Laurel A. Rockefeller

Author Interview Form
Tell us your name and where you’re from.:
Laurel A. Rockefeller. I was born/raised in Lincoln,
Nebraska and currently live in western Pennsylvania.
What led to your decision to become an author?:
I am a singer/songwriter originally. I grew up in a very
violent home and used to make up songs to help me deal with all that.
My first publications were all poetry/music, including “Why Bilbo?”
which came out in January 1991 in the “Minas Tirith Evening Star,” the
journal of the American Tolkien Society. From there, I wrote
non-fiction research papers for various publications of the Society
for Creative Anachronism, including on the life of Empress Wu Zetian.
Writing novels I think just evolved out of that — but you can clearly
see my non-fiction and music background in my books. I might be the
only novelist who puts bibliographies into my books!
Tell us about what you’re currently working on, and
what you’ve written in the past.:
I currently have two projects in the works right — one for
each of my book series. For the Legendary Women of World History
biographical novella series, I am following up on the success of
“Boudicca: Britain’s Queen of the Iceni” with “Catherine de Valois”
(subtitle to be determined). Shakespeare turned Catherine into this
mindless boy toy in Henry V — the complete opposite of what we know
about her. So I am tackling the complexities of 15th century England
and France to tell her story.

Meanwhile, I am working on completing “Princess Anyu Returns,” the
third and final installment of the Anlei’s Legacy Trilogy in the Peers
of Beinan Series. This trilogy is a sort of “Game of Thrones” in
another galaxy. Book two “Ghosts of the Past” ends on a cliffhanger
where you really do not know who has survived the coup d’Etat.
Returns answers all those questions, focusing first on Princess Anyu’s
exile on the hostile alien planet of D425E25 Tertius and then on her
return to Beinan and struggle to free her people from the clutches of
Lord Yelu.

What are some of your strongest points as a writer,
and what if anything are you constantly working to improve upon?:
Science fiction and historical fiction both require a writer
to be very data-grounded and possess strong research skills in order
to tell the stories in a believable fashion. My work is believable
and does not require much if any suspension of disbelief because my
world building and world re-construction is so saturated with fact.
When I do not know something about a particular detail, I immediately
go to professionals in whatever field is involved with that detail or
scene. For example, when Lord Engineer Kian is assassinated on the
floor of the Great Hall of the Assembly in “The Ghosts of the Past,”
the exact place the crossbow quarrel hits was determined by talking to
an ER doctor who deals with gunshot wounds. He showed me the
difference between a hit directly to the heart verses grazing the
heart verses hitting the lung. Those all make a difference when
writing a death scene.

So I would say my research skills, my curiosity, and my willingness to
ask a lot of people a lot of questions are at the heart of why my
books are so enjoyable to read.

The other great strength I feel is my music. Not only do most of my
works include songs written for them (“Here Lays My Father and my
Lord” from Ghosts of the Past is one song I am especially proud of),
but all works really sound quite lyrical. Since I am low vision, I
read my books aloud as I write. If a sentence does not sound
beautiful to my trained musical ears, I will re-write until it sounds

Something I am working on improving is my readability at lower reading
levels. Precisely because I am very scientific and have a large
vocabulary carefully cultivated across my education, I tend to write
with a lot of big words and technical terminology. Now that I am
unexpectedly writing for a broader audience (children, teens, and
adults) I find that I really need to expand my writing style to be
more inclusive on my word choices and less technical.

Okay, sure, I love the word “vexed” as a Jane Austen fan, but a ten
year old probably has never heard that word. I do not want to vex my
readers into reading something else!

Are you self published, traditionally published or
both? Why did you choose to go that route?:
I am self-published. Probably for two reasons. One is that
traditional publishing does not generally take many risks with new,
unknown writers and I did not want to fight that system. A second is
that I make more money per copy self-published than I do going with
the traditional route.
What format are your books available in? Which of
these formats do you prefer and why?:
The print editions of my books include at least one of the
following: paperback, large print paperback, and QR Interactive
paperback. When I first QR indexed in the summer of 2013, I already
had paperback and large print editions for my first two Peers of
Beinan series books, “The Great Succession Crisis” and “The Ghosts of
the Past,” so I simply added the QR indexed editions to those. For
more information about what QR indexing is, please watch my
tutorial/webinar at

Since that time, I QR index by default, building upon the over 800
hours spent in 2013 on my database. That said, Princess Anyu Returns
will probably publish in both regular and QR interactive editions.

