Writer Spotlight - Erin LaVallee

Erin LaVallee
Today I'm pleased to introduce Erin LaVallee from Phoenix, Arizona.

Hi Erin!!! Welcome.
1. What manuscript do you have out on submission now?

Hi, Paula!  Thank you so much for having me today.  I truly love my characters and it’s a thrill to have the opportunity to chat about a story I feel so passionate about. 

I'm currently querying my completed 88,000 word manuscript, THE EYES BENEATH, a conglomeration of YA romance and paranormal fiction. Even though this story is set in the present day, it has a historical/costume bent.

2. Give us the three to four sentence pitch.

Sure!  Here are three sentences from my query letter for THE EYES BENEATH:

Poor, independent Cara and rich, emotionally unavailable Grant would seem to have nothing in common—but fate lands Baton Academy seniors Grant and Cara in the same Civil War history class, and soon undeniable feelings ignite between these two unlikely lovers. When a required Civil War reenactment field trip brings Grant and Cara to Oak Alley, the grand old Baton Rouge plantation where a mysterious older gentleman named Milo Harper volunteers, the two soon discover that Milo is actually but the possession vessel for an ancient demon named Alvah, who lures the couple with a private tour to the plantation’s attic, perilously trapping them. However, Cara is no damsel in distress, and she’s determined to find a way to defeat Alvah and save her true love, all the while discovering the destiny her grandmother hinted at years ago.

Awesome!!! As in uber-awesome!! Destiny, demons, Civil War, and true love, what's not to love, right?

3. Would you care to share the opening line or paragraph?

I’d love to, although my opening is the only part of my story told from the antagonist’s POV (gotta love an intriguing bad guy).

Some refer to me as the fallen. 

I choose not to see myself that way. 

For how can one be “fallen” when living on such an indulgent high? 

Fallen are those who succumb to me.

 VERY nice, Erin. I'm totally creeped out and freaked out and...I want more!!!

4. What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence, writing in the voice of one of your characters from any of your manuscripts.

I have a love/hate relationship with the passive verb was.  In my writing, I make an effort to replace it with an active verb whenever possible.  However, there are times when the story simply dictates that It was cold with no further description or elaboration needed.  (Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m stuck. *grin*).

My favorite word at the moment is a toss up between ramshackle and hood-rat.  Comically, I used both in THE EYES BENEATH to describe Cara’s vehicle.  Here’s an excerpt from THE EYES BENEATH with the use of the word ramshackle in Cara’s voice.

“Also, the school will not be providing any transportation to this event, so please coordinate amongst yourselves,” Mr. Woodworth instructed in his prominent drawl, with jittering hands and perspiration beading on his middle-aged brow.

Perfect.  My ramshackle car hadn’t run in several months.  I would either need to figure out some kind of public transportation, which probably didn’t even run to that part of town, or worse . . . I’d have to get a ride with one of my classmate Civil War super nerds.  Ugh!  This just keeps getting better and better.  The expression on my face dropped from displeased to dire.

Okay, and now for hood-rat:

              Bobby’s beautiful shiny black Tahoe sat front and center in the visitor parking lot.  Scotty pressed the unlock button on the keypad and the SUV chirped, dazzling us with its blinking lights. 

“Beats the hell out of your hood-rat vehicle.  I’m really starting to like these guys,” Scotty said with a satisfied grin.

Ooh, hood-rat, I do believe I've owned a few of those. And I'm sure you prefer to call them hood-rats than lemons, yes : ) **See below.

5. What are you working on while you wait?

I’m working on a sequel to THE EYES BENEATH along with a hodgepodge of other creative projects stirring in my brain.  I’ve also started kicking around the idea of writing a fresh contemporary YA retelling of Richard Matheson’s, SOMEWHERE IN TIME.  I’ve been mesmerized by that story since childhood and it’s fair to say that when it comes to time travel, I’m a geek to the core. 

In addition to my writing, I’m always cookin’ up something on my blog, so be sure to pop by The Lemonista (my blog) when you get a chance.

