Okay, now for the interview:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a recovering perfectionist, a closet stand-up comedian, and an obsessive writer. I’ve scorched several pots of brown rice because I snuck away to my computer to write just a little bit more of the story. Once, even the smoke alarm and a horrid burning smell couldn’t penetrate my writing bubble. Finally, my mother bought me a rice cooker so I wouldn’t burn my house down.
Love, redemption, family, baseball, tomatoes… you know, the usual stuff. Seriously, The Joke’s on Me is about Frankie Goldberg, a thirty-seven-year-old former stand-up comic and actress who has been in Hollywood struggling for success (and ignoring her family) for the last fifteen years. When a mudslide drops her bungalow into the Pacific, Frankie books it for home: her mother’s bed and breakfast in Woodstock, New York. But the joke’s on Frankie–there’s little TLC here, only the family she left behind. Her mother is now in a nursing home, and her older sister has taken over the business. Frankie needs to decide what role she wants to play in this new iteration of Goldbergs, if at all. When her childhood crush shows up, it makes her decision that much harder. And life a lot more interesting.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I always loved writing, and kept a journal (there have to be at least five dozen black marble composition books full of scribbled words in my closet, dating back from junior high), but I went to school for advertising and became a graphic designer. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties and between jobs that I decided to become a writer. It just felt like the right time. Plus, it gave me something to do between interviews and freelance gigs. I wrote a lot of really bad short stories at first, and eventually got better.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
More writing! By day I’m a freelance writer. I ghostwrite, blog, write educational materials for kids, whatever people will pay me to do. When I’m not staring at my computer or burning pots of brown rice, I love to read, cook, and watch baseball.
There are a lot of food references in The Joke’s on Me. Does this stem from your love of cooking?
Yes, and my love of eating! Among the older generations in my family, like in Frankie’s, food was love, food was warmth, a kind of social currency. My grandmothers and great aunts literally ran around offering people food, selling us on second helpings like they would jump out a window if we didn’t eat. They were my inspiration for Frankie’s stand-up routine.
Can you tell us about your challenges getting your first book published?
The first book I tried to get published, a comic thriller, was rejected by 138 agents. I’ve kept every single rejection slip in a file. One day I’ll wallpaper the bathroom with them or something. It’s basically a good story. I hope to get back to it and improve it–but it simply was not ready for the market, and I didn’t have enough experience to know that it needed serious editing. The Joke’s on Me is actually my fourth novel. Believe me, this one went through a lot of drafts before I started sending it out. And a few drafts after 4RV agreed to publish me.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Growing up, I spent a lot of time in my room, lost in a book. Library day was the highlight of my week. I adored Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and especially Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy. I felt a special kinship with Harriet. Because I got picked on a lot, I learned to stay invisible and watchful. People whom I’ve stayed in touch with from back then are often floored at what I remember…from the types of jeans they wore to embarrassingly specific details of their body language.
How did you come up with the title?
When I first brought the manuscript to 4RV, it had a different title, one that had a kind of sentimental value to me, but wasn’t very marketable. The Joke’s on Me came out of a brainstorming session with 4RV’s publisher and editors. People really liked it. And it fit the situations Frankie often found herself in throughout the book: going home after ignoring her family for so long, only to find that in many ways, they had gone on with their lives pretty much without her. At the end of March, I entered the title as a Google alert, so I could keep tabs on marketing efforts. But the articles Google presented me on April Fools’ Day had nothing to do with my book. I guess the joke was on me!
Laurie, thank you so much for being my guest, your book sounds wonderful, a great summer read!
To find out more about The Joke's on Me go to: http://thejokesonme.net
You can also find Laurie on Facebook at http://facebook.com/laurie.boris.author
And, check out her blog (writing, books, and the language of popular culture) at http://laurieboris.com
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Until next time,
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer, and
Acquisitions Editor Intern for 4RV Publishing
Member of the Professional Writers Alliance, the International Association of Professional Ghostwriters, and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.
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