Friday, April 18, 2014

Gilbert Interviews the Amazing Storyteller, Laura J. Kaighn


Laura J Kaighn is not only a fellow member of the South Jersey Writers’ Group, but a very talented author of children stories, and the woman behind the Lady Hawke Storytelling and Writer’s Services. She’s been appearing at multiple events across Philadelphia and New Jersey to educate and entertain young and old alike with delightful folktales.  I’m pleased to introduce my readers to Laura J. Kaighn aka Lady Hawke

Tell us a little bit about yourself and when did you start writing?

            I’m a curious, eclectic spirit. I love science, nature, mythology and books. I was fostered on such TV shows as Jacques Cousteau, Nova and Wild America. I devoured my magazine subscriptions to Ranger Rick, Reader’s Digest, Discover and Nature. Even as a child, I had my own library in my bedroom.

I’m also the oldest of five, Mom’s helper and babysitter. Through some creative entertaining I kept my siblings free from chaos. When I was alone, my imagination turned to the stories I wanted to live. Star Trek was my initiation into science fiction. My first written story was a 23 page-long Star Trek tale. I was hooked on writing at age ten!


What inspires your stories and what type of stories do you like writing the most?

            I write science-fiction, animal and por-quoi tales, anything that my interests inspire. I love to combine natural elements and social issues into my tales – ‘man versus nature’ and ‘man versus society’ stuff. In Earth Child: The E.D. Piper Chronicles, I combined my love of animals, science fiction and wilderness to create the adventures of a shape-shifter who believes she’s the only one. In the sequel, Earth Child II: The Awakening, Ehlora finds out she’s not unique! Differences can be catalysts for countless colorful exploits.


How intensive is your research in your stories that feature Native American myths and with other cultures?

            I’m always reading and watching programs about what interest me. I take notes too. When I tell Native American stories, I do share some of the cultural background with my audience. I also insert some nature facts. My storytelling is based on multiple versions from several sources. I’ve read about and researched American Indian cultures since I first learned I was part Cherokee on my mother’s side. I was six.

In Earth Child II, my newest protagonist is half Navajo. I’ve been reading up to authenticate the character’s culture, environment, setting and social mores. Since I mostly write fiction, particular facts can be fudged a little: names changed, cultures skewed to protect the sacred. But I do back up my writing with real, possible and speculative science concepts. In my Vesar Warrior saga, for instance, I make use of interstellar transport gates which use artificially-generated wormholes; and time travel is possible because of an ancient and extinct species of creature known as the Mytoki. I’d love to publish those books someday!


 You do a lot of public programs and I was interested in what is your favorite program, and also what is your most requested program?

            My favorite stories are those centered on nature. Every culture has nature and por-quoi tales to explain the world of ‘why’ before science came along. I’ll never run out of discoveries there!
Though my Native American program is a long-time staple, my most popular programs are those I tailor for each audience. Every summer I develop a program to coordinate with the local libraries’ summer reading theme. Coincidentally, this year it’s about science! We’re going to have a ‘Fizz, boom, blast’!

Tells us about your newest book, Rabbit’s Tale & Other Rites of Passage. How did you choose the stories in this book?

            Rabbit’s Tale was a labor of love, a chance to highlight my own nature tales and family stories, along with my favorites from Native American cultures. I’ve been sharing these stories in some capacity for years, some since 1995 – the beginning of my storytelling career. Their common threads are hope, cooperation, devotion and growth. I stitched the stories together to bridge the gaps between writing Earth Child and it’ sequel.

What book are you working on now?

            I’m looking to complete and publish Earth Child II: The Awakening by late this year. I’ve also started another anthology whose tentative title is Once Upon a Childhood: Tales of Whimsy and Wonder. It’s a collection of fantastic and sci-fi based short stories taken from my story and dream journals and some early works when I was a teen.

In your opinion, how early should parents start reading to their children and can you give some helpful advice for parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Studies prove that reading to our children is integral to their language and brain development. We’re storytelling animals; we organize information through narrative. As early as a baby can link sounds and names to objects and concepts, a parent needs to nurture those connection.
Books need to be in every household! To best select books, know your child’s interests. Curiosity is a powerful motivator for learning. Providing books which match a child’s interests gives him an open door to asking more questions and expanding his horizons. The child can then become a life-long learner. Who knows where he’ll go! 


How does story-telling complement your story-writing and vice versa?

            Whenever I’m storytelling, I’m molding and revising the tale according to my audience’s feedback – their facial expressions, reactions and body postures. I know when the tale’s being enjoyed, if I’m going too fast, or need to be more dramatic in spots. One story, told slightly differently, can entertain audiences of different ages and backgrounds.

When I’m writing, I can anticipate my reading audience and their needs better because I’ve shared stories orally for so many years. As a writer and teller, my words and expressions, voices and pacing are my brushes and paint. Storytelling is one of the most ancient art forms. That makes me an artist too!

Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog, Laura. It was a great pleasure learning about your writing and services. If anyone is interested in joining the South Jersey Writers' Group, you can learn about us here:

Laura’s books Amazon:  

 A Rabbit's Tale                   


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