* Warning, do not visit her blog on an empty stomach unless you are prepared to stop whatever you're doing, run to the grocery store, and cook one of her yummy creations--just saying. (Mouth-still-watering.) I'll, uh, be back, gotta go get the makings for her butterscotch pecan sticky buns (click here for Erin's recipe). Keep reading while I'm gone.

6. What book have you read in the past six mo that’s inspired you and why? 

Gosh, I’ve read so many great YA novels recently, but to narrow it down, the following books have really stuck in my craw (which is a good thing):

The Hush Hush Saga by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Fallen Series by Lauren Kate
The Great And Terrible Beauty Series by Libba Bray
And most recently, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. 

All of these novels appeal to my love of presumably real teens thrown into a paranormal world.  I’m inspired by the amazing world building, ambiance and cross-over sensibility of these stories.

So true. Real teens, as long as they are not our own real teens, yes? And Nightshade, I did enjoy that one, too, as well as the others.

7. Do you have a literary-character crush?

Well, I’m almost embarrassed to say that I just may never get over the alluring draw of Edward Cullen.  “Real men sparkle”—damn straight. *wink*

Okaaay, okay, I'll step forward, too. My name is Paula McLaughlin and I am obsessively drawn to sparkly vampires with the first name Edward and the last name Cullen. Phew, glad that's out. : )

8. Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

I’m a stay at home mom of two young kids, a miniature schnauzer, two ducks, two fish and a beloved hamster.  I’m also a highly creative person and a foodie.  Seriously, I live to eat. *grin* Although I’ll always be a Midwestern farm girl at heart, I live in the big city of Phoenix now.  Nestled in the center of a very urban area, my post-WWII neighborhood once existed as a citrus orchard in the 1920’s.  Many of the original citrus trees still remain and we enjoy the grapefruit, oranges and lemons that grow on our city lot!  My impossibly large and beautiful lemons gained instant online popularity when a baker’s dozen sold in an East Coast charity auction for a surprising sum of money.  Since then, I’ve shipped lemons all over the country and established quite a following on private chat boards (including a few celebs who shall remain anon). *wink* With the recent completion of my novel, I decided to establish a public platform with The Lemonista blog and Twitter. Even though I’ve only been at it a short while, I’ve already developed an immeasurable amount of respect for successful bloggers. Building a public platform is nothing short of hard work, however, essential.

Say whaaat, you can't tell us the celebs? Was it Edward and Bella?  I know they were in Phoenix while James was on the hunt for Bella. 

Thanks again, Paula, for hosting me today.  May we all see our creative dreams come to fruition in the very near future!

Amen to that!!

Erin, thank you so much for the interview and I wish you all the best in finding a home for THE EYES BENEATH. Keep us posted.

Do stop over to her blog, The Lemonista, Erin makes you feel right at home with the warmth and charm of her writing, and her good cookin'. Thanks Erin!!!!!


  1. Ohhh, the book sounds fascinating!

  2. LOVE the characters name :grin:
    The story sounds intriguing! totally something I would want to read .. good luck Erin!! Love your blog too :)

  3. I'm a huge fan of the Leminista's blog. Can't wait to read The Eyes Beneath.

  4. Great interview! I would love to read this book!!!!

  5. Hi, Erin! Nice to meet you!
    Personally, anything with Civil War era costumes goes on my to read shelf. I look forward to seeing your book in print!

  6. The book sounds amazing! I can not wait to read it!

  7. This sounds like a great book love to read it.....and come by and pick some lemons lol

  8. Sounds like a great read - something both of my teenage girls (and me too, truth be told) will enjoy!

  9. I've had the opportunity to read a very small section of Erin's novel and I can tell you that I can not WAIT to get my hands on the finished product. From the very opening line, mysteries surrond the characters that need to be answered! I've been dying for more. I can't wait to finally have those answers in my hand! Best of luck to you, Erin.

  10. Yeah! Nice work Paula and Erin. It is so fun to check in on Tuesday and fine so many diverse voices out there in the YA/MG space.

    Erin, your voice comes shooting through in your work, and I love the dark edge to your work.


    btw - My name is Dustin Hansen. I'm not a fan of sparkly vampires, but I am addicted to Erin's lemons. Last year I made lemon marmalade from them - sadly it's gone now - can't wait for the next batch :).