All my digital editions (available in the kindle store) include the
same indexing, using hypertext links instead of QR codes to connect
readers to that enhanced content.

This summer I will release “The Poisoned Ground” environmental
detective novella as an audio book. Look for “The Great Succession
Crisis” to come out in audio in the spring of 2015.

My preferred formats personally are the interactive editions — kindle
or QR paperback — and the audio editions. I am thrilled with the
narrator I chose for the Peers of Beinan Series audio books, Rebecca
Thomas, because she is very thorough, like me, in her research. I
draw upon a dozen languages for names in the Peers of Beinan Series
and Rebecca has been wonderful about learning how to say all those
names correctly — her singing is also pretty good too which you will
hear in the audio editions. It is no surprise she is highly sought
after as a narrator.

How do you go about marketing your books?:
I use twitter a lot. Though I post on various book groups on
facebook, I like twitter. My tweets are a mix of links to my
non-fiction articles with Yahoo Voices, to blog posts, to my youtube
trailers and tutorials, and finally to my books themselves. I also
retweet most of the posts from those who I follow, and usually follow
back those who follow me (@laurelworlds), so it would be fair to say I
work co-operatively with other writers and bloggers. You are the key
to my success; this is not about me.

Finally, I “market” by being a positive person. This may seem
illogical given the challenges of my youth especially, but it really
does work. When you believe in yourself, when you believe in other
people, and you believe that today is the best day of your life — it
not only shows, but it is contagious. Good things happen to positive
people. I absolutely refuse to be negative again. As JMS of Babylon
5 says, there is no such thing as failure — only opportunities to
make something great.

Have you ever had to deal with harsh criticism in a
review, and how do you handle it?:
I have a one star review on the QR edition of “Ghosts of the
Past” where it was really obvious the man never read any of the books
and where he was just trashing me to do it. Two sentences claiming
the very complicated murder-mystery was written on the 5th grade level
— among other gripes.

Initially the review bugged me a bit because it so obviously not the
case — I have to carefully edit my LWWH series books in order to put
them to the 4th or 5th grade level so that my younger audiences can
enjoy them and be inspired by these stories of amazing women in

Writing to a grammar school level is not second nature to me at

What I learned from this one star review is first to not let these
things bother me and second to trust readers to recognize a troll when
they see one.

What are your favorite genres to both read and
I love history. I love reading non-fiction history and
writing historical fiction. I also love non-fiction science (Dr. Neil
deGrasse Tyson is amazing) and reading science-grounded science
fiction novellas and short story anthologies. Growing up the Star
Trek anthologies were my absolute favorite, especially the stories
written by “Journey to Babel” author Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana.
What authors have influenced or inspired you?:
J.R.R. Tolkien, Babylon 5’s JMS, Star Trek’s Dorothy Fontana,
Marion Zimmer Bradley, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William
Shakespeare, and sometimes Geoffrey Chaucer.
What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re
not writing?:
I love my cockatiels Mithril and Gandalf. They are my world!
When I am not a perch or cuddling birds, I enjoy English country
dancing — something you see in my Peers of Beinan series books as
part of the Jane Austen effect. I am also learning to ice skate.
Since I have 20/80 vision, I need help navigating the rink and
especially in navigating safely when other skaters are on the ice, but
I believe that with the right kind of help, I can make that dream come
What software do you use for your writing? Did you
try others before you settled on the one you’re currently using?:
Since my old computer died and I am on Windows 8 now, I use
MS Word 2010, an upgrade from the Word 2007 I used on my old
What is it that you like about the software you’re
currently using that makes it the best solution for you?:
Word is the industry standard; I’ve used a version of Word for
many years.
What’s the best advice you could possibly give to
your fellow authors?:
There are no shortcuts; practice really does make perfect. Do
not be afraid of the red editor’s pen. Make it great and nothing less
than your absolute best work. Steve Jobs never settled for second
best and nor should you.
Where can people find out more about you and your


Yahoo Voices:


National Association of Professional Women:

Facebook (Peers of Beinan Series):

Facebook (Legendary Women of World History Series):



And last but not least, Peers of Beinan: and Legendary Women: where you will learn not only
more about me and my books, but you will enjoy discovering the work of
other science fiction, fantasy, romance, non-fiction, and historical
fiction authors in the new “indie author showcase” which is currently
open for new submissions.