Author Interview: Meet Lora Richardson

Did you catch my exclusive reveal for the cover of Lora Richardson's new release, Vanishing Summer, on Monday? This contemporary YA novel is a special story featuring main character Greta, a girl who has spent several years dealing with guilt and grief and is finding her way back to the girl she used to be. And there's Everett, a young man who feels like a stranger in his own life and is also struggling to find his way. I loved this story and you can get it for a limited time for just 99 cents! 

Today I'm thrilled to be sharing an interview with Lora where she shares her thoughts on her characters, her inspiration and her writing process... as well as answering some hard-hitting questions, like yoga pants or jeans? :) I hope you enjoy getting to know a little about Lora and will grab a copy of Vanishing Summer! And check back tomorrow for my review of Vanishing Summer!


Girl Plus Books: Hi Lora! First, thank you so much for the interview! As you know, I'm a big fan of your Juniper series and I recommend them often. I was thrilled when you offered me an advance copy of Vanishing Summer and I was totally captivated by the synopsis. Greta and Everett's story pulled me in from the very beginning and I felt such empathy for them. I'm so excited for others to read their story!

Lora Richardson: Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog, Tanya! I’m happy to be here, and I deeply appreciate your enthusiasm for my work.

GPB: What inspired the idea for Vanishing Summer? 

LR: My stories always begin with the characters. I get small nudges from them, ideas of who they might be, and as they take shape in my head, I begin wondering what happens to these people. First, a boy and a girl popped into my mind, and they were friends from a young age. But as a teen, the girl was anxious. I didn’t yet know why, but she was fearful and timid, wishing she could be brave like she used to be as a child. The boy was sensitive, but had a quiet strength about him. I decided that something had happened to separate them. Then I knew the separation was because Everett had been kidnapped. In my mind, I was always focused on their reunion, on their healing. It was a very emotional story to write.

GPB: Both Vanishing Summer and the Juniper books have a small town setting. As someone who lives in a large city, it was refreshing to read about characters coming of age in surroundings so different from my own. Was it a conscious choice to set your books in a small town?

LR: I grew up on a farm, and later, in small towns. Now I live in a small city. I like writing about this kind of setting. It makes me feel at home and allows me to sink into the story.

I wanted the Juniper series to be set in a small town because everyone knows your business in a small town, which added a delicious pressure to the lives of my characters. I like to put my characters through some hard stuff, because it feels so good to watch them come out the other side. I wanted to connect Vanishing Summer to the Juniper series in a small way, so I set the book in the slightly more urban setting of Bakerstown, the town the Juniper characters visit sometimes.

GPB: Do you have a hard time saying goodbye to your characters and moving on to your next project?

LR: Yes, very much! The Edge of Juniper was meant to be a standalone book. But I felt adrift after publishing it, and not at all ready to move on to new characters. So I wrote two more books in that series. I still long for those characters and that town, so perhaps I will revisit Juniper someday. I’m already extremely attached to Everett and Greta and their families, so I’m writing book 2 in this series. It will focus on Meredith, Greta’s best friend.

GPB: What made you choose to write YA rather than target another age group (adult, middle grade, etc)?

LR: I think I love to write YA because I married my high school sweetheart. When I think of falling in love, I think of being 16 years old, of having picnics by the creek on my dad’s farm, of the excitement of holding his hand for the very first time, of the hugeness and confusion of my feelings. [GPB: Tell me I'm not the only one who gave a great big sigh and swooned a little at this.]

I might someday write adult novels, but for now I’m still captivated by the extraordinary amount of growth that happens to teenagers. There is so much to explore with regard to the things they learn and experience for the first time, and the ways they become who they are.

GPB: What are your writing quirks (must have certain music playing, etc)?

LR: I must have total silence to write, and if my husband walks into the room, I stop writing immediately. I simply have to be alone to do it. And for some reason, I’m extremely motivated by giving myself a star for completed work. In my calendar, I draw a blue star on every day I reach my word count or editing goal. I hate to see a blank space where the star should be!

