Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Author Interview - Lisa L Leibow

Interview with
Lisa Lipkind Leibow

Author of Double Out and Back

Book Review
Book Giveaway

A Bit About the Book;

Why this book? Why this story?
I wrote Double Out and Back because I became curious and fascinated with the sociological and societal impacts of assisted reproductive technologies. There are so many different ways we can start families these days, ranging from good old fashioned sex, and adoption, to artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, donated eggs, sperm, or embryos. Children may grow up in homes with a mother and father, single parents, or same-sex parents. Women can give birth to babies not biologically related to them, and the list goes on. I wanted to explore these issues from a literary perspective.

How long did it take you to write Double Out and Back?
I can write a first draft in a couple of months. But it’s a brain-dump only fit for my eyes – a means of getting the story out of my head and onto the page. From there I can refine and revise for years. If left to my own devices, I could probably work on the same novel for my entire life. I can always find a way to enhance a character, weave in a new subplot, or tweak the language. With Double Out and Back, my editor finally had to tell me it was time to let go and let the public have it. From the beginning of the first draft to the time my editor told me, “enough” about five years passed.

Who is your favourite character and why?
Hmm...That’s a tough one because I know what happens to all of them and I don’t want to give any spoilers! I guess if I had to choose one to be, I’d choose Amelia. She soothes her nerves with gourmet therapy, and I wish I had the time to cook the delicious meals she does! I also find her quirkiness quite amusing. I love her. Don’t tell the other characters, because they all think that I love them best. It’s part of the way I coax them out of my imagination. {wink!}

Which character is most like you?
Really, there’s a bit of me in every character I write. I have to stand in their shoes to create believable reactions and meaningful perceptions. However, in Double Out and Back, many friends and family may see close ties to the background and profession of Summer and my own. However, she had to face so many challenges to starting a family that I luckily never had to face in real life. I only had to imagine and live through the trials and tribulations with her and perfect it on the page.

Are any of the characters based on living people?
Some qualities and quirks of my characters are inspired by real people, by images conjured from family folklore, and by amalgamations of anecdotes gleaned from friends and acquaintances who shared their experiences coping with infertility.

There are some very confronting issues in Double Out and Back, are these things that you have had to deal with yourself or have you put countless hours of research into this novel?
I’m lucky in that my life has been quite boring from a literary perspective. While I’ve taken nuggets of experience I have observed or come close to, much of the drama, obstacles, and moral dilemmas faced by the characters on the pages of Double Out and Back are purely borne of my wild imagination, my constant anxiety over Murphy’s Law, and my constant questioning of what if…

A Bit About the Author;

When you’re not writing where would we find you?
When I’m not writing, I love to spend time as my kids’ biggest fan. I have so many opportunities to cheer in the stands and applaud in the audience with their busy extra-curricular lives playing baseball, basketball, lacrosse, trumpet, viola, singing in chorus, and more. I also love to going to great restaurants, to the theater, to professional and college ball games, and to the movies with my husband and friends. In between all of that happy chaos, I try to choose activities that counteract all of the sitting that writing requires. Some of my favorite pastimes are yoga, spin class, and jogging. You might be surprised to find out that I just received a gift certificate to take trapeze lessons! There’s got to be a future story in that odd activity…

Who do you take your inspiration from? Do you have a role model?
I find inspiration from all around me. Character traits come from my parents and sisters, my husband and sons, as well as from strangers on the street, on the metro, in a coffee shop, or airport gate. My curious nature and love of travel, sightseeing, and museums opens up the world around me, bringing ideas for new settings, situations, and story lines. I’m fascinated by the choices people make in life and the obstacles we overcome. There’s always a story in there, somewhere. I love to people-watch and imagine what someone’s story might be. In fact, so much around me inspires my craft, I devote my blog Lisa Leibow’s Fodder For Fiction to this very topic. There, I share observations about the quirky, silly, deep, and meaningful things in life that not only entertain on the spot, but also contribute to a great store of facts and tidbits I draw from in developing character, setting, and plot in my fiction writing. As for whether I have a role model? I may have too many to count. However, I’ve named a few in my answer to the next question. (How’s that for a transition? {wink})

