Sunday, October 2, 2011

Existing in a perpetual anecdote...

That guilt I have for not calling my mother? - I get that same guilt for not emailing one of my favorite authors,  Lisette "Molly" Brodey. She's going to have so much to say, she'll properly explode if I wait too long.

Researching authors is not usually necessary. By the time we arrive here together, we've interacted enough to make these conversations easy. But, I do ask around for some amusing stories about a guest, when I know there might be one lurking. Asking around about Lisette, I got eighty-three replies.
Such as,
"Did she tell you about the time she was stuck in the elevator with...?"
And this one,
"She didn't say anything about *** did she...?"
"What has she told you now?"
One of the quickest was,
"I don't care what she says, I wasn't there...!"
I'm giving you the wrong idea - aren't I ? Hehehe.  Here, this one sums it all up the very best; explains L.B. with these simple words,
"Why are you interviewing her? Everybody knows her already...!"

Lisette IS a story. She is page after page of amusement and delight. I will stop what I'm doing to read her emails. She probably thinks that I wait at my computer all day just to catch them. ( I do. ) So, what about that last response to my snooping...why interview her? Naturally - she's too interesting.

Lisette Brodey is interesting doing nothing. Some of you are nodding your heads.... So far, I've liked everything she's ever said. She's the type of person who you look for soon as you enter the room - "Is Lisette here yet?" She is one end of a streaming conversation, forever. No, I'm not describing a busy-body. No I'm not describing a scatter-brain. Lisette is a writer. She's writerly. It's exactly the kind of conversation you want to have - and look for....admit it. Not one ordinary word or moment.

Oh, come on! Really! I'm not being rude or mean...NONE of you have ever deleted a single Lisette Brodey email....
Have you. Hahahaaahaaa!

She blogs with an alternate personality, just to get it all said. Knowing that a single Ms. Brodey couldn't satisfy us, she created Molly Hacker. (Soon to appear in her own book, "Molly Hacker is too picky!") I believe that to be a brilliant bit of conversational skill. A fictional character with a blog; a substitute Lisette. Almost satisfying enough.Note that I said almost.

What would possibly go one better than spending a moment with Lisette, or Molly? How about reading one of her books when she's not available? There go those nodding heads again.....  Lisette is serious about every thought in her head. She is triple serious about every thought she writes down. Like I said - writerly. Haven't read her? Shame on you. You know something similar to her style of writing though. I hope you hear what I hear. You know already what Lisette sounds like on the page.
Where have you heard it?

"Twelve Angry Men"  "Grapes of Wrath"  "Gone With the Wind"  "Death of a Salesman"  "A Streetcar Named Desire"  "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"  "On The Waterfront"  "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf"

You've noticed the serious tone now, haven't you? Some of you had a ping in your head loud as an alarmclock. A few, "My god..."s were just whispered.

Conversations in text that remain with you, and you can hear them now - moments of speech so pure they must be spoken from a stage or by a commanding actor. Characters who are alive in the most writerly way possible. They call it "stealing the scene" or "commanding the stage". No one makes a sound during the character's dialogue. In Crooked Moon, Lisette calls one of hers Frankie; Mary Frances to her brother. That character can stand and command the audience as any in the above mentioned classics. Frankie is real as you breathe, every time you hear her speak.

There is a moment in "Twelve Angry Men"; a story that Henry Fonda loved so well, he bought it, and produced the movie himself. The character is Lee J. Cobb's Juror #3, and the scene concerns the knife; the angle of the stabbing that made the murder. Watch that scene again. Then again. Henry Fonda is clearly taken back by the force of the acting from Lee Cobb. You can hear it in his voice. Cobb was the character, so completely, it couldn't have been captured in another take. The great Hank Fonda was reduced to a man in a damp shirt.

Here is the link to my review of this perfect story.

That is how Lisette writes characters. And, it's no fluke that I'm implying the strong comparison to a few classic plays....

Time to have our conversation with her...

How on earth do you find time for all the stuff you do?
Wow, that’s news to me. I wish I did find the time. I work a ridiculous number of hours trying to get everything done. Seven days a week. I almost never accomplish everything on my list, but I always make my deadlines for the things that must be done. Time, such an elusive little rascal; I so wish there were more of it.

Tell us about Molly.
Molly Hacker is the main character in my upcoming novel, Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! Since February 2011 (Presidents’ Day to be exact), I began blogging as Molly so that readers might get to know my snarky, picky, lovably, chatalicious character prior to the publication of her book.

