AL's Musings- Things the Muse likes

~reviews, guest blogs, author inverviews, virtual tour stops, random ramblings ~

 Guest Spot by Author Laura VanArendonk Baugh on what insipred her to write and what her muse likes-

It’s all about the chocolate.


I’m Laura VanArendonk Baugh, and I’m a choco-holic. And a writer. I write fantasy of several flavors, historical and urban and epic, non-fiction on animal behavior, and a little mystery. And I do with it chocolate.

Dark chocolate, to be specific. At this point I no longer know if it’s the caffeine (I don’t drink coffee) or the conditioned association, but it works. When I need to blitz out some words, I break out the dark chocolate.


“And Only the Eyes of Children” was written in two sessions and fueled by dark chocolate-covered almonds. Not only did the story sell on its first submission (you can find it in the anthology Fae, edited by Rhonda Parrish), but it’s been nominated for the prestigious 2015 Pushcart Prize. So clearly the chocolate system works for me.


As you might guess, however, this utility is not without some sacrifice. Since my writing career got more serious, the combination of sedentary work at a keyboard and delicious chocolate to power through edits has definitely had an effect. I combat the evil clothes-shrinking fairy by being selective; a high-end organic (no slave labor) chocolate must be savored, not gobbled, and consequently I devour much less. I’m also experimenting with a homemade treadmill desk.


But it’s the internal drive which is more compelling. Many of my stories are about people pushed to the brink in improbable situations: a wife trying to prevent the assassination of the husband who threw her out, a hated public figure forced to either rescue a girl who was kind to him or protect an entire city, a slave bartering his freedom for the life of a newborn in Bethlehem. I write to find what they might do in such crucibles, and to learn what I think of it.


Life can be big, and we can get too close to it to regard it properly. We need distance to gain perspective. Fiction can give us some distance, and fantasy gives us the most – we can focus on hobbits fighting orcs and not think about us fighting bill-collectors or cancer or even frenemies. Yet all truth is truth, even if we arrive at it by a scenic route.


So a lot of good stories are about people who are not us – no really, not us, I’m just, uh, asking for a friend – faced with impossible decisions and then making them. Proving themselves by deed, not talk. Performing under pressure.

And under pressure, I perform best with dark chocolate.


Laura VanArendonk Baugh is the author of a half-dozen books and more short stories. Her titles include Kitsune-Tsuki, Kitsune-Mochi, Con Job, Smoke & Fears, and most recently the Christmas tale So To Honor Him. She’s currently revising the epic fantasy Shard & Shield.




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