Today the Dames would like to welcome contemporary fiction author, Laurie Boris. Hi, Laurie! Thanks for joining us!
Tell us about your latest book, Don’t Tell Anyone.
Based on a true incident, Don’t Tell Anyone is a contemporary novel about a family who accidentally learns that their matriarch, venerable Jewish mother Estelle Trager, not only has advanced breast cancer but had intended to take it to her grave. As her adult children attempt to help her, each with his or her own agenda, the complicated weave of all of their secrets and lies begins to unravel. Don’t worry about the “c-word,” though. This is not your typical cancer book. I’ve had cancer survivors read it and tell me it was entertaining and inspiring.
I can’t wait to read it–and I really mean that. I’ve wanted to read it ever since I sent you the email about the interview. Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
I’m returning to an unfinished project, which has a little more humor in it, and is set in the weight-loss industry. I steal away to work on it like I’m meeting a secret lover.
Sounds fun, I always enjoy a book more when the author throws in some humor. Now, for my favorite question: When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
I’m one of those pantser-type people who follow the characters around. They get the first draft. Maybe the second if they really won’t shut up. But I get the third, fourth, fifth, sixth…
Oh, great answer. I do the same thing, let them have control on the first and maybe second draft but after that, it’s all mine! Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
Big Russian novels! Especially Tolstoy. I just love melting into his characters, because they are so thick and complex. Anna Karenina is one of my favorites. As for contemporary writers, T.C. Boyle and Joyce Carol Oates make me want to raise the bar on my own writing. I’ve been enjoying M. Edward McNally’s epic fantasy series, The Norothian Cycle, because he writes so well and has great, strong female characters. JD Mader’s new releases always go to the top of my list. And Janet Evanovich for pure giggles. When I was nursing a back injury, I discovered her early romance novels and devoured all twelve. It was great therapy.
I’ve never tried Evanovich’s early romance novels. I’ll have to check them out. Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
It makes me squirmy. I know it’s something we all must do, and I’m learning how to straddle the line between “not enough” and “annoying the heck out of everyone.” Social media has worked fairly well for me, but what’s been most effective is word of mouth. I have lovely friends and fans and generous, supportive family members. It’s like that old shampoo commercial. And they tell two friends, and so on… Also, as a contributing writer for IndiesUnlimited.com, I’m part of a vibrant community of independent writers who offer support and share knowledge. I’ve learned more about promotion and marketing from them in the past year than I think I have in the past twenty. Of course, it keeps changing, so it’s important to keep up.
Yes, it is. I think most authors would agree that promotion is the bane of their existence but it’s something you have to do. Tell us a little bit about where you live.
I live in the Hudson Valley, a half-hour from Woodstock and about halfway between New York City and Albany, New York State’s capital. The summers are so humid my hair fuzzes out like a dandelion. But every time I see the Hudson River or the gorgeous mountains that surround us, I feel privileged that I get to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
I’m lucky enough to live surrounded by mountains, too. I’ve always loved the Blue Ridge Mountains and if I missed anything when my husband and I moved to Maine it was not being able to see mountains in whichever direction I turned. What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
I don’t like it. Or, more specifically, I think it’s misinterpreted. Does this mean I can only write about left-handed female protagonists of Eastern European ethnicity up to and including the age of fifty-one? Who have only lived in the places I’ve lived or had the jobs that I’ve had? If we all ascribed to this canard, how do we explain Narnia? Harry Potter? The whole of science fiction and epic fantasy? Forsooth, who among us wears chain mail and rides upon the backs of dragons these days? Of course, you’re going to be more familiar with—and have a deeper understanding of—what you’ve experienced first-hand. But I prefer to think of this saying as “write what you want to know.”
Yep, that’s about how I feel, too. Why restrict yourself to only what you know when there’s so much more out there—especially in your imagination. How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
Contemporary fiction seems to cover what I love most. I’ve dipped into subcategories of that—women’s fiction, coming-of-age stories, dark comedy—but contemporary fiction is my general wheelhouse.
Besides “writer,” what else are you; what is your “day job”?
I’m an editor, proofreader, and ghostwriter. I also work at a local community college, keeping their website up to date. It’s great being in an academic environment a few days a week, soaking up all that energy.
I’m always amazed at how hard writers work! What is your VERB? (This is a big poster at a local mall)? If you had to choose ONE verb that describes you and you behavior or attitude, what would it be?
Swim. I’ve always loved the water and I’ve been taking aqua fitness classes for years. Metaphorically, though, life has frequently tossed me into the deep end without a floatie belt. Sometimes there’s some thrashing around at first, but I’ve learned to swim. It’s not always pretty, but I can get to the end of the pool.
Okay, I’m not much of a water lover but whatever floats your boat. <groan> Sorry, couldn’t resist that. Were books an important part of your household when you were growing up?
My parents live and breathe books. They read to my two brothers and me when we were little and took us to the library, where I quickly devoured everything on the shelves. I read anything and everything my parents left out, much to their embarrassment at times. Books were my friends, my teachers, and my refuge.
Some of my best childhood memories are about going to the library. I loved it so much I wanted to live there. Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
I received a Kindle as a gift a few years ago. I love the convenience of electronic publishing. I can read Harry Potter in bed without the threat of falling asleep and breaking my nose. [Seriously, this happened to someone I know.] But I love print books. I think both have a place in publishing. I can bring twenty books on vacation, but War and Peace on the Kindle just doesn’t work for me.
And a bonus question! Baker’s Dozen! (If you’d like it…)
Great! I know our readers will love it so go for it! Any books on writing you have found most helpful? Or classes you’ve taken?
My favorite writing book is Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird. It’s very liberating to someone who is a recovering perfectionist, especially the part about letting yourself write lousy first drafts. She just makes so much sense. I reread it at least once a year.
Thanks so much, Laurie. I enjoyed reading your answers and I hope you’ll come back and visit us often.
To find out more about Laurie and her books:
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/laurieboris