Author Laura L. Sullivan of Largo is author of the children’s fantasy novels “Under the Green Hill” and “Guardian of the Green Hill.” Her short story, “Louring Age” is available for free download until Dec. 24 at Amazon.com.
LARGO – Author and longtime Largo resident Laura L. Sullivan could be described as a children’s novelist; her middle school fantasies “Under the Green Hill” and “Guardian of the Green Hill” are among her best-known work.
But the description doesn’t cover the scope of genres Sullivan writes within. The Florida native has written science fiction and horror stories. Under the pseudonym Sullivan Lee, she’s published adult thrillers, including “Brightwing,” a criminal love story set in the Everglades. She describes her latest book, “Love by the Morning Star,” as a romantic comedy, set in pre-World War II Germany.
The ability to write about anything is a big reason why Sullivan is a writer in the first place.
“Writing lets me do everything in the world,” she explained in an email interview. “I’ve never been able to specialize – I jump from one interest to another – so writing is the best way to be a generalist. I’m always researching something new.”
If there’s a thread that ties her stories together, it could be her use of the godlike narrator, who can see into all of her characters’ heads. In fact, “The Omniscient Third Person” serves as the title of her blog, at lauralsullivan.blogspot.com.
“I love my characters – even the minor ones, the wicked ones – and I feel like if I invent them, I owe it to them to let the reader get as close to all of them as they can, see the innermost recesses of their hearts,” she said.
Another element to Sullivan’s writing is the usual lack of a happy ending. Sullivan credits this tendency to the fact that she’s a realist at heart.
“Characters can achieve their goals, but there is always at least one thread of unhappiness that isn’t neatly tied up, one little moral qualm that is never resolved,” she said.
She tried hard to make “Love by the Morning Star,” the exception. The novel, to be released June 3, ended in disaster and separation in an early draft, but Sullivan rewrote it to give everyone a happy ending.
“Of course, in the end of that book, WWII is just starting, so I suppose there is still unhappiness brewing,” she admitted.
Sullivan is a lifelong Florida resident – aside from a few years when she claimed Kentucky as her legal address, and spent about half of each year in Florida besides. She has lived in Largo since she was 3 years old.
Her most popular children’s titles are set in England, but the adult novel Brightwing is set “entirely and intimately in Florida, in a lightly fictionalized west coast, and the Everglades,” she explained.
“It is my homage to my state – Florida is as much a character in it as the human characters,” she said.
Two other children’s books that haven’t been published yet are set in a fictionalized version of Pinellas County’s barrier islands.
Just this year, “Under the Green Hill” made the Sunshine State Young Readers Award list, which Sullivan takes as a personal compliment.
“As a native Floridian, it amazes me to think that thousands of middle school kids around the state are having my book specifically recommended to them,” she said.
Sullivan said she writes children’s stories because there is nothing more profound than first discoveries.
“I want to be there, vicariously, in book form, when a child has little epiphanies about life,” she explained. “Childhood books form us almost as much as our parents do. Their words stay with us, their lessons guide us, sometimes subtly, true, without us realizing it. But they linger.”
Recently, Sullivan launched a holiday e-book promotion on Amazon.com. Several of her short stories were available to download for free during specific weeks of the season.
Sullivan said she was pleased with the success so far. During the campaign, the story, “The Ideal Household Appliance” rose to No. 3 in Kindle’s short story list and No. 9 in science fiction.
“I hope these stories can bring in a new audience to my traditionally published books,” she said.
Building readership for short stories is tricky, especially with fewer literary magazines publishing to smaller and smaller audiences, she explained. Alternatively, an author might publish a collection of short stories.
“But most of my stories are in such wildly different genres that they probably wouldn’t work in a collection,” Sullivan said. “Putting them out individually at a low price seemed like a perfect solution.”
“Louring Age” is the final short story available for free downloads until Tuesday, Dec. 24. The story is about an independently living ancient woman, who comes up with a scheme to fleece residents of a nursing home, and then finds herself trapped there, mistaken for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Search for the title and Sullivan’s other work on Amazon.com.