How any of us wind up anywhere is a mystery. We set out on a path bound for somewhere and arrive in a place we likely did not intend on going at all. The forks in the road aren't always easy to spot, and sometimes we wind up on the low road even though we intended to take the high one. Oftentimes, it is as if the name of the road changes suddenly while upon it.
The coronavirus has not only taken time hostage, but it has changed the names of those oh-so-familiar life paths and has nearly decimated life as we knew it. Sports, concerts, parties of all shapes and sizes, festivals - all canceled. Malls, parks, museums, trail heads - closed. Vacations, heretical. Few people frame their face in a rectangle made of forefingers and thumbs claiming they are Disney-bound. Few, does not mean none.
Estelle Laure of Taos is one. Wide smile and bright-eyed, like a Disney character herself, Laure is a writer who specializes in writing for children and young adults ("This Raging Light"; "But Then I Came Back") and this summer's forthcoming "Mayhem" (Wednesday Books/St. Martin's). She will be published under the Disney umbrella with the "City of Villains" series next year.
Despite the slow current of coronageddon, Disney's dynasty continues to grow. Building on content it already owns, telling new stories about old characters, Disney is nurturing future business. "My agent got in touch with Jocelyn Davies who is the executive editor at Disney and she got in touch with me and said 'Hey, do you want to do this trilogy?'" Laure said yes.
Laure didn't always see herself as a YA author. As a child she imagined her adult self clacking around in high heels, answering phone calls, being busy. "It was the '80s," she noted and we both recalled the influence of "Working Girl" and "9 to 5" on young girls at the time. She went to college to be an actress and wound up a housewife in New Jersey.
"By the time I was in my last semester at college I was very burnt out on acting," Laure said. "I was going into the computer lab because I didn't have my own computer, that was the '90s. I was just writing stories on the computer in my spare time. I took a couple of creative writing classes that I loved. I even talked to my teacher about switching majors and she was like, 'No, don't do that. No one gets published, it's a nightmare, don't do it.' Then I met Cory, had kids, and read 'Twilight.'"
Reading the "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer sparked a remembrance in Laure - that she loved children's literature - and she began to write again more seriously. Anecdotally she tells me that she measures the time she has been a writer by the age of her youngest child, 13 years. "I sent in a sample of what I had been writing during his nap times and I was admitted [to Vermont College of Fine Arts], which totally blew my mind."
Her story of getting accepted into a prestigious grad school sounds like a Disney fairy tale itself, and then there is the story of how she got her agent. "I was halfway through my master's program, and I was looking around me at all the talented people I was in school with and my advisers and I thought, what if this never amounts to anything? I have to figure something else out."
At the time Laure was living near New York City. Insecurity inspired her best effort to realizing the girlhood dream of herself clacking around in high heels; she decided she would apply for an internship in the city, and juggle a professional job while being a mother of two small children. She did get the internship, she did work in the city for a little while and eventually she was signed in the office she was interning in. Then she moved back to Taos.
While it would be easy to say it's all just luck, the happenstance of feet well placed on an easy path, that would be cutting Laure's commitment too far short. Commitment and persistence. "You have to be like a dog with a bone, you just have to, because there's so much rejection, the business is so tough and there is such roller-coaster energy to it. You have to be willing to take all of that and just keep going."
Trained as an actor Laure has a toolbox to deal with rejection. Laure is like the Disney girls she is writing about - full of character, dynamic and rising up to face all adversity in her path.
The first of the Disney books is slated to arrive in February of 2021. They are "basically all the Disney villain girls that you love to hate, and a couple of the good ones, too, and they're teenagers. Disney meets Gotham. The pace is really fun - there is a ton of action, all of that aspect has been really fun for me. My books have a tendency to be more internal and less plot-driven and this is very plot-driven, and the setting I just love."
Laure is having fun writing and she isn't stopping with the Disney trilogy. "I have a lot of books coming out now - I have 11 total in the pipeline. It's really crazy," she said. In addition to her two previously published books, the third coming out this summer and the upcoming Disney trilogy, the others are all due to be completed in 2023.
If this weren't enough to overwhelm anyone, Laure is also a full-time English Language Arts instructor and adviser at Taos Academy. When asked how she will get all these projects done, she reminds us she is human, too.
"We'll see, it almost feels impossible. It's hard juggling teaching with everything because teaching is no joke, that's a big girl job." Big girl jobs and little girl dreams, the road continues to unfold itself in front of her and she, like Dorothy in Oz, continues to set her feet, one at a time, along the path.