Interview with Author Laura Segal Stegman

Laura Segal Stegman

I am thrilled to have interviewed author Laura Segal Stegman, who shared with us details of her writing life, her book ‘Summer of L.U.C.K.‘, which was released on 29th November 2022, and answered a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.

Laura Segal Stegman by Daniel Reichert Photography

Laura Segal Stegman is a Los Angeles-based author whose middle grade debut novel, Summer of L.U.C.K., and its sequel, Ready or Not (both from Young Dragons Press), are available wherever books are sold. The Chambered Nautilus, third in the L.U.C.K. trilogy, will follow.

L.A. Parent Magazine lauded Summer of L.U.C.K. as a “goodread,” and it received a Five-Star Readers’ Favorite Award. Ready or Not, according to middle grade author Frank Morelli, “is filled with twists, turns, magic, time travel, and a healthy dose of courage from its deeply authentic cast of characters.”

Laura serves as a judge for Society of Young Inklings and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) writer competitions, and she shares her author journey in engaging virtual and in-person visits to schools and libraries. Her popular PR Tips for Authors workshop features a step-by-step guide to building a digital author media kit.

Non-fiction credits include collaboration on the travel book Only in New York, and her feature stories appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Magazine, among others. A long-time publicity consultant, she owns Laura Segal Stegman Public Relations, LLC.

interview picture 2023


1) Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

I’ll start by introducing the Summer of L.U.C.K. trilogy, including the first two books, which are available wherever books are sold. They’re both set at a summer camp, with Summer of L.U.C.K. introducing Darby, Naz, and Justin, three struggling kids finding their way to self-acceptance with the help of a ghost who haunts a magical carnival. Ready or Not (just released last month!), which takes place a year later, features more magical adventures with the three friends, but it spotlights thirteen-year-old Justin, who faces a tricky choice: stand up to bigotry or let fear hold him back. The Chambered Nautilus, the third book, is coming in 2024.

What inspired me to write Summer of L.U.C.K. was The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton, one of my all-time favorite middle grade books. Like L.U.C.K., it’s sprinkled with magical elements, and one of its main characters is an 11-year-old girl searching for self-acceptance. So when I thought about trying to write a novel, I knew right away it would be a middle grade story, one that I hoped would mean as much to kids today as The Diamond in the Window still means to me.

2) How did you plan out the plot?

I’ve started all three books in the L.U.C.K. trilogy with a very general idea of the story, but I create as I go. Usually, I scribble notes and thoughts in a notebook or on a random piece of paper, then I type them into the bottom of my manuscript word doc where I keep notes. I’m pretty low-tech.

3) When did you choose the title for your book?

All three titles came to me as I was writing each book. I was fortunate that my publisher didn’t ask me to change any of them!

4) How did you come up with the names for your characters?

When I’m writing a book, I make a long list of names that I like and pick from that, being careful not to use more than one that starts with the same letter. In Summer of L.U.C.K., Justin’s friend Eugene was originally called Dwight, which fit him PERFECTLY. In the end, though, I had to change Dwight to Eugene because there were already two important “D” characters: Darby, and Donna, the summer camp owner.

5) Can you give us a hint to any sections that you removed?

Summer of L.U.C.K.’s published version is radically different from the version I began with because I was really learning to write for middle grade readers. But by the time it reached its near-final state, I had a scene in which Justin and his cabin mates, the Charging Buffaloes, were playing softball with another cabin, the Black-Eyed Bees. I loved the character behavior that was revealed in this scene, not to mention the “Black-Eyed Bees” name (speaking of names in the previous question).

In the end, though, this scene didn’t move the story along, so I had to cut it, boo hoo. I’m one of those writers who hates to “kill my darlings.” A while ago, I posted this scene on my web site for a special author event, so if any of your readers are interested, here it is.

6) What made you choose this genre?

I decided I’d write middle grade fiction because it’s set at a time of life when kids are developing a sense of who they are, which means you can tell extraordinary stories. I love the idea that middle grade readers can see themselves in the books they read and perhaps even come up with solutions to their problems.

7) How long did it take you to complete your book?

