THANK YOU LARA ZIELINSKY FOR BEING ON BOOK MADNESS TODAY.
1. Tell us about yourself. Please share a short bio with us.
Thank you for having me on today, Kim! I’ve been a writer all my life, but I first ventured into publishing my work only a few years ago. My first novel, Turning Point, received the 2007 Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Award. That same year I was a finalist for the Debut Author award from the Golden Crown Literary Society.
Half a dozen of my short stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies. Several book reviews and articles have appeared in the Boston Bisexual Women’s Network (BBWN) newsletter as well as a Canadian bisexuals newsletter. I host the bi-weekly show “Readings in Lesbian & Bisexual Women’s Fiction” on Blog Talk Radio.
I am a member of the Golden Crown Literary Society, and Florida Writers Association, and a regular participant at Saints & Sinners each year. I identify as bisexual and live in Orlando, Florida with my husband and son.
Email group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lzfiction2
2. Tell us about your book and where it can be found. this can be a blurb, an excerpt etc.
My latest novel, Turn for Home, is the sequel to my first novel, Turning Point. It continues to tell the story of two women who fell in love despite having never been in love with women before, set against the backdrop of their lives as actresses on a television series together. The first novel was about their feelings, reactions, and growth as they fell in love. Turn for Home picks up the story with the reactions, feelings and challenges to their relationship by people like their coworkers, ex-husbands, boyfriends, and children.
Flush with new love, Brenna Lanigan and Cassidy Hyland set out to make a family together. The women struggle with conflicting needs for openness and secrecy. When an evening out together alerts the paparazzi to their relationship, Brenna and Cassidy face a greater threat to their happiness. Mitch, Cassidy’s ex-husband, refuses to allow his son Ryan to be raised by lesbians, and he intends to stop it – by any means necessary.
(begin excerpt) Turn for Home:
A reporter stopped Cassidy on the walk outside requesting “a few minutes.” Taking him at his word, she took him to her trailer steps, sat down, and gave a simple interview. She was spotted half a dozen more times.
Finally she entered her trailer to get a few hours of memorization done. Just near the end, as she heard her stomach rumble suggesting she find some lunch, Cassidy heard a knock at her trailer door. Maybe it would be Brenna, she hoped.
Cassidy definitely wanted to go find something to do together off set. Just not too far away. Maybe some clothes shopping afterwards.
However the visitor introduced himself as Peter Murray with the Virginia Dispatch newspaper.
“Ms. Hyland?” he asked.
“I’d like to ask you some questions about the series and the final wrap. Do you have a few minutes?”
Hoping it would be only a few minutes, she didn’t invite him inside. Leaning against the railing of her trailer steps she said, “All right.”
He started off simply asking if she had been enjoying the work. She answered by rote until a question came out of the blue.
“Do you have a favorite designer shop in the mall?”
Since she had just been thinking about clothes shopping with Brenna she wondered if she had said something out loud. “Excuse me?” Cassidy gave him her full attention.
“I was picking up a gift for my kids at the mall, and I spotted you at the food court.”
“You are quite recognizable. So is she.”
“Lanigan. This is her right?” He held out a small photograph. It had been taken at the food court at the mall when they all were there the day after Christmas. Centered in the frame, she and Brenna leaned over a table, passing out food. “Who are the kids? Yours or hers?”
“The two teens are hers,” she supplied evenly, knowing lying would be stupid. She began thinking of ways to convince him to give up the picture and any ideas to sell it. “The youngest is mine.” She hadn’t even seen a flash go off. Well, she reasoned, I was distracted. At least it wasn’t when they had their heads bent together discussing Thomas and James.
“Ms. Hyland, the general line is the two of you hardly speak. I’d like the scoop if that’s changed.”
“Working hard together creates friendships in the toughest situations, Mr. Murray.” Vaguely she recalled Brenna saying something similar months ago.
“So you were just Christmas shopping together?”
“Yes,” she answered. “Mind if I show her?”
He stepped back. “That’s all I needed,” he said hastily. “Thank you for your time.”
Cassidy watched him leave then feeling a presence, spoke to the shadow off her left shoulder. “I was waiting for the right moment to get the picture,” she said. She did not have to turn to see the hard look Brenna had offered the reporter go slack.
“Picture? All I saw was your face go pale–”
“How can you tell under the makeup?”
“You’re not wearing any, and neither am I.” Brenna’s expression turned tender as her voice became softer, private. “I learned to pay attention. I care.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap.” There was silence as their gazes met. Cassidy swallowed. “I was thinking about doing something with you. Now I’m not so sure.”