GPB: Do you read YA? Any book recommendations? What are you reading right now?

LR: Yes, I read lots and lots of YA. Just last night I finished readingWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour. It was beautiful and intensely heartfelt. Some of my favorite YA books ever:

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Okay, there are a hundred more, but I have to stop somewhere.

GBP: And now for some rapid-fire questions...

Best advice you've ever received? 
LR: Does a quote count as advice? “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” -Shannon Hale

That quote is what allowed me to finally find the courage to start writing.

Describe yourself as a teenager in three words. 
LR: Shy, daydreamer, loyal

Biggest pet peeve? 
LR: Being interrupted when I’m reading.

If you could have three people (dead or alive) over for dinner, who would you choose? 
LR: Can I be honest and say that I’m such an anxious host that this question terrifies me? I wouldn’t be able to relax to enjoy the conversation at all. So I’m going to modify it and say which three authors I’d want to watch have dinner together, with me as a fly on the wall. So I pick Ralph Waldo Emerson, Stephen King, and Diana Gabaldon.

If you could live in any other decade, which would you choose?
LR: 1970s. I would have made a great hippie.

Sweet or salty? 
LR: Sweet

Summer or winter? 
LR: Summer

Coffee or tea? 
LR: Coffee

Yoga pants or jeans? 
LR: Yoga pants

Comedy or drama? 
LR: Drama all the way, with some humor sprinkled in.

GPB: Thanks again for taking part, Lora! I'm so excited for everyone to experience Vanishing Summer!

LR: Thank you, Tanya!


He disappeared four years ago, and I'm to blame. Now he's back.

I call it the vanishing summer. Everett, my best friend and the first boy I ever kissed, was kidnapped; taken from right beside me. Three months later my mom died. They were both just gone. The bright, fearless spark inside me was gone, too--blown clean out.

I learned that the worst could happen at any moment and with no warning. I didn't want to go outside anymore. I avoided the woods where Everett and I had played. I hated to let my brother and my dad out of my sight. For four years, I lived with a pounding heart and shaking hands.

But I'm sixteen now, and ready to find my way back to myself, to somehow move forward. Therapy is helping. I let one new friend into my life, and she's helping, too. I'm trying this new thing where I act like the old me--unafraid and confident and bold. I'm doing scary things and trying not to let them scare me.

Then one night as I'm sitting outside in the dark, Everett walks through the trees and back into my life.

About Lora Richardson:
 As a child, Lora lived on a pig farm. She spent time swimming in the creek with snakes, playing in the hayloft, and tapping out stories on her mother's typewriter. These days she lives in a small city in Indiana with her high-school-sweetheart-husband and their two children. She spends her time reading, writing, and hanging out with her people. She still has pigs, though now they are of the guinea variety.

You can find Lora here: * FACEBOOK * TWITTER * GOODREADS * INSTAGRAM *


  1. I love author interviews! It's always fun to see how they think, and what inspires their stories. Also, I haaate being interrupted when I'm reading, so I can relate. With three kids... I get interrupted a lot, haha. I'm having to adjust! ;)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

    1. I loved so Lora was so willing to take part! :) And yeah, I imagine your reading time is at a premium. LOL

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Deanna! I was excited to hopefully introduce Lora to more people!

  3. Great interview, Tanya. Lora sounds like such a sweet person and I love her reasons for choosing small town settings and for why she chooses to write YA.

    1. Thanks Suzanne. :) Lora *is* a really sweet person and I've loved working with her the past couple years.

  4. I love books set in a small town. I went from Brooklyn, NY to a 1-square mile town in NJ, where families lived for generations. I have read all Richardson's YA recs, and I approve.

    1. Wow, that was quite a move... talk about one extreme to the other.

      Aren't her recs great? Two of them are big-time favorites of mine!