Lauren Scharhag

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Lauren Scharhag comes from Crestview, FL

How long have you been writing? Pretty much since I could hold a pen. I came across my baby book not too long ago and my mother wrote, “Lauren loves to read, write and draw!” with a scribbled page attached. I never wanted to do anything else.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer? Finding my own voice. It’s so easy to fall into imitation, but, as Dr. Seuss said, there is no one alive who is Youer than You. When I get stuck, I imagine how I would tell it to a friend and go from there.

What projects of yours have been recently published? I’ve had quite a lot of poems published recently, most notably in The American Journal of Poetry, The Santa Clara Review, The MacGuffin, Into the Void, The Santa Clara Review, and some others. I was awarded the 2017 Door is a Jar Award for poetry, and was an editor’s choice poet over at The Broke Bohemian. I also had a short horror story published in Schlock!, a UK magazine.

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work? I’m working on a collection of poems about people in prison. I have two prison pen pals, one of whom is on death row. I also do volunteer work with an organization called Prisoner Visitation and Support. As a volunteer, I visit people who are serving long-term sentences who don’t have anyone to visit them. It’s tough sometimes, but very rewarding. I’m also currently working on the fourth and fifth book of a fantasy series I co-authored with Coyote Kishpaugh, The Order of the Four Sons. These will be the last books, and it has been a labor of love. I’m pleased to say we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel on that. I love those characters with all my heart, but it’s been over ten years. I’m ready to do new things. That series started life as a screenplay I wrote for a small production company back in Kansas City, where I’m originally from. The film got made, but never got any further than that. Coyote was an extra on the film, which is how we met. We hit it off, and about a year later, he asked me if I’d like to turn the screenplay into a book, or a series of books. It sort of grew in the telling.

Where can we find your work? My books are all currently available on Amazon, both as ebooks and in paperback.

How do you react to rejections? When I was younger, I took them very personally. There was even a several-year span where I stopped submitting things altogether because I couldn’t cope with it. Now, I take them in stride. If my work doesn’t find a home at a particular magazine, it will somewhere else.

How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication? The thrill never wears off. I tell my husband and my best friend and we do a little happy dance.

What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer? Know when to take a break. There comes a time when we’re just banging our head against a wall– the words won’t come, or you can’t get the sentences to smooth out, or something. Stop. Go do something else. Take a walk. Wash the dishes. Read a book. Catch a movie. Anything, but get away from the key board, or the notepad, or however you compose. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a less than productive day. You can’t create indefinitely. Your creative well has to be replenished, and that’s really okay.

What is your favorite book? I have two all-time favorites– Lolita and Watership Down. They are my gold standard for beautiful prose.

Who is your favorite author? Probably Stephen King. I’ve read more by him than anyone else. His books are like comfort food to me.

If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why? Can it be one of my own characters? If so, I’d say Christophe Ecarteur from the Order of the Four Sons series. He’d be delightful company– funny, smart, and he wouldn’t accept anything less than a gourmet spread. Otherwise, I’d say Albus Dumbledore. He’s always so kind and positive and encouraging. He sees things other people don’t. I think he’d be a wonderful person to know.

What makes you laugh? Witty comebacks. Bon mots. Painfully accurate descriptions of things.

What makes you cry? Mostly, I cry when I’m angry or frustrated. I have a terrible temper that I’ve had to learn how to keep a lid on, so instead of yelling, I bite my tongue. It comes out as tears instead.

What is your preferred drink while you write? Just water, since I usually write late at night.

What is your favorite food? Tamales. My mother is Mexican, and I grew up eating the most wonderful food.

Shakespeare or Bukowski? Yes, please. I really do love both. I especially love Bukowski’s short stories. The Most Beautiful Woman In Town and Other Stories and Tales of Ordinary Madness are two of my all-time favorite collections. The Tempest and King Lear are my favorite Shakespeare plays, though I haven’t read them all. That’s on my bucket list. I have the list of Shakespeare’s works taped to my office wall to remind me of this. I’ve read sixteen– not even half! I need to get a move on.

The Ramingo’s Porch Issue #2