I am thrilled to make two announcements connected to my upcoming memoir Friends of Mine: Thirty Years in the Life of a Duran Duran Fan. The first is that friend and fellow Amazon Publishing author RJ Keller will write the Foreward. Not only is she a great writer (check out her novel Waiting For Spring), but also a Gen-Xer and former teenage fedora-clad Duranie (I've seen pictures). I knew early on that she'd offer something of value to the project. She was one of the first to see the manuscript in draft form, and understood where I was coming from not only from experience, but also rhetorically.
The second is even more exciting. One of the advantages of self-publishing is having sole control of the editorial and design process (although, in fairness, I must acknowledge that Amazon Publishing gives me a lot of input when it comes to my novels, and I'm so grateful). When it came to the cover design of this book, only one name came to mind: Patty Palazzo. I first heard her name years ago in conjunction with Duran Duran; she designed the calendars and other merchandise. And then I saw this:
Um, yeah. I know.
While promoting his memoir, John Taylor tweeted a link to a story about Patty and her cover design process. As a lover of all things process, naturally I clicked on the link and commented on it, which, to my pleasant surprise, resulted in a brief but fruitful Twitter conversation with Patty, and mutual follows. (I may have also tweeted something like, "I want to wallpaper my writing studio with that cover. Just sayin'.")
Thus, when it came to my memoir cover, the designer had to be Patty. Not only because I knew she'd rock the design (you can see more of her work here), but also because bringing her on board would make the project even more personal. And it's already quite personal to me. In fact, everyone I've worked with throughout this project has been someone close, someone trusted, someone I knew would take special care. Bringing Patty Palazzo into a Duran Duran-related project is like coming full circle, in a way. I knew she too would take special care. But would she want to work with little ol' me? Would she be available?
Fortunately for me, YES. And judging by our interaction so far, I know she's going to be a pleasure to work with.
I am more psyched than ever to release this book. I hope you'll be just as psyched to read it.
Most of you know me well enough to know that I'm a Duran Duran fan. I've made no secret of this, have proudly worn my t-shirts and blasted my CDs in my car and searched eBay for memorabilia and tweeted and posted and swooned.
This year marks THIRTY YEARS of my fandom. Considering that the band's first single was released in 1981, some might say I came late to the party. But hey, I didn't have MTV or FM radio until much later.
At the 25-year mark, I had thought about writing a book about this relationship, the longest long-term relationship I've ever had. But I was too immersed in other projects. Last year, however, I knew the time had finally come.
A memoir is never about what you think it's going to be about. You think it's about a particular event or memory or experience; but once you start peeling back the layers, you find it's interwoven with so much more. To write solely about being a Duran Duran fan would've resulted in a personal essay, perhaps. What I discovered as I wrote were patterns -- my relationships with music, musicians, family, and friends. My relationship with me. Writing has been one of the constants of my life. Duran Duran has been the other.
And so, I'm proud (and even a little bit nervous!) to announce that my memoir, Friends of Mine, Thirty Years in the Life of a Duran Duran Fan, will be released on August 10, 2013. (Fellow Duranies will recognize the significance of the date.) One of the reasons this is so exciting/scary is because I'm jumping back into the self-publishing pool for this particular title. Self-publishing has come a long way in four short years. Things I got away with then I could never get away with now. The competition is four times as steep. My past success, my solid readership, my street cred guarantees me nothing. I could sink or swim. But, just as I did with Faking It years ago, I believe in this project, believe there's an audience, and believe the two will find their way to one another. And I've learned a lot over the years. I know way more now than I did four years ago.
This is also the most personal book I'm publishing. I worried about whether I could share so much with total strangers. But after showing the manuscript to a few trusted people, they reminded me of the truth about autobiographical writing. To quote the late Donald Murray: "As we read someone else's story, we read our own." One this book is out of my hands, it will become your story. I suppose the same argument could be made for fiction as well.