A thirty-two-year-old reporter in the town of Swansea (an elegant, old-money bedroom community of New York), Molly is on a quest to find Mister Right, juggling men and work, and fending off self-serving matchmaking efforts by the town’s most visible socialite, Naomi Hall Benchley, whom Molly refers to as the “she-devil.”

Every Monday, Molly blogs about life at Every Wednesday, she puts on her reporter’s hat and interviews her creative peers. Molly is a busy girl. Personally, I could never find the time to do all that she does.

Squalor, New Mexico is your second-published book, but your first bit of writing?
Squalor, New Mexico is my first novel, but definitely not my first bit of writing. And it has absolutely nothing to do with New Mexico; rather, it takes place in East Coast suburbia in the ’70s. It is a coming-of-age story shrouded in mystery and tells the story of a family and their secrets through the eyes of Darla McKendrick, beginning from the time she was nine through sixteen.

While it’s classified as a YA novel, I never wrote it to be. For those curious about why the book has such an odd title, here’s a little something I wrote explaining it:
In the writing of this book, it was very important to me not to side with Darla or with her parents. Readers have had very different opinions about my characters, and that’s just the way I intended it.

I see you everywhere online. Is there a strategy, which you apply, or did you just dive in?
I knew my mother should never have chosen Ubiquitous for my middle name. I was certain I’d pay the price later, and as you see, I have.
Really, Joel? You see me everywhere? I try to do as much networking as I can, but my time is more and more limited. Strategy? Let’s see. Well, I try to be as visible on Twitter as I can. When it’s possible, I make an appearance several times a day, but I don’t stay on for a long time. I like to meet as many people as I can and if I only tweet at the same day every day, I’ll miss getting to know some wonderful tweeps out there.
When time permits, I enjoy reading the blogs and writings of my fellow authors/writers and helping some very deserving people to promote their work.

I also check into Facebook every day, both my personal and author page, but again, I don’t always spend a lot of time there. So, I guess my strategy would be to simply make the rounds and say hello to as many people as possible in the limited time I have. There are some fabulous sites/forums I would love to be involved with, but my time is ridiculously limited, so I just do the best I can. If authors spend too much time promoting, there will be nothing new to promote.

What about New York do you love most?
The energy. The electricity. The colors. The people (most of them). The lights. Central Park. The eclectic and the eccentric. The photo ops. The inspiration. The passion. There is no city that I love as much as New York. I feel so alive when I am there.

You have something cooking – career wise – besides being a millionairess author. Can we know what it is yet?
My main goal is to be a successful author. There are other endeavors that I engage in to survive, but nothing earth shattering, not yet. I throw things up against the wall every day in hopes that something will stick. When something does stick, I’ll be sure to let you know.

I’ve heard that you sing while you write.
I don’t know who you’re paying for information, but you should demand a refund. Actually, when I’m writing, I have to have complete silence. I often act out what my characters are doing, so if they’re singing, then perhaps I might be, too. But it’s very rare.

I can go down a list of things I love about Crooked Moon. Top of the list is your characterizations. They are flawless. What do YOU love most about that story?
I’m very humbled by your kind praise. Truly. The characters in Crooked Moon are also what I like best about the book. I often feel as if I can’t take credit for them. As I’m sure is the case with many writers, during the writing, it often feels as if we are mere transcriptionists, eavesdropping on a conversation and quickly typing everything we hear—verbatim.

Okay, so once in a while I did go in and change a word or two, but the characters in Crooked Moon came to life by themselves. There are passages of short narrative in the book that I spent days writing. Once in a while, those passages would come to me magically, too, but never the way that the characters’ dialogue did. I love the characters because they are angry, scared, lonely, needy, confused, and loving. And they have secrets.

You finally have some time to write... do you have an outline that you visit? Do you read some of the previous bit of work? Have you been planning and plotting for a bit before you sit down. Are you picky about your space, your environment? OR, do you just go at it like a mad woman?
The first thing I do when I’m about to write is edit the previous day’s work to get me into the writing zone and into the story. There are exceptions. If I have a scene that is burning a hole in my brain, I can’t worry about editing yesterday’s work. All I want to do is get it down so I won’t lose the idea or the moment.

I like to know what I’m going to do when I sit down to write. That said, I love it when my story takes me to unexpected places, and characters give me the shock of my life. That’s so cool. But I do write each scene to advance either the plot or the character. If I don’t understand what I’m writing, I don’t expect my readers will, either.

The cleaner my writing space, the happier I am. My current desk is a lot bigger than the one I used to have, but still not big enough. But, yes, I will do a major clutter reduction before I prepare to write. In fact, just talking about this has given me a huge urge to clean my desk…NOW. Pardon me, I’ll be right back.

