Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Terrific Tuesday with Lisa Lipkind Leibow:)

Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us about your latest release.

Hi! It’s so nice to here. I’m Lisa Lipkind Leibow, Author of Smart Women’s Fiction. My press-ready bio is: Lisa Lipkind Leibow is the author of Double Out and Back (Red Rose Publishing), which takes the reader on the roller-coaster ride of infertility treatments as seen through the eyes of three women. Originally working as a lawyer, Lisa decided to trade the billable hour lifestyle for fiction writing. Lisa’s work has also appeared in Pisgah Review and Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine. She lives and writes in Northern Virginia with her husband, three sons, a clumber spaniel, and two red-eared sliders. You can learn more about Lisa and her writing at her website .

But since this is a friendly place, I’ll just introduce myself as Lisa, the recovering attorney-turned-novelist! I’d love to share more about my novel. I hope you’ll add it to your summer reading list.

Double Out and Back, a novel
by Lisa Lipkind Leibow

Not every woman who rides the fertility treatment roller coaster winds up like Octomom.
Who will find friends, family, and fertility?

Three women’s lives are intricately intertwined, as Amelia Schwartz and Summer Curtis struggle with the complex dynamics of intrafamily embryo adoption, and Chandy Markum strives to make her patients’ dreams a reality.

After more than a decade, of mourning her parents’ deaths, anal-retentive Amelia Schwartz decides to take control of her life, pursuing single motherhood via embryo adoption. While her fertility doctor, Chandy, is preoccupied with the destruction of the cosmopolitan Cape Town of her youth and her first love in apartheid-torn South Africa, believing all is lost, her niece, a young, married, overachieving attorney Summer Curtis, juggles zealous career ambitions, demanding bosses, and friction with her husband over family and fertility issues. They must confront the painful reality that, no matter what technology humans devise to manipulate reproduction, prolong life, and construct family units, they have not yet mastered control over their beginnings and endings.

Thrown all into this is one story that can make or break. Are you up to it?

Have you ever had an idea for a story which scared you after you began writing it?

This is an interesting question. Two stories come to mind – both works in progress. First, I’ve spent the past 7 Novembers participating in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo: 50,000 words in thirty days). I usually use it as an excuse to try something completely new—step out of my comfort zone. A few years ago, I tackled a political thriller with the working title FLU. It involved a twisted tale of bioterrorism and overthrowing government. It scared me that I was capable of hatching such a plot. There’s a second story that is scaring me for a different reason. I’m in the midst of crafting a novel that takes place in Colonial America. The project is daunting because of the shear challenge it involves. It’s my first truly historical fiction. I dabbled in creating a time and place I didn’t experience first-hand in DOUBLE OUT AND BACK when I built Chandy’s world in pre-Apartheid South Africa. However, what’s different with my current project is there is nobody alive today to interview or run ideas past to check veracity. I must rely solely on museums, historical documents, and accounts to bring the world to life on the page.

I guess when it comes right down to it fear of some sort is part of my creative process. It is one of the things that keep my creative fires burning.

Have you incorporated actual events from your own life into your books?

When my husband and I set out to start a family, I listened carefully to the warnings and advice from my doctors. I have always had an extremely vivid imagination. The information physicians must disclose every time they prescribe a treatment or medication, make my wheels start to turn. My characters experiences grew out of these churning thoughts rather than my specific experience, I found myself ruminating over what would it be like if ALL of these remote-chance risks happened?

How much research do you do? Do you research first and then write, or do you write first, then research as needed?

Well… remember when I mentioned above that I’m a recovering attorney? I shy away from offering legal advice and work hard not to write my fiction in legalese instead of plain English. However, research is one area that my legal experience is a tremendous boon to my fiction-writing. I love to get lost in the research. The challenge of integrating what I have learned into a story without forcing in facts that don’t contribute to character or plot. To answer your next question, as to whether I research first, and then write or write first, then research as needed? BOTH. I research before I begin. But it’s an ongoing process. If questions arise as I write, I mark a spot in the draft, and go back later to research in order to perfect the scene.

Is there any message you want readers to take from reading your work?

I hope readers of DOUBLE OUT AND BACK will be left with a message to approach life by doing everything in one’s control to achieve one’s goals, but learn to let go and realize some of life is left up to chance.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? And have you ever had a story take on a life of its own?

I fall somewhere in between. I plot and craft an outline in advance. However, I’m not afraid to (and often do) deviate from my initial outline if the mood strikes. With DOUBLE OUT AND BACK, I wrote as a panster. Then I took all of the puzzle pieces and revised and rearranged to enhance character arcs, weave together the multiple plot lines, and build an intricate tale.

How long did it take for you to be published?
I’ve been making up stories since I could talk. If I count from there, it took me about 39 years to publish! However, I only seriously considered my fiction fit for the public about six years ago. Therefore, even though the path to publication felt like a marathon, in the scheme of things it didn’t take me that long.