I just hope I don't disappoint.
Two stories regarding booksellers, publishers, Amazon, and readers crossed my path in the last two days. The first went relatively unnoticed. The second, however, dominated the news feeds of both Twitter and Facebook.
I'll start with the first. An author posted a story on her Facebook page about Barnes & Noble cutting back on Simon & Schuster titles. She made a comment about fellow S&S authors: ""So many authors I know are being affected, and are scared for their careers." I was struck by this comment. Scared for their careers? B&N has refused to stock Amazon Publishing books from the get-go, and I'm doing fine. In fact, my career is thriving at the moment. I was naive to the fact that, as a fellow Amazon author pointed out, "Many. . .mid-list author(s). . . who sell primarily in print format do not have much of an ebook readership. In fact, they are having great difficulty cultivating ebook buyers. Their sales are frightening dependent on B & N placement and promotion."
The second story was about Amazon acquiring Goodreads. Everyone, it seemed, had something to say about it, and the reactions to the news were mixed. Some saw this as a savvy acquisition, while others worried that Goodreads would suffer the same fate as Shalfari (also owned by Amazon). Others went a step farther and shut down their Goodreads accounts. A high school friend who owns an independent bookstore, added this latest turn of events to her long list of reasons for her disdain of all things Amazon.
So what do these two stories have in common? Amazon.
Amazon continues to be a polarizing company--some say they're innovators, while others say they're corporate imperialists. Some say they're killing the book industry, while others say they're saving it.
Truth be told, I have misgivings about the Goodreads acquisition. My misgivings have more to do with how reviews-obsessed the author-reading community has become (this is tied in to my opinions against grading, and would warrant a separate blog post), and whether Amazon's acquisition (who pioneered the reviews-ratings algorithm) is going to exacerbate that. But in terms of piling on Amazon as hellbent on taking over the world, I can't help but get a little defensive. Because, as Hugh Howey said:
The reality is that everyone I know at Amazon, from top to bottom, loves books. They love readers. They love authors. I think this permeates the company because of the passion Jeff Bezos holds for all things book. He has made it a goal to get more people reading and more people writing than at any time in human history. Because of Amazon (largely Amazon), more people are making a living at writing than ever before.
This has been my experience as an Amazon author from day one. And, given the situation with Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster (as well as with AP authors and other problems), I can't help but think that a company that blames Amazon for its demise seems to be doing an excellent job of driving its customers there.
But here's what it really comes down to for me:
I love books.
I love bookstores. And libraries.
I love Amazon (and Amazon Publishing) for making it possible to do what I love and make a living from it.
I love my Kindle.
I love to read.
I love to write.
I love readers.
I love writers/authors.
I love interacting with both.
We still need bookstores. What neither Goodreads nor Amazon can give us is human interaction, face to face contact between readers and readers, writers and writers, and readers and writers. As an author, I need that personal interaction not as much from a business perspective as much as a creative and psychological one. Community is vital to almost any profession. Social networking has broadened what community means, but it still can't match human contact.
The reality is that book commerce has changed. It's time to stop complaining about and resisting it. If bookstores are to remain in business (and I want them to), then they've got to INNOVATE. They've got to find ways to maintain that human touch, that community and service readers and writers crave, while still making a profit. They've got to be more than booksellers now, without abandoning their love of and commitment to books. They've got to find new and better ways to do that, ways that don't rival Amazon but complement and supplement it. It's not about rooting for one over the other. It's not about taking sides.
I want that for them, and for me, more than anything. And believe me, I've been racking my brains trying to figure out how to do it. I haven't come up with the solution yet. But I'll keep trying.
Hello Elisa Lorello Blog Followers!
My name is Jennie Shaw and this is my very first guest blog post! Wohoo!
Since I’m a total stranger, I guess it makes sense to tell you a little bit about myself. Well, first off, I live in New Brunswick, Canada and yes, I really do say “eh?” often. I spend my days writing women’s fiction, compulsively painting my nails, and wishing for winter to be over (which doesn’t seem to be anytime soon, boo).
