Today on Awesome Authors I’m thrilled to interview talented novelist and editor extraordinaire, Laurie Boris. A fellow minion, Laurie’s an associate editor and staff contributor for Indies Unlimited, and, in my opinion one of the best writers self-publishing today. Laurie injects her special brand of humor into everything she does, be it a blog post, an interview, or a full-length novel dealing with terminal illness. Her writing’s fresh and approachable, and she has a way of deftly handling touchy subjects with empathy and sensitivity. Here’s more about Laurie (from her bio):
Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of The Joke’s on Me, Drawing Breath, Don’t Tell Anyone, and Sliding Past Vertical, due out in September 2013. When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, cooking, reading, and helping aspiring novelists as a contributing writer and editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. She lives in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley.
D: Hi Laurie! It’s great to have you here. Please tell us something about yourself.
L: Thank you for your hospitality, DV. I like what you’ve done with the place. Okay, I’ve been writing novels since my husband dared me to finish one. That was over twenty years and nine novels ago. I’ve worked in advertising, marketing, graphic design, printing, publishing, and did a very short stint as a street performer and office-cleaner, neither of which I’d recommend to anyone as a career move. The pay was lousy and I always needed a shower afterward.
D: Haven’t tried street performer yet but did the office cleaning thing. Yep—lousy pay and dirty work 🙂 .
L: Due out in September, this is a romantic suspense novel about the consequences of leaping before looking. Set in 1987, it circles around Sarah Cohen, a 29-year-old graphic artist and ex-diving protégé living in Boston. Sarah is a walking disaster area. She means well, but with each ill-considered decision, she causes more harm to herself and others. The one good, constant thing in her life has been Emerson, who still lives in Syracuse. That’s where they went to college together, survived a rocky freshman-year romance, and became friends. Except that Emerson, an aspiring author, is still in love with her. When everything in Boston starts going awry for Sarah all at once, she considers some old advice from her high school diving coach: that when you mess up a dive, wind it backward until you find where you made your error. So she backs up and takes the plunge…to Syracuse, and into a vacancy in Emerson’s rooming house. This leads to sometimes amusing and sometimes tragic consequences…and nobody is safe.
“These stories needed to be told and I keep hearing from people who have gone through these things with families and loved ones and appreciated feeling understood and less alone.”
L: In the beginning, I needed to write these novels for myself. The story behind Drawing Breath was that I’d lost a dear friend to cystic fibrosis. The way I saw some people reacting to him, as if he had the plague, made me angry. His chronic coughing scared off women and got him fired from a few jobs. Somehow I wanted to correct that injustice in fiction. But letting the other characters get that close to him had unintended consequences. With Don’t Tell Anyone, I was trying to reconcile why my mother-in-law concealed what turned out to be advanced breast cancer. I wanted to know how she could do that to her children when she had all the treatment options available to her. So again, I turned to fiction to see how another family would handle it. In both cases, the first drafts came tumbling out, so I felt like there was some passion in them, enough to risk the possible stigma involved with choosing “heavy” subjects for publication. I’m glad I went there. These stories needed to be told and I keep hearing from people who have gone through these things with families and loved ones and appreciated feeling understood and less alone.
D: Who/what are some of your favorite authors and book genres?
L: I like big books and I cannot lie… Seriously, I like to sink into big, fat novels, mainly literary and historical fiction and lately, epic fantasy. Just a few of my favorite authors are Joyce Carol Oates, TC Boyle, Ian McEwan, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, Anne Tyler, and John Irving. And the Russians, of course: Lolita and Anna Karenina are two of my favorite classics.
D: Gotta love big books and the Russians 🙂 What are you currently working on?
L: I’m writing the first of what (I hope) will be a series of books linked through the same characters. It’s set in Boston, one of my favorite cities. I’ve been missing it, and after three novels set in the Hudson Valley, where I currently live, I’m ready to travel and take on new material. And that street performer experience? I’m using it. See, nothing is wasted.
D: What’s the worst advice you received from someone about writing?
L: That I should never write in a man’s point of view. No disrespect meant to the writing teacher who insisted women writers should stay out of men’s heads; I just agreed to disagree. And although I can never truly know what it’s like to be a man, or a woman much older than myself, or someone from a different religious, ethnic, or cultural background, empathy and a good imagination go a long way, in my opinion.
D: I heartily agree. Why did you choose to “go indie” rather than publish traditionally?