If you could go back and tell yourself anything when you first began your writing career, what would you say?

I would tell my novice-writer-self, “Don’t forget to write for the love of writing. Treat your writing the same way a musician treats her instrument. Practice every day. Don’t focus so much on getting published. Focus on improving your craft. Being published is icing on the cake. The process of crafting a novel is a blast!” – I sure talk a lot! Do you think my advice is too long-winded?

Laptop or pen and ink? What are your ‘must-haves’ when writing?

Again. Both! I write most everything on my laptop. However, if I’m on the run, I keep journals and pens with me. It helps me stay more productive. While the laptop is portable and fine for coffee shops and libraries (and curling up on the sofa at home), I like to go outside or experience a setting first hand. Nothing beats a nice roller-ball and paper for that!

Who are your favorite authors? Who would you say influenced you the most?

I have diverse taste in reading. I enjoy reading fiction with a strong voice and unique perspective. I love quality women’s fiction, mainstream fiction, historical, and literary fiction. I read and love so many authors, it’s difficult to narrow it down. However, here are some of those I consider the masters. 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.
I'm also a fan of John Irving and Amy Tan!

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

I’ll bet your readers will be surprised to know that while my kids are at camp this summer, I’m planning to go to Trapeze School! There’s got to be a story in there, somewhere…

For Fun:
Mountains or Beach?

Mountains in the winter. Beach in the summer.

Favorite amusement park ride?

This is a great question for me—the author of DOUBLE OUT AND BACK! Roller coasters all the way, baby! They give the illusion of danger while actually keeping you safe. The title DOUBLE OUT AND BACK alludes to the roller coaster of life. A double out and back roller coaster is one that travels “a circuit which heads out and then returns to the station, progressing over a number of bunny-hops, and then traveling out again and returning finally to the station.”

Father’s Day ritual?

Burgers and dogs on the grill are a mainstay Father’s Day ritual. Having family together to honor my father and the father of my children is the best!

How do you balance kids being at home 24/7 and writing time?

I’m learning more and more every day that the key to managing the juggling act of writing and everyday life, is to forgive myself for dropping balls left and right. I don’t have an immaculately neat house (some would say that’s an understatement, wink). I let go of the illusion of perfection.
I make my writing a priority – it’s an appointment on my calendar two days each week. On those days, I’m not available for meetings, school volunteering, routine doctor’s appointments, and the like. If I can fit any other writing time in, it’s a bonus.

I also multitask. For example, I’ve been known to listen to audio-books while I fold laundry or drive carpools, brainstorm a plot point while my son’s baseball team warms up, or use Lacrosse halftime to work on a stretch of dialogue. My children’s activities keep me running around most afternoons and evenings. This means letting go of cooking elaborate family dinners. It means throwing something in the crock pot early in the morning to be ready when we finally get home, or take out – so many nights of take out, oy vey.

It’s a challenge, but worth it! I feel so lucky to live in the midst of happy chaos.

Thank you for being here today! Please tell us where we can find your books.

My pleasure. I enjoyed this visit!

Where you can find my book

Small presses like Red Rose Publishing care enough about the world of independent publishing to support me and my book, I whole-heartedly recommend you support them and me by purchasing my book from them.

Available at Red Rose Publishing

Also available here

All Romance Books
Book Strand
Diesel e-Books

EXCERPT (rated R):
"I'm ready!" Summer sprinted from the bathroom, where she had just rinsed her mouth with her favorite cinnamon-flavored mouthwash and inserted her diaphragm. It was probably overkill, since she also wore a birth control patch, but she refused to take any chances.
Summer sped through the condo, running through rooms all lined up in a row, from the tiny antiquated bathroom through the eat-in kitchen with her grandmother's old Formica table and vinyl chairs, then past Jeremy's hideous bachelor sofa that dominated the living room. Some people called the condo a railroad flat while others called it shotgun-style. She liked the former description better; it sounded less violent. Although, she supposed, she would have a greater chance of dodging a bullet racing through her home than she would of escaping a train barreling through it.

Summer dashed past the entrance of the small study alcove off the living room and into the bedroom where Jeremy waited. She pounced on the finest mattress and linens – her and Jeremy's sole splurge.

Eagerly, she wrapped her arms and legs around Jeremy. She expected him to return her playfulness, but tonight he pulled away from their tight embrace and held her at arm's length, his hands on her shoulders. His hair, so black it looked blue, always captivated Summer. His eyes, equally alluring in their darkness, were solemn.

"We have to talk," he said.

"Now? What is it?" she asked.

Summer untangled herself from him and pulled up the patchwork quilt. Jeremy swallowed hard, but still he said nothing.

Summer said, "Tell me. It can't be that bad." She combed his dark bangs with her fingers.

He cleared his throat.

"Jeremy, tell me. You're making me nervous," she said.