Ryne Pearson and I both were sad to see the kitty photo replaced. Was that a rented cat, or is it a Californian now, too?
Yes, I know that Ryne was especially despondent when I took down the photo on Twitter of my holding the cat to my cheek. In fact, previously, Ryne had blatantly called me “Cat cheeker!” on Twitter. Now the picture is just me. The good news is that my cat is right here by my side. She is a native Californian, unlike me, and for the record, I never rent cats.

You’ve said before, “…moving is really important.” Explain that.
I’m learning so much about myself from reading your questions. So, I’ve said, “Moving is really important,” have I? Well, I don’t remember *saying it, but moving IS important. Moving one’s body throughout the day and getting exercise is vital to one’s mental and physical health. Moving from a city or a home you weren’t crazy about to one you prefer is also important. Writing novels that are moving is really important if you want to stir emotions in your readers. Moving a cat off your desk (or your cheek) so you can get to your work is important if you want to be productive. Moving truly is important. How wise that was of me to say, indeed. :-P
*Link goes to L.M. Stull's blog.

True or False – your nails are painted perfectly at this moment.
They are painted, yes. Perfectly–absolutely not.

Have you ever been haunted?
I’ve been haunted by memories and regrets, but ghosts, I don’t think so. That said, I do know of people who have been, and I believe I may have had encounters. But an out-and-out haunting, no.

What was it like, growing up in Philadelphia?
Well, first of all, I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, not in the city itself, so that is a very different reality. It was a nice place to grow up because it had all of the elements that one would want in a hometown. And it was ninety miles from New York. I liked that a lot.

How often do you jot down notes for your stories?
Every day. I write down lines, phrases, funny thoughts, character names, and anything I think I might ever use. I go nowhere without paper and pen.

Name the one book, which completely melted you emotionally.
There are so many books that I have absolutely loved, but nothing comes to mind that melted me emotionally. Not recently. I sobbed for forty-five minutes, unexpectedly, after seeing the film Life is Beautiful.

Before you published your first novel, you had actually been a playwright. Was that a job, or did you have dreams of that success? Those influences are suffused throughout Crooked Moon, and you deserve praise for that text.
It was such a different world back then. I wasn’t really a playwright. I thought I might want to be one. I had one play that I spent years sending to theaters all over the country with no luck. This particular play began as a short story that I wrote at age seventeen. I never finished the story, but I turned it into a one-act play eight years later. I then gave the play to the director of Temple University’s theater. (This was MANY years ago!) He loved the characters and really “got” them, but said the play needed to be a two-act. He was right.

So I turned it in to a two-act play, but he never found time to read it. The characters are strong, quirky people with flaws and secrets, and I’m going to novelize the play and turn it into my fourth novel. I’m in the midst of expanding the story and am very excited to begin writing this soon.

In collaboration with two others, I wrote the book for a full-length musical comedy. I also wrote four screenplays but never did anything with them.

What is your favorite play?
I love Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill, and I really love a lot of musicals. Fiddler on the Roof really touches me, and I’ve seen it on stage five times, including once with Zero Mostel. And I had orchestra seats. I love Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, too.

Shakespeare or Stephen King?
Eugene O’Neill and Neil Simon. Charles Dickens and Thomas Wolfe.

Should new authors query to agents now, or should they go directly to self-publishing?
This is an extremely personal decision. I don’t think there is any one answer. The good news is that for writers who want to query agents, it can be done and over with SO much more quickly than it used to be — in most cases. I remember the days when I often had to print fifty pages (or the entire manuscript) of my novel, print out every letter, pay for postage to each agent, and then pay for the postage on the return envelope. This was extraordinarily time consuming and expensive.

Now, authors can be rejected much more quickly. Seriously, though, because the process is far more streamlined with email submissions, an author can always try his or her luck with agents and, if that doesn’t prove successful, make the decision to self-publish without wasting years in the process. As I write this interview, I saw an article today that said that one in six Americans own an eReader. I remember just a few years ago when I knew ONE person with a Kindle. The changes in that area are staggering. The world of publishing is changing and evolving.

I would just advise each author to do his or her homework, study the options, and make the decision that feels best for him or her.

I’m giving you a fantasy trip – expenses paid – anywhere in the world. Where are you going?
That all depends on who is going with me. I’m tired. I think I would go to some place incredibly beautiful where I could relax. Peru, Fiji, Tahiti. Oh, it’s hard to choose, especially because I really love the hustle and bustle of cities, too. And if I don’t say Melbourne, Australia, my friends Lisa and Ross will be really hurt. So let me add that city to the list.