As I’m a writer of women’s fiction, Elisa and I connected through Twitter during a #ChickLitChat (Thursday nights at 8pm EST, you should totally join us). After discovering we have similar senses of humour, I read her debut novel Faking It. And then Ordinary World. And just yesterday, I finished Adulation. Suffice it to say, I love Elisa’s writing, so when she suggested we do a guest post swap, I was all over it (moderately intimidated, but all over it nonetheless).
The topic for our swap is one that’s near and dear to my heart: Literary Crushes. I know, right? BEST GUEST POST TOPIC EVER! Back in the day, I had a series called Monday’s Literary Hotties but it’s been a very long time since I’ve delved into the swoon-i-ness so I’m super psyched about it. Mostly because I’ll be discussing one of my favourites: the incredibly charming and super-hot Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series.
Now, there may be some of you who are all: “Err, who the heck is that and what the hoo-ha is Anne of Green Gables?” so if you’re one of those people, stop what you’re doing right now, get on Amazon or run to your nearest library and start reading. Seriously. I can wait.
*plays Just Dance 4*
Okay, so now that you’ve finished, we can get started...
Isn’t Gilbert the best male character of all time?
Hint: The answer is YES.
But just in case you haven’t read the series (yet), I’ll break down the reasons for my bordering-on-obsessed-longing crush on Gilbert Blythe.
Mmmmmmmm…..this is a still from the Anne of Green Gables movie and I applaud the casting department as he’s pretty much exactly how I pictured him.
One of the reasons I have such a mad crush on Gil (I can call him Gil because we’re old friends) is because of the amazing way he treats his love interest, Anne Shirley. As you’ve all read the books *stares* you know that Anne is a perfect mix of confidence, insecurity, strength, and vulnerability, who Gil, to reference Bridget Jones’ Diary, “likes very much as she is.” And you’ve got to love a guy who doesn’t want to change a complicated woman.
In the beginning of Gil’s courtship, Anne isn’t super into him (yeah, I don’t get it either) but he’s super persistent and conducts his pursuit with such innocence that it only makes Gil hotter (if that’s even possible). Plus, he rescues Anne—legit rescues her—when her boat sinks in the lake! And he’s selfless, putting Anne’s needs ahead of his own when they’re adults. He’s also a bit of a jackass, and I like my men with a certain degree of jackass-i-ness. Not too much, mind you, but enough to whip out a cocky half-smile now and again. And boy, can Gil do a cocky half-smile (oh em gee, Ilovehimsomuch).
Did I mention that he also grows up to be a doctor? A DOCTOR! Come on people, what more could you possibly want in a literary crush? The only way he’d be sweeter is if he were made of honey. Or covered in honey. Which I would probably lick off…okay, this post is getting out of hand so before I overstep any boundaries, I’m just going to stop. Ha! Besides, I think that I’ve made my point, right?
So how about you? What are some of your literary crushes?
And thanks so much to Elisa for doing a guest post swap with me; it was a lot of fun! If you’d like to read more from me, or read about Elisa’s Literary Crush, you can find my blog at: http://wellshutthefrontdoor.blogspot.ca.
Even though I'm known as a women's fiction/chick lit author, I tend to read books outside that genre. So it seemed reasonable that I would feature such an author(s) as well. This is probably about as far from my genre as I've ever strayed, but that's what makes it so interesting! Here's one more guest post using the blog hop questions, by author Michael Tinker Pearce and his wife, Linda Pearce.
Michael Tinker Pearce and Linda Pearce are a husband-and-wife writing team from Seattle, WA. Michael is a knife and sword maker and Linda was an IT professional and project manager for over twenty years. You can read more about them here.
This is their first full-length novel. Q: What is the title of your book?
A: 'Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman' Q: What genre does your book fall under?
