Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Interview with Frances Lefkowitz and book giveaway
**Giveaway is now closed**
Frances Lefkowitz was born and raised in California and then spent her young adulthood in New England after attending Brown University on a scholarship. She is currently the Good Housekeeping book reviewer and a freelance writer and editor. She also teaches at the Sun Magazine’s writing workshops and the Writer in West Marin program. Her hobbies are surfing and speaking Spanish, and she likes to spend time in Central America where she can do both.
If you like what you've read today, become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and check out her blog.
Thanks to Crystal Patriarche and Lisa Steinke at BookSparks PR, we had the opportunity to ask Frances some questions. We enjoyed reading her answers, which reflect the personality and witty sense of humor that we became familiar with in her book.
Crystal is also giving away one copy of Frances' autobiography, "To Have Not," (reviewed here) to a lucky reader in the US or Canada.
MA: Did you have any concerns over what your family might think as you were writing "To Have Not?"
FL: In the ten years it took me to write the book, I never once worried about how it might affect my family. I wasn't callous; I was just preoccupied with crafting a captivating, accurate story, making sure the language and the images and the pacing and the structure were all juuust right. Plus, I don't think I ever really believed that it would get published. But then came a book deal, and all of a sudden this manuscript was going public. That's when I started worrying about how I had portrayed my family, as well as my friends, ex-friends, boyfriends, and ex-boyfriends. Had I done everyone justice? So I read through the manuscript with that question in mind, making edits and adjustments whenever I caught myself manipulating anyone for the sake of the story. It's a tough balance, between telling the truth as I experienced it, and protecting the feelings of the people I love. But we're all still talking to each other, so I think I did OK.
MP: Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so, how do you remedy it?
FL: Walking is a great way to figure things out, come up with ideas, and solve problems--in my stories and in my life. Something about the rhythm of the footsteps, the swinging of the arms, the pumping of the blood, and the outdoor scenery all help to trigger new thoughts, and help old, forgotten ones float to the surface. I also think really well while driving, and keep a notepad and pen in the passenger seat for jotting down ideas. So motion seems to be the way for me to undo writer's block.
MA: Who do you admire the most and why?
FL: There's so many writers to admire: Jamaica Kincaid for her fierceness; Alice Munro for revealing difficult truths about who we are; Ernest Hemingway for his economical prose; and Eileen Myles for her irreverence.
MA: Some authors have had their personal stories made into movies. Would you consider doing this? If so, who would play you in a movie version of "To Have Not?"
FL: I'd definitely say yes to a movie deal. I think the actress who played Darla in the original Little Rascals would be perfect for me.
MA: Who is your favorite chick lit author or what are some of your favorite chick lit novels?
FL: I really enjoyed The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes. It's got a great cast of characters, including a dying psychic, a cooking-show star, and a foul-mouthed female cab driver. They all live in the same apartment building in Dublin, and we gradually learn how their lives intertwine in unexpected ways. I appreciated the way Keyes incorporated dark and light themes, so the book is great fun but also very resonant.
(Side note: We both loved this novel, as well!)
MA: How did you make the switch from anthropology and archaeology to catering, music and writing?
FL: Jeez, when you put it that way, I appear to be either a modern-day Renaissance woman or a victim of severe attention deficit disorder. Actually, I've been a writer all along, but was always trying out new and interesting ways to make a living. Finally I realized I could make my living from my writing.
MP: What was the best part of going across the country to Brown University on a scholarship (aside from free tuition!)?
FL: Snow! It was such a novelty to me, and everything about it enthralled me--including shoveling it. I was a big hit with the housemates once we moved off campus, because I always volunteered to shovel out the driveway.
MP: Your family moved often, 9 times in 17 years to be exact (you have me beat by one!), what was the most challenging part about starting over so often? The most rewarding part?
FL: Except for one, all our moves were within the same city, San Francisco. So it wasn't really like starting over each time; I often went to the same school and kept the same friends. But the frequent moving from one apartment to the next created a kind of inner instability, where I never felt like I could fully relax into a place and trust it to be mine. It's a feeling that has stayed with me into adulthood. On the upside, I can tell you the best places to find free cardboard packing boxes (hint: try grocery stores at ten in the morning, before they've broken down the boxes into flats).
MP: I read on your website that you love to travel to Central America. What brought you there for the first time?
FL: I took a bus by myself from my home in San Francisco to Baja, Mexico, when I was 18 years old. I went for the warm-water beaches,and the language: I am nearly fluent in Spanish, and love speaking it. These two things still bring me to Latin America--especially now that I surf.
MP: What is one place in the world that you haven't been to that you would love to visit? Why?
FL: Ecuador. See above, re: warm water, surfing, and speaking Spanish.
Special thanks to Frances for answering our questions and to Crystal and Lisa at BookSparks PR for arranging the interview and giveaway.
How to win "To Have Not":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page if you can receive messages there.)
1. Please tell us: Have you made a big career shift? If so, how did it work out for you?
2. Please tell us: Who would play you in a movie about your life?
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4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Sunday, January 23rd at midnight EST.