Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Interview with Laura McNeill, author of Center of Gravity


Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true.

In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is grand.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It's temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town —Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?

Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem. 

Center of Gravity

by Laura McNeill




When your children are stolen, the pain swallows you whole. Logic fades, reason retreats. Desperation permeates the tiniest crevices of your mind. Nothing soothes the ache in your wounded soul.

Right in front of me, my sweet, charmed life fell to pieces. Everything destroyed; a hailstorm’s wrath on a field of wildflowers. All I’d known—gone. Foolish me, I’d believed in magic, clung tight to false promises. The lies, spoken from tender lips, haunt me now, follow me, and whisper into my ear like a scorned lover.

What’s left is emptiness. 

Give up, a voice urges. Let go. 

No! I argue back. My children aren’t gone. Not yet. Precious and delicate, tiny fossils, they exist in glass-boxed isolation. Hidden. Protected.

And so tonight, I run. Blood pulses through my legs, my muscles protest; my lungs scream for more oxygen. Thick storm clouds brew in the distance. The rain falls in blinding sheets. The force of it pricks my skin like needles, but the pain only makes me push harder.

I will rescue them.

Lightning flashes across the wet driveway. The bulk of his truck looms large in the black night. I skid to a stop and catch my breath, pressing a hand to my heaving chest.

They’re here. My children are here.

Thunder booms and crashes, nearer now, the wind whips my hair. A gust tosses tree branches to the ground. Birds cry and flutter to safety. An escaped sandbox bucket spins, clattering on the blacktop.

I grasp the railing and pull myself up the steps. At the top, the door’s shiny-slick with water and humidity. Mother Nature howls and drowns out my knocking.

“Hello! Can you hear me?” With my palm open wide, I slap at the barrier, willing it to open. I will rescue my children. I will rescue them . . . or I will die trying.

After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.

Laura works at Spring Hill College as the school’s web content and social media manager and​ is active in her community—participating in fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, and Providence Hospital’s Festival of Flowers.

Laura was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., will be published in July of 2015. Laura is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, president of McIntosh and Otis literary agency in New York.​ Her writing awards include those from William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, Writer’s Digest, RWA, and the Eric Hoffer competition.

She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in interactive technology from the University of Alabama. She is a native of Upstate New York and currently resides near the Alabama Gulf Coast with her two children.

* Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads * Instagram 

I interviewed her and the following is what she shared with me:

What part of writing do you find the most challenging? Most enjoyable?

I love the idea part of the book process, when everything seems perfect and ideal. It’s when I get into the nitty gritty of plotting (and I am a big believer in plotting in detail), that it can be a bit challenging to figure out all of the twists and turns. If I don’t outline or plot, I have a tendency to write myself into a corner!

As for the most challenging, the final revisions—when you know you are on deadline and have to get them done and right – tend to be a little stressful. All of the major changes have to be done. My final changes are due in September for my second suspense novel, Sister Dear, which releases in April 2016! Working on those right now while touring to share news about Center of Gravity! 

Which type of characters are your favorite to write? the easiest? the hardest? the most fun?
Fav – Villainous characters are probably, strangely enough, my favorite to write. I’ve studied psychology and personality and one of my very good friends is a therapist who specializes in narcissists, so I have a resource at the ready whenever I have a question.
Easiest -  I love writing kids and teens. I have one of each in my house and plenty of their friends, so I can absorb their language and mannerisms pretty easily just by being in the same room. That said, a writer has to be careful to be true to the child’s age. In Center of Gravity, Jack is a very wise 8 year old.
Hardest – The main character can be very difficult because you want the person to be likeable and real, like a true friend. Certainly, I want to draw someone who is not perfect, because that would be boring. The character has to have a believable goal and fears to work through. She or he has to learn lessons and grow through the novel, as well.
It’s a tough balance to get this character just right. Readers need to relate to the main character or they will put the book down and walk away!
Most fun –  Definitely the over-the-top crazy characters. Before I published Center of Gravity, I wrote 4 women’s fiction books as “Lauren Clark.” I created some awesome jealous girlfriends and terrible mother in laws!

What is a trait or quality is unique to you? Tenacity

If you could pick any destination, where would you go? Santorini, Greece

Hardback, paperback, ebook or audio book? I love all types of books, but my go-to is an audiobook in a car or on an airplane.

What is your favorite part of the day? The morning. I write in the mornings between 530 am – 730 am (or edit). Center of Gravity was written almost exclusively in the early morning, with a few weekends thrown in for good measure.

Who is the first person you call with good or bad news? My BFF and co-worker. We’re super close and have worked together for almost 3 years. We talk nearly every day.

What type of music do you listen to? It depends on my mood. A lot of pop, some soul and R & B, some 80’s music, and reggae in the summer and on vacation. While I was writing Center of Gravity, I kept the house relatively quiet as the topic and theme of the book are pretty intense.

What is your favorite sport? I grew up in Upstate New York, so Ice Hockey is a favorite to watch. To play, soccer.

What is your favorite or least favorite veggie and fruit?
Fav – Beets and raspberries
Least – Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe

What is your biggest pet peeve? Mean people, followed by snooty or rude people. I love this answer! ;-)

Homebody or social butterfly? Social butterfly – I am a people person and love to talk and laugh with friends. I’m much like my father, who’s never met a stranger!

What is your favorite fall activity Halloween and trick or treating with my little one.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. :-)
THANK YOU BRENDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anytime!

My Thoughts:
This book pulled at my heartstrings. At times I had to walk away because it affected me so deeply. If you have a heart in your chest, you too will be affected. Have tissues handy.

Ava is a fierce momma bear in all her glory. She will do what ever it takes to save her children from the monster that used to be her husband.

Center of Gravity is experienced in many POV's including Ava, Jack (one of the kids), Mitchell (her butt wad of an ex), and a few more.

I won't give too much away but I will express again just how emotional this story is! It is also dramatic, suspenseful, gripping, sickening in parts when the ex does certain things, intensely psychological, foreboding and dangerous.

It was a nail-biter. If you like your books emotional and suspenseful. You'll be thrilled with this one. 

I received an ecopy in exchange for my honest opinion. Wow.... Just.... Wow!

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  1. This sound really deep and emotional so probably not what i need right now but thank you for making em discover it
    and thank you for the interview, it's strange how often vilains are the easiest part to write^^

    1. Miki - Thank you so much for stopping by Brenda's blog and review of Center of Gravity. She gave me some great interview questions - lots to think about :)

      And yes, villains are often the easiest to write!!!
      xx, Laura

  2. Brenda - Thank you for the lovely and heartfelt review. I appreciate the time you took to delve into Ava and Jack's story and connect with their characters! And, yes, you describe Mitchell PERFECTLY!!!)

    xx, Laura

  3. Great interview with Laura! I do enjoy a nail biting, suspenseful novel. I am looking forward to reading Center of Gravity.

    1. Thank you Caryl! I do too! :) My favorite genre to read and write in ... though I do often pick up something light and funny to break up the tension! xx, Laura

  4. Sounds like a fabulous story. I can't wait to read it.

    1. Thank you so much, Rita! That is so kind of you to say! I appreciate you stopping by Brenda's website to check out the book, the interview, and Brenda's review of Center of Gravity!

      xx, Laura

  5. I enjoyed the interview and excerpt, thank you! Center of Gravity sounds like such an intense, emotional book! I can't wait to read it!

  6. Great post! I enjoyed reading the interview, I would also go to Greece... it's on my bucket list :)