A: In some ways we've bent the fantasy genre pretty hard here, though in other ways it's classic heroic fantasy, so I think that if I had to classify it that would do. Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
We actually never considered a movie-version of this book and none of the characters were written with the idea that an actor would play them. I really don't want to answer this because I want readers picturing the characters themselves, not imagining how a specific actor or actress might portray them. Q: What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A: Louis L'Amour meets JRR Tolkien Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
A: I spent a year building the world in my head, but once we actually started writing it took roughly three months. Since it was being edited and proof-read as it went along the final draft was actually ready the week after the first draft was finished. Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A: This might be a failure to read enough on my part, but I cannot think of any. This is a medieval-ish fantasy novel written by the rules for 'hard-science' science fiction. Everything in the book is scientifically plausible except the 'magic,' but even that follows 'science-like' rules. To complicate things even further the main character is very much a Louis L'Amour hero; Determined, honest, deeply competent and not overly introspective, but not perfect or invulnerable. Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A: Somewhere in the lore of 'Warcraft' there was a mention of 'regiments of Dwarven Riflemen.' That stuck in my head and one day the title 'Diary of a Dwarven Rifleman' popped into my brain. Everything else proceeded from questions that this brought up, like 'Why are the dwarves the only people with guns? Where do they live? How do they survive? Where did they come from?' Q: What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
A: It's a different take on Dwarves, goblins and humans. The book has strong, likable characters, a bit of romance, lots of action. The hero, rather than personally saving the day, contributes to the book's resolution just by being who he is. The book also tackles some interesting and atypical problems and issues for a fantasy novel. Q: When and how will it be published?
A: We actually published on February 26th, 2013 as a Kindle eBook
and a Print-on-Demand Trade Paperback
Author Kristen Tsetsi
and I decided to pull a little "blog hop switcheroo" in which we'd exchange the same series of questions and then present them on each other's blogs.
We modified the original blog hop questions slightly in order to make them more appealing for everyday readers and not writers only.And so, without further ado, here she is, talking about her novel Pretty Much True... Q: What is the title of your book?
A: Pretty Much True... Q: How did you come up with that title?
A: In Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut writes, "All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true." I read that after I'd finished writing the story, and I thought, "How perfect!" The story, while a fictional account, is still very much true. Especially the war parts. Q: What was another title you considered instead, and what happened there?
A: War and Peas was one. But I think I was about 3/4 of the way through writing it and feeling punchy at the time. I must have been, because there are no peas in the story. Vodka, a slice of cheese, and mayonnaise, yes, but no peas. Mia's not what you'd call a healthy eater. Q: What is your book's genre?
Literary fiction, but only because it's hard to shelve anywhere else. There's love and romance and sex, but it's not a romance novel. The protagonist is female, but I don't know that I'd classify it as "women's fiction" - Mia's experience is not universally (nor uniquely) female. There's action, but it's largely internal, and suspense, but not the kind that has readers waiting for a killer to turn the corner. (Well, actually...I take that back.) Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in the screen adaptation that will most certainly be produced?
Mia (the English professor-turned-cab driver): Ellen Page or Kristen Stewart. Enough said, probably.
Jake (Mia's boyfriend, an Apache pilot in Iraq): Someone passably good-looking, but largely unknown.
Donny Donaldson: Terry Kiser Terry Kiser Terry Kiser! I would pay him from my own checking account if I could afford him.
Jake's mother Olivia: Kathy Bates. Olivia is annoying, a little flighty, and a steamroller. Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes immediately comes to mind.
And I'd love a brunette Dakota Fanning to play the marriage-trapped (but wise) Denise. Except she might still be too young. Q: What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A: A professor-turned-cab driver afraid she'll never see her war-fighting soul mate again befriends a Vietnam veteran and a bad habit or two as her once-normal life becomes an exercise in long-distance relationship management, friendship avoidance, "couples" party handling, and war protest etiquette. Q: What relationship (between characters) is the most complicated, and what's complicating it for them?