“I didn’t get the pictures from him.”
“Us at the mall with the kids.”
“We can explain that easily, right?”
“But how many more are out there?”
“Would it really harm anything to be seen out shopping together? Or dinner?”
“Why don’t we go out after work? It might be fun. Nothing intimate. Just shopping, a little dinner. Someplace nearby.” Brenna shook her head, her hair in disarray enough around her features when she looked up she had to brush the locks behind an ear to see Cassidy.
“Why don’t we go back to the set, work on some walk throughs and then we’ll call it a day?”
“I’d like that.”
“You need to meet Max,” Brenna said as she took Cassidy’s hand.
“Do I?” Cassidy asked, hoping her jealousy didn’t show in her voice.
“He’s got a wicked sense of humor.”
Cassidy smiled as Brenna’s gaze was all for her. “All right. Let’s go.”
3. What age did you discover writing? What is your earliest work about?
I’ve been writing as long as blank paper was put in front of me and I knew what words were. I was a voracious reader as a kid. I didn’t start writing my own stories though until middle and high school. These were all “high fantasy” with magic, gods, and goddesses, and replica tribal/feudal societies. I loved sword and sorcery. I kind of fell out of love with the genre in my late teens and twenties and started writing more romance (though there were romantic components in my fantasy novels). I think I finally turned on the gas and started writing a lot of contemporary or recent historical setting stories in the last ten years. Romance continues to feature heavily, and erotica. Fantasy has been sporadically revisited but nothing has stuck around yet.
4. Who has inspired you as an author?
I can’t say any one author inspired me to write. There are a lot of individual works that I admire, mostly classics from school, but other than a single book of “inspirational quotes” from authors on my bookshelf, I don’t idolize any authors.
There’s no author of whom I’ve said, “I’d really like to have his/her career.” I don’t want to be “the next Johanna Lindsey” or “the next J.D. Robb.” I want to craft my own career, make my own mark however small, or big, it might eventually be. I love the choices I’ve made in my life and I’m quite happy with the path I’m on.
I do like to talk with other writers about writing, methods, inspiration and story crafting. That’s one of the primary reasons I began my radio show “Readings in Lesbian & Bisexual Women’s Fiction.”
But I definitely craft to my own voice. Even when I was writing “fanfiction” I worked hard to have stories that fit the universe in which I was writing, but that didn’t sound like every other story out there. I am very wary of sounding like any other writer. I want to sound like me. Do I occasionally admire an individual writer’s turn of phrase? Of course. I’m a student of the literature I write. I make myself well-informed about what is being written in the genre. Then I strike out on my own and try to put my own voice out there among the others.
5. What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
My favorite comment I get about my books is about how visually they play out for readers, and how they seem to gradually grab hold and there’s this point after which they just can’t put it down. I don’t write action or suspense thrillers, so I really appreciate that a romance, even when you know (or at least expect) it’s going to end up HEA, can make readers anxious enough to be sure that’s really what will happen.
I definitely love when I get email from a reader who picked up the book though they might have not thought it was something they would read, and tell me how much they enjoyed the universal themes.
6. Do you have a specific time or place that you write?
I prefer to write in the mornings. That’s when I’m freshest. For the longest time I didn’t have a desk, then I didn’t have a computer for a long while, so my “place” has had to be extremely flexible. I do need relative quiet, or at least a way to block the “outside” from coming in. Without a door to close I need a way to put up a mental wall with noise that can become “white noise” whether it’s the backdrop conversations/buzz of a cafe, or the drone of a radio playing 80s pop or soft rock. I can also work in absolute silence (though that is hard to come by).
I tend to edit on the contract jobs I do, and do “business side” writing like articles, reviews, and designing promotional flyers, in the afternoon and evenings. I try not to work on more than one fiction project at a time. Short stories however will slip into my afternoon routine sometimes even in the middle of a novel project.
7. What’s next for you?
Currently I am draft writing my third novel, a murder mystery. I had hoped to have the draft finished at the end of 2009, but it wasn’t to be. I’m about one-third of the way at the moment. I’ll be looking for a publisher for it probably by the end of 2010. Somewhere in 2010, I also hope to finish a novella that I’ve been kicking around for a couple years, and a couple short stories for a few anthology calls as the mood strikes. I’d like to meet more of my readers, so I’m trying really hard to schedule in a lot of festivals, conferences, and a few bookstore stops with Turn for Home’s release.