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An Interview with Lori Paris

Conducted by Dawn Seewer
October, 2002

During her search as a young adult Lori Paris found her birth parents and the inspiration for an emotionally charged tale. Her first book is “Follow Your Heart” where tragedy and a hidden family secret lead a young woman on a quest of a lifetime. Lori took a moment to sit down and chat with us about her career, her book and her upcoming projects.

FF: Your first novel “Follow Your Heart” is based on your experience as an adopted child and your search for your birth parents. Can you tell me a little bit about what prompted you to write about this very personal experience?

Lori: I have written off and on for many years, but always non-fiction. I wanted to try my hand at a novel. We’ve all heard the phrase, “write what you know”. Reuniting with my birth parents was such a moving and life changing experience that I wanted to use it as a premise for a book. However, I wanted to protect the privacy of my family, and I wanted to be able to create certain characters, and make the story turn out the way I wanted it to! Fictionalizing my own experiences was the easiest way to accomplish that. Plus, there are so many elements of the real life story that I wanted to incorporate in the book. There’s love, loss, conflict, resolution, suspense…I also wanted to try and convey the intensity and complexity of being an adoptee who searches for their birth parents. It’s quite a risky and complicated venture.

FF: Did you always have an interest in perusing writing as a career?

Lori: I’ve always enjoyed writing, but mostly did it for my own pleasure. I’ve never really had writing as a career goal until recently. My focus for the last 17 years has been on raising a family, so I haven’t had a lot of time to devote to writing!

FF: In your opinion, what was the hardest part of writing “Follow Your Heart”?

Lori: The emotional aspect, no question. There are certain passages and scenes that are absolutely heart wrenching. Often I would be crying while writing a chapter. And when I would go back and edit my work, rereading certain sections would make me cry all over again.

FF: And the best part?

Lori: The emotional aspect! There were strong emotions I wanted to convey, messages I wanted to share with people. And not only to adoptees, but to anyone whose family means everything to them. That’s an awful lot of us! One of my goals was to try and create characters that people could relate to and care about, I think I enjoyed that process the most.

FF: Has the experience of writing and publishing your first book changed your process or goals when it comes to writing the second book?

Lori: Well, I’ve learned an awful lot about the world of publishing! Of course, in working on the second book, I realize that I must be disciplined and write as often as I can, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day. Promoting and marketing the first book is very time consuming, and the second book is going a bit slower as a result. But the actual process of writing has not changed for me. I don’t have an outline that I work off of. I start with a premise, create characters that I like, and never know exactly how the story is going to end until I write it.

FF: Can you tell us a little bit about your second book?

Lori: It too revolves around family and relationships. It’s a fairly dark story, about a family that has everything and then suffers unspeakable loss. It’s about survival and redemption, and it will have a happy ending! It’s just that I want to evoke emotion in my readers, I want them to feel for the characters, to root for them, to understand what they are going through, to sympathize, and to have faith that things will turn out all right in the end.

FF: You have also written several articles that are centered on adoption; do you plan on using your experience as a focal point for most of your writing?

Lori: Not necessarily about adoption, no. Family and relationships are more of a focal point for me.

FF: What advice would you give to someone who may be considering using their own personal experiences as a basis for a book?

Lori: Do it! Just be prepared that it can be a challenge from a personal viewpoint, especially if it is an emotionally charged issue. But it can be a cathartic process, a kind of therapy if you will. And I also believe that when you write about a personal experience, you write from the heart. Readers connect with that and appreciate the honesty and effort it takes.

For those of us who enjoy tales of relationships, secrets, survival and redemption, we’ll want to watch the promising career of Lori Paris. To find out more about Lori be sure to visit her web site at http://www.authorsden.com/loriaparis. Thank you Lori for the opportunity to get to know you, it’s been our pleasure. End

Copyright © 2002 by Dawn Seewer

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