L: I like a challenge, I like independence, I’m a Virgo, and I like to be in control: a perfect combination for self-publishing. Now that print-on-demand resources like CreateSpace are available, I don’t have to buy three thousand books and store them in my garage for the mice to eat. So it’s economically feasible, as well.
“…If it’s a passion for you, don’t quit. You might hit a moment where you despair that you aren’t “good enough” to write the story you have in your head. Trust that if you keep writing and learning, you will be.”
D: What do you do when you’re not writing?
L: I edit and proofread for other authors, I’m a contributing author and associate editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. Three days a week you can find me working in the public relations department of a nearby community college. Other than that, I swim, watch baseball, and take long walks. Sometimes I even sleep.
D: Bacon cheeseburger, or hummus and carrot sticks?
D: Only three times a year? I wish 😮 If you could time-travel, where would you go and why?
L: I’d like to go to Paris in the 1920s. It looked like a great time and place to be a writer. I want to meet James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Hemingway. My grandmother stopped in Paris around that time, on her way from Poland with her sister to join the rest of her family in New York. She was fourteen. She bought perfume and silk stockings. It just sounded like a fun place and time to be part of.
D: That’s one of my favorite places/times in history, too. Can you imagine what the creative energy must have been like then? Phenomenal!
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
L: If it’s a passion for you, don’t quit. You might hit a moment where you despair that you aren’t “good enough” to write the story you have in your head. Trust that if you keep writing and learning, you will be.
D: Fabulous advice, Laurie! Thanks so much for being here.
Here’s a short excerpt of Don’t Tell Anyone. (More information about Laurie and her books is listed below). If you haven’t read Laurie’s work, you’re missing one of the best writers working today. Go buy
one all of her books 🙂
Estelle had found the first lump by accident on the morning of Adam’s wedding. The night before, Charlie had given her a pill and she’d overslept. She’d rushed through her makeup, painting on eyebrows and coloring her cheeks. She’d been zipping herself into her dress, but it didn’t sit right in the bosom. As she slipped it this way and that and adjusted her bra, she felt something hard and uneven in her right breast, like the end of a chicken bone. She thought about all those medical shows, the books she’d read, and the women she’d known who’d gone through such things. They compared the size of their tumors to food: a pea, an orange, a grapefruit. This lump was nothing that familiar and nothing that round. This was like a knuckle, a dagger, a hand grenade. She sat on the edge of the bed and smoked three cigarettes in a row. The phone rang twice and each time she just sat on her damask spread and smoked.
The first time the answering machine picked up, the caller didn’t leave a message. That was Adam. Adam didn’t leave messages.
The second time it was Charlie.
“Hi, Mom. Just seeing when you want me to pick you up.”
This is meshugge, she thought. People do this every day. People got married. Other people dressed up and traveled for hours to see the bride and groom recite their vows and step on the wine glass. They ate fancy food and slipped checks into the groom’s pockets. They smiled, wished them well, gossiped about the in-laws, and debated the couple’s chances in the car on the way home.
Estelle didn’t know about that Liza. There was something wrong with the way she was raised by her father, like a boy. Adam needed a woman. But she seemed like a smart girl, a practical girl. Estelle hoped to God Liza was smart enough to figure out how to make the marriage work.
The phone rang again. If she didn’t answer, the boys would think something was wrong and rush over. She couldn’t tell them, not on Adam’s wedding day. Whatever her opinions about Liza, Adam seemed happy. She wouldn’t make this the day he found out the time bomb went off.
It was Charlie, asking how she’d slept.
Fine. She’d slept fine. “Your father,” she said, “may he rest in peace, he couldn’t drop dead on the golf course like everybody else? He couldn’t go quietly in his sleep? No, he had to have a massive coronary in the middle of synagogue on Yom Kippur and make the newspapers and scar the entire community for life.”
“I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose, Mom. Although if you have to go, it might as well be memorable.”
“Adam could have gotten married anywhere. A catering hall. Or that beautiful park on the river. But no, he had to pick Temple Beth Make-the-rest-of-your-mother’s-hair-fall-out.”
“You need more Valium?”
Estelle lit another cigarette. “Bring the bottle.”
Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/author/laurieboris
Don’t Tell Anyone (US): http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Tell-Anyone-ebook/dp/B00AGPB3KA
Don’t Tell Anyone (UK): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Tell-Anyone-ebook/dp/B00AGPB3KA
To find out more about Laurie and her books, check out the links below: