Saturday, April 9, 2022

Laura Whitfield Interview - Untethered

Photo Content from Laura Whitfield 

Laura Whitfield grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, the daughter of a journalist and a teacher. She has been an advertising copywriter, newspaper columnist, staff writer for an international relief agency, travel writer, blogger, teacher, communications director for several nonprofits, and personal assistant to a New York Times bestselling author.

Her coming-of-age memoir, Untethered: Faith, Failure, and Finding Solid Ground (She Writes Press) is now available from your favorite independent bookstore or wherever books are sold.

Laura is passionate about her faith, books, travel, nature (especially the beach), social justice, and her family. She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with her husband, Stephen.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
That I’m curious and love learning.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
When I was ten. My father was a journalist and his typewriter was often on our kitchen table. One day I grabbed a piece of notebook paper, threaded through the roller, and typed my first poem called “Life.” It’s framed and sits on my desk to remind me of the moment I started writing.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Getting emails from people telling me how much my story meant to them. They felt seen, that I was a kindred spirit, and my story gave them hope.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Shame. As I began to cull through old memories, I felt shame over a lot of the things I’d done. I had to push through that in order to write my book, and sometimes it was paralyzing. But as I started getting words on the page, I began to feel free. Writing my memoir has transformed me in many ways. Healing from my shame is just one of them.

I hired my writing coach, Brooke Warner, and began writing in January 2017. Brooke would read my drafts and I would edit as I went. I had a solid first draft completed by March 2019.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from Untethered: Faith, Failure, and Finding Solid Ground.

  • 1) “What I didn’t know was that grief is caustic. That it corrodes you from the inside out.” (Untethered, pg. 17)
  • 2) “I’d watched Camelot and had seen what happened when Guinevere fooled around with Lancelot. I knew this wouldn’t turn out well.” (Untethered, pg. 20)
  • 3) “He moved like seaweed in water, fluid and untamed.” (Untethered, pg. 23) – this is my favorite sentence in the book
  • 4) “Hey, fellas! Why don’t you leave those girls alone.” It was Horace. He’d seen the guys follow after us and decided to tag along.
    “Whazzit to ya?” a voice retorted. “One of ‘em your sister or somethin’?”
    “As a matter of fact, she is,” he said.
    They stopped in their tracks, then turned.
    “Oh, hey man! We’re sorry!” said the guy who’d shouted the snide remark. “We didn’t mean to cause any trouble.” They whispered among themselves, then promptly stumbled back to the Tap Room.
    Maybe having a big brother checking in on me wasn’t such a bad thing after all.” (Untethered, pgs. 25-26)
  • 5) “This was exactly the thing I’d worried about: some renegade bad boy looking for a good time. A guy like this, with dancing eyes, a dazzling smile, and a confident come-on, would be hard, if not impossible, to resist. Lucky I’m living at home, I thought, knowing I could only get into so much trouble under my parents’ roof.” (Untethered, pg. 121)
  • 6) “There are times when a look—or an object—can cause an imperceptible shift in the universe. If, in that fleeting second, you knew what it would set in motion, you might do everything in your power to stop it. But that’s the thing about moments. They come and they pass and life goes on. And yet it doesn’t. Because afterward, nothing is ever the same.” (Untethered, pg. 152)
  • 7) “Something was wrong. I looked down at the two eggs in the pan, like two continents situated perfectly side by side, pre-continental drift. It was a sign.” (Untethered, pg. 206)
  • 8) “Everything about that day was cold. My heart felt numb, like fingers needing gloves that I’d lost.” (Untethered, pg. 207)
  • 9) “My odyssey had taken me from the Outer Banks to Manhattan and home again. I’d sought solace in flesh and forgiveness from God as a way to purge my pain. I’d encountered potholes, detours, and dead ends along the way. Somehow, I’d survived.” (Untethered, pg. 236)
  • 10) “As I made my way up the driveway that morning, grief enveloped me like a blanket still damp from the dryer.” (Untethered, pg. 256)
  • 11) “The door opened with a click and I walked through, shutting out the voice as the door closed behind me. I stood motionless. Everything around me felt cold and opaque. I’d been dropped into a dark, murky ocean, miles from shore, with no sense of how to find my way back.” (Untethered, pg. 277)
Your Journey to Publication.
My daughter, Liz, once said, “Mum, you’ve had an interesting life. You should write about it.” So I started writing down random memories from my past. After about eight months, I wasn’t sure if what I’d written was actually a book. My husband suggested I hire a writing coach, and it’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

I started working with Brooke Warner in January 2017, editing as I went. By the time I finished in March 2019, I had a fairly polished manuscript. The next step was a copy edit to remove 10,000 words. My copy editor did such a great job that I couldn’t even tell what she’d taken out.

I took about six months off, then started querying literary agents. I tried to work on a book proposal, but it felt like I was writing my book all over again. After six months of sending out queries, I began to seriously consider hybrid publishing. I signed my contract with She Writes Press in October 2020, which has been a wonderful experience—from the design of my book and cover to author support and our community of She Writes sisters. I wouldn’t change a thing.

My husband, our family, and friends have all been amazing. The support from early readers and people who wrote my first blurbs was invaluable. My publicity team at BookSparks is the best. Writing a book is a solitary endeavor; publishing one is a group endeavor.

Writing Behind the Scenes:
I often write in my head for several days before putting my thoughts on paper. When I finally do sit down, it comes quickly because I’ve worked through what I want to say. I write on a computer, and work best at my desk surrounded by windows with lots of light. I’m freshest in the morning, so that’s when I try to write. I also keep a small notebook on my nightstand. I often wake up writing in my head, so I get up and jot down what I’m thinking. If I don’t, it won’t be there in the morning. When I was working on my memoir, I’d research people, photos, and articles to immerse myself in a certain place and time before beginning a chapter. I’d sit at my desk, close my eyes, and drop myself back into a scene, whether it was a room or a city street. I’m a visual writer, so starting with an image helps jump start whatever I’m working on.


  • 1) We cut 10,000 words from my original manuscript.
  • 2) My original title was Untethered: Love, Loss, and the Search for Solid Ground. After my advance reader copies (ARCs) were printed, we changed it to Untethered: Faith, Failure, and Finding Solid Ground.
  • 3) The Nags Header Hotel, which I wrote about in Chapters 2 & 3, opened in 1935 and was billed as the Carolina coast's finest hotel. It burned to the ground in October 1978.
  • 4) I was twenty when I became a Wilhelmina New York model. I returned to New York when I was twenty-three and was told I was too old. I went back to modeling when I was 44—signed with Wilhelmina Miami—and modeled for 10 years.
  • 5) My cover photo was taken by Outer Banks photographer Ray Matthews in 1976. I was nineteen. I’ve told Ray that he finally made me a cover girl.
  • 6) Buddy Jacobson, who I wrote about in Chapters 6 & 9, was serving time for murder at the New York State Prison at Attica when he died of bone cancer in 1989. He had served eight years of his twenty-five year sentence.
  • 7) When it closed, “A Chorus Line” (Chapter 10) was the longest running show in Broadway history until its record was surpassed by “Cats” in 1997.
  • 8) During the one year I spent scuba diving (Chapter 15), I logged 29 ¼ hours under water.
  • 9) We had one more daughter, Annie Laura, two years after our twins were born (Chapter 17). We named her after my mother.
  • 10) My working title was All The Faces Looking Back at Me.
Best date you’ve ever had?
Lunch with my husband (then boyfriend) on the Eiffel Tower.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
My first cup of coffee.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
Modeling on a two-week Mediterranean cruise with Regent Seven Seas. We traveled to Greece, Turkey, Italy, France, and Spain.

What’s your most missed memory?
Our family before my brother, Lawrence, died. Also my three daughters when they were young.

Which incident in your that totally changed the way you think today?
My brother’s death at age 23. I realized that life is short. You have to make every moment count.

When Laura Whitfield was fourteen, her extraordinary brother, Lawrence, was killed in a mountain climbing accident. That night she had an epiphany: Life is short. Dream big, even if it means taking risks. So, after graduating from high school, she set out on her own, prepared to do just that.

Laura spent her first summer after high school on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a magical few months filled with friendships, boys, and beer. There she met a handsome DJ who everyone called “Steve the Dream,” and risked her heart. When September came, Steve moved to New York City to become a model —prompting Laura to start thinking about modeling, too. After just one semester of college, still seeking to fill the void left by her brother’s death, she dropped out and moved to New York to become a cover girl. But while juggling the demands of life in the big city—waiting tables, failed relationships, and the cutthroat world of modeling—she lost her way.

A stirring memoir about a young woman’s quest to find hope and stability after devastating loss, Untethered is Laura’s story of overcoming shame, embracing faith, and learning that taking risks—and failing—can lead to a bigger life than you've ever dared to imagine.

You can purchase Untethered at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LAURA WHITFIELD for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Untethered by Laura Whitfield.


  1. I gave my sons each an IPAD when they first came out.

  2. I'm not sure. I try to be extra thoughtful when giving gifts. Hopefully I'm successful.

  3. I can't remember any right now but I try to get everyone what they want.