I am delighted to welcome a new friend to the blog today! I met Lauren through a facebook group we are both part of, and when I learned about her books I wanted you to meet her too!
Lauren H. Brandenburg is a speaker and advocate for home education, as well as author of the middle-grade series The Books of the Gardener (The Books of Boone and The Books of Orlo) and creative writing curriculum, The Engaged Writer. Her novels are recognized as a “Top Safe Read” and “Top Read Aloud” for young readers in the homeschool community. She is active in ACFW, Realm Makers, and Masterpiece Ministries. Lauren and her husband, Jamie, live in Nashville, Tennessee with their two children.
Lauren’s newest middle-grade book, Orlo the Created, released in December 2016 from Kingdom Publishing Press.
Orlo the deliverer has spent his entire life living in the Conclusus—an underground world where lush gardens grow on top of magnificent towers and a steam filled air balloon is the preferred method of travel by the higher class. On an unplanned trip to the Hall of Healers, Orlo overhears news of a tournament and sees the opportunity to not only increase his social status but fulfill his heart’s desire—to be an inventor.
When he is ordered to retrieve a mysterious package from the Liberum, a vile place where the steam that powers and lights the Conclusus is processed by lawbreakers, Orlo’s dreams of inventing will be altered and his relationships questioned as an unexpected enemy emerges and reveals the truth behind the life he has always known.
Hi Lauren! Welcome to the blog!
Lauren: Thanks for having me!
I start all of my guests out with a fast four:
Lauren: Oranges! Orange is my favorite color, and since I am a fidgeter, taking them apart is quite entertaining.
Carrie: haha! Oranges are the winner over the past couple of interviews, which is unusual. Apples usually dominate this answer.
Lauren: Spring and Fall! Oh wait, I have to choose. Probably winter, because . . . CHRISTMAS, hot cocoa, and snuggling up in warm blankets. We have a short winter in Nashville, so just when I’m getting tired of the cold, it’s spring!
Carrie: YES! Finally winter getting the love it deserves 🙂
Lauren: Dogs! I’m not really an animal person, but since I am severely allergic to cats (eyes swell shut, sick for a week—blah!), I’m going with team dogs!
Carrie: My husband has the same problem with cats, which is perfectly fine with our dog 🙂
Lauren: This is an easy one—TEA! Coffee is weird, it has a really rich (and lovely) aroma, but it tastes like bad water. I’ve been a tea drinker for as long as I can remember, and it makes me feel fancy.
Carrie: that’s EXACTLY what coffee tastes like and you can’t tell me otherwise. Although… don’t hate me… I kinda feel the same way about tea…
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Lauren: Connecting. Over the past two years, I’ve realized that I connect really well with young writers. I teach creative writing to 4th – 6th graders in my homeschool co-op and meet with six amazing future authors every Monday morning to discuss, encourage, and chat about our works in progress. I also have the privilege of working with Masterpiece Ministries—a Christian arts camp for high school students—to mentor writers from across the country. I truly love it!
Carrie: That’s fantastic! What a blessing – for you and for the young writers you mentor!
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Lauren: The children’s section! I love classic children’s stories—The Jungle Book, Little Woman, and anything Roald Dahl. I learned to love reading at a very early age, so I guess the love of the adventure stuck with me. Plus, the children’s section is usually the most fun!
Carrie: The children’s section is totally the most fun. As a former third grade teacher, I’ve never quite gotten over the kiddy lit bug. I hope I never do!
Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks? Any snacks/beverages that are a must when you sit down to write?
Lauren: Yes! I always have my bottle of water and usually a mug of hot tea. I use peppermint and grapefruit oil to keep me alert. I love how the peppermint oil feels cool on the back of my neck, and the smell of the oils combined is super lovely! My daughter made me a jar of homemade lip balm that is always on hand, and my son bought me purple Thinking Putty for Christmas—it’s great when I’m feeling stumped. Let’s see . . . I glance up at my stuffed Paddington quite regularly. He is my reminder to write beautiful things. And, I periodically nibble on dark chocolate—like really dark chocolate, it’s great for the brain!
Carrie: ooo I need to try those oils. And I adore the fact that you have a stuffed Paddington!
World creation takes such creativity, and the Conclusus, the setting for Orlo the Created sounds like such a fantastically creative world. What is your favorite aspect of the Conclusus, and what inspired you as you imagined it?
Lauren: Thanks! Oh the Conclusus! My favorite aspect would have to be the huge gardens that grow on top of all of the towers. They are like mini-hideaways, sanctuaries for the characters. It is the one thing, no matter their social status, that every character can enjoy. I think it is fabulous how many cities today are trying to bring green spaces back into their communities—instead of looking down, they are going up! This was definitely an inspiration.
Carrie: That sounds so delightful!
In Orlo the Created, Orlo wants to be an inventor. If you were going to invent something (other than awesome book worlds), what do you think it would be and why?
Lauren: Fun fact: when I was in the 5th grade I invented a backpack called the “Lite Load”. It was supposed to reduce the amount of pressure on the wearer’s shoulders. I actually won the local and state rounds in a young inventors contest and then went on to the national level. Nothing happened. Moving on . . .today, I think I would invent teleportation device. We love to travel and our immediate family lives in two different states, so not having to drive everywhere would be fabulous!
Carrie: Ok… that’s pretty cool. I could have used one of those “Lite Load” backpacks when I was in school. And yes please – I’ll take one of the teleportation devices too. Nieces and nephews live much too far away, not to mention friends that are across the country and across the world.
What do you most want readers to take away from Orlo the Created?
Lauren: I want my readers (young and old) to know that they were created to do something great! The gifting is inside of them and once they realize what that is—maybe it’s something they just really enjoy doing, or a dream they’ve always had—they should go for it! I don’t want my readers to ever feel like living their dream is impossible. Orlo had a lot of obstacles to overcome . . . but he goes for it!
Carrie: I love this. Yes!
Again thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Lauren: THANK YOU! I’m continuing The Books of the Gardener series—three trilogies: The Books of Boone, The Books of Orlo, and The Books of Lewis. I am hoping to release the second book of Orlo this fall . . . really hoping. I can’t wait to get it to my readers! And, I am currently writing my first novel for adults. It has become my happy place; it’s so quirky, fun, and has a lot of my own story woven throughout. If it makes the reader smile, then I will have accomplished my goal. Thank you again for having me!
Carrie: These all sound so creative! And I’m really looking forward to your novel for adults, too! Happy places are the best 🙂
Lauren is giving away a paperback copy of Orlo the Created to one of my readers. Due to shipping costs and international regulations, this will be open to US mailing addresses only. Giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies.
What about you? If you could invent something, what would it be?