Summer of L.U.C.K. took some 20 years(!) from when I started to its publication. I can’t even begin to list all those challenges, but chief among them was building conflict into the story. Ready or Not took 16 months. The Chambered Nautilus took 12 months. You could say I’ve made progress, ha ha.

8) Can you describe your book in three words?

Ghost helps kids. This description fits both Summer of L.U.C.K. and Ready or Not. For The Chambered Nautilus, third in the trilogy, it changes to “Kids help ghost.”

9) What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

Getting stuck in a story (as happens ALL THE TIME) and thinking (mistakenly) that I will never get unstuck. Spoiler: I always get unstuck.

10) Why should our readers pick your book up?

One of the best reasons why readers should pick up Summer of L.U.C.K. was articulated by the Readers Favorite Five Star Award it received: “A tale that incorporates not only topics that young pre-teens find so exciting – magic, carnivals, friendship, and fun – but also manages to thread the exciting plotline with pearls of wisdom about life, bullying, self-worth, and self-esteem.” Both Summer of L.U.C.K. and Ready or Not will appeal to kids struggling with loss, change, communication, and finding confidence to face the difficult challenges of life. That said, they’re also fun and filled with mystery, twists and turns, magical adventures, friendships, and, in Ready
or Not, time travel.

Summer of L U C K by Laura Segal Stegman

Summer of L.U.C.K.

Author – Laura Segal Stegman
Publisher – Young Dragons Press
Pages – 228
Release Date – 29th November 2022
ISBN 13 – 978-1633737853
Format – Paperback, hardcover


All Things Are Possible

Eleven-year-old stuttering Darby believes she’s supposed to be perfect, just like her mother demands. But summer away at camp promises temporary escape. There, she befriends twelve-year-old Justin, who hasn’t uttered a word since his dad died, and ten-year-old Naz, who is struggling to learn English.

When mysterious calliope music from a nearby warehouse grants the trio power to communicate without words, they sneak inside to find out why. After the abandoned building bursts into a full-sized carnival with magical rides, they’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, Carnival King, who can’t rest until his property brings joy to children once again. He asks for their help convincing his estranged sons and daughter to restore the carnival to its former glory before summer’s end. In return, Mr. Usher promises he’ll teach Darby, Justin, and Naz how to find their voices.

With each challenge they face, the kids’ confidence grows, and they learn they’re capable of accomplishing so much more than they ever imagined. But will it be enough to persuade the Usher siblings to bring the carnival back to life instead of selling the property for demolition?

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Fun Questions

Talking Owl Interview Pic 2023

1) Do you have a writing buddy (i.e. a pet)?

Not exactly, but some of the writers in my writers group, the Mighty Middle Grade Authors, usually write together on Zoom once a week. We also brainstorm, gripe, celebrate, etc. It’s an amazing experience to have such great writer buddies.

MMG Author Photos - Twitter Shape Image-Small

2) Do you have any writing quirks?

Not sure these count as quirks, but I usually write to the sound of classical music or Dodgers baseball games.

3) Where do you write?

In my bedroom in the evening where I can relax. During the day, I work at my desk, but writing there isn’t as comfortable.

4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?

This is the best question I’ve ever been asked! In Summer of L.U.C.K., I’d play one of Darby’s summer camp counselors. In Ready or Not, I’d play a character in the scene where Darby, Justin, and Naz time-travel back to the early 1900s. Their visit to a village fair was inspired by the town bazaar in the 1960s film Pollyanna. In that scene, the piece of cake I describe that’s as big as Naz’s head comes right from that movie.

5) A talking owl has just finished reading your book, what’s the first thing he says to you?

‘Whoooo do I have to talk to about getting a copy of these books?’ To which I would reply that Summer of L.U.C.K. and Ready or Not are available wherever books are sold!

Author links


A big thank you to Laura Segal Stegman for sharing her writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.

Author photo credit: Daniel Reichert Photography. The above links are affiliate links. I receive a very small percentage from each item you purchase via these link, which is at no extra cost to you. If you are thinking about purchasing the book, please think about using one of the links above. Thank you.

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