Lauren D. Fraser talks sisters, Scotland, and her debut novel, Trinty.
Trinity focuses on three sisters. Can you tell us about them?
Trinity is about three sisters: Avery who is 17, and her younger twin sisters Marena and Timber, who have recently turned 16. Although Marena and Timber are fraternal twins and look similar to one another (blonde hair, taller than Avery, Marena has hazel eyes and Timber has blue eyes) their personalities are quite different. Marena is aggressive in obtaining the things she wants and loves the limelight, while Timber is more sensitive and more likely to hide behind her sisters during a difficult situation. Avery is the reluctant leader of her sisters as the oldest. She feels obligated to watch out for them and takes this self-imposed obligation very seriously. Marena is a very strong personality so a lot of the sisterly conflict starts and ends with her. Timber is actually my favorite character because I think she is the most complex and she reminds me of both of my younger sisters.
What inspired you to use Scotland as your setting?
I have always felt a connection to Scotland. My mother’s maiden name is Stuart and so from a young age I knew the history of that name. The Highlands in Scotland might be my favorite place on Earth!
In 2009, I traveled with my husband, step son, brother-in law, and his girlfriend to Scotland. My husband was born in Edinburgh and lived in Kirkcaldy in Fife as a child before his parents brought him and his older brother to the US. In our travels, we stayed right on the banks of Loch Ness at a place called the Highland Club in a small town called Fort Augustus. The Highland Club was formerly an abbey and before that a fort constructed to control the clans during the Jacobite uprisings. The Highland Club is the inspiration for the Abbey at Fort Augustus in the book. However, it was really the day we spent on the Isle of Skye that inspired the setting for Trinity. If fairies and unicorns are going to exist anywhere, they are going to be on the Isle of Skye. The mystical qualities of the landscape felt palpable as I looked out toward the next set of islands, the Hebrides. I turned to my husband and said, “My story is here.” When I returned home 2 weeks later, the words just flowed and before I knew it, I had 200 pages.
I finished Trinity this summer after returning from The Highlands and Scotland once again. This time I did some more research and concentrated on the castles and manor homes. Some of my readers who have been to Scotland recognized the picture on the cover of the book as Dunvegan Castle, which is located on the Isle of Skye. It is the home of Clan MacLeod. I had no idea of the connection between MacLeods (the last name of the sisters in Trinity) and that Castle until I was there this past August, so I knew that Dunvegan Castle had to be the model for Pilton Palace in the book.
When naming the characters, did you give any thought to the meaning of their names?
I did. I wanted the Trinity to represent the land, sea, and air, but I also wanted the names of some of the other characters to have meaning as well. For example, Adelio means “noble.” Kirana, the mystical island Kingdom in Trinity is an Indonesian word meaning “beautiful sunbeam,” which I thought fitting for a magical island with perpetual sun and warmth. Mostly, I invented the names of the Kiranians to give them that “other-world” feel. I had a lot of imaginary friends as a kid – they all had odd names too.
What kinds of research did you have to do in order to write Trinity?
I did a lot of research about Scottish myths and legends, but decided to write my own rules when it came to the fairies. I am obsessed with British History, especially during the time of the Plantagenets and Tudors (15th-16th Century) so I did tie in some of my knowledge in that area into the book.
Are any of your past experiences incorporated into the story?
This book is filled with my past experiences. I am the oldest of three sisters. Writing about some of teenage angst was actually a cathartic experience. For example, I had an “Adam Martin” when I was a junior in high school. They say “write what you know,” so I did. I tied in many of the places I have lived or traveled into the story and many of things I did as a teenager. My sisters and I were avid tennis players, all good students and involved in performing arts. There is a lot of Avery in me, to be honest.
Do you have the rest of series mapped out?
I have the next book, The Queen Makers, completely outlined and I am about 6 chapters into it. It’s going to be good! I have a good idea where book 3 is going to go as well and I am leaving the story line open for more books if the opportunity arises. Already I have fans clamoring for the next installment, which is so flattering and so encouraging.
What made you start writing?
I was a very early reader (nerd alert) so I took to writing at a young age. Probably from the time I was 5, I was creating stories for my parents and writing plays for my sister, Heather and I to perform (Tiffany wasn’t born yet). As I got older, I would use writing to air my frustrations at life, my disappointments in love. I wrote a lot of dark poetry in high school. By the time I reached college, my focus was initially in science and math, which left little time for writing. Although, I would often embarrass myself by sending love poems to my crushes. By my senior year at Rutgers, I had changed my major and picked up creative writing as an elective and the spark returned. This is actually when the initial story of Trinity came to me. I started writing in my spare time, still a lot of poetry, but I also took to playwriting, which incorporated my theater background. I was rejected from Mason Gross MFA program in playwriting, largely due to my lack of life experience, or so my very kind and encouraging rejection letter told me. So I put writing aside and pursued the law. Every so often I would come up with a good poem and add it to my book, but law school and then the practice of law initially did not leave a lot of time for writing much more than legal briefs. It was my trip to Scotland in 2009 that inspired me to turn Trinity into a reality. And now, all I want to do is follow the adventure of these sisters.
What books have had the most influence on you?
I have always loved Hemingway. My favorite story of all time is The Old Man and the Sea, which I first read when I was 12 or so. The story of Santiago has stayed with me my whole life. I also love Sense and Sensibility, another story about sisters.
If you could choose any living writer as your mentor, who would you pick?
I would love to sit down with JK Rowling and learn from her. I read the entire Harry Potter series while I was pregnant in 2010 and enjoyed it immensely. I am so impressed with her imagination and creativity. I am also a very big fan of Philippa Gregory. I have read all of her historical novels involving the Plantagenets and Tudors. I would be very interested to learn her creative process.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
People always seem surprised to learn that I am a partner at a law firm, and a trial attorney. I am passionate about helping people who have been injured through no fault of their own, and don’t plan to give up my “day job”…yet.
A few months ago, neither Avery MacLeod nor her younger twin sisters, Marena or Timber, could have ever imagined the lives they were about to inherit. A few months ago, these closely aged sisters’ only concerns were the upcoming Woodport High School prom, math tests, tennis tournaments and which one of them ate the last Jell-o pudding snack. A few months ago, Avery, Marena and Timber were happy with their ordinary, teenaged lives. That is, until they started having the same strange dream. Determined to discover the meaning of this dream, they dig into their family history and uncover clues that link them to a legendary island off of the coast of Scotland called, Kirana. Even more unbelievable is that they are somehow connected to the Queen of this mysterious land, and that they have developed the ability to hear each other’s thoughts. When their guardians deny their request to travel to Scotland to continue their search, the girls take matters into their own hands and set out on the adventure of their lives. Upon landing in Scotland, they meet the mysterious and devastatingly handsome, Adelio, who leads them on the journey to discover who they really are and what they are expected to do. The sisters must first survive the dangers of Kirana, an epic battle, and each other, in order to follow their destinies.
Complete with fairies, magic, young love and the struggles of teenaged girls called upon to become young women, Trinity is a fantasy novel for readers of all ages. It is the first book in a series which focuses on the power of family and sisterhood in the face of adversity.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
About the Author
Lauren D. Fraser was born and raised in Sussex County, New Jersey where she currently resides with her husband and daughter. She is a trial attorney and partner with the law firm, Laddey, Clark & Ryan. Trinity is her debut novel. She is currently in the process of writing the sequel to Trinity, The Queen Makers, as well as the non-fiction text, Community Caretaking: Convincing Civil Juries to Keep Us Safe.
“I’ve written something everyday since I was about 5 years old, whether it was a poem or story. For the past 10 years, I have written primarily for the legal community, but Trinity was a story that had been a part of me since I was a teenager. I needed to tell it and allow my imagination to unfurl on the page. It was not until I visited Scotland for the first time (in 2009) that I recognized where my story must be set, and once I knew the setting, the words flowed like the River Ness. I am passionate about Trinity. I love the world I have created and the characters who live there. I am so excited to share them with the world.”
Lauren is a graduate of Rutgers University and Seton Hall University School of Law. In additon to writing, she loves tennis, contact kickboxing, boating, singing, theater and creating art projects with her daughter. She is a terrible golfer, but enjoys driving the golf cart. As an attorney, Lauren has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers Association as one of the Top 40 Attorneys Under 40 in NJ, and by NJ Monthly Magazine as a Super Lawyer Rising Star since 2008. She practices plaintiffs’ personal injury law, representing members of the community who have been permanently injured through no fault of their own.
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