A: Mia and Denise, whose significant others are both at war, have the most complicated relationship. Although both are waiting, they're waiting for very different reasons, which creates increasing strain and distance while simultaneously forcing them together. They're also clashing personality types: Mia is reactionary and passionate, and Denise is almost infuriatingly calm and cool. Q: Who or what inspired the book's protagonist?
A: Mia as the story's protagonist was borne of my experience, but she as a more complex person/personality was inspired by the things I believe many of us have inside, at one time or another, and are loathe to share or admit to. And I don't mean bad things, necessarily. Q: Fill in the blank: Readers who enjoyed _______ will also enjoy my book.
A: Based on what readers have said: genre fiction, The Things They Carried, The Bell Jar, Paint it Black, or books by Margaret Atwood or Janet Fitch. Q: Who or what inspired the story?
A: This is probably an obnoxious answer, but it was inspired by the need to tell it. Most of the stories I've told (in my short fiction) have been inspired by powerful (or subtle, but nagging) personal experiences, and waiting for my lovey love soul mate guy to make it back from Iraq alive was the most passionate, intense, surreal, aggravating, action-packed (emotionally speaking), suspenseful, exciting, and sorrowful experience I've ever had (or expect to have) in my life. How do you not write that story?
Additionally, the larger "waiting" experience is one very few people know much about on a level that goes beyond what we see in the media. I'm nosy, and I assume others are, too, so I like to try to get behind curtains and invite others to see what I found. Q: What is your favorite line of dialogue a character delivers? (No context.)
A: Donny (60-something man) says to Mia (twenty-something woman), "I'm old enough to be your daughter." Q: When and how will it be published?
Missouri Breaks Press published it in September 2012. Pretty Much True.
.. can be found in most online bookstores, is available for Kindle, and can be ordered from brick-and-mortars.
The new craze in blogging right now is what's called a blog hop--one blogger answers a set of questions, then tags several other bloggers to answer the same questions, who then tags more, and so on. It's not unlike the current questionnaire I've been seeing on Facebook in which one person answers a set of questions about a given year, and then tags people in the post to respond and post. Last week I was tagged by two different authors-- Alice Osborn, North Carolina poet and teacher, and Craig Lancaster, author of 600 Hours of Edward and more.
The questionnaire was about works in progress; but given that I'm superstitious and don't like to talk about my works in progress, I chose to write about Adulation
instead, especially given that we're just coming out of Oscar season, and the Kindle edition is on sale right now. To continue the blog hop, I'll be both tagging writers as well as featuring them here all week. Please scroll to the bottom to learn more about these terrific authors and their equally terrific books. Q: What is the title of your latest book?
A: My most recent title is called Adulation
, published in November 2012. (The Kindle edition is currently on sale for $1.99 during the entire month of March.) Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?
A: I had wanted to write a novel about a fan who meets her longtime idol ever since I saw the original lineup of Duran Duran perform in 2005. In 2010, I had the pleasure of meeting Aaron Sorkin following a Q&A at an advanced screening of The Social Network
in Durham, North Carolina. I had interacted with Sorkin on numerous occasions via a Facebook discussion forum prior, but it occurred to me at the moment he shook my hand that had we met under other circumstances—a coffeeshop, a university lecture, through friends, etcetera—and he wasn’t “Aaron Sorkin, famous award-winning screenwriter,” this was a guy I would give my phone number to, perhaps even ask out on the spot.
was born that night: what if a fan and her idol meet and it turns out they’re more than just compatible, but meant for each other? Can it work out, or has fame and fortune gotten in the way? Q: What genre does your book fall under?A: I market is as commercial women's fiction. Q: What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? A: Oooh, I always get stumped on this question! Lately I’ve been thinking Ben Affleck would make a good Danny Masters, especially if he grew his hair out the way he did for Argo. I think I’d want someone relatively unknown to play Sunny Smith. And Jim Parsons has to play Georgie Spencer. Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A: When attention-craving, celebrity screenwriter Danny Masters meets spotlight-avoiding, bookstore employee Sunny Smith, both must make a decision to give up the things they want to hold on to most to be together, or whether they can. Q: Is your book self-published or represented by an agency? I’m currently under contract with Amazon Publishers, and I love working with them.
Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? A: I wrote about half of the novel during NaNoWriMo 2010; I wrote the rest during winter, spring, and summer breaks from teaching, 2011.Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? A: Not a book, but the Nor Ephron film Sleepless in Seattle, Tracie Banister’s novel Blame it on the Fame, and Jennifer Weiner’s The Next Best Thing. Readers of Christopher Herz’s Hollywood Forever might also like Adulation, although the story is rather different. Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book? A: See my above story regarding Aaron Sorkin! Although I want to make clear that Danny Masters is not based on Sorkin—at most, he’s had what I call “a Sorkinesque career.” Any similarities after that are coincidental. Q: What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
The story is told in alternating POVs. Danny Masters is written in third person, and Sunny Smith is written in first person. The alternating POV enhances the dynamic of the story, and shows the parallels of Danny’s and Sunny’s lives so that even though they’re living on opposite ends of the country, they’re somehow rather close to one another. When you find yourself feeling lazy or ‘blocked’, how do you force yourself to get past it? Curl up in a fetal position on the couch and watch re-runs of The Mentalist…Seriously, I either freewrite (mostly about how bad the writing is, although eventually I can psych my way past it) or put the work down temporarily and read or watch something else. Despite the fact that I’m a novelist, I find myself inspired by a lot of screenwriting. If whatever I’ve picked up is really good, it inspires me to get back to my own writing. COMING THIS WEEKTuesday, March 5: HEATHER GRACE STEWART
is a Canadian author, journalist and speaker. Her most recent works are a book of poetry, stories and photography called Three Spaces
and a screenplay for Kindle, Kobo, ibooks and more, called The Friends I've Never Met.
She speaks at universities about the new world of e-publishing and following your passion.Wednesday, March 6:
KRISTEN TSETSI is the author of Pretty Much True
, which earned a mention on NPR. You can learn more about her here. Thursday, March 7:
MICHAEL TINKER PEARCE and LINDA PEARCE are a husband-and-wife writing team from Seattle, WA. Michael is a knife and sword maker and Linda was an IT professional and project manager for over twenty years. You can read more about them here.
Their first full-length novel is Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman
.Saturday, March 10:
NICOLE McLERNON writes because there are stories in her head that have to come out. Nicole is still venturing into the world of publishing although she has written two NaNoWriMo novels. Her favorite things to write are drabbles which are short stories of exactly 100 words. She lives, writes, and works as a nurse in Massachusetts. Her post will appear on her blog Soul Conversations
. Please do check it out!
You asked. I answered.My fourth novel, Adulation, was released in the midst of quite a bit of activity--a presidential election, a hurricane, and a person move from North Carolina to New England.
That's quite a lot for a li'l ol' novel to compete with, so I wanted to give it a sort of re-release. Kind of like what new television shows do midway through the season in case you haven't tuned in yet, or tuned in late. Given Danny Masters's profession, Oscar season seemed to be a good time to do that. And so, here's a collection of questions offered by my faithful readers, answered by me. Please feel free to share with your friends. Each of the characters in Adulation seems to be very realistic, as if I know what the characters like doing, what gadgets they use, how they dress, what they love eating, etc. Did you design each character separately, or did all get developed slowly and sort of together?
Great question! I would say they were each developed over time as they appeared in my consciousness. I spend a lot of time with my characters when I take long walks or drives or showers, so I get to observe their behaviors and listen to their conversations to the point where I know them intimately and care about them deeply.
