Inside the Author’s Cranium: Meet Lori Mortensen

Excited to have award-winning author, Lori Mortensen visiting today. She is the author of more than 70 books and over 350 stories and articles. Recent titles include Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg, (Clarion, 2013) one of Amazon’s best picture books of 2013, Cindy Moo (HarperCollins, 2012), Come See the Earth Turn – The Story of Léon Foucault (Random House, 2010), a Smithsonian Notable Book for Children, 2010, and In the Trees Honey Bees! (Dawn, 2009) a 2010 NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Book K-12 Winner. When she’s not removing her cat from her keyboard, she follows her literary nose wherever it leads and works on all sorts of projects that delight her writing soul. Lori lives in Northern California with her family. And now here’s Lori in her own words:

 1. What’s your favorite word? I don’t have a favorite word per se. Rather, it’s all those words that magically and mysteriously show up in my mind at the right time and come to life in my finished projects.

 2. What’s your least favorite word? Well, actually it’s a string of words. “I’m sorry your story doesn’t fit our needs at this time.”

 3. Describe your style of writing: Although I write everything from reading assessment passages to mid-grade nonfiction, I always strive to make my writing fun, quirky, informative, and wildly rambunctious.

4. Describe your work ethic: Persistence is a key component in my work ethic. I’m confident that whatever success I’ve achieved is due to regularly and persistently showing up at the computer, and doggedly chasing my writing goals.

5. What is your main writing fault/flaw? Character development? Wandering plots? Satisfying endings? How about, “all of the above?” Everything can be challenging at times, but word by word I work my way to the finish line. Knowing that I can eventually cross the finish line with patience and persistence is comforting, encouraging, and motivating.

 6. Any tips on how to flesh out a character? Trust your instincts and create characters that tickle your soul. In the past, I tried to create characters that readers should or would love, but that sort of thinking just set my mind on an unproductive, inward spiral trying to figure out what someone else would like. The characters are not only fun to write, they’re fun to read about too.

7. Any tips on developing plot? If you create an intriguing main character, then it’s just a matter of seeing where he or she will go. At first, expected plotlines may come to mind. However, when you throw away the character and plot boxes, and veer off onto bumpy, unexpected side roads that make you sit up and smile, then the story takes off and it’s just a matter of keeping up with it.

8. Who are your favorite prose authors? As an adult reader, some of my favorite prose authors include Dick and Felix Francis, M. C. Beaton, and Scot Turow. As a children’s author, I love the works of Beverly Cleary, Madeleine L’Engle, Linda Smith, Lisa Wheeler, Emily Jenkins, Audrey Wood, Adam Rubin, and Oliver Jeffers

9. Who are your favorite poets? Billy Collins, Gary Soto

10. Who are your favorite heroes/heroines in fiction? I hate to be so predictable, but Harry Potter is a standout.

11. Who are your favorite visual artists and composers? For the visual arts, my son, who just graduated with a degree in digital animation. For composers, the list is way too long, but includes names from Handel to the Beatles, to Queen, to whoever I’m jamming with on the radio.

12. Who are your real life heroes? My parents who tirelessly loved and raised me.

13. What intrigues you? Fitting the pieces of a story together, spotting a new bird, trying a new recipe, watching a new episode of BBC’s Sherlock Holmes! (I’m waiting!)

14. What annoys you? Being late.

15. What profession other than writing would you like to learn? Bird photography and web design. (I’ve been dabbling in both!)

16. What profession could you never handle? Professional surfer, skydiver, or other life-threatening “pastimes.”

17. What natural talents have you been gifted with? Cheerful curiosity, with a liberal dose of persistence, determination, and discipline.

18. Assuming there’s will be an afterlife, who would you like to meet and why? If you mean people: I believe in a pre-life and an afterlife. When I pass on, I will look forward to seeing my parents again and returning to my heavenly home.

19. What is your favorite writing motto/mantra? Keep going. It’s the only way anything gets done.

20. What motivates you? Making that next project come to life.


To learn more about Lori, visit her website at www.lorimortensen.com.

About Linda Boyden

Teacher. Author. Artist. Storyteller. Poet. I write a poem a day. A picture book each month. I write novels for kids. I color in and out of the lines. I help young children love words and stories. I believe laughter comes straight from the Creator who put us on this fine Earth so we can help one another do our best.

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2 responses to “Inside the Author’s Cranium: Meet Lori Mortensen”

  1. What a great interview! I enjoyed learning more
    about you! And…that Harry Potter is your lit hero
    because he’s mine too. = )

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