Thursday, July 1, 2010

Interview with Caren Lissner and book giveaway!



A few years ago, a friend of mine loaned me a copy of "Carrie Pilby" because she thought it would be up my alley. And she was right. I read it around the time I gave birth to my younger son and it was just the right amount of distraction for all the craziness going on at the time. Once I started reading this story, I didn't want to put it down. It was a lot of fun and I wanted to see where it would lead to in the end. I wasn't disappointed in the slightest and was left with an all around satisfied feeling...similar to the feeling I get from eating a really good dessert. I liked it so much that I got "Starting from Square Two" shortly afterward. It had a similar feel to "Carrie Pilby," in that the characters were easy to identify with and they came off as insecure, which made them that much more likable. I recently had the opportunity to interview Caren Lissner, the author of both books. She has kindly offered up a signed copy of "Carrie Pilby" and a set of post-it notes to one lucky winner (in the US or Canada).


About Your Book/Writing:

1. How did you come up with the idea for "Carrie Pilby?"

I was about to turn 30 and had written three or four novels that didn't get published, and I realized that maybe I was trying too hard to write a "serious" novel and not using the observational humor that I was having success with in my personal essays. I had a lot of ideas dancing around in my head for another novel, and one day I just decided to start it with a rant about how video stores never gave me a bag, while grocery stores would give me a bag for the tiniest thing. At the time, I was also encountering some moral dilemmas, and it was a period when I was almost 30 and a bit lonely and I had to force myself to socialize a lot, and still had some black-and-white ideas. So I created an extreme (and sometimes funny) character from that. I would sit by my window on a Friday night back then writing until the wee hours, thinking about things. A young genius who had just graduated from college was the perfect medium. So the idea was more a combination of ideas and "what-ifs" that were going through my head in that time period.

2. Since you're expanding your audience for C.P. to include young adult readers, did you make any changes to the story before re-publishing?

Since the story was about a 19-year-old genius, and kids today are probably more worldly than kids even 10 years ago, there really wasn't anything I had to tone down or alter. I made a few minor edits that I'd wanted to make after the book was published, just because we writers are always picky and have little things we want to change. So I was glad I got to do that. The one major change was that I had to update the technology a bit, changing videos to DVDs. The rest stayed the same. The publishers gave the book a new cover that's very lively, and I really like it.

3. What was the publication process like for you?

Publishing a novel was a dream of mine, and I had to face the fact early on that it might never happen, as hard as I tried. So when it finally happened, I was thrilled! Carrie Pilby got a lot of positive feedback from publishers when it was first sent out in 2001, but it still met with several rejections or almosts. Then chick lit took off, and an editor at a new Harlequin imprint called Red Dress Ink, Farrin Jacobs, considered it. She told my agent that she really liked it, but it didn't really fit their new line at the time. A few months later, I submitted another novel to them that was more chick littish called Starting from Square Two. By then, Red Dress was willing to take more risks, and they gave me a deal for both. My book had gone through so many revisions based on editors and agents' suggestions by then, that Farrin didn't ask me to change too much. After that, I just had to wait a year for it to come out. I kept worrying that something would hinder the process, but it didn't. It came out in June of 2003, a summer when chick lit exploded. Red Dress really publicized their books a lot, too. It was amazing and very humbling hearing from readers all over the world who were affected by the novel. I had a very good experience with publishing. I can see with the re-release that the market is different now -- more people are buying Kindle books than print editions. I don't mind, as long as it gets out there and readers enjoy it...and I get to write more books.

4. Are you planning to write any more books?

Yeah, I hope to! Well, actually, I am pretty far into a middle-grade book, and almost done with another teen book. Now I just have to see what my agent thinks, so that hopefully we can send one of them out. Any takers?

5. I ask this of all authors, so now it's your turn in the casting chair....If "Carrie Pilby" were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?

I have no idea - maybe a dark-haired actress who can pull off the nerdy-but-beautiful thing that's so popular in movies. I'm sure there are plenty of appropriate actresses on MTV and in those Vampire flicks.

Just for Fun:

1. What is your favorite memory from your college days?

It's a morning in autumn when I got up early to walk across campus to the library. The leaves were falling, and an old stone church right off campus was having a yard sale, so I stopped there. They were selling some old postcards and I bought a few, then went to the College Green to sit on the grass and read them. They were from World War II. I loved reading these old missives in their spiky black ink, as I sat under a tree with the crisp air swirling around me. As you can see, I was a big nerd in college. You'd think I'd have a more social memory to speak of, but naaaah.

