Meet Laura M. Gonzalez. She has lived most of her life in Edinburg, TX, a (great) city in the lower Rio Grande Valley, and has been a self-proclaimed writer since she was writing about mermaids at age 6. Today, she holds both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UTRGV. Her short stories have been published in the Young Adult Review Network, and when she’s not writing, she’s probably eating popcorn at the movies or reading on the beach—weather permitting. She’s also a compulsive book-buyer and binge reader, but she calls this research.
Working with The Word, Fabled Films selected Laura, an upcoming author from a marginalized background, to write the next novel in their contemporary classic series. The novel she is working on is a part of a larger series of books that Fabled Films is developing to update the classics to modern middle-grade/YA settings.
As a part of this collaboration project, The Word has paired Laura with a mentor to provide her with support throughout this project. Laura's mentor is New York Times-bestselling author, Sandhya Menon.
The Word: Tell us about your experience collaborating with Fabled Films and working with your mentor, Sandhya Menon.
Laura Gonzalez: I hate to sound completely cheesy, but so far, collaborating with Fabled Films and working with Sandhya Menon have both been an absolute dream.
When I was offered to apply to work on this project, I actually forgot about submitting my application. We were nearing the end of our fall semester, and I didn’t want to stress about it because I’m known for stressing about everything. When I was offered to work with them, I was thrilled, and I may or may not have cried a little bit—happy tears of course.
The whole experience has been great. I’ve always just been someone who wrote for fun. I didn’t have any real methods or anything; I just wrote. Working with Fabled Films has really helped me as a writer. I’ve learned about myself as a writer and creator, but I’ve also just learned about the entire process of novel writing from a more professional perspective rather than just what I think it is.
Although we haven’t met in person, yet, everyone from Fabled Films has been incredibly helpful and very nice. They’re just as excited as I am to be on board with this project, which feels good. It’s overall been very exciting, and I love having someone to talk about my writing with and to give me feedback.
Working with Sandhya Menon has also been great. It was awesome when I was told we would be paired together. I’m a fan of her work, so it was basically like being given a celebrity mentor. She’s definitely helped ease my mind about certain worries I had coming into this, and it’s always great to be able to talk to another writer. She has also been really helpful to talk to. It’s like talking to a friend, so it’s awesome.
I’m really grateful to have been able to have this opportunity to work with both Fabled Films and Sandhya Menon. It’s been such a great experience so far, and I can’t wait to see where it all goes.
The Word: What things inspire you to create?
LG: I wish I had just one thing that has inspired me to create, but it’s been so many things! I always have something on my mind. It’s just about being in the right headspace to get it on paper. Usually, some sun at the beach or a cup of coffee will help that happen. But otherwise, I’ve basically always loved elaborate stories. When I first started to read, I read competitively for points because I wanted to be the best. I also played with Barbies religiously, and sometimes, it took me two hours just to start playing because I had to build a backstory for my characters. Eventually, I got to the point where I started to write my own stories.
My best friend and I, at the time, used to go to her mom’s classroom after school and stapled a bunch of paper together and started writing our “books.” At the time, I wanted to be an illustrator as well, but then I found out that I’m actually a terrible artist, so I stuck to just writing.
I think when I was little, I wrote about people I wanted to be, and I could create anyone on a page. I was shy, so my characters were brave and talkative. I was insecure, so my characters were confident. I hated that I didn’t look like my parents and siblings with my pale skin and light hair, so I made my characters have tan skin and darker hair and look exactly like their family members. I wasn’t very athletic in middle school, so I made all my characters athletic. I basically just wrote about who I really wanted to be because I was insecure about who I was as a person.
Later though, after I went through the somewhat horror that is high school, I realized that what I actually wanted to read was things that would have helped me along in high school. Instead of reading about people I wanted to be, I wanted to read about people who were like me.
Books and writing helped me get through the toughest times in high school. Every time something bad happened, I always just convinced myself that in the end, it was okay, because it was good material for my writing! I mostly write for an audience younger than me. I write for teens and middle-grade students, and generally, I like to write about things and issues that I wish I had to read when I was that age. Basically, I’m writing for my younger self.
I have books that I’ve read several times because of how much they meant to me. I think I’m inspired to create by the idea that maybe one day, the work I do will have that same effect on someone. If I can do that for anyone, then I’ve reached my goal!
**To connect with Laura, she can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @LauraMGonzalezF**