Texas Writers Month Author Interview Series: Laurie Wagner Buyer

author interview
Celebrating Texas Writers Month with us today is Laurie Wagner Buyer (Llano).

Comment below and subscribe via Feedburner by June 9 to be entered to win a signed copy of Laurie’s memoir When I Came West.
Giveaway for U.S. residents only.

Poet, memoirist, and novelist Laurie Wagner Buyer Jameson spent over thirty years living in the backwoods and working on remote ranches in the Rocky Mountain West, which is the basis of her early memoir.

author interview

Laurie has an MFA in Writing from Goddard College and her freelance articles and photographs have appeared in dozens of periodicals, journals, reviews, and anthologies. She is the author of five collections of poetry, Glass-eyed Paint in the Rain, Red Colt Canyon, Across the High Divide, Infinite Possibilities: A Haiku Journal, and Accidental Voices, the novel Side Canyons, and two memoirs, Spring’s Edge: A Ranch Wife’s Chronicles and When I Came West.

Laurie has received the Beryl Markham Prize for Creative Nonfiction, the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Poetry, and has twice been named a Finalist for the Colorado Book Award and for Women Writing the West’s Willa Award.

Q. Are you a native Texan or did you get here as soon as you could?

A. I am an “almost” native Texan. I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, but both of my sisters, one older and one younger were born in San Antonio, because my father, a USAF M/Sgt was stationed at various bases in San Antonio during my growing up years. I was here as a two and three year old, and attended fifth, sixth, and tenth grade in Texas. I had my first date and my first real kiss in Texas. Does that count? I moved back to Texas three and a half years ago (after forty-five years in the Rocky Mountain West) when I married author and singer/songwriter W.C. Jameson. We live in an adorable stone cottage in the little town of Llano.

Q. How did you end up writing so many difference genres?

A. I do write in all genres, however I began my writing life as a poet. And, no surprise, I wrote one of my first poems in Texas for the boy who gave me my first kiss…and, yes, I had the courage to give him a handwritten copy of the verses. I was certain I would marry him, but my father moved our family again, this time north to the Chicago area where I finished high school and started college.

Then I ran away to Montana as a mail-order companion to a mountain man who lived a true wilderness existence. I wrote poetry for the next thirty years and publication success only found me in my forties. During that time I turned to writing non-fiction articles for magazines and newspapers to earn enough money to buy postage stamps to keep sending out my poems. I had always kept a journal but it was during the work on my graduate thesis in 2001 that my professor encouraged me to incorporate narrative prose into my poetry manuscript. Thus I became an essayist and memoirist. When an editor at a major publishing house suggested that I fictionalize my creative non-fiction memoir Side Canyons, I became a novelist. I had so much fun playing around with the truth merged with imagination that I began writing fiction more seriously.

Q. What book marketing activities made you a bestselling author?

A. I would not use the words “bestselling” to describe my life as an author because, as most writers and readers know, poetry is not usually a big seller. However, I might use the words “well loved” because early on my work garnered a small but loyal following who have given me good reason to keep on offering my work to the world. And that group of blessed readers has continued to grow. Before the advent of social media via the internet I kept a large mailing list and sent out book release notices, personal newsletters, and thank you notes to every person who contacted me.

I have been a late attendee to the online party, in part because I lived very remote for much of my adult life, sometimes without electricity or telephone service. Also (and I don’t mind admitting this) in part because I am a Luddite at heart, cherish my solitude, and try to live simply and inexpensively. I did not have a computer until 1995. Email came to stay around 2000. My first website appeared in about 2003-04. A new publisher booted me farther into the high-tech world by insisting that I use their webmaster (deborahkunzie.com) who garnered marketing and social media skills. Thus multiple websites dedicated to the books were born along with that tag-along twin: blogging. Next came an Amazon Author Central page, online interviews, and a Facebook fan page [all links below]. Like so many writers, I love my creative life, my writing time, but I tend to drag my feet when it comes to marketing myself and my work. However, what has always worked best for me is to meet people face-to-face. Attending conferences, presenting workshops, appearing as a speaker, and working for a decade as an independent editor/mentor to other writers were marketing tools that brought me a great deal of success.

