Introducing Author Laura Marie Clark
Laura Marie Clark began writing poetry as a teenager. Suffering from bullying and developing social anxiety and depression, she was inspired by a challenge set by her English teacher to write an elegy and found enjoyment and release in pouring the darker side of her being onto paper.
At the same time, she found an interest in Gothic clothing and rock and metal music. The distinct styles spoke to her in a way that more popular forms of fashion and music could not, and she began to write her own lyrics for songs based in the heavy metal and black metal genres. Some of these later turned into poems.
Her studies and academic writing at university inspired her to expand her horizons and write poetry on a broader range of subjects, a way of expressing her emotions on a more public scale without directly speaking of them. She continued to suffer from depression and social anxiety, but had become determined to fight them and found poetry a good way to give her strength.
After university, she lived in Vietnam teaching English for 10 months and became ever more inspired by the things she saw there. The people, how they behaved, ideas about their back stories and outlooks on life became entrenched in her mind and found their way onto paper. Through this experience and the recording of her darkest personal moments, she has found a release in the written word and a desire to share it with the world.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Hi Laura, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Laura: Thank you so much for having me.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Laura: Well, I’m from Lincoln, England. I’m one of two kids, raised in a close family. I was taught to value my education and studied History at the University of Lincoln. After university, I spent some time working as an English teacher in Vietnam. I currently work as a housekeeper but I’m hoping to go back to university to do a Masters in September.
Creative Talents Unleashed: So when did you fall in love with poetry or writing in general, when did you decide this life was for you? Tell us a bit about that discovery process.
Laura: I remember being asked to write an elegy in English class at school. The teacher was impressed enough to put the elegy on display in her classroom, and I was really proud. I thought then that I had discovered a hidden talent, but a couple of weeks later I saw some of the boys in my class reading the elegy and laughing – I never found out why, whether they were actually laughing at the poem or something else. So, I started writing, but I didn’t show anyone or post it anywhere as I feared further embarrassment. When I was at university, I found enough confidence to start posting my writing online. That was also when I started to think about exactly how far I could go – whether I would ever be able to get published. University took over and I abandoned my old writing blog, but I started a new one in the beginning of 2015 and pushed myself to keep writing and improving my skills.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Why do you write, what is it that you’re trying to communicate through your work?
Laura: I like to write in different ways – I enjoy essays as much as I enjoy writing poetry. I’d love to say something deeper, but I write what I feel like at the time. It’s that simple.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Where does your inspiration come from, what might inspire you at any moment to write a story or poem?
Laura: Prompts can be useful and they can certainly provide inspiration at times. But most of the subjects I write about have been floating around in my head for a while. I often find that I feel most creative when I’m doing something completely unrelated – I write a lot in my head when I’m at work, making beds and cleaning bathrooms! That’s because I like to keep my mind active – so that I can become inspired at any time.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What was the hardest thing about writing your book?
Laura: I think that because this was my first book, I didn’t know what to expect. Promoting my book isn’t easy, especially as I have other commitments like my job. It’s all a learning curve, though, and a fantastic experience. Hopefully, this is just the beginning!
Creative Talents Unleashed: What was the easiest thing about writing your book?
Laura: I wanted to write about the time I spent in Vietnam for some time. Originally, I wanted to write fiction, although I had already written a few poems based on my experiences there. When I saw an opportunity to create a book, it seemed like the obvious choice. I had a strong but broad theme, which helped me to focus on what I was writing.
Creative Talents Unleashed: There are many authors who say that in the process of writing a book you learn things about yourself. Did you learn anything in your book writing process about yourself, if so what?
Laura: I’ve certainly discovered a great deal about my own potential. Writing a book has been a goal of mine for a long time, but until I finished City of the World I didn’t really think that I would be able to do it. I learnt that if I focus my mind on a task, I can be successful, and that’s a big confidence booster. I was a very positive and rewarding process.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What in your view is the role or responsibility of a writer or poet, if there is any?
Laura: ‘Responsibility’ is probably too strong a word, but I think that you should try to encourage people to see the world in a way that they might not have viewed it before. Take your readers out of their comfort zone for a while. Don’t just keep them interested or entertained – give them something that they’ll be thinking about for the rest of the day.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What are your ambitions as a writer, where do you hope to see yourself in say 5 years?
Laura: I would love to get another couple of books published, maybe even make this into a career. I’ve never wanted to be tied down to one particular job in life – I want to be multi-talented, a specialist in a variety of areas. My ultimate pursuit is knowledge, and I believe that writing could be a big part of that.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Who is your favorite writer or poet? Perhaps you have a favorite quote from them that you would like to share.
Laura: My all-time favourite poem is Paradise Lost by John Milton. I also love Dante and classical poets like Homer and Virgil. Stephen King is one of my favourite modern-day writers.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who have dreams of publishing or making writing a career choice?
Laura: Be confident about your writing. The internet can be an excellent way to get people to read your writing, but it can also allow anonymous individuals to criticize you or just be generally nasty. Don’t listen to them; you aren’t going to please everybody. It took me a long time to overcome my fears, but at the end of the day it’s not worth it. Keep writing, keep putting yourself out there, and you’ll keep improving. I never thought I would publish a book, but I have! You can, too, if you dedicate enough time and effort to your writing.
A Poem from City Of The World
Ode To My Passport
Oh thanks to you, my trusty companion
My arm has stretched far and wide
Across the skies and beyond oceans
With you, good friend, by my side
Vietnam, Egypt, Europe, New York:
Now the rest of the world is ours to explore
So come, let me show you somewhere new
We’ll travel our planet from shore to shore
Where next should we two venture?
Oh friend, come lend me your support
I’d never even get through customs
Without my battered, loved passport
© Laura Marie Clark
Preface . . .
On 31st October 2013, I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south of Vietnam. A recent graduate, I had looked at the jobs available to me in the United Kingdom and decided – against every introverted fibre of my being – to move abroad and teach English as a foreign language. As someone who struggles with social anxiety, it was not easy to adapt. Presentations were my worst nightmare – and now I was going to be doing them every day in front of people of all ages. But it was an adventure, and that was the important part.
These poems tell my story. They are the high points and the low points. They are the memories that I gleefully recall to my friends. Some of them were written when I was in Ho Chi Minh City; the rest can only attempt to recall the mixture of emotions that my memories conjoure within me. Through these poems, I take you from the beginning of my adventure to the end, ten months later, when I returned to England to begin the next part of my life.
Out of respect for the people I knew in Vietnam (and a great deal of other people who I was not on a first name basis with), I have carefully avoided referring to individuals throughout this work. I have instead melded the characteristics of people and used elements of my own experiences for these poems. For this reason, I have used no names, save one, which I have changed. The only exception to this rule is myself, although where I end and the poetry begins is not explicitly clear in order to add to the magic of our poetic adventure.
Visit Laura’s Author Page: www.ctupublishinggroup.com/laura-marie-clark.html