by Katie Heneghan & Madalyn Johnson, Features Editor and Asst. A&E Editor
The Major Author Reading Series (MARS) welcomed its second author of the semester, Laura Sims, to read from her thrilling novel, Looker. On March 12, the campus community gathered into Hayden 100 to hear Sims read from a small portion of the beginning of her book and to answer questions pertaining to the story, the writing process and more.
Lookee has been reviewed by major magazines such as Vogue and the New Yorker and has received raving reviews.
“It’s an ephemeral fiction with a hard landing—like a window, seen in passing, that glows and goes dark,” wrote Katy Waldman in her New Yorker review.
Prior to reading from her novel, Sims discussed the inspiration and ideas that lead her to writing the story. It was a semi-personal experience helped her develop the idea for Looker. When encountering a celebrity on a hot August day in Brooklyn, Sims turned her frustration with her own lack of hollywood-esque glamor in that specific moment into a novel.
“I think you have to draw on what you see and hear and experience around you to a certain extent and then you can kind of go crazy with it,” Sims said. “Part of what interests me at all with my writing actually is that line between acceptable behavior, and unacceptable criminal behavior, and like how we tend to think of that line even as a wall, a silent wall between us and them and how really it is not so definitive in how depending on circumstance anyone of us could become that person that slides into a dangerous place.”
Looker takes place in an urban setting where a woman, the main character, is dealing with divorce from her husband due to the fact that she cannot conceive children. She lives vicariously through her neighbor, a supposedly happy celebrity, living a lavish lifestyle.
Sims uses eye-catching descriptive language to draw the reader in and tells the story almost as a narration within the main character’s head. Readers learn about her perception and her past through her thoughts and actions told from a first person perspective, and are immersed into the mind of the narrator which is what makes it such a psychological thriller.
The unnamed female actress caught the attention of many listeners during the question and answer session with Sims.
“It wasn’t a choice it just kind of happened that way. Only now when people have been asking me that question I’ve started to think, ‘Well maybe it’s because you’re so inside your head that it would almost be weird to have her named,’” said Sims in response to her reasoning behind not naming the actress.
As for her writing process, Sims says she wrote the majority of Looker in a Brooklyn, N.Y. cafe that has since closed, called Hungry Ghost. Her work is typically inspired by the human mind.
The MARS series is organized by both Dominika Wrozynski, Ph.D. and Adam Koehler, Ph.D. of the English department.
Koehler shared his reflections on the reading with The Quadrangle.
“I think the way that she melts genres in the book is really fascinating, as a reader it’s very much reads like a poem but it’s a novel. That kind of collage that she described earlier, I was drawn to that when reading the book,” said Koehler.
The next Major Author Reading Series (MARS) will be Wednesday, April 10 in Hayden 100.