Friday, July 22, 2011
Welcome Guest Author - Laurie Boris
STEPH: Welcome Laurie, can you tell me a little about yourself?
LAURIE: I’m a writer from my sneakered feet to my unretouched roots. I’m rarely as happy and fulfilled as when I’m lost in writing fiction. I am also rather quiet. If I weren’t, I’d probably be a stand-up comic. I love baseball; I’m a long-time New York Mets fan from a Yankees household. My father probably still wonders what happened.
STEPH: What's "The Joke's on Me" about?
LAURIE: Thirty-something Frankie Goldberg, a less-than-successful Hollywood stand-up comic, is scared back home to her mother’s Woodstock B&B following a natural disaster. But after being away so long, “home”, with her bossy older sister at the helm, is not especially welcoming. Frankie is faced with two choices: run back to LA and start over (she’s very good at running away) or stay and take on the family responsibilities she’s been shirking. Learning that her high school crush has also returned makes the decision harder…and more interesting.
STEPH: How did the story find a home on 4RV?
LAURIE: I had almost given up on these poor characters! First a back injury and then starting a small business derailed me from marketing Frankie’s story. Then a friend told me about the Muse Online Writers Conference. 4RV was accepting pitches, and something told me to sign up. Publisher Vivian Zabel agreed to take me on. She and 4RV’s wonderful editors worked with me to refine and strengthen the story.
STEPH: How long did it take to write?
LAURIE: All told, the first draft took about a year to complete, then, two more years to edit. I was in the midst of the first draft when 9/11 struck. The tragedy hit me very deeply; I live a couple hours north of Manhattan and knew and worked with people who’d suffer losses. I wanted to keep writing, but for a while I couldn’t reconcile working on a comedy at such a tragic time. Then, I needed the healing and relief that comedy brings me, so I turned to my writing for solace.
STEPH: What do you want readers to take home with them after reading the book?
LAURIE: Overall, I want to entertain and make people laugh, because that’s so important, especially now. But I also want to leave readers with a sense that no matter how bad your situation, or how many years you’ve let go by, if you’re willing to trust and love, you can get a second chance.
STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for it?
LAURIE: Not really. I researched a bit about Alzheimer’s and Stroke, learned a bit of Yiddish from my mother and Mother Google, and imagined the rest.
STEPH: What was the inspiration for the story?
LAURIE: I was stuck in traffic in the middle of Woodstock, going back to work after lunch, when this character in my head started talking to me. It was Frankie. She was doing a bit about how bizarre and annoying Woodstock and her sister had gotten since she left home. I couldn’t wait to get back to my desk to take notes.
STEPH: What's your writing space like?
LAURIE: I write in a spare bedroom that I painted pink. I’m quirky about how I keep my space. The mess can pile up…empty coffee mugs, pens, drafts to edit…but as long as it’s clean in my direct line of sight, not even anything on the walls, I’m good. Also, the previous owners had several children, so the bedrooms were decorated in early My Little Pony. Mine came with glow-in-the-dark plastic stars cemented to the ceiling, and I left them there. Occasionally, a star will fall. I think that’s kind of cool. I make a wish.
STEPH: What's your favorite summer fruit?
LAURIE: Sour cherries! I buy them at the farmers market and eat them straight from the bag. They’ve never lasted long enough for me to make pie.
STEPH: Tell us about the state you live in?
LAURIE: Denial? It’s lovely this time of year… No, seriously. I live in New York’s Hudson Valley, about halfway between Albany and Manhattan. I love it. I was born in this area, went away for college and for about five years after that, but then returned. The mountains, the river, the autumns, the apples…it’s amazing. I feel grateful to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
STEPH: Where can we find The Joke's on Me at on the Web?
LAURIE: You can buy directly from 4RV’s web site or from Amazon.com, borders.com, and the usual culprits.