2. Do you have any 4th of July traditions?

Well, my hubby and I can walk to the waterfront, so we'll be watching the fireworks that night. Years ago, my tradition was to hope that one day I'd have someone to watch the fireworks with.

3. What is your favorite sport to either watch or play?

What's a sport?

4. What is your favorite season, and why?

Autumn. I love everything about it -- the change in the air, the purty leaves, the residual hope that used to come with a new school year (I still feel it), and the upcoming Halloween season. I'm also expecting to have a fat little baby -- if all keeps going well -- a few days before autumn starts this year, so it'll be even more special.

5. What personal qualities make you similar to Carrie Pilby? In what ways are you different?

I'm nerdy like she is, and I tend to overanalyze things. However, I'm different because she's completely obtuse when it comes to human suffering or the problems other people have gone through, because she grew up with her father paying for everything. I've been broke before and didn't have that luxury, so I'm a little more sensitive to people who are different from me, I think. I'm also definitely not a genius, although I always did well in school. I think I was smarter at 15 than I am now. Oh well. That's life!

How to win this signed book:
Please comment below with your e-mail address.

For additional entries (each as a separate comment including your e-mail address, as well):
1. Carrie had a strange encounter with someone she met through an online personal ad, in a way that only she could pull it off. Please tell us: What is the weirdest experience you've had with someone you met online?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.

US/Canada only. Winner will be picked at random on Monday, July 5th.

53 comments:

Caren Lissner said...

Thanks for posting about my book, Melissa! For those commenting, note that the Post-Its I'm sending with my book are special Carrie Pilby Post-Its...I know that sweetens the pot, ha ha. Anyway, hope you all enjoyed the post!

Jonita said...

You knew that I would want this one, right? Thought so, LOL! Enter me!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

You know, I don't think I've ever actually met someone that I've met online. I signed up for a few dating sites a long time ago, but met my husband and that put an end to that! I almost met someone in real life that I met online, but at the last minute it didn't happen.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

I am a follower through GFC!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

This contest has been added to my sidebar at http://book-chic.blogspot.com!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Laura Rachel Fox said...

Lovely interview, Melissa.

I want in on this one. Sounds like a great read. I'll have to get my hands on a copy of "Carrie Pilby" even if I don't win.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

I'm already a follower & I posted a link on facebook & tweeted.

Colleen Turner said...

Great interview! I hadn't heard of this book so would love to give it a try!
Thanks,
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I am a GFC follower.
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I have never met anyone online, but I have heard a few horror stories from my friends. One friend went to meet someone she had gotten to know online, and didn't see him at first because his picture looked NOTHING like who he was in real life. He was still a nice guy, but she felt so weird about him lying about what he looked like that it just couldn't work.
candc320@gmail.com

BRN2SHOP9 said...

I follow the blog and I twittered it!

Let's see if I can go for lucky number 3 in a row and make it the 10th book I win in less than 2 months!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Anonymous said...

I am a new GFC follower of this blog.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I never met anyone on an online personal ad. I was introduced to my husband by my zither teacher. We both told him that we didn't want to meet each other. We met and got married.

CarolNWong(at)aol.com

Anonymous said...

a great posting...thanks for the chance to read this novel...i haven't met anyone 'on line.'

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

email subscriber :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

holdenj said...

I would love to win and read Carrie Pilby! Thanks for the great post.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

AmandaSue said...

I'd love a chance into this giveaway thanks!

unforgetable_dreamer_always(at)hotmail.com

ChristyJan said...

What a fun interview! Please enter me to win a signed copy of Caren's book.

hawkes(at)citlink.net

ChristyJan said...

I follow your blog

hawkes(at)citlink.net

ChristyJan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChristyJan said...

I don't really have a "weird" experience with someone I've met online, but I do have a wonderful friend that I met online. We "met" almost 10 years ago and chatted through an on-line group. Then we started calling each other. Eventually she brought her family to meet my family and several months later I flew to her home and spent a few days. She's been a great friend and our husbands get along quite while too.

hawkes(at)citlink.net

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the interview...count me in for the drawing please ~ ) Thanks!

sounders72 @ aol.com

JHS. said...

Sounds like a fun read!

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

JHS. said...

OH, wow, I had a wild experience with someone I met online. I can't post all the details, so will just say this much: She turned out not to be the person she led me to believe she was. And I was stranded 3,000 miles from home, standing in her kitchen when I found out. It was pretty freaky.

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

JHS. said...

Follower.

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

krystal_lynn said...