  11. Great interview! The book sounds like something I'd really be interested in reading.

  12. Sounds wonderful!!!!! Would love to read it:) Good luck Erin!!

  13. So cool Erin! I have ben waiting for this! Can't wait to read the book!

  14. Ooh! Sounds exciting. I hope we can read it soon!

  15. Real teens in a paranormal world - my favorite kind of read! Erin - your book sounds fascinating! Good luck!!

  16. Holy Crow!! Erin you sure do have lots of peeps out there!!

    Thanks everyone for stopping by to check out Erin's manuscript.

    Nice to see so many new faces.

  17. Erin,
    I love your blog, and I can't wait to read your book! Exciting!!

  18. Awesome, Erin! I can't wait to have my teen daughter read this!! It looks so fun.

  19. Sounds like a very good read!!

  20. Sounds like a GREAT read. Can't wait!

  21. This book sounds awesome. I would love to have the opportunity to read it.

  22. Sounds like a fanatasic read! Please let me know where and when I can buy it!

  23. Sounds like a great book. Really enjoyed the interview.

  24. Simply captivating - can't wait to read the rest! Best of luck to you, Erin!!

  25. I just got goosebumps! I'm one of the lucky ones to know Erin personally and have the pleasure of being a beta reader for her. Although I am not finished with it yet but I can tell you when she gets it printed, it will be flying off the shelves. One of my character crushes is one from her book. Major swoon! I wish her all the luck and can't wait to have my first addition of The Eyes Beneath signed! *wink wink*

    What a fabulous interview!!!! I ♥ ya Erin!!

  26. Sounds great, Erin. And I love the whole Lemonista handle. Very cool.

    Best of luck finding a home for THE EYES BENEATH. (Is that a suitably creepy title or what?!!)

  27. The Civil War angle sounds fascinating and novel (pardon the pun)!

  28. I am fortunate to call Erin a friend and I am super excited for her exciting endeavor, The Eyes Beneath. I have been intrigued by Erin's story since she told me of her idea a few years ago and it is exciting to see it coming to fruition. Way to go Erin!

    And on a different note, I have also been super lucky to be the recipient of many of Erin's yummy recipes when she simply has made too much for her family to eat. Yumm! I sure miss living down the street from the best cook in the valley! Make sure you check out her blog for all her delicious recipes. Best of luck my dear friend!

  29. Can't wait to get a copy! I am looking forward to a page turner.

  30. Love The Lemonista's Blog. Looking forward to reading The Eyes Beneath!

  31. Sounds like a great page turner. Can't wait to read more.

  32. What a great Writer Spotlight thank you very much! Erin as always congrats on all your accomplishments and your beautiful creativity. The Eyes Beneath is just another testament to your imagination and talent. I am so excited for you!

  33. Great interview. Great artist. I hope the YA fiction world gets to meet Erinthrough her book. They will become big fans and probably eat better. Thanks Erin for following through with your dreams and giving us hope to follow ours. R. Leo

  34. Great interview. Great answers. Thanks Erin for following through with your dreams and giving hope to others to do the same. I hope the YA world gets to know you, they will be better for it and maybe even eat better. R. Leo Olson

  35. I love Erin!! Her blog is divine and I'm sure her book will be ravishing!

  36. I'm a huge fan of the Leminista's blog. Can't wait to read The Eyes Beneath.

  37. I'm a BIG fan of the Leminista's blog. Can't wait to read The Eyes Beneath.

  38. The road to publication is a humble one. I am so grateful to have such amazing friends and followers. Thank you all for your encouraging words and support. It really means so much!

    If anyone wants to contact me about THE EYES BENEATH, please email:

  39. very exciting Erin! I cannot wait to read it!!!

  40. Amazing! I can't wait to read it!! I'm also a big fan of the Lemonista's blog!!

    S. Pascual

  41. Oh, so intriguing! I want to read more!! Best of luck to you.

  42. I can't wait to read more! It sounds sooo good!

  43. Eeep...sounds like a page turner! Congrats Erin!!

  44. Sounds fascinating Erin! Can't wait to read it. You are so talented.


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