top of page

Laury A. Egan: A Guest Interview!

When I put an appeal out on Twitter for guest posters and interviewees earlier this month, author and poet (among other things) Laury A. Egan was one of the first to respond. I thought 'this person seems like a wonderful human being, let's get to know her'. Imagine our mutual shock, when we realised that we'd written about the same topic: Dissociative Identity Disorder (sometimes known as Multiple Personality Disorder). I wrote about it in my sunny Sapphic romance, The Summer We've Had, and Laury has written about it in her upcoming psychological suspense novel, Jack And I. But I'll leave it to Laury to tell you more... over to you, Laury!

Firstly, tell us about yourself! Who are you, and what do you do?

My degree was in graphic design and photography, with a long career as a university press book designer (see below). I am also a fine arts photographer (many of my books feature my photographs and designs) and have worked as freelance photographer at the Met Opera and most Lincoln Center organizations. My writing career now includes the publication of eleven novels, a story collection (Fog and Other Stories), four volumes of poetry, and the appearance of over 85 stories and poems in journals and anthologies. I write psychological suspense, literary work, comedy, YA, and now this romantic portrait, The Firefly. My readership is also varied, from general to LGTBQ. I live on the northern coast of New Jersey, with a view of Manhattan and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, and work every day, most of the day. A workaholic? Yes. I confess.

How did you get into writing?

I began writing at age seven, with a poem, and then wrote my first novel at ages 12-13, short stories and more poems in high school. Because I was an only child and lived at a distance from town, I was a solitary kid and writing became entertainment as well as a way for me to make sense of the world. Unfortunately, when I decided on college, I opted to study graphic design/photography rather than accept Bennington and Bard Colleges as a creative writing major. My first job after graduation was at Princeton University Press, where I learned a great deal about typography, book design, editing, and promotion. Not until I retired did I begin writing full-time.

Have there been any barriers that you’ve had to work through?

A late start. As mentioned above, if I’d only majored in creative writing, I’d have been connected to publishers and agents in my early twenties. Although I’ve published a fairly large amount, it’s been difficult to make the leap to trade publishing or to garner attention without the backing of an agent and major press. Getting publicity for my work has been a challenge, which many authors at smaller houses also find a struggle.

How do you find inspiration?

Inspiration comes in different forms. Sometimes a “what-if” plot comes to me, such as it did in The Firefly–the idea of a teenager being accidentally abandoned at a lakeside house because each parent thinks the other has remained with her. Other novels began with a voice coming to me in a process somewhat like channelling. In Fabulous: An Opera Buffa, for example, a very funny gay tenor “visited” and was insistent that I write his story. This has happened several times, the strangest being a boy named Joe, who was a young psychopath…I was greatly relieved when he left! The third kind of inspiration is setting. I used to travel frequently (I was a fine arts photographer), and places such as Venice (Jenny Kidd), Mykonos (The Ungodly Hour), and St. Croix (Once, Upon an Island) were wonderful locations.

You said that you’re also a former book designer. Tell me more about that!

Yes…as above, I worked at Princeton University Press and was also a design administrator there. In addition to my BFA in graphic design from Carnegie Mellon University, my in-depth training in typography and book design came at PUP. When I started my own freelance business, I worked nationally for about 22 publishers and designed over 1,000 books in total, most from the ms. through to jackets/covers and bindings–the whole book. Sadly, publishers today (except for Knopf and a few presses) know very little about typography or design–one recent publisher didn’t know what a title page was!

Even I know that! What was the last book you read, and do you recommend it?

I’m a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books and just finished Val McDermid’s Past Lying (an advanced reader’s copy), and as always with her novels, the book was a big, intriguing read. Two favorite authors are Kate Atkinson and Mari Hannah…(yes, I like UK writers!).

What’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever told you about your work?

I’ve been grateful to receive many compliments from reviewers and from readers. This year, the nicest happening was to have The Firefly accepted by Spectrum Books in London, who then promptly took three more works which will appear: (The Psychologist’s Shadow–the first in their new suspense imprint, Enigma Books imprint, November), The Black Leopard’s Kiss & The Writer Remembers (a literary work with magical realism–kind of Orlando-esque, December), and Jack & I (April 2024). Having such a wonderful, enthusiastic, responsive publisher has been the best news of recent years–he has cleared my desk of all projects.

Let’s plug the hell out of The Firefly - tell me all about it!

The novel is set in 1964: A dark summer night on a still black lake. A lantern is lit at the end of a dock. A blond girl in white appears and begins to dance, her body illuminated like the fireflies surrounding her. A second girl emerges from a house and is beckoned forward. The two meet, swim, and then kiss, beginning an ethereal romance and a young woman’s journey into adulthood. So, The Firefly is a romance, or as author Rick R. Reed described it: “a magical foray into young love,” yet it is also a portrait of Robin from age 14 to 40 as she establishes her career as an architect and keeps searching for Stella.

And I also see that your upcoming novel, Jack & I, is about two teenage boys who inhabit the same body, in a similar vein to my book The Summer We’ve Had. What made you want to write about Dissociative Identity Disorder?

I was fascinated that you, too, were attracted to DID as a primary subject for a book, although I suspect my novel is quite different–perhaps darker because it’s in the psychological suspense genre. Told through two narrators: the “host” (in first-person) and the primary “alter,” told in third person, the two are extremely different as are their voices and behaviors. The host is shy, dutiful, honest, and confused by his undiagnosed DID, the alter is manipulative, borderline sociopathic, and despises the host. I had a great time with this novel! It’s due in April 2024 from Spectrum Books.

Lastly, what’s in store for you in the future, aside from Jack & I?

As mentioned above, I have a very busy publishing schedule from now until next spring, with The Firefly the first of four novels to appear. All four are extremely divergent in style and genre, which is typical of my work. In addition, the readership will vary. Of the four, the two partially linked novellas, The Black Leopard’s Kiss & The Writer Remembers, is my most creative and challenging one. I’m thrilled that Spectrum has accepted it. After these? No promises, but I just heavily revised my first manuscript, begun in 1993. Months of work lie ahead–I was shocked at my amateurish mistakes yet liked the plot so am making an effort to salvage the project. Maybe!

That sounds exciting! I wish you luck with it, Laury!

If you would like to write a guest article for my blog, I am currently open to submissions. Find out more here.



bottom of page