"Okay," he said, "here goes." He cleared his throat again, and then said, "Summer, I've never told you that," his speech accelerated, "I'm adopted."

"What?" she asked.

"I'm adopted," he repeated. "That's why I want us to have a baby so badly."

She released a chuckle, feeling a great sense of relief. "That's your big secret? Oh, Jeremy, you had me scared out of my mind." She moved closer to him. "I was thinking, some horrible disease, or you used to be a woman," she said and then laughed, adding, "I guess I wonder, though, why you didn't tell me before."

Jeremy's face looked pale and tense. His normally sonorous voice became tinny. "I remember when I was five years old. Two neighbors from down the street, both mothers of big families. Between them they had nine children. They gossiped on the playground at my school while I was bouncing up and down on a seesaw with my friend. Maybe they didn't know I was there, but I heard them clear as anything. They were talking about a local couple planning to adopt a baby and one said, 'I would rather be childless than to adopt someone else's problem.' Problem! Can you believe it? I was only five, but I knew I was adopted. From that day on, I vowed never to tell anyone. It's none of their business."

Summer pressed her hand against Jeremy's shoulder, guiding him to rest on the bed again. He didn't budge. She kissed him and asked, "Adopted?"

"Yes," he confirmed.

"So you're telling me now? As foreplay?" she asked, laughing aloud.

Then he relaxed into a smile and said, "I know it may not seem like such a big deal, but it is to me. I really want to have a baby so I can know someone who is part of me. I want my children to feel certain they're wanted. Plus, I've never had the experience of knowing someone biologically related to me. You need to be sure, too." He brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. "I have no idea what's in my genes. Hell, someday our kids could look like…like the jolly green giant – nothing like either one of us. You would wonder, right?" Jeremy retreated.

"That doesn't matter to me." Summer scooted closer to him. She contemplated how seriously Jeremy took this. How could he worry about this when having a child was years away? Summer felt positive she would be concerned about giving birth to a healthy baby when the time came, and not how much the baby looked like her or Jeremy.

Jeremy's confession brought them closer together. He shared with her what he believed to be his deepest, most intimate secret. Jeremy smiled, revealing clean, white teeth. The top two front teeth overlapped just enough to make him look real, not like an airbrushed GQ type. Summer's freckled nose rested against Jeremy's nose. When she looked into his eyes from that vantage point, she spied his heavy, neat eyebrows. His chin felt smooth against her chin.

Jeremy smiled. "The thought of you having my baby just thrills me. We could have a son or daughter with your gorgeous eyes, silky hair, and my golf swing; or with your long legs, my black hair and flair for logic. It's phenomenal no matter how I imagine it. Plus, whoever our baby is, that little boy or girl will be the first person biologically related to me I'll ever meet. It'll be great." He looked unsure for a moment. "Don't you think?"



M. S. Spencer said...

Fascinating interview Lisa! While as authors we have so many things in common (including the NEED to write) each of us goes about it slightly differently. I too begin with a story line but when it takes on a life of its own I've learned to go with the flow and enjoy. Have you ever looked at something you wrote and said, "Gawd, that's good. I don't remember writing that!"?
I'd like to put in a plug for fabulous Red Rose Publishing as well, which has seen fit to publish both my romance novels, Lost in His Arms and Lost & Found.

Cindy Carver said...

Great interview Molly and Lisa! Congratulations Lisa on taking a chance on the small publisher. I'm glad to see these small publishers grow with Good Reads!

Cindy Carver said...

Great interview Molly and Lisa! Congratulations Lisa on taking a chance on the small publisher. I'm glad to see these small publishers grow with Good Reads!

Fran Lee said...

Nice to meet you, Lisa! Great interview, Molly!

Pat McDermott said...

Lisa, I hope you get lost in research again soon. Who knows what that vivid imagination of yours will do with it? I wish you continued success with Double Out and Back, and with all your writing. Wonderful interview, ladies.

Lisa L. Leibow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa L. Leibow said...

M.S., sometimes I do enjoy what I have written. However, I tend to see something to tweak each time I look at it! Writing is never done, it's just due... (in fact, when I re-read my original comment, I found the need to revise it and repost--ugh, somebody help me!)

Thanks for the kind words and I hope you'll tell your friends to take a chance and read some of the work coming out of the small presses. It's worth the time!

Nice to meet you, too, Fran! Thanks for visiting me here.

Pat, don't worry. I'm lost in research at the moment! I need to scale back soon and start using what I'm learning in a new story. The creative juices are a-flowin'!

Oh! And, my publisher recently unveiled a new website, so just in case... Here's a new buy link for DOUBLE OUT AND BACK.


Molly Daniels said...

Thanks for being with me today Lisa:)

Lisa L. Leibow said...

It was my pleasure, Molly! You have a very nice blog.

Take care!

Molly Daniels said...

Thank you darlin':) I try!