I'd like to enter, thanks! :)

miss_kris_11(at)yahoo(dot)com

krystal_lynn said...

I'm a follower!

miss_kris_11(at)yahoo(dot)com

krystal_lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
krystal_lynn said...

Okay, this is something I don't share with people too often but....I had an actual relationship with someone who I met online for an entire year without EVER meeting him in person. AND we lived in the same city. That was definitely a strange time in my life.

miss_kris_11(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sarah Z said...

I overanalyze too!
Thanks - Sarah Z
believedreamcourage (at) gmail.com

Sarah Z said...

Follower!
Thanks - Sarah Z
believedreamcourage (at) gmail.com

Heather Wardell said...

I'd love to win this book!

Thanks,
Heather
contact(at)heatherwardell (dot)com

Anonymous said...

Nice interview I had a lot of fun reading it :)

Rhonda said...

That was a nice interview I enjoyed reading it :)

Melissa said...

Someone recently posted as "Anonymous" but didn't leave an e-mail address. Please identify yourself. Thanks!

Rhonda D. said...

I enjoyed reading the interview very nice :)

sunny_418 said...

I would like a chance to win. Thanks!

scullylovepromo said...

I've had several strange experiences with online dating but the one that stands out most in my mind is a painful one. I met a man through MySpace who lived about 2 hours away from me by car and we talked as friends for about 5 months before he came to see me. I really liked him and we started dating for a couple of months. I fell for him hard! He told me he loved me, planned trips and a future with me, and then I found out from his teenager daughter who was also on MySpace that he had a girlfriend and in fact was dating about 4 women at the same time! He deceived me in the worst way and he ended up marrying a woman he met on MySpace who lived in Holland. The worst thing he did was that the week I had to put my dog down who had been my kid in a fur coat for almost 16 years, he told me he would be unavailable because he was going to work on his uncle's farm to help him as he was recovering from surgery when in actual fact he was in Paris with the woman from Holland! I've never been so devastated in all my life! The moral of the story is don't trust any men you meet online!!

You did a great job on the interview with Caren, Melissa but I would have liked to read a synopsis about the book at the beginning. You told us why you liked it but you didn't tell us anything about it, really, although we did discover more about Carrie in the interview.

I'll post this link on Twitter now if it's not too late to enter the contest. It's still Monday, July 5th!

My email is scullylove(at)cogeco(dot)ca

Anonymous said...

Love finding new authors to read!!! Thanks!! Keri

otkeri@comcast.net

Kathryn said...

I met a few people that I met online through the old mIRC chatroom centperk but there was nothing weird that happened! I'm grateful for that!

Kathryn
kathrynhamilton77@gmail.com

Kathryn said...

As well, I thought I was a following through facebook, but then realized you probably meant through Google or whatever. So, I am now a follower through Google friend connection (I think that's the name).

Kathryn said...

I also posted this on Facebook. :)

Bonnie said...

Great interview and Carrie Pilby looks like a must read as well! Would love to win and need post-its, too! Heh, heh! I am a follower!
intrepid9923@yahoo.com

Michelle said...

Great interview, new to the blog! New to BLOGS in general! Thanks Melissa for introducing me! Would love to get this book rphmlk@gmail.com sharing on facebook!

LABBOO said...

labboo.gc@gmail.com

Danielle said...

I would love to win this book!! I am always looking for new authors to read!!!

djbroyer@gmail.com

Danielle

Tiffany said...

schlarmette@gmail.com

Thanks for the chance!

Tiffany said...

I am a follower!

Schlarmette@gmail.com

Tiffany said...

I would love to say I have had a weird or funny expierance with someone online, but I can only come up with customers or business chats where there are typo's gone horribly bad.... ( :

Schlarmette@gmail.com

Tiffany said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
missreneer said...

I would love a chance. I wasn't sure if this ends at Central Time because it is still the 5th here. LOL!!! Thought I'd give it a shot because I really want to read this :) Thanks for the great giveaway!!!

mrsjohnson1982(at)yahoo(dot)com

Caren Lissner said...

Thanks, Melissa, and everyone who participated! Scully, that's quite a story...I guess that guy was a real charmer. I'm sorry about your doggy. I had a beagle for 14 years...she was wonderful.

OK, I've chosen number 8 at random. Melissa randomly paired people with numbers, so whoever is that number is the winner and will receive a signed copy of the book, plus some fresh Carrie Pilby Post-It notes to doodle on, soon!

By the way, I have a personal blog at www.addledwriter.blogspot.com and my webpage is at www.carenlissner.com. Keep reading, and for writers, keep writing!

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.