Behind the Book with Lauri Schoenfeld
Liz - This week I bring you the enlightened Lauri Schoenfeld! Can you introduce us to your part of the world.?
Lauri - I’m a momma to three kids. This year is exciting as I have one in High School, Middle School, and Elementary. My hubby and I have been already taking shifts to get one kid to one place and one to the other 😊 I live in Utah, and I’m married to my best friend. We live in a beautiful area where I get to see the mountains each day, and I love it. Writing, reading, playing the piano, and sign language have been a beautiful haven for me for the past five months as I’ve been recovering from voice loss. I just got my voice back a few weeks ago after making some extreme lifestyle changes. I’m grateful to have my voice back and for the experiences through it. When I’m not writing my novels and spending time with my family, I’m hosting The Enlightenment Podcasts and working on some ghost-writing projects.
Liz - I’m in love with your dog’s name! Can you tell us what inspired it?
Lauri - Thank you so much. I have three kiddos and they all wanted to have a say in our dog’s name. That’s where Jack Wyatt Wolverine Schoenfeld was born.
Liz - You describe yourself as part cyborg—I have to know more!
Lauri - This is always a fun conversation piece for me. When I was thirteen, I was diagnosed with Scoliosis. That’s where my spine was curved into an “S” instead of being straight. I wore a plastic brace called the Boston Brace for 22 hours a day for a year in a half in hopes of helping straighten my spine. It, unfortunately, didn’t help in my circumstance, and at fifteen, I was told I had to have major spinal surgery or be crippled by the time I was thirty. I chose the surgery, and I now am the proud owner of titanium rods on each side of the spine, holding it into place.
Liz - As another childhood lover of Nancy Drew, what is it that you most love about the stories and do you have a favourite?
Lauri - Hooray! High five. I love all of the Nancy Drew books, and I was drawn at a young age to Nancy’s curious nature of not taking someone’s idea as her perspective. She dove into finding out her answers for herself, and if something didn’t make sense, she questioned it and tried to figure out the “why” behind people, places, and the mystery. I loved that about Nancy, and I wanted to emulate that in my own life.
Liz - You’re a child abuse advocate which is a subject close to my heart. Can you tell us a little bit about why this is important to you?
Lauri - I’m sending so much love to you. I grew up thinking that I was a mistake and that I had no purpose in my life from the experiences that I went through with abuse. Because of what I carried with me, I brought that into every aspect of my life. It wasn’t until I was a mom of my own that I started seeing how my unhealed trauma was not only affecting me anymore. My family was deeply being affected by it too. Once I began finding healthy solutions for myself and walking through my own PTSD and trauma, I started to become the person, wife, and mom I wanted to be, and I could give my own children resources to feel and express in healthy ways. That’s been life-changing to go from a space of thinking that it’s not possible to heal from trauma to a space of seeing that it’s possible. It’s crucial that each one of us step up to our struggles and start grasping whose watching.
Liz - As a teacher of creative writing, what is it that you love most about it?
Lauri - I smiled extremely big reading this question. I love that moment when a smile creeps across my students faces and you know that they just had a lightbulb moment, idea, and creative energy just flow through them. It’s so cool to see when people let go of expectations and move into exploration. That will never get old and it’s a contagious feeling to everyone in the class.
Liz - What is the most common question you’re asked by students?
Lauri - I get asked a lot what I do with all my ideas and how can I write about them all.
Liz - Can you tell us about the Enlightenment Show and what inspired it?
Lauri - Absolutely. Five years ago, I was asked to speak at a writing group about Embracing Fear. I was terrified as this was my third speaking gig. I knew that once I got up there to speak, someone would hear my heart and message, and it would resonate with them. Afterward, I had many people reach out to me, and I was in such gratitude for someone giving me a space to share my message. The Enlightenment Show was created two years ago as a supportive and safe platform for sharing their message and story. We all need a starting point to propel into the direction our heart is leading us, and we each have a powerful message, story, and voice.
Liz - Where would you like to see the show in the next few years?
Lauri - This question made me really think. I enjoy where the show is right now, but I’m always excited about growth and expansion, so I’d say reaching a wider audience would be the goal.
Liz - When did you start up Inner Enlightenment? Can you tell us about it?
Lauri - I started Inner Enlightenment in February 2019. It’s my business built around helping people who struggle with PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and trauma to have a safe space to express their feelings through art, music, words, and voice.
Liz - You’re a highly sort after speaker for writing groups, podcasts and businesses—what do you enjoy most about speaking to these groups, and do you get nervous?
Lauri - I absolutely get nervous. I call it “Nervicited” as I feel excited and nervous equally as I go and speak, but I love the conversations that are had. I believe that when we open up about our own stories, it also gives people permission to examine their stories and who they are. That’s where communication, connection, and vulnerability come in. I love the conversations and hearing other’s stories and voices.
Liz- Your debut novel, Little Owl, released in August of this year – Congratulations! Can you tell us what it’s about? Lauri - Thank you so much! Yes. It’s about an unstable woman, Adaline Rushner, who’s trying to establish a sense of home and certainty for herself and her family. She struggles with how to do that with the PTSD and anxiety attacks that keep plaguing her. When her daughters are kidnapped from her front yard and pronounced dead, she’s determined to find answers to what happened to her girls. Adaline opens up a web of childhood trauma and secrets that makes her question all she thought she knew about her life, herself, and the people she cares for the most.
Liz - Is it a stand alone, or the first of a series?
Lauri - I left it open for Little Owl to be series or a stand alone.
Liz - How was your process for writing your first book?
Lauri - I love this question. I’ve been working on Little Owl for eleven years. Where I could’ve written multiple novels during that time frame, I chose to learn my craft with this one consistently. I’m so glad that I made that choice and stuck with my characters and their story. I started off doing a lot of overthinking and outlining. I had eight crisp chapters for about five years until I leaned into letting go of the perfectionist part of me and wrote the novel without doing any edits all the way through until I was completely done. Now, I’m very much a hybrid writer where I alternate between a pantser and a plotter.
Liz - What was a standout lesson you learned either about yourself or writing in general during this process?
Lauri - You can learn all about craft and publishing to help build your writing and support your journey, but no one can tell you how to have heart and passion on the page. That has to come from an authentic place of vulnerability and honesty within yourself, and that’s the place where readers connect with your characters and story because it’s real.
Liz - What are you working on now/next?
Lauri - I’m currently working on a realistic fiction story about a girl whose dreams to sing on Broadway are quickly taken when she wakes up, and her voice is gone. She’s faced with giving up her dream or adapting to find another way to step onto the stage.
Liz - Where can our readers follow you?
Lauri - They can find me at www.laurischoenfeld.com or on Facebook or Instagram under my name.