In Hamlet, the prince takes a simple prop and makes a whole man of it. “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio…” In Crooked Moon, you took a simple house, and filled it with Aunt Emily. We never meet her, but she is real as Yorick. Does that surprise you? hear a reader was touched in that way?
Yes, it does. I am so touched by the compliment that it’s almost hard for me to believe. I had a very good sense of Callie’s aunt Emily and wanted her spirit to shine through, but it never occurred to me that a reader would notice her in that way. Thank you. That is truly praise supreme, and coming from such a gorgeous writer as yourself, even more special.

Who is leading you now, Lisette Brodey, or Molly Hacker? What comes next?
Molly is leading at the moment, but I’m going to be passing her soon. As soon as her book is published, I’ll not only be writing novel #4 that I spoke about, but I’ll be knee deep in other projects as well.

Give me an answer, and I’ll write the question….
No one was more astonished than I was when I made the decision. I remember the day clearly. At 8:30 a.m., the sky opened up, and a torrential rain fell on the city. I had been mulling over my decision for months, and now there was an obscene amount of rain falling, and I was still clueless about what to do. I remember turning on the radio on my way to the appointment, and the first song I heard was “Cry Me a River,” by Barbra Streisand. I really thought the cosmos was playing a trick on me, teasing me, but somehow, the raw emotion in that song helped me to come to my decision, shocking myself and everyone involved. I wish I had a more definitive answer for you, Joel, but that’s how it all went down.
Question is: Which City has the best pizza: New York City, or Hollywood?

Thanks so much for having me. You’ve been a gracious and patient host. I really enjoyed doing this interview.

Thank you, Lisette. We seem to share the race to get the most done in the least time possible. You might be winning.

Pick one of Lisette's books, folks, and get to know this lady. She will amaze and entertain you.
Watch for her novel, Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! this fall. If you strike up a conversation with her, and she tells you what her fourth novel is about...drop me a note. I'm dying to know.


  1. A truly insightful interview with an author who has an amazing amount of talent. Whether it's due to life experiences, intuition, or divine intervention, she always manages to give the reader not only an enthralling story, but also comfort in her narrative that is like a warm blanket in a cozy chair on a cold winter day. If you have not read any of her works yet, do yourself a favor and pick some of it up right away! You'll be glad you did.

  2. I love Lisette too death! And I loved this interview! It made me smile and laugh. I can't wait for Molly hacker to come out, and I especially can't wait for this new fourth novel! Lisette's books touched me personally. I felt just like the characters in those books! I could relate to them. Thanks for this interview! I enjoyed it!

  3. Leigh Ann and Racheal: I am truly honored and humbled by your words. I thank both of you for being so wonderful and supportive. It means more to me than I can truly express.

    And Rachael, believe me, I cannot wait until "Molly" comes out, either. It shouldn't be too much longer.

    Thank you both, and Joel, thank you, super-talented author, for this wonderful interview!

  4. If ever there was a human being who deserved the world, Lisette Brodey would have to be the one. I have never known anyone who puts in 200% in everything in life, not just for her own work but for her friends as well. Never will you find a more supportive & caring woman.

    Lisette strives for perfection in all that she does. Her books are of the highest quality and you can be guaranteed an unforgettable experience.
    She is a 'must read' author!

  5. Gracious of you to stop by, Ladies. :) This was great fun for me as well. Oh, how the emails flew! L.B. and I covered a lot of ground, just doing this one little thing. :D

    She's a Dream...

  6. Lisa - what truly beautiful words from your heart. Thank you so much.

    And Joel, what can I say -- you just rock, dude! :-)

  7. What a wonderful in-depth with Lisette;) She is a magical writer and a brilliant woman!

  8. Another wonderful interview Sir Joel, and Lisette is one of my favourite writers. Crooked Moon is up there in my top ten favourite books of all time.
    I loved learning a little bit more about Lisette, and I love that kitty photo :)

  9. I loved both of Lisette's novels. She is a great story teller and I love that she writes about everyday people and their problems in a touching and humorous way. And Molly is a riot!


  10. Great interview with a lovely and VERY talented lady. I loved both Crooked Moon and Squalor New Mexico. I eagerly anticipate Molly Hacker is too Picky. He (Molly) Blog is creative, original, and just plain fun. I start my week off Molly and that makes me smile. Thanks for sharing this great interview!


You are more than welcome to leave a comment. We reserve the right to remove anything unseemly.