Sunny was the hardest to get to know, however. I’m not sure why, but I had to do some additional writing exercises and talking to and about her before she finally let me in. Danny, on the other hand, spilled his secrets early on. And Georgie just walked in, sat down, and made himself at home. He was the most fun to write. What was involved in the decision to write Sunny’s narration in first person and Danny’s in third person?
I knew I wanted to tell the story of both protagonists, and not just a one-sided view. I’ve also never had a male protagonist, and didn’t feel comfortable writing him in first-person. Using alternating narrations as well as points of view enabled me to make the two voices and experiences distinctive while showing them living somewhat parallel lives. As a result, the reader was able to clearly follow both, and got a more well-rounded story. Do you sketch out the entire plot structure before you begin writing, or do you just have a general sense of the characters and see where they take you? Has a direction the plot has taken ever surprised you?
I’m much more character-driven than plot-driven. Thus I do very little sketching—maybe just a line or two, a what-if, an exchange of dialogue as it comes to me, and that’s more so I don’t forget the idea. More often than not I just go where my characters take me. I’m very instinctive that way. If I do any outlining, then it happens well after the first draft, and it’s to make sure the timeline is in sequence and action is rising at a good pace.
I think I was a little surprised when Sam came into the picture in Faking It
. And in Ordinary World
, even though the plot turns didn’t surprise me, I had moments where I found myself not wanting Andi to go down that road because I knew it meant trouble. But she was adamant. With Adulation
, I don’t think I expected Danny and Sunny to spend so much of the book physically apart and yet somehow still feel so close. Which of your books is your most personal? How does one draw a line between fiction/ “inspired by” and personal experiences?
Another great question, and one I’m asked a lot. They’re all really personal to some degree. I don’t think I could write them if they weren’t. Faking It
is probably the most personal not because it’s autobiographical, per se, but because I related most to Andi’s childhood insecurities, albeit hers were more extreme. I also relied on a lot of familiar details (rhetorical theory, Long Islander, musician brothers, etc.) to push the story forward because I wasn’t an experienced fiction writer at the time. And yet, there’s no way the story could’ve worked as well without them.
Recently I used the Food Network show Chopped
as an analogy. The basket ingredients become “re-purposed”: Fruit Loops cereal becomes breading for chicken, jellybeans get melted down into a sauce, and so on. Thus, rather than writing autobiographically, I’m re-purposing certain witnessed experiences, events, emotions, etc. into something very different. They become a symbol of the truth of the story I’m telling, but not the actual truth itself. It’s the only way I know how to write fiction.
For example, the scene in Ordinary World
, when Andi goes food shopping shortly after Sam’s death and comes home with nothing but a bottle of milk and a box of cookies, was based on a real experience I had on September 11, 2001. In an attempt to do something very normal and ordinary in the midst of this abnormal, extraordinary event and shock and grief, I went food shopping. But I was so overwhelmed that I needed to numb out, and I used the milk and cookies to do so. Andi was going through her own personal, overwhelming shock and grief. Her world had collapsed on her. I needed a way to show her trying to cope with ordinary, everyday tasks and falling short. There was no other symbol, no better illustration than my food shopping experience.
The idea for Adulation
had been gestating for awhile—at least five years prior—when I saw the original Duran Duran lineup in concert. My original idea was for a woman to meet her teen idol, both now in mid-life. But then the movie Music and Lyrics
came out, and it kinda killed my buzz. At the time I started writing Adulation
I had been following Aaron Sorkin and the lead-up to The Social Network
on his now-extinct Facebook page. My interest in screenwriting was also increasing. When I finally met Sorkin in person, I wondered what happens after the handshake. And I wondered if it was possible to have some kind of relationship, platonic or otherwise, with someone you’ve admired when it’s been so one-sided. Do celebrities ever date their fans, or even just become friends with them? (And I’m not talking the literal fanatics, but the level-headed admirers.) The fictional what-if
was born: What if celebrity and fan meet, and there’s something more to it than a one-sided infatuation? What if these two people are really meant to be together, and always were, regardless of celebrity/obscurity? And if they are, then how does it happen? How do two people negotiate such a relationship? The story was the answer to those questions.
