Q. Can you tell us about your debut release African Hearts?
A. African Hearts was released in April. It was inspired from when I was in grade three when my teacher taught us about Africa. I saw a picture of a boy standing next to his mud hut and it aroused my curiosity. Four years ago the Watoto Children’s Choir visited our church. We billeted two of the children and their chaperone. We talked about the biggest challenges for the orphans’ as they grew up and particularly when they left the orphanage. The biggest challenge is their sense of belonging. I related to this because I lost my parents at a young age, too, and have had a sense of where do I belong in this world.
African Hearts was inspired by me thinking about belonging. Sometimes we think we know what we want from life, but our destiny isn’t always what or where we think. Gina Messina thought she belonged in the multi-million dollar business inherited from her parents. She is called to Africa to visit with her dying brother, but when she gets there he has already died and she is astonished when she learns she’s guardian of her eight year old nephew whom she knew nothing about.
She meets Kam Bonsu, Marco’s doctor, who has lost his faith because his wife and child were killed in a car accident. Destiny has brought these two people together, but do they have the strength to overcome their prejudices to make a difference in the lives around them.
Q. You’re travelling around Australia at the moment, how have your travels helped inspire your current work in progress?
A. Being out in the environment has made me feel really connected to my creator. Through his creation I’ve been able to tap into my own creativity and think more on an organic level than ever before. I’m finding new settings and new stories of how people do life today in our chaotic world which is an inspiration to me.
Q. Why did you choose to publish with an independent Australian publisher for you debut book?
A. I love Australia, and I love being Australian. My publisher, Rochelle Manners of Even Before Publishing, has a vision for Inspirational Women’s Fiction. I can see her vision. I want to be part of that vision. There’s a lot of good American inspirational fiction out there, but as Australians we have our own unique voice. I believe we need to value our Australian voice and show the world we can do it, too.
Q. What advice would you give to aspiring authors wanting to write for the Inspiration Women’s Fiction market, particularly in Australia.
A. If you feel you’ve been called to write inspirational fiction, write it. Follow what’s in your heart and don’t try to predict what the market wants or follow trends. Your writing voice and life experiences are unique. Call on all the resources that are in you are and your writing will show the real you.
Thank you Laura for visting and sharing your journey.
For more about Laura visit her website http://laura-oconnell.com
One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Laura’s debut novel African Hearts.