Laurisa White Reyes dreamed of writing novels since she was a child. That dream finally became reality in 2012 when her first book, The Rock of Ivanore, was published with Tanglewood Press. “It took some time to find the courage,” says Reyes who celebrated her forty-fifth birthday in September. “For too long, I just didn’t think I had it in me.”
After earning her undergraduate degree in creative writing in 1992, Reyes spent the next thirteen years writing everything except fiction. Her work appeared in numerous magazines, and her weekly editorial column, The Right Idea, ran in three newspapers. She spent several years as an editor for Mapletree Press and as a creative writing instructor for homeschool groups. But she never lost sight of her passion—books for kids.
“My interest in children’s literature started just out of high school,” she explains. “I needed a job and applied at the only bookstore in town at the time.” Founded by Jane Humphrey in 1966, Once Upon A Time in Montrose, California is the oldest children’s bookstore in the United States. “Jane took a chance on an 18-year-old kid and hired me on the spot. That’s where I really fell in love with books.”
Though an avid reader her entire life, Reyes waited until her late thirties to start writing books of her own. The Rock of Ivanore began as bedtime stories to her then eight-year-old son. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.
Laurisa White Reyes will be giving a presentation at the Kanab Writer’s Conference on October 25 & 26 on “How to Write a Real Page-Turner.” She says that when writing her books, she tries to craft scenes that compel readers to turn the page to see what happens next.
“I happened to be reading Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code while I was writing The Rock of Ivanore. I was fascinated with Brown’s mastery of cliff-hanger chapter endings, and his use of multiple points-of-view to propel his story forward. I incorporate those and similar techniques into my writing and strive to share them with other writers.”
Reyes’s second novel, The Last Enchanter, comes out on October 15th. Both this book and her first are part of The Celestine Chronicles, a high fantasy adventure series for middle grade readers. One of the first books she read as a pre-teen was Tolkein’s The Hobbit. A die-hard fan of Harry Potter and all things fantasy, Reyes deftly weaves ideals of loyalty, family, honor, and valor into her stories. Marcus [the series’ 14-year-old protagonist] is a fledgling enchanter, but he lacks the confidence necessary to use magic properly. Throughout both books, Marcus faces difficult choices, many of which require him to put himself at risk to protect and defend those he loves.
“There’s a lot of me in Marcus,” says Reyes. “He is afraid to use the skills he’s been given. He has to step out of his comfort zone in order to achieve his goals. That’s what I had to do to finally live my dream of writing books.”
Reyes does more than just write, however. She spends a great deal of time sharing her experiences with elementary and middle school students. “Kids need to know they can achieve anything. They just need to find that magic inside them, that confidence to keep going even in the face of difficult challenges, so they can live their dreams.”
Reyes will be sharing her message with the students at Kanab Elementary and Fredonia Elementary prior to her appearance at the Kanab Writers Conference.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Kanab,” says Reyes, who lives in the Los Angeles area. “It’s one of the most visually spectacular places I’ve visited. My kids love coming here.”