Recently I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors, the wonderful Laura Fitzgerald. Laura is the author of the bestselling book Veil of Roses, and a new novel, One True Theory of Love (reviewed here), which just came out in February. Even though she is really busy promoting her book and going to book signings and festivals, she took the time to give me very thorough and thoughtful answers to my questions. Please enjoy this interview, and leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win her new book!
BOTB: If you had to describe your new book in one sentence, what would that be?
Laura: One True Theory of Love is a story about the redemptive power of second chances in life and love.
BOTB: You mentioned your very own book club recently read and discussed One True Theory of Love. What was that like for you?
Laura: It was incredibly fun, because it was such a celebration of a big goal achieved and these are great women with whom to celebrate. It was also a great discussion of the book’s themes of second chances and the changing nature of relationships. All in all, it was a fun night of much wine, great discussion, and laughter.
It was also a bit weird, because everyone was asking me about my husband’s forearms and are they as sexy as Ahmed’s in the book…That’s been the one big difference between Veil of Roses and One True Theory of Love. With the main character in Veil of Roses being from Iran, no one suspected there was anything of me in her. But with this second book, I’m being asked that question a lot: How much of Meg is you? And, of course, there’s a lot of me in both Tami and Meg, as there is a lot of me in every character I write. I’m all over my books, hiding in plain sight.
BOTB: I’ve read on your website that the idea for the book came from a book club meeting you attended for your first book, Veil of Roses. Can you tell us about that?
Laura: Well, I was quite far along in my writing of this other story that just wasn’t working out – I couldn’t get the main character to be likable, and the story itself was so different from Veil of Roses in tone and temperament that I was coming to the sad conclusion that it wasn’t the right “next book” for me. This realization was confirmed as I met with three book clubs in Wisconsin in the course of a week.
The clear message was they like the “make you laugh, make you cry” flavor of Veil of Roses. The book I’d been working on was a straight “make you cry” type of book. Also, in each book club, members were going through huge life changes, falling in or out of love, mourning the deaths of loved ones, and just in general fighting the good, hard fights that life presents us. And it just struck me how much courage it requires to build yourself back up after life has knocked you down. We like to believe our happy ending is out there, waiting for us – that no matter how bad things are, if we just try harder, or try AGAIN, good things will happen and we’ll be happy. That’s not always how it works – but this deliberate optimism is what helps us move forward.
I hate to sound existential, but I believe the happiness can be found in the struggle. Life is richer for going after what you want when there’s no guarantee of a positive outcome. It just is.
BOTB: What has been the most exciting thing that has happened to you since becoming a best selling author? How has it changed your life?
Laura: I can’t and won’t downplay how nice it is to forevermore get to be referred to as “national bestselling author,” but the life-changing part of it comes down to the fact that I had a hard-to-achieve goal and I achieved it – writing a novel good enough to be published at a time when no one cared whether I did it or not. I now get to spend my days doing what I love, in a way that is perfectly suited to my skills, wants and personality. I am figuring out how to tell great stories, and after years and years of work learning my craft, I am almost at a point where I feel I’m hitting my stride with my writing. It’s exciting for me personally to feel with some confidence that the next few books are going to be a culmination of a lot of work on the backend, and that the best is yet to be.
To repeat: Life is richer for going after what you want when there’s no guarantee of a positive outcome. I feel like I’m walking on a tightrope and to stay on it requires every ounce of skill I have, plus some luck. It’s a position I love to be in.
BOTB: Do you write with a particular audience in mind, or do you just write what you like?
Laura: Pretty much all my stories center around women who have to summon the courage to do something that is hard for them to do in order to get their shot at happiness — it’s a proactive approach to life and ultimately very affirming. We save ourselves, and we find ourselves in the broken pieces. I firmly believe that. My audience is any woman who needs that message.
BOTB: What is the writing process like for you? Do you treat it like a job- writing for a certain number of hours a day- or do you wait until inspiration strikes? How do you manage to get anything done with two young kids at home?
Laura: Writing is my job, absolutely. I have an office that I go to Monday through Friday while my kids are at school. I’m at this phase in my life where I’d spend twice as much time on my writing if I could – seven days a week, probably, but I’m acutely aware that my kids won’t be this age forever. My top value at the moment is maintaining balance and it’s a constant struggle. So I leave my writing at the office and spend the rest of the time with my kids. And husband. And friends. (And on facebook.)
BOTB: Can you tell us about your workspace? Do you have interesting things on the walls or on your desk to spark creativity?
Laura: I rent an office a few miles from my house, and it’s mine, baby – all mine. No phone, no internet connection, no husband, no kids. I don’t like clutter, so I keep my desk clear, with only a great view of the Catalina Mountains in front of me. I’ve got Ethan Allen furniture – desk, reading chair and bookshelves. I have three prints on my walls – two simple and artistic photographs, one of a book with its pages spread open and one of a cup of coffee shot from above (I love both coffee and books). I also have a print of Mark Twain with one of his quotes: I find it usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech. This has significance to me because I believe in doing a ton of work behind the scenes to make my writing come out smooth and easy. I’m a big planner and thinker and having my office – which I think of as my “pretty little prison cell” allows me the space and time to do both. And then to write, of course.
BOTB: You mentioned that you’re writing a sequel to Veil of Roses. I’m so excited about that! What will it be called, and when can we expect to see it in stores?
Laura: I’m working very hard to make this sequel even better than the first book. In addition to learning what happens after Tami and Ike’s wedding, I’m delving into the lives of two other characters from Veil of Roses – Tami’s mother, and Rose.
As yet, it hasn’t been titled. I’m calling it GONE TO PICK FLOWERS, but that’ll likely change. It should be in stores by next summer (2010).
BOTB: Laura, THANK YOU for your time and generosity!! I loved your book and am so thrilled to be able to offer a copy of it to one lucky reader!
If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Laura’s new book, One True Theory of Love, leave a comment here by Tuesday, March 17th.
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