Lauren Baratz-Logsted (author of “Vertigo” and contributor-editor of “This Is Chick-Lit” ) shares some writer’s life stories. Makes you want to grab a pen and write!
Howdy Lauren! Glad to welcome you on “Veronika asks”! Could you tell us a few words about yourself?
Hello, Veronika – I’m happy to be here! To answer your question, I’m a writer. It took nearly eight years to get a book published, but now that I’m in, things are crackling. In the past three years I’ve had three books published, but this year will see four more and next will see at least three. I’m also a wife and mother. Any minutes that are not occupied by family or writing are filled with reading.
Well, a bit of Astrology now: you’re Cancer, aren’t you? They are known to be intuitive, shrewd, but overemotional. Are you a typical Crab?
I was always told Crabs were romantic and moody. I’m both of those plus the adjectives you mentioned.
If you could describe yourself with three words…
Resilient, resilient, resilent.
Could you tell us more about the anthology “This is Chick-Lit” (you are the editor and the contributor of)…
The idea for the anthology came when I heard last year of a forthcoming anthology called “This is NOT Chick Lit.” Like many other authors, I felt offended by the idea of a collection defining itself by what it’s not: Can you imagine calling a collection “This is Not Sci-Fi”? So I found 17 other writers who were willing to contribute stories to “This IS Chick-Lit.” Our goal is to showcase the broad spectrum of what Chick-Lit can be; rather than the stereotype of shopping and designer cocktails, all the stories focus on problems facing the modern women. They say important things about life, but they do so in a mostly humorous way.
Why do you think Chick Lit is so popular? What do you like in writing Chick Lit?
I think it’s popular because it does make people laugh – and in a tragedy-stricken world, laughter is healing – but also because the very best of Chick-Lit does speak to women’s experiences. I like writing Chick-Lit because it gives me the opportunity to express themes that are important to me within a comic framework. For example, on the surface, my debut, THE THIN PINK LINE, is about a crazy woman who fakes an entire pregnancy. But, scratch the surface, and you realize it’s an indictment on how all too often in life we pursue important things – marriage, children – more because everyone else is doing it than because we’ve given the matter sufficient thought.
I understood you write in several genres, not only Chick Lit. What do you wanna “say” when you write a story? Why do you feel the need to tell a story?
I’ve always loved storytelling and now that I get to do this for a living, it’s tough to imagine doing anything else, unless it was some other job having to do with the creation of books. Just as I read in many genres, I write in many genres. The story I want to tell dictates the genre rather than the other way around. A couple of examples: my forthcoming VERTIGO is classified by its publisher as literary and is set in the Victorian era with erotic and suspense undertones; the story I wanted to tell – that of a good wife who falls drastically when she reaches for something outside of her comfortable social box – would never have worked so well if I’d set it in contemporary times; and my fortcoming ANGEL’S CHOICE, about a Yale-bound college senior who finds herself pregnant, works best as a serious Young Adult novel.
Before being a writer, you’ve been an independent bookseller, a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly, a freelance editor and a librarian… always surrounded by books! How did you start writing? How did you get your first book published?
I left the bookselling job in 1994 because I realized I’d never fulfill my own dream to write a novel if I stayed there. It took, as I said above, nearly eight years to get a book published. During that time, I did those other jobs you mentioned plus washing windows. My first book to be published, THE THIN PINK LINE, was in fact the sixth I wrote and I sold it on my own as part of a two-book deal to Red Dress Ink.
You said you also had an essay in the Jane Austen anthology “Flirting with Pride & Prejudice”… could you tell us how an anthology “works”? Why do you like writing short stories and essays for anthologies?
In Flirting with Pride & Prejudice, I was a contributor; in that instance, the publisher got in touch with me and basically said, “We’re doing an anthology on P&P and wondered if you’d contribute.” For THIS IS CHICK-LIT, I’m both editor and contributor. I conceived the anthology, pitched and sold it to BenBella Books, hand-picked the other 17 contributors, wrote my own story, pre-edited the whole thing before turning it in. I like writing stories and essays, in addition to novels, because they stretch different writing muscles. By varying what I do in terms of genre and length, it keeps me fresh.
How do you write ? Do you have some tips for aspiring authors?
I write every day when I’m working on a novel. I get up before the rest of the world and start writing before doubt has the chance to creep in. I set quotas for the day. In terms of tips for young writers: Stay alive! I’m only half joking. One of the biggest cautionary stories in publishing is that of The Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. He wrote the book in the ’60s, submitted it to every publisher in the U.S., was rejected by every publisher, and killed himself at age 27. His mother took up the cause, got Grove to buy it, it won the Pulitzer posthumously in 1980 and still sells like crazy today. But the author doesn’t get to enjoy any of his success because he’s dead. So stay alive! And remember, your work isn’t over when you have a first draft; it’s only beginning.
How long does it take you to write a book? Authors often complain about the fact they don’t have enough time to complete their novels and that the deadlines are stressful. Your opinion?
I’m lucky in that I’m able to produce a first draft quickly. When I first started writing, it would typically take three months. Now it goes quicker and if it’s a project I’m hot to write, it goes really quick. That’s not to say my first drafts are publishable as is – revise, revise, revise! – but I don’t have any problems thus far keeping to publishers’ schedules.
What are you working on now?
I just finished revisions for my fifth book for Red Dress Ink, BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF JIMMY CHOOS, which deals with the perils of obsessive-compulsive behavior, and I’m about to start revisions for my next book for Random House after VERTIGO. This book is called THE SISTERS CLUB and is a contemporary novel about four very different women who come together to perform the sister function for one another.
And now the nothing-to-do-with-books question: You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, how will you use that money? Without thinking too much
I’m sure I should say give it to charity, but no doubt I’d spend it on my gorgeous six-year-old daughter.
“Tea or Coffee?”
Saturday evening. Going out or reading a book ? Both. Why can’t I put a book in my fancy purse?
Holidays. Beach or Mountains ? Both.
Country or City ? Both.
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?) ? Both.
Shy or Easy-going ? Both.
Serious or Funny ? Both.
Like to Travel? I used to be before I had my daughter and suspect I will be again one day.
Sporty or Couch Potato? In between.
Leader or Follower? Leader. I’m a control freak.
TV show: Entourage.
Movie: The Piano.
Book: Love in the Time of Cholera.
Music: Warren Zevon.
City: New York.
Favourite place to write: My basement office, cave that it is.
Motto: “The only person who can ever take you out of the game is you.”