Teacher brings terror in new book


Book Cover

Coming of age is a challenge for just about everyone, but for Lady Mae, the protagonist of Laura Young’s new horror novel, “The Butcher,” growing up means deciding whether or not to take part in a bloody ritual: cutting off people’s limbs for committing petty crimes.

“The Butcher” is the first novel for Young, an English teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School. Young has been a writer since childhood and through college, where she attended the University of Iowa. She always enjoyed writing and sharing her work with her friends and advisors.

For “The Butcher,” published by Titan Books, she was inspired to write about dystopian societies and conflicted characters struggling with “radical forgiveness, and what it would take to forgive someone for crimes against you or somebody that you love, or even forgive yourself for doing things that you had to do,” she said.

“The Butcher” follows Lady Mae, the lead character, as a young girl and her internal struggle with the realities of her own life.

Since starting “The Butcher” several years ago, Young received hundreds of rejection letters. “I probably have close to 300, 400 rejections between all my short stories,” she said. She used those rejections to progress in her writing. “Agents know the pulse of the literary world, so if they’re saying these things (are) not working out, and if several agents are saying the same thing, I paid attention and revised,” she said.

Most of her inspiration comes from her children, she said, adding that her desire to create is therapeutic and is a way to get through tough times.

Some of her inspirations in the writing world are Nathaniel Hawthorne, Margaret Atwood, Lois Lowry and John Irving. She grew up loving “The Giver,” “Fahrenheit 451,” and “The Scarlet Letter,” and was always very interested in “the idea that there was no other place to go—that you were stuck in your dystopian society forever,” she said.

While she was writing “The Butcher,” she frequently spoke to Erika Eckart, the OPRF English division head, about her process. Eckart said she’s known Young since 2015, which is when Young began writing “The Butcher.”

Eckart said that having a published writer as an English teacher means a great deal to the English department. “We want our students to see themselves as writers. And so having role models who are community members, who are their teachers, who show that they are accomplished writers is really neat,” Eckart said.

Looking to the future, Young said she would love to continue writing, but she doesn’t want it to feel forced and restrained by the stress and immobility of deadlines. She wants to make sure her writing comes at her own pace, from her own voice and creativity, and, most importantly, at her own will.

Young is currently writing a new book. “I am on a deadline for the end of November,” she said. So, after the release of “The Butcher” on Sept. 27, she will shortly be published once again.

So, what will be next for Young? Just wait and see!