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  • Writer's pictureLittle Thoughts Press

Interview: Luree Scott


A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue One: Magical Winter with a sneak peek of the story "The Sugar Plum Something" by Luree Scott.

 

Luree Scott is a writer and performer from San Diego, CA. She received a BA in Theatre Arts and English from the University of San Diego and is currently an MFA candidate in UCR Palm Desert's Low Residency MFA Program for Creative Writing, where she studies fiction and playwriting. Her previous works can be read in The Alcala Review and Poets' Choice.


Luree’s story, “The Sugar Plum Something,” is part of Little Thoughts Press Issue One: Magical Winter.


 

Little Thoughts Press: Your story, "The Sugar Plum Something" deals with complex themes about family and place through the connection between a child and a magical creature she discovers while shopping for a Christmas tree. Can you talk a bit about how this story developed? What was your initial inspiration? And what message do you hope young readers will take away from this story?


Luree Scott: The initial idea for this story came about not long after my mother and I went Christmas tree shopping during the pandemic. It was back in 2020, so it was the first year where traditions were being challenged because of health risks and overall exhaustion, and that trip to the neighborhood Michael’s for decorations was overwhelming to say the least. My mother had decided to "downsize" our tree. The big green one we put up every year wasn't going to be taken out. Instead, we were picking out a lighter tree (both in weight and color). It was pencil thin, covered in white frost (not very green at all), and just didn't look like Christmas to me. I tried to look cheerful and excited, and in some ways I was because we still got to decorate, but that change struck me at my core. I started asking myself questions like: Why does our old tree mean so much to me? Why doesn't this feel like Christmas anymore? What am I missing? So then I started writing "The Sugarplum Something" to answer those questions; to find a deeper meaning within that small, craft store experience. And to make a little more holiday cheer for myself in the process. Through the writing of that story, I reminded myself that love and family are the things that make Christmas feel right, and that anyone can be that family for you. It doesn't have to be traditional to be good. It's the love that's the good part. That's what I'd like readers to take away from it.


Little Thoughts Press: You have a background in theater and are currently studying both fiction and playwriting. In what ways does your performance background inform your writing? Are there similarities to how you approach your fiction and playwriting? What do you think are the biggest differences between these forms of writing?


Luree Scott: What my theater experience has done for me in terms of writing is allowed me to fully embody characters. To become them and understand them, even if they are wildly different or opposite to who I am as a person. I know for a fact that has helped me create unique characters in my prose, poetry, and stage plays. It's been a great help with forming dialogue too. People often say things in their own special way. The way my mother talks is completely different from the mail lady, whose voice is completely different from the manager of the Starbucks down the road, and so on. The Wicked Witch of the West has different words and ideals than Mary Poppins (and I felt that very physically and emotionally when I played these characters on stage).


Fiction and playwriting are also both very character driven. Without a main character or characters who the audience is connected to, there's not much of a story to experience. But here's the main difference I've found: In fiction, you get to describe the setting, the thoughts and feelings of the characters, and the actions to the very finest detail. In playwriting, as we've studied in my MFA program, most of what you can use is dialogue. You get a little bit of time to describe action and setting, but you're mostly focused on what your characters say. Writing in both mediums has helped me learn how action and dialogue can work together; how much or how little can be used to create different tones and plotlines. I definitely recommend writing in multiple forms and genres (especially the ones that seem the hardest for you), because that allows you to gain techniques that help all aspects of your writing.


Little Thoughts Press: What initially drew you to writing kid lit and what do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?


Luree Scott: This is a very interesting question for me, because I don't usually write with an audience in mind. I just write the story and trust that the audience for it will find it someday. And "The Sugar Plum Something" did find its way eventually, but in an even more fantastic way. I originally sent this to another magazine, where you, Claire, were a reader who read various submissions. I wasn't accepted into that magazine, but you told them to mention the submissions for Little Thoughts Press as a potential home for my story. So, I submitted it again to you this time, and my story found its audience in kid lit in a way I had never expected, which is in itself a true kind of magic! I feel this is important to mention for the writers who are just starting out. This experience let me know that rejection is not the end of the world, and even if some readers don't understand your story, or have a place for it yet, there is always someone out there who will.


What was challenging about writing for a young audience was how I used language. I often write with long sentences and descriptions. I can't help it sometimes. I’ve got a lot to say! So going back to make it more accessible for younger audiences involved a lot of revision, cutting, rearranging here and there, and finding ways to rephrase some ideas so they were simpler. But I loved it! Getting that awesome feedback about where to trim up my story helped me realize that I could still accomplish quite a lot with fewer words. The rewards for writing for a younger audience are many, but I think my favorite is that it can inspire their imagination, and encourage them to see the world in different, even impossible ways. Reading when I was young inspired me to become a writer myself and make up my own stories.


Little Thoughts Press: Which kid lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?


Luree Scott: I had so many authors and books when I was young that truly ignited my passion for a good story. Some of my favorites are The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, the Avalon: Web of Magic series by Rachel Roberts, and Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George.


Little Thoughts Press: What is your favorite thing about winter?


Luree Scott: That's so tough! The long sweaters and blankets, and hot tea, and Christmas movies are all so much fun and comforting. But I have to say, I really do love wrapping and gifting presents. It feels like making little reminders for everyone in your life of how much they mean to you. The smiles and laughter when you exchange them can't be beat. And you get some reminders yourself of how much you mean to others in return. Yeah, gift giving is pretty special.


Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?


Luree Scott: To all the young writers out there, I give you permission to write what you want to write, not what other people want you to write. You may look at your story and think it's too silly, too weird, too fantastical, too realistic, too anything. It's not. Like I've said before in this interview, there is going to be someone out there that loves your story and believes in it, just like there are people who love and believe in you. Take it from someone who has a published story about a tree-elf-gremlin-creature in a fake Christmas tree. No story is off limits. What matters is that it makes you happy and means something special to you.


Little Thoughts Press: Is there anything else you wish I had asked? Any upcoming projects, publications, or other news you'd like to share?


Luree Scott: These questions were so thoughtful and well said. I can't possibly think of another that could have been asked. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work and process! I'm just back in school now and hope to graduate from UCR Palm Desert's Low Residency MFA program in the Fall of 2022! I also usually share updates on my publications on Twitter when they come out, so if anyone is interested, I'm over there at @luree_s.




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