A book talk with author Lauren Rico

Friends of the Library hosts event


You may have heard her show on WSHU FM, where she’s a 34-year veteran classical music host.

Or maybe you’re more familiar with her Whiskey Sisters novels, which she coyly refers to as “romantasy,” or “Solo,” “the one with the hot guy on the cover.”

In town to promote “Familia,” her new novel, and sign copies, the proceeds of which she donated to the library scholarship fund, Lauren Rico entertained her audience with stories about writing and her love of storytelling, which she likened to “distilling little bits of information into nutshells” to share between music selections programmed for her show.

Her self-effacing presentation further engaged the audience with details of personal setbacks that led her to begin writing fiction after training for years as a French horn player and a career on the radio.

A “bad patch” that included her mother’s death, her own breast cancer diagnosis four months later and the ensuing depression, coupled with the need to clean out her mother’s home, brought her to the point of despair.  On the advice of her therapist, she began to write, generating the beginning of “Reverie,” her first novel; within 18 months, there were three more books, all in the romance genre.

Learning how to incorporate fiction’s elements—conflict, character and plot development, dialogue—through writing these romance novels, she eventually found her way to write women’s fiction, where the emphasis is on a woman’s journey that, while it may include men, is focused on the woman’s transition to a new point in her life.

“Familia,” set in beautiful and exotic Puerto Rico, draws from her own experience.  Having visited the island many times, she saw it only as a tourist, never realizing until recently how strong were her family’s connections to the place.  In fact, as she discovered, there were 25 generations going back to the indigenous inhabitants of the island.  It made her wonder what else we miss when we don’t look closely.  The premise of the novel sets up a DNA mystery, a quest for identity, and the consequences of one day and its effect on a family.

Asked about the source of inspiration for her novels, she alluded to a kind of serendipity.

“These things just kind of fall from the sky and hit me on the head sometimes!  A snippet of conversation, or some tiny, poignant detail in a news story will stick with me.  Advice columns, true crime shows, and social media platforms.  I’m like a little magpie—I see something and I want it for my nest.”

The nest, of course, includes a process, as personal for a writer as his or her “voice” on the page.

Here again she draws upon a kind of happy accident.  “I like to know where I’m starting, where I’m ending, and what a ‘few points of interest’ will be along the way.  Everything in between, I just figure out as I go along.”

“I find that music is a great way to get into the right frame of mind when I need to write emotional scenes,” she continued, “and over the years, I’ve created several playlists with titles like ‘Meltdown,’ ‘Girl Power,’ and ‘When I need to make myself cry.’  Music just gets my head in the right space to create… both music and writing are like pops of color in my world—bright and brilliant moments that illuminate the rest of my life.”

And, without doubt, she favors Bach.  “He shows up quite a bit on my writing playlists.  His music is so calming and centering.  I feel like Bach balances my left and right brains.  Aside from Bach, Philip Glass, Ludovico Einaudi and Max Richter are my go-to guys to set a creative writing atmosphere.”

But with so many other choices available, is classical music still relevant?  “It’s hard not to be affected by our historically turbulent times.  Classical music is one of the last refuges from all of it.  It’s soothing, calming, centering, and it can work on our subconscious, playing in the background, filling some of those spaces in the mind that are vulnerable to negativity, fear, and fretting.  It’s also one of the few spaces where everyone is welcome.  When it seems as if there’s no common ground between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ we can all lean into music.”

“Classical music is like a balm that washes over you, body and soul.  It finds all the cracks and fills them, it smooths out the rough edges, then firms up the foundation.  Music prepares us to take on the start of each day and the thing that refortifies us at its end so we can do it all again tomorrow.” 


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