But the truths I was dealing with at the time had more to do with the rising success of my novels, Faking It
and Ordinary World
, as well as turning forty and coming to yet another crossroads in my life. Yes, I wanted a readership and I wanted to make a living from novel-writing, but how much of a life-change would be involved in that? Did I want to give up my privacy? Did I want to be famous? The answer was no. But the number of Google hits on my name was growing every day.
As for the similarities between Danny Masters and Aaron Sorkin, I would say that Danny has had a “Sorkinesque” career; additionally, both have a daughter and both have had somewhat publicized addictions. Any shared qualities after that are coincidental. Danny is a fictional character, as is Sunny and all the rest. And no, I don’t think Aaron Sorkin and I are soul mates (that said, I wouldn’t turn him down for a date), I don’t have a gay best friend, and I’ve never wanted children. Do you have a favorite author? Has he/she influenced your style or choice of genre?
I tend to go through cycles with my favorite writers/authors. It’s only now that I’m realizing how much of an impression Judy Blume left on me. Ditto for Dr. Suess. I tend to be a creature of habit, so when I like an author I read as much of them as possible and nothing else. And there are a few screenwriters (the aforementioned Aaron Sorkin, and Nora Ephron, to name two) who have influenced my novel-writing as much as other novelists, if not more so. I really like Marian Keyes, and I liked Jennifer Weiner’s earlier work. They’re considered “chick lit authors,” although I hate to constrain them to that. And although my friend Rob Kroese writes in a completely different genre, he’s so funny and such a good storyteller that he makes me want to step up my game, especially comedicly. (And although he appreciates and supports my talent, my novels don’t have enough explosions in them to suit his tastes.) It also goes without saying that my Why I Love Singlehood
co-author, Sarah Girrell, is one of my favorite writers. Ditto for my twin brother, although a lot of his stories go over my head the first time I read them.
Interestingly, I never set out to write women’s fiction (and I think there’s a difference between chick lit and women’s fiction, although some of the characteristics overlap). Sometimes I don’t even think it’s an accurate description for what I write, but it seems to best fit the demographic of my readers (although Faking It
has drawn quite a male readership, to my surprise). I’m definitely not a romance writer, although every story I’ve written has been, to some degree, a love story. In which stores is Adulation available?
I’m not sure which brick-and-mortar stores are carrying Adulation
—most likely some independents across the country. However, if you go into a bookstore and request it, they’ll be able to order it for you (and hopefully they’ll start stocking it if they see a demand for it!).
Greetings, friends. Mixing a quote from When Harry Met Sally with a quote from an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer song is about like adding balsamic vinegar to a cake mix (the WHMS is the cake mix...), but I can't think of a better quote for this blog that has gone through many an incarnation since its birth four-and-a-half years ago. For those regulars who followed at the old Blogger site, thank you for your loyalty. For you newcomers, c'mon in--the water's just fine.
I'm going to try to post here at least once a month (two, if I'm really in the zone). I described my blog as one that "chronicles my experiences as a working writer and published author, and discusses the craft of writing and revision." And yet, I was known to occasionally step outside the boundaries and write about turning 40, cheesecake, and the eighties. Not much is going to change, likely, although I'm launching a business as a writing coach, and will occasionally post some "coachy" advice and experiences. Sometimes I'll even self-promote. Other times I'll bring in guest authors. We'll see.
"Oh, and sometimes it's funny." I'll try to maintain that part of the original blog description as well.
In the meantime, I'll never find the right words to convey the true depth of my gratitude and appreciation for your support these last few years. A humble and trite "thank you" will have to suffice.
Enjoy, friends. And here we go again.