Who is your favourite author?
I’m heavily influenced by what I love to read. I have so many literary heroes, I could write volumes on the subject. I’ll share a few with you here.
I’m in awe of Alice Munro’s ability to sum up an entire lifetime in a sentence. I love the quirky characters of John Irving , the vivid, detailed descriptions of Ayn Rand, and the strong, pithy dialogue of Ernest Hemingway. I admire the character driven fiction of Julia Glass and the expertly plotted tales of Steven King. I admire the boldness of Barbara Kingsolver to tackle multiple, first-person points-of-view in one novel, and Amy Tan’s ability to carry me to a time and place I’ve never been and make it seem real to me.

What are you currently reading?
I’m in the middle of a couple of books at the moment. I’m reading The Photograph by Penelope Lively for fun, and The Hemings’s of Monticello as part of the research for my work in progress, which takes place in Colonial America.

If you could be any character from any story, who would you be and why?
This is another one of those questions that I would answer different on any given day. Why, on a day I shared one of my favorite Children’s stories, I might choose, Bartholomew, from Dr. Seuss’s Bartholomew and the Ooblek. Why? Well, it would be amazing to be the one to set the King straight and save the empire from green goop. On a day where I’m feeling romantic, I might answer I wish to step back in time and become Phillipa Gregory’s Other Boleyn Girl, so I might experience the excitement of life on Henry XIII’s court. You might even catch me on a day where I’d choose to be Sidda from Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood because it would be nice to be given the gift of seeing my mother through her friends’ eyes and learning something new about her that might help me to make decisions about my own future. But you asked me this question today. And, today, if I could be any character from any story, I’d be Chief Bromden from Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. You might find this an odd choice since this is a character in a mental institution. However, at the moment, I feel the challenge in my current work in progress to improve my narrative voice. I’m striving to become a silent observer, a perfect narrator. That is why I wish to be like Chief Bromden.

What is next for Lisa Lipkind Leibow?
I tend to have several projects at once, at various stages of development. Right now, I’m putting the finishing touches on a novel that is a tale of modern feminism in a complex world. It chronicles the life of an Iranian √©migr√©, from her repressed childhood in 1950s Tehran to her eventual liberation over 40 years later. The main character’s saga begins in pre-revolutionary Iran—a land of contradictions, where mini-skirted women with college degrees face arranged marriages. At the same time, I’m in the midst of revising the first draft of a middle grade high fantasy novel that I wrote during moments I needed a break from more serious subject matter. It’s pure fun! I’m also well underway in the first draft of a novel that takes place during the Revolutionary War. It’s turning into a fictional slave narrative. I’m excited about it. While I divide my time among these projects, other ideas are percolating, and I have three or four other concepts in research phase, which means I’m reading everything I can on the subjects, conducting interviews, and visiting locations.

Anything you would like to add?
Sure! First, I love to participate in reading group discussions of Double Out and Back. Book Clubs should feel free to contact through my website to arrange for me to join you via telephone, skype, on-line chat, or live if you’re in the D.C. Metropolitan area.
Also, look for my latest success! My short story Forbidden Passion will appear in the 2010 issue of Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine. I’ll also be reading a passage at The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia on April 8, and appearing Reading Day in Hagerstown, Maryland on May 1.

Next, I encourage you to support small presses like Red Rose Publishing and buy Double Out and Back direct at Red Rose Publishing.

Double Out and Back is also available at the following:

All Romance Books
Mobi Pocket
Book Strand

Finally, thank you so much for asking me such thoughtful questions. I enjoyed participating in this interview so much!

Thank you Lisa for taking part in this interview!

I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did.

Happy Reading!

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