I am her today interviewing author Lisette Brodey and her take on the publishing industry. She has published Crooked Moon and Squalor, New Mexico.
JR: Hey Lisette, you have published two books thus far and currently working on the third. Which one was your favorite to write and why?
LB: To me, my books are like children. You love them all but for different reasons. Squalor, New Mexico (to be published June 2009) was my first-written novel, and I loved following my narrator/main character, Darla, through the perils of growing up as she simultaneously sought to make sense out of her life and the world around her. She was (along with the novel itself) so to speak, my first-born.
In writing Crooked Moon, the story of two childhood best friends, reunited under very emotional circumstances after 23 years, I was able to draw more from my life as an adult and to touch upon many, many different characters and situations that I have seen and/or experienced. For this reason, Crooked Moon may have been more cathartic to write, but there is no clear-cut winner. My third novel, which is outwardly more lighthearted and comedic than the first two, has been a lot of fun. It’s not finished yet, so even I have yet to see where the characters may lead me!
JR: No author can ever answer that question. It’s like I’m asking which one of their kids is the favorite.
JR: I understand the tedious process of writing, rewriting and editing a project. Do you ever get tired or reading your own work over and over again as you get it ready for publication?
LB: Yes, a thousand times yes. This is the easiest question I’ve ever been asked.
JR: Yeah I get tired of it to. It’s like when I get really tired of reading the story and begin to almost hate it, it’s usually ready for print at about that time.
JR: Of all the characters in your novels, which one is your favorite and why?
LB: Again, I have no clear-cut favorite, though Frankie in Crooked Moon is at the top of my list. She has lived a really hard life pretty much devoid of any pleasure. She has a tough exterior, is quick to speak her mind, and has a loving, vulnerable heart. I never knew what she was going to say next; I loved that about her.
JR: This question is a constant in my author interviews. Why are authors so quirky?
LB: Gee, JR, I don’t know. I’d have to defer to the quirky ones to answer this. :0)
JR: You are one of the rare breed then. Pretty much every author I have ever talked with is quirky in their own way, but good for you and your normalcy.
JR: Over the past few months, I have read articles from authors who are critical of other authors. Why are novelists so critical of their colleagues and why is there a lack of support between authors? I mean they are brutal towards each other.
LB: I don’t know if novelists are any different from other people who might be critical of others in their chosen field. I have found some absolutely terrific friends in other authors and some not-so-terrific ones. I’m a big believer in people trying to help one another – and at very least, not use one another. I’m not a fan of the writer (especially the newly published one) who comes into a social-networking community only to promote his/her work with absolutely no inclination to so much as say hello to the very people they want to read their books. Especially when you are unknown, you must show a genuine interest in others. But to me, that kind of behavior only mirrors real life and is certainly not unique to authors. I’ve had some wonderful support from fellow authors and have given it in return. If I were to feel “brutal” toward another author, I would also find it to be in my best interest to keep it to myself — certainly not to put it out for public consumption. In my opinion, that only embarrasses everyone.
JR: I agree completely. If criticism can’t be constrictive, it is probably better just not to talk.
JR: How has your writing career evolved over the past few years? What is your ultimate goal in the publishing industry?
LB: Earlier I was just writing, now I’ve been building a readership, one reader at a time. This indeed is an evolutionary process and except for the very lucky ones, does not happen overnight. My ultimate goal would be to be successful enough that I wouldn’t have to worry so much about everything else, to be able to devote more time to writing, and most of all, to have more and more people out there who truly enjoy the result of my hours and hours of solitude behind the keyboard.
JR: That’s a great goal to have. The publishing industry is cutthroat and it is good to here that your goals aren’t unrealistic. Wow, maybe you are normal and not your typical author.
JR: Who is your favorite author and why?
LB: I don’t have one favorite author. I love beautiful writing (Thomas Wolfe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, Balzac, and Wilkie Collins etc.) with keenly crafted characters who allow me to share in their joy and feel their pain.
JR: What are your general thoughts of the publishing industry so far?
LB: The publishing industry has gotten far more difficult in some ways and easier in other ways. (Easier because authors without contracts can still publish and reach readers). I think publishers, more and more, are looking for authors with built-in readerships/followings. These days, more and more “jobs” are incumbent upon the authors to do that were once the job of someone else: an editor, a publicist, etc. I think we are currently going through some very transitional times and it will be very interesting to see what happens.
JR: Especially with the economic downfall over the past two years, more and more publishers are looking for finished products because the cost is so much less. It is not really fair for the authors, who no longer can just write a great book. They now have to have business mind as well.
JR: What is your least favorite part of writing a novel?
LB: Everything that I have to do after I am finished writing it. In the actual writing process, I don’t particularly enjoy the detailed work that goes into making sure my continuity is correct. Doing so is a necessary evil, but tedious at best.
JR: Well at least you like the writing of a novel (if you didn’t you would be in big trouble.)
JR: As a publisher, writer’s block drives me insane. How do you overcome writer’s block?
LB: For me, I have discovered that writer’s block comes from many places: a fear of failure or a fear of success; not knowing where to go with your story, or perhaps not even liking what you’re putting down. I think the key to overcoming writer’s block is in being very introspective and honest with yourself about where the block is coming from. I believe that when you can identify the root of it, you are far more likely to solve it.
JR: I think I love you. A rational author who solves writer’s block by rational means. Amazing.
JR: What qualities does it take to be a successful author, other than being completely insane? You have to be to spend that much time writing a novel that may be never be published.
LB: For me, I must feel passionate about what I’m writing. So many times throughout my life, people have come to me and said, “here’s a GREAT story! You should write it.” I have often told them that while this or that may indeed make a great story for someone to write, it is not a story that I want to write. As I mentioned earlier, my novel-in-progress is comical and lighthearted. It is not a must-tell story, but I’m truly enjoying the characters, the comedic element, the poignant moments, off-beat situations and so much more. Whatever one is writing, it takes passion. It also takes the right mindset. Writing a novel must be something you really want to do and can’t imagine not doing. You must be dedicated to it and you must believe in yourself. I try not to get too caught up in who might read it while I’m writing. Those kinds of worries can really hamper creativity. There’s always more than enough time for worrying once the book is finished! :0)
JR: My worries seem to subside a little once the manuscript is finished. After that I no longer have to worry about writer’s block or a lack of inspiration to write.
JR: Well I’m out of questions so I’ll let you come up with one for me?
LB: JR, you clearly have a love of questions. How often do you come up with questions that you really want to ask, but decide, for whatever reason, you’d be better off not asking?
JR: Very often actually. I like to come up with questions that challenge an author to think about the positives and negatives about the industry and have fun at the same time. Sometimes that might come across as offensive to some authors and others think I have a negative view of authors. Always have to make sure I don’t have too many questions that display a critical tone towards authors and I try not to be too blunt. A little bluntness is ok though in my book.
In my opinion President Obama should…take it one day at a time.
People always tell me I look like…I need a drink.
My biggest fear is…losing the people I love.
One thing people would be really surprised to know about me is…that I am involved in a secret project to clone myself so that I have infinitely more time to get everything done that needs doing. And travel to more places, too!
My celebrity crush is definitely…a thing of the past. I’ve met far too many celebrities to have crushes on any of them.
I think Susan Boyle…underwent more stress and pressure than most people could possibly imagine.
They can send a shuttle to space but my car breaks down every year because…um, my car doesn’t break down every year. Working out of home, I don’t put that much mileage on it. Sorry. (And if my car breaks down after writing this, JR, here’s looking at you!
Eagles or Cowboys…Really not a hockey fan.