We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Resau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Early on in my career as an author, I let writing take over my life, stealing time from family, friends, and other creative pursuits. When we adopted our son from Guatemala thirteen years ago, I realized that I needed a better work-life balance. In the months before he came, I painted my formerly blood-red writing studio a soft sea-green for his nursery. My excitement over his arrival was mixed with panic as I realized I’d no longer have a “room of my own” to write books in our little two-bedroom home. On impulse, I bought a silver 1950s trailer from Craigslist (named Peachy after my great-grandmother) and fashioned her into a driveway writing studio. After our son came, I hired babysitters to spend a few hours each day with him in the house, while I worked in Peachy. He was still close– I was able to pop in and out of the house to say hi, but there was still a useful boundary. Whenever I stepped into Peachy, I was able to let go of mothering responsibilities, let out a big soul sigh, and focus on my work. I also adapted my previously “sacred” writing schedule, which had involved waking up before dawn to work, still halfway in dreamland. My son has always been an early riser, and no matter how quietly I tip-toed, he’d always hear me get up and want to play. So I had to begin my work after he started his day. After the chaos of breakfast-making and getting him dressed and ready, I found ways to reclaim the soulful space that I used to find so easily before dawn. Over the years, I’ve had to loosen my grip on my ideal writing time and situation, and find creative ways to work around my son’s needs. Ten books later, I can say that the compromises have been worth it. I feel that I have gratifying relationships with both my son and creative writing. This past year, during the quarantine, I’ve witnessed how he spends his free time in the creative flow of making music. I like to think that modeling how to integrate creative work into my life has made it feel natural to him . . . and now he’s an inspiration to me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been writing novels for kids and teens for fifteen years. Most of my books are set in far-off places where I’ve lived or traveled in Latin America and Europe. I’ve always loved traveling, learning new languages, and exploring different ways of life. After getting degrees in Cultural Anthropology and French, I lived in rural Oaxaca, Mexico for a couple years, teaching English and spending time in Indigenous communities, learning about healing practices from curanderos and shamans. I went to graduate school in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on Indigenous women’s issues and ethnomedicine, and then returned to Oaxaca for research. During my studies, I was passionately writing about my experiences in my journals . . . and I found poems, essays, and stories taking shape. I began working intensely on a novel for young people called What the Moon Saw. I would wake up before dawn to work on my book, and that’s when I felt most alive, completely in the creative flow. After I earned my Masters, the time came to commit to pursuing a PhD, and that’s when I realized that my path in life wasn’t academic. I wanted the freedom to explore the world on my own creative terms, in the way that made me feel most alive. I turned down the scholarship, and for several years, I pieced together part-time jobs– adjunct community college teacher, bilingual Early Head Start mentor, Spanish translator for non-profit organizations, ESL teacher for adult immigrants– in order to support myself while writing and revising my novel. After two years of rejections from agents and editors, I was over the moon when an editor at Delacorte/Random House wanted to publish What the Moon Saw, which is set in an Indigenous village in Oaxaca, inspired by the communities where I’d worked and lived. Over the years, I’ve continued to find inspiration for my next nine books through traveling, opening myself to adventure, staying curious, making meaningful connections, taking creative risks, and collaborating with Indigenous women who have important stories to tell. I feel profoundly grateful to my younger self from two decades ago for choosing the riskier, creative path that led to my dream career as a novelist. I continue to feel guided by the question posed by my favorite poet, Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love showing people around my happy hometown of Fort Collins. They’d stay in our vintage trailer named Peachy (also my writing studio) in our back yard. We’d walk a few blocks to Old Town, where we’d do a cider-tasting flight and lunch at Scrumpy’s. Then we’d head to Pine Street for a chocolate-tasting flight at Nuance Chocolate, where I spent loads of time doing research for my most recent novel, Tree of Dreams. Also on Pine Street is my friend, Les Sunde’s, wonder-filled gallery called Swampgas and Gossamer, which has limited hours but is so worth a visit if the timing works. Then we’d swing by Old Firehouse Books, Happy Lucky’s Tea House, Golden Poppy Apothecary, and other cute indie shops. For our nature fix, we’d bike on cruisers along the beautiful Poudre River Trail, wander among cottonwoods and willows, and take a swim if it’s warm. In the evening, we’d head back to Old Town for dinner at The Regional, followed by drinks at Pour Brothers Pub. If it’s summertime, chances are there will be live music in Old Town Square… and if it’s winter, we’ll just enjoy all the twinkly lights. If people have a whole week here, we’d do an early morning paddle-board at Horsetooth reservoir, hike the trails around Lory State Park, take a drive up the Poudre River or to Red Feather Lakes for more hiking, and visit the stupa at the Shambhala Mountain Center.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to my young readers, and to the teachers, librarians, parents, and booksellers who connect them to my books.
Tina Wood Photography (author with tree and book) Ken Burgess (author laughing with co-author Maria Virginia Farinango) Harper Point Photography (author in sunshine)