Q. Tell us about your latest release. Is it set in Texas?

A. This is so funny! I had to stop and think about which book was my latest release. I’m in the awards phase for the memoir When I Came West (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010) and in the presentation phase for the last collection of poetry Accidental Voices (Seven Oaks Publishing Company 2010). Then one of my essays appears in An Elevated View: Colorado Writers on Writing (just released from Seven Oaks Publishing) and I’m setting up readings and signings for that this summer in Colorado. A book of my early cowboy poems, Cinch Up Your Saddle–and Ride! is due out any day (Western Trail Blazer) and my novel Beautiful Snare is in the contract phase (JET Literary Agency with Write Works Publishing).

None of the above are set in Texas…but the novel I just finished polishing and sent off to my agent is set in a small town in the Texas Hill Country. Give me a few more years here and I imagine more of my writing will be influenced by Texas people, culture, and landscapes.

Q. Where can we pay you a virtual visit?

A. http://lauriewagnerbuyer.com

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  1. This description is haunting. I’m interested in finding out why a young woman would be so willing to live in the harshest of all “boonies” to live with a man she had never met. Sign me up.

    — Betty

  2. Sounds interesting to me too. This book got some good reviews on Amazon.

  3. An amazing woman! A poet (like me), a memoirist (like me), and a creative nonfiction award winner from one of my favorite authors, Beryl Markham, and now a Texan for certain like me, even if I do live in California now. I have to read some of her books. She sounds fascinating. I wish her every success!

  4. running away to be a “mail-order companion” and ending up with 30 years of poetry makes for a great memoir!

  5. Laurie, I’ve long admired your writing. You’ve had some fascinating life experiences. As a native Montanan, I would love to read your memoir!

  6. Very interesting! Please enter me. Thanks!

  7. I met Laurie years ago and she is so phenonmenal. She can really speak to a woman’s heart and her books really acquaint you with a wonderful woman who has come into her own.

  8. i’m very interested in this book…thanks for the opportunity to read it 🙂

  9. Laurie,

    I wish you the best of every success. It is well deserved. Knowing you, I appreciate you sharing your eventful and creative life and passing along your knowledge and insights with the rest of us. I can’t wait to read your fiction.

  10. Laurie,

    Your writing career and the life you’ve wrangled up with your talented husband are good cause for a big jamboree. What kind of B-B-Q will you be serving.

    Love the back story here of your Texas connection. Love Stephanie’s question about “…or did you just get here as soon as possible.” Two witty ladies.

    Janet Riehl

  11. Laurie is a very tough person. I mean this in the best of ways. It took a lot of guts to stick it out. And look at all of her experiences. What a gal.

  12. Well Laurie, not many people understand why a young lady would travel to the wilds of Montana and Wyoming. But I do. You just as I was a person who did not just wonder and wish, we acted on our thoughts and wants. I traveled to Wyoming as an 18 yr. old rodeo rider from Kentucky because I wanted to be a real cowboy. In Wyoming I rode with a great man. Snook Moore, a person you know well, a person who loved you for the person you were, not who he thought you would become. I love your books and poems because the words come from your heart and the words are true. I will always remember the thoughts of ol’ Snook teaching you so much. “I love your written words”
    Larry Gibson age 72 and still forking these ol’ horses

  13. Laurie, as you know I loved reading When I Came West. I’m not as gutsy as you, but lived the experience through you. I’m eager to read your newest book.


  14. Our family has friends in Llano TX and my daughter was there with her dad for the Car Show- Swap Meet and I am glad . She was very impressed with you, Laurie, and I am really enjoying your book. When I Came West. So, I guess I am going to be one of your readers. I will not stop with this one. You are great! Thanks. I wish I had been there to meet you and I would love my own copy of the book. My daughter keeps taking it and losing my place. Sign me up, please. Thank you!

  15. Like other commentors I too am intrigued by what would cause a young girl to become a mail order bride to a mountain man. I am very much intrigued and thank Stephanie once again for exposure to this author!

  16. Laurie,
    When I Came West catapulted me back to the days when I was a young girl with a dream to be free but found myself stuck in the vortex of what I was “supposed to be doing”. I so admire your ability to take us those places we always wanted to go but didn’t know how to get there. Thanks so much for showing us the way and for your bravery to cut the trail!
    Love you and your art,

  17. this sounds like a fasinating book and i can’t wait to read it.

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