15 November 2006

Author Answers with Lauren Baratz-Logsted

This week's author is Lauren Baratz-Logsted, hereafter referred to as LBL, because her last name is long to type. She also says on her website that however you are trying to pronounce her last name, it's probably wrong. She is the author of Vertigo and How Nancy Drew Saved my Life, among other titles, and also recently was the editor for the This is Chick-Lit anthology.

For more about LBL, you can check out her website.

WN: You have four books scheduled to hit shelves within a few months of each other, how did you juggle that many projects as a writer and meeting deadlines for them all?
LBL: By being an insane person? Seriously, I belong to what I consider to be the Stephen King/Nora Roberts school of writing. This to me means treating my career like any other fulltime job. I guarantee you, if you park your backside in a seat in front of the computer for forty hours a week - or more! - the pages will pile up, the books will get written, the deadlines will be met. In my case, it's helped that the four books are so wildly different from one another: a contemporary comic-gothic, a Victorian suspense story, a serious Young Adult, and an anthology. The differences keep me fresh. I suspect if I had to write four books of the same kind in one year I'd go truly insane and the work would suffer.

WN: Angel's Choice hits shelves in December... what should readers know about this book or why should they read it?
LBL: It's an earnest novel about teen pregnancy featuring a high school senior on the fast track for Yale who getpregnantnt and about all the decisions she makes afterwards. I've been told by my Simon & Schuster editor that she considers it to be an "important book" - words I guarantee you I never dreamed I'd hear in my writing career - and early readers have said it's an appropriate read for adults and teens. I would like readers to know I don't intend the book to be a cautionary tale scaring teens away from sex nor do I intend it as a prescription for behavior - none of my books are that; it's merely an exploration of how everything we do is a choice and it all matters.

WN: You edited the "This is Chick Lit" book in response to the "This is Not Chick Lit" book. Why has this chick lit designation created such a hubbub in the literary world?
LBL: I'm afraid it's like any form of prejudice: people seem to always have the need to hate something. My guess is that the people who heap denigration on Chick-Lit haven't read any of the books or have only read a few, which is about as silly as forming an opinion of all mysteries based on having read a few cozies or discounting all literary fiction because Ulysses bored you bonkers. One of the reasons I put together This Is Chick-Lit was to dispell the Manolos & Cosmos myth, showcasing instead the wide variety of storytelling styles - mystery, futuristic, satire, romantic comedy, even metafiction and magic realism - that fall under the umbrella heading of Chick-Lit.

WN: How did your time as a book reviewer and book seller help you as a writer?
LBL: I've always been a huge reader and those jobs only served to underscore that. Reading with a critical eye - learning what works for you or doesn't in others' writing, what you admire and what you despise - is a great education for a writer.

WN: If you got stranded on a desert island with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
LBL: This may be the best question an interviewer has ever asked me...and a very tricky one for this particular author to answer! You see, many of my lead characters are sociopaths or odd, at best. For example, fun as she'd make things, it wouldn't do to pick Jane Taylor from The Thin Pink Line/Crossing the Line, because if food got lean she'd eat me. So I guess I'll pick Emma from Vertigo. As Chance Wood says in that story, she's not ever boring, plus she's resourceful: I have the feeling she'd find a way to keep us alive.

WN: What is the best/most influential book you have ever read and why did it inspire you?
LBL: This is harder than the last question! But if I can pick my favorite book it goes to Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera. I love the giddy sense of romance and it's an example of everything good that language can do in service to story. If I have to pick the book that most makes me want to be a writer, it's F. Scott Fitzgerals's The Great Gatsby.

WN: What is your favorite word and why?
LBL: Jackie - it's my daughter's name and you never said it couldn't be a proper noun.

WN: What piece of advice helped you out the most as a writer?
LBL: We're entering the season where we're told it's better to give than to receive, so if it's all right, I'd rather give the best advice I can give to would-be authors here: Stay alive, keep putting one writing foot in front of the other and always remember, the only person who can ever take you out of the game is you.


Jenny Gardiner said...

Hi Lauren! I like your posting! And I LOVE your favorite word--good answer!

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Great interview, Bethany!