Author Interview with Laura Davis

by | Nov 7, 2021 | Author Interviews, Blog


I interview wellness authors to find out what makes them tick and why they write the books they do. 

I met best-selling author Laura Davis in Taos, New Mexico at a writing and meditation retreat she cotaught with Natalie Goldberg where I served as Natalie’s assistant. Laura’s genuine, helpful, and powerful teaching about family relationships and abuse touched us all deeply. Laura is best known for The Courage to Heal, but her new book comes out soon! I knew you would want to meet her as well.

Nita Sweeney (NS): Please tell us about your new book:

Laura Davis (LSD): The Burning Light of Two Stars is a memoir—and my first book in 19 years. It tells the story of my embattled relationship with my mother, our determination to love one another, and the dramatic and surprising collision course we ended up on at the end of her life. For the millions of readers of my first book, The Courage to Heal, the new book serves as both prequel and sequel, revealing in intimate, page turning detail how I reconciled with the mother who betrayed me, and came to care for her during her final days.

NS: What prompted you to write this book?

LSD: I wrote it because it was burning inside me and had to come out. I tried to walk away from it multiple times and it always came back and insisted on being told. We all have certain core stories that live inside us—and this just happens to be one of mine.

The Burning Light of Two Stars is about an intense mother-daughter relationship where we both needed and loved each other, but there was a betrayal that got in the way of us trusting each other.

Book with flowers around it

Although it’s the story of one mother and daughter, one relationship that went from an impossible state of estrangement to a surprising state of reconciliation, it’s a story that will resonate with anyone who has someone in their life that they struggle with but wish, more than anything, that they could come to terms with.

Besides, my mother is the best dramatic character I’ve ever come across and her story–and mine–and the fireworks we created together makes for great storytelling.

There were also several core questions I had to answer through the writing process:
  • Is it possible to caretake a parent who has betrayed you in the past?
  • Is it possible to open a heart that’s learned it’s safer and easier to stay closed?
  • What does healing from trauma look, truly look like, over the course of a lifetime?

NS: What message do you hope readers take away?

LSD: The Burning Light of Two Stars comes out November 9th and I’ve posted the first five chapters on my website and I invite you to come read them for free. Since I posted them, I hear from women every day.

“Your book makes me think about my mother—or my daughter—in a whole new way.”

“I’m going to have to take care of my mother, and I’ve been dreading it, and now I’m looking forward to it as an opportunity.”

One woman reported calling her mother for the first time in 18 years. I loved hearing that. More than anything, I wrote this story because I wanted to demonstrate that transformation is possible in even the toughest relationships. That caregiving can be a pathway to healing.

Woman standing in front of waterfall


NS: Writing (and life) can be stressful. How do you take care of yourself?

LSD: Swimming—I love being in the water. I’m saved every time I dive into the pool.

Being out in nature. Hiking. Walking by the ocean with our yellow pandemic lab puppy, Luna.



NS: Tell us about your other work.

LSD: In addition to writing books that inspire, the work of my heart is to teach. For more than twenty years, I’ve helped my students find their voices, tell their stories, and hone their craft as writers. I love creating supportive, intimate writing communities online, in person, and internationally. Writing can be a powerful pathway to healing, connection, integration, and wholeness. That’s what I love to teach.

NS: What led you to this path?

LSD: It’s a natural extension of who I am and who I was meant to be in the world. I’ve used words to express, to vent, to educate, to inform, to disrupt, to teach, and to inspire since I was a teenager. And I’ve been committed to—and fascinated by—how human beings heal and grow across the life cycle.

The tag line on my website is: “Healing Words That Change Lives.” That’s a pretty good summation of everything I’ve been manifesting as a communicator for the past forty years, whether as a talk show host in Alaska, a seven-time author, a public speaker, a teacher or as a retreat leader.

NS: Do you have a motto or slogan you find helpful? If so, how did you arrive at that?

LSD: As my father once said, “A family is a dictatorship run by its sickest member.” My dad was full of great slogans, but that one has really stayed with me.

“A family is a dictatorship run by its sickest member.”

NS: What’s the worst wellness (mental health, self-care) advice you’ve ever heard?

LSD: Take Ivermectin. Unfortunately, I have family members who believe it.

NS: Oh. That’s sad and painful. I’m so sorry. What is one thing about well-being you wish you’d learned earlier?

LSD: That worrying is practice for failure. And I wish I’d learned to apologize a lot sooner. I’m still working on that one.

NS: Do you have a go-to wellness practice you would like to share?

LSD: Walk or sit in nature with your palms open. Pet a dog.

NS: Do you have a writing tip for the writers out there?

LSD: Write and edit in layers. If you read a powerful, well-developed fully rendered scene, you might think that it was “just written that way,” but it wasn’t. The writer started with raw material. They did a free write or a writing practice. They dove deep into the maw and the gut and brought back an image, an emotion, or a moment and put it on the page.

Or perhaps they started with a character or a single dramatic moment, an object or an image, and the story evolved from there. On a later pass, they focused on characterization or on building tension, on creating an emotional flip in a scene so it didn’t remain static. They took the words, “He was angry,” and found a way to show anger on the page without using the word “angry” or any of its synonyms: “enraged,” “furious,” incensed,” and the like.

And they didn’t worry about diction!

On another pass, they worked on creating vivid dialogue or adding rich sensory detail. But they didn’t add all these layers at once. They focused on them one at a time with each rewrite of that scene. And they didn’t worry about diction—the mechanics of writing–till the very end—the length and rhythm of their sentences, their word usage, the sharpness of their verbs, ridding their work of cliches.

Each time a seasoned writer comes back to a piece, they hone in on a different element of storytelling. Each rewrite, each new draft, moves the piece forward. Eventually when the scene or story or book has been completed, the writer has seamlessly integrated all the elements of story and made it look easy—but it isn’t.

woman hiking with journal

NS: What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

LSD: Any advice that proclaims, “This is the only way to be a writer.” There are as many ways to be a writer as there are writers.

NS: And the best?

LSD: Start by letting what’s in your body and your heart pour out on the page without editing. Don’t edit and write your first draft at the same time.

And I’ve always loved Natalie Goldberg’s line: “Feel free to write the worst shit in America.”

NS: Me too! Such freedom. Has your life turned out differently than you expected? If so, how?

LSD: In my twenties, when I was first facing the sexual abuse I’d experienced as a child, I believed I was too damaged to have children. But then I healed and got involved with a wonderful woman who showed me that I was capable of love and loving. We’ve been together more than thirty years and have three children and three grandchildren. I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to have a family and a fulfilling career.

Author Laura Davis

NS: Is there anything you would change about your journey?

LSD: No, every step, even the really painful ones—and the worst mistakes I’ve made, have led me to where I am today.

NS: What are you currently reading for inspiration?

LSD: To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue. It’s always on my bedside table.

NS: Is there a wellness or inspirational book you couldn’t finish? Why?

LSD: Many, I’m opposed to dogma.

NS: What wellness book could you not put down?

LSD: Liberating Masturbation by Betty Dodson, back in the 1974. She was such a trailblazer and a feminist idol of mine.

NS: What’s next for you?

LSD: Launching a book, like birthing a baby, is all-consuming. Hopefully once the new book gets kicked out of the nest and starts making its own way in the world, I’ll rest. Deep rest is a critical part of the creative cycle—every field needs a fallow season—but it’s always a challenge for me.

I’m such a doer.

I’m going to be taking a group of writers to Tuscany next June. That trip had to be canceled twice and I’m hoping the third time’s the charm! Late at night, I just love drooling over pictures of the Italian countryside and all the fabulous meals we’re going to eat.


NS: Mermaids or Goddesses? (Superheroes or Gods?)

LSD: Mermaids. I love everything to do with water.

NS: Toast or bagels?

LSD: I’m not a big bread person. But I’m partial to ginger lemon scones and fresh handmade corn tortillas.

NS: Ocean, mountains, or forest?

LSD: Ocean. I grew up a 15 minute walk from the Atlantic and now I live a 15 minute walk from the Pacific.

NS: Leggings or jeans? (Jeans or slacks or sweatpants?)

LSD: Jeans.

NS: Dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, or horses?

Dogs, and I never thought I’d say that until I got a puppy at age 64. I’ve never liked dogs before, and now I’ve fallen in love with all of them—how amazing to intimately observe how another species moves through the world.

About Laura Davis

Laura Davis is the author of The Burning Light of Two Stars, the story of her loving yet tumultuous relationship with her mother, and six other non-fiction books. The Courage to Heal and The Courage to Heal Workbook paved the way for hundreds of thousands of women and men to heal from the trauma of sexual abuse. Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, a rich resource guide co-authored with parenting expert Janis Keyser, helped parents develop a vision for the families they want to create. And I Thought We’d Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation teaches the skills of reconciliation and peace building to the world, one relationship at a time.

Laura’s groundbreaking books have been translated into 11 languages and sold two million copies.

You can learn about her books and writing workshops, read the first five chapters of her new memoir, and receive a free ebook: Writing Through Courage: A 30-Day Practice at

Facebook: @LauraDavis&TheWritersJourney

Facebook personal page.

Instagram: @laurasaridavis

Pinterest: laurasaridavis

If you purchase something through the affiliate links on this page, Write Now Columbus, a collection of resources for central Ohio writers and readers, will receive a small percentage of the sale.

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