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Interview with Laura Fitzgerald (and a winner)!

September 24, 2007

Thank you everyone for all your kind comments about my one year blog anniversary. I am also thankful to the very kind Laura Fitzgerald, who will be sending out a signed copy of her book, Veil of Roses, to our randomly selected winner, Melis of the blog Stacks Under the Flower. Congratulations Melis! Oh, and if you ever need to pick a random number for a giveaway, check out this handy (and free) numbers generator.  

Laura was also gracious enough to answer a few questions for me, so take a peak below as Laura talks about her personal book club, her life as a writer and the publishing industry.  

Did you always aspire to be a writer? I guess the first thing I’ll say is that I try not to use words like “aspire” and “dream” when it comes to writing. Every day, it’s a decision and a choice to write and learn and figure out the business of writing. There’s no doubt publishing is an arbitrary business with no guarantees of success and with shifting definitions of success, but I try to approach it as matter-of-factly and as systematically as I can. I think there’s as much craft in writing as there is art, and the nice thing is that craft can be learned. So you don’t really have to resort to dreaming about being a writer – you can just learn the skills required to do it. The “art” of writing is what takes place in the soul, and it’s the reward for learning your craft. 

Do you write on a daily basis or only when inspiration hits? I’m seldom hit with the sort of inspiration that makes me want to go sit at my desk and write. I wish I was! In general, I like to have written more than I like to write (kind of like how I feel with exercise – when it’s over, I’m glad I did it!). When stories come easily for me, everything about the process is fun. When something’s wrong and I can’t figure out what it is, it’s not at all fun. I’ve recently emerged from that not-fun place and now I look forward to writing each day because I’m in the process of discovering what I think is a really, really exciting story which seems to be spirited and funny and meaty and with a main character I just really love and feel for. Veil of Roses came out in a rush, and this story is, too, so I’m taking it as a good sign.When I’m actively working on a project, I write most days. I write in a few relatively short sessions each day as opposed to sitting down and not emerging from my office for eight hours. My back and mind just can’t take that kind of effort, plus when I’m away from my desk is when I figure things out in my head. I think about my stories and characters as much as I write about them.

Did you learn something about the book publishing industry that other aspiring writers might like (or need) to know? Well, I do have one realization that I came to that should provide aspiring writers with some hope, and it’s this: All editors, no matter how wonderful the authors they already have, keep an eye out for a great new author or a great new story. Nobody can rest on her laurels for very long, so I think it gives hope to all of us writers that editors actively look for new authors. There’s as much in it for them as there is for us. But as much as possible, they want a sure thing, and as far as I’m concerned, the only sure thing is a story that moves readers emotionally — which is why we as writers need to learn our craft well so we can give our readers the sort of reading experience they crave.

Could you tell us a bit more about your next project? Are you working on a deadline? I’m writing a novel called SECOND CHANCES, although the name may change. It’s the story of a single mom who’s had a few bad relationships and decides – no more! She decides not to date at least until her son is in high school. But then she falls – against her wishes – completely in love with someone and has to decide what to do about it. To further complicate matters, her ex-husband shows up and wants to make amends with her and her son. It’s a very funny story, but at the same time, it’s a heart-wrenching struggle for this woman to decide what to do when life hands you lemons and about how to summon the courage that’s required to put yourself out there and try again in life and love. Eva from Veil of Roses is also in SECOND CHANCES, and she’s her usual obnoxious and crude self. I’m in the midst of trying to sell the novel now – check my website for updates. And if you send me an email, I’ll make sure you know when it’s coming out.

I know that you have been a part of the same book club for over ten years. What is the secret of your group’s longevity? We all joke sometimes (when in fact we’re dead serious) that the “book” part of book club is just an excuse for us all to get together with each other and reconnect every month. It’s sort of sad that we have to structure our friendships this way, but we’re all so busy with kids and work and travel and school. For most of us, it’s our one “must-do” outlet, and I think we justify it by having a book to discuss, like it’s okay to do because — it’s good for us! But we all know that if we didn’t have the book club, we wouldn’t see each other nearly as often – the months and years really do slip away. The women in my book club are so smart, so kind, and so incredibly funny – they enrich my life, quite simply. The books we read might be a jumping off point to get to know each other better, but usually half of us never get around to reading the book. That’s part of the deal – no pressure. I’ve visited with many book clubs at this point who’ve invited me as a guest after reading Veil of Roses, and I’m often impressed with how structured and serious they are about analyzing books. But I’m even more impressed by seeing how strongly attached they are to each other. I love the idea of books bringing people together – it seems like reading used to be a much more solitary activity, whereas now it’s used to connect with others. A most excellent development.

I love the book cover of Veil of Roses. Did you have any say in the design of the cover? Is it what you had imagined? I also love the cover of Veil of Roses. I think it’s hard to walk by it without picking it up and touching it. Authors have little say in the title or the cover – those are really marketing decisions – but I was able to give my input. I think I encouraged the pink headscarf, thinking it would be eye-catching, and I also advocated pink cowboy boots mixed in with the traditional shoes because Tami wears a pair to a country bar one night.

Have you gotten used to seeing your own book while wandering through the book section of Target? I will forever get a thrill when I simply walk intoTarget. One of the coolest things about being an author is encountering what I think of as the “beautiful strangers” who’ve come into my life – people I’ve never met who’ve done remarkably wonderful things out of a love for my book. One woman emailed me and told me she bought ten copies for everyone she works with, another has through a concerted effort at bookcrossing.com spread the book to far corners of the world, others – like you, Stephanie! – use your respected positions as bloggers to praise Veil of Roses far and wide. Yet the prize for the most beautiful of the “beautiful strangers” has to be the literary team at Target, who first chose Veil of Roses as a “breakout book” which is an incredible gift in itself, but then went on to name it the Spring Book Club Pick. Talk about a thrill – the day it was announced, I went to my local Target and just stood gawking at the beautiful display. Then I walked into the electronics department and an in-store ad for my book was running on twenty television sets at once. It was incredibly surreal. I am still so thankful, because it does just so happen that my ideal reader is also Target’s ideal shopper – busy women who take care of their families and treat themselves to little luxuries like good books. I take my responsibility to provide good stories very seriously, and when I see my book on Target’s shelf, it tells me there are some beautiful strangers out there who think I accomplished that.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2007 11:46 am

    Congratulations Melis!!

    What a great interview with Laura Fitzgerald! Thanks for sharing, Stephanie 🙂

  2. September 24, 2007 11:13 pm

    Ditto to what Terrie said. Thanks for sharing!

  3. September 25, 2007 10:41 am

    Stephanie,
    Great interview! Laura’s books definitely have made the rounds around the world in BookCrossing!
    All my best,
    Scott
    CEO BookCrossing

  4. Lisa permalink
    September 27, 2007 1:17 am

    Great interview with Laura! She is so kind.. she attended my real life book club by speakerphone a couple weeks ago and was so gracious and patient with us. She was very generous with her time, and invited us to email her with additional questions if we thought of more things to ask… well we did, and she sent a wonderful note to us, which included the link to this interview on your blog. So here I am! Love the blog and will continue to check it out! I’m still trying to figure out how your book club works.. what is everyone reading for Sept??
    ~Lisa

  5. September 27, 2007 12:23 pm

    I’m late to the party Stephanie but congratulations on your bloggiversary! I’ve so enjoyed reading your blog and participating in the book group discussions. Here’s to many more years of blogging about books! 🙂

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