeled the region El Sur Grande [which means Big Sur]. They settled and built missions in every other part of California but Big Sur. After I lived there for a while, I noticed that people who live in nature [or make their living from it] seem to have more good luck charms than people who live in urban areas. 

When I first moved there a lovely woman named Helga asked if I had a piece of jade. When I said I didn’t, she said I must carry a piece with me all the time. For protection. It wasn’t just Helga that believed this, I found most people who live in the area also believe that jade has the power of protection. I lived in LA up until that time. I’d never lived so remotely in my life. I asked Helga what I needed protection from. She said, “Boulders falling. Trees. Windy roads. You never know what might happen.” I bought a small piece of jade that day. I still keep it with me.

Why do you write magical realism?
There’s a quote in my novel Winnemucca that explains how I feel about magic:

“I scooped up the dirt with my handcuffed hands knowing things that don’t have any power over us do sometimes, if you believe in them. Maybe that was the only kind of magic I’d ever find in the wide world.”

I write magical realism because of my father’s experiences when he was captured as a boy in Indonesia and was a Japanese POW in World War II. He created opportunity and industry where most only saw despair. It was his perception of a horrible reality that saved him. Only when he began to share some stories about his experiences in the war, did I realize that the magic in the world lies in the ambiguity, and some time murky seas, of perception. This is what I like to explore in my fiction.

I also love when my characters’ dreams come true in hilariously scary ways. In Roxie’s case, this means that she’ll visit a shadow world. In my debut novel Winnemucca, it means that Ginny, a seventeen-year-old small-town girl, finally listens to her own intuition only because her talkative, always questioning feet won’t shut up. Those questions begin Ginny’s enchanted road trip to her true calling, her true family and her true love.

What are you working on now?
The story is called TRANSFER STUDENT, about Ashley, a Beverley Hills surfer fashionista, who swipes lives with Rhoe, a boy geek alien from Planet Retha, when his teleporting experiment develops an unintended side-effect––swapping lives with Ashley. They survive each others’ lives only to fall in love with each other, a galaxy apart. Their story is told in two POVs. Read the excerpt here.

13 ON HALLOWEEN trailer:

About the author: Laura is the author of Winnemucca, a small-town fairy tale which was inspired by her life-long love of a little-known town, Avenal, CA, and her equal love of enchanted teenage road trips. 13 ON HALLOWEEN is the first book in the TEEN HALLOWEEN SERIES. Laura's travel and personal essays have been published in The Los Angeles Times and other Southern California newspapers and magazines.

She's currently on the road with her husband, who works in construction. Their first stop outside of LA was Big Sur, CA, where they lived for a few years. She has two grown
daughters. She lives with her husband on their third stop along the way on the Monterey Peninsula with their Aussie shepherd, Oso. She's taken up residence in Portland, OR off-and-on. When she's there, you'll find her at the Holiday Inn at the airport, typing away, eating some amazing food at the pods, drinking some great Willamette Valley wine, and visiting Powell's Books of course. 

Here’s a picture of me in high school, wearing part of the belly dancing outfit described in 13 ON HALLOWEEN.
To find out where in the world Laura is and more about her upcoming books, visit her website her blog and friend her on FB: If twitter is your thing: @Laurawriting.

I'm on a haunted book tour in Savannah, GA over Halloween Weekend and would love to meet you!

I've also got a few book tour dates in the Portland, OR area and would love to meet you there!

We thank Laura A. H. Elliot.


  1. This sounds like such a fun book! And I love Big Sur! I went there last year for a writer's workshop and it was amazing. Best of luck to Laura!

  2. Thanks for the kind words Heather:) I went to Big Sur Writer's Workshop too in 2009. Thanks for the luck, *waves* Laura