Friday, January 7, 2011

Aspiring Author Interview with Lisa Galek

Okay, so first of all I have to apologize for being behind on blogs.  It's been a crazy week, so I'm still deep in the midst of Wednesday's posts.  Between cleaning up an explosion of presents and Little Monster vomit, I'm slowly swimming my way back to the surface.

And now on to less vomity stuff!

My interview today is with the lovely Lisa Galek from Read. Write. Repeat.  She and I clicked instantly when we found out we both majored in Religious Studies in college (but she's way smarter because she actually has her Masters in Religious Studies).  She also has a Little Monster, and a full time job as a greeting card writer/editor for the Jewish and Christian areas (um, totally cool!), and writes contemporary YA.  Oh, and did I mention she LOVES Jane Austen?  Oh and it gets better:  She's totally going to Leakycon 2011! Um, jealous much? She's so sweet and uber smart, so go check her blog out!

1. When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

The short answer would be – once I finished my first book. I've always loved reading and writing, but I never thought I had it in me to be an "author." I couldn't imagine what it would be like to write an entire book and I just knew I wouldn't have the determination or skill to stick it out until the end. I majored in English in college though and wrote mostly poetry and short stories until one day I had the brilliant idea to write a young adult book. It would be a fun, modern retelling of one of my favorite Jane Austen novels, Northanger Abbey. Simple right? I mean, Jane had already come up with the plot and characters – I just had to follow her lead. I'd be published in no time! Um, yeah… two years later, I am currently in the process of rewriting yet again. I was right the first time. Writing a book is hard. But, I learned that it's something I can do. I can write a book! I can rewrite it! I can edit! And I guess once I realized that I decided I wanted to become an author.

2. What genre do you like to write?

I like to write the same genres I love to read – young adult and literary fiction. My current WIP is YA and I've also got an adult novel in the works that I hope to go back to soon. I love reading things that are either really dark or really funny, so my writing tends to go in those directions, too. Strangely enough, I really enjoy fantasy, but for some reason, I've never been able to think of a fantasy world clever enough to bother writing about. Maybe one day…

3. What authors inspire you?

I tend to gravitate towards lady authors. Is that sexist? (Sorry, gents!).
Jane Austen, of course, gets top billing because she is so sensible and witty and shrewd and brilliant all at the same time. J.K. Rowling is a big influence on me. I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd and I really admire her world-building and the way she leads you through the story hitting just the right notes along the way. Shirley Jackson is seriously amazing. Her dialogue just knocks my socks off. In my dreams I would write like her. Judy Blume is my hero. I love everything she's ever written. Lorrie Moore is funny and dark and creates amazingly complex and interesting characters. And just to throw in a few of the guys I love: John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, Tom Perrotta, Richard Yates, Nick Hornby, Thomas Merton, Roald Dahl.

4. How often do you write?

I try to write a little every day, but sometimes I skip a session. I can only really write at night when my daughter is asleep and sometimes I just need to veg out and catch a movie with the husband.

5. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Well, my current WIP was pre-plotted for me (thank you, Miss Austen), but I did go through and write up a detailed outline of what scenes and characters I wanted use and how they would need to be changed or adapted for my update. I didn't feel comfortable starting before I did that because I wanted to make sure the whole thing hung together and stayed true to the spirit of the original before I even wrote one word. So, I guess on that one I was a plotter. But, when I'm not working from someone else's source material, I'm a complete pantser. I have ideas of what my characters would do, but I usually just take it a step at a time and let them surprise me as they go. It's kind of scary, but it also helps me to build the story organically and naturally.

6. Where do you write best, and do you listen to music while you write?

I have been writing at the desktop computer I just bought a few months back because it's all shiny and new and has awesome features. The downside is I'm always tempted to check email or take a little stroll on the Internet, which usually lasts an hour or two. So, lately I've been pulling out the old laptop which has no Internet access and working on that. I usually just hunker down on the couch and then write until I slump over from lack of sleep. I'm not one of those people who can listen to music when she writes. I need to completely focus on what I'm doing or else I can't function.

7. What is on your TBR pile?

Way too many books...
Pies and Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Villette by Charlotte BrontëAwait Your Reply by Dan Chaon
The Zero by Jess WalterFreedom by Jonathan Franzen
In fact, why aren't I reading right now?

8. If Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling got in a cat fight, who would win?

I would never bet against Jo.

9. What is your "day" job?

I write and edit greeting cards, which is pretty cool. Right now, I'm working on Christmas cards, so think of me as you're looking over all your holiday greetings from this year.

10. What can you not leave home without? (cell phones are off limits- NO ONE can leave home without one of those)

Chapstick. I am a weirdo and HATE the feeling of chapped lips. I usually have several tubes in my purse or pockets at all times. Oddly enough, I leave home without my cell phone all the time. I'm a really lazy cell phone user and people are always getting mad that they can't get in touch with me.

11. Mac or PC?

Both. The new desktop I bought is a Mac and a looooooove it. But, the regular old laptop is always there in times of need.

12. Favorite dessert?

Ugg. I hate choosing favorite foods. Cheesecake? Mint ice cream? Crème brûlée? It's like picking a favorite child. They're all so good in their own way.

13. Favorite desert?

I'll go with Tatooine ( Wikipedia says it's a "desert planet" so that counts, right?

14. Where is your dream vacation?

I've got a trip planned to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando in July. But once that's done, I'd like to visit all the most important Jane Austen-related sites in England, like her house in Chawton and the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. A tour of Derbyshire wouldn't be bad either.

15. Finally, link us to your website, blog, FB, twitter and anything else you might like to shamelessly plug for yourself :)

I blog: tweet:!/lisagalek goodread:


Lisa said...

Thanks, Abby! This is so awesome! I feel very famous and important right now :)

Angela Felsted said...

Great post. What a fascinating person. :)

Laurel Garver said...

Awesome interview! And holy cow, who knew there were some many "__ and Prejudice" books out there? Here's another book you might like from "the other" Bronte sister: Anne Bronte's The Tennant of Wildfell Hall.

Your vacay plans sound heavenly, too. Have a wonderful time at Hogwarts this summer!

Melissa Sarno said...

I love this interview Lisa and Abby!

Especially because I didn't know you had an adult novel in the works and I'm excited to read that one someday, too!

Meredith said...

I love the idea of an update of Northanger Abbey! Sounds like so much fun. And I'd love to visit Jane Austen country, too--it has to be just beautiful.

Jen Daiker said...

I'm all about the chaptstick! You also shed some light on some awesome authors I don't know about *googling now*

How does one become a greeting card editor? I'm insanely jealous! Share your stories!!!

Great job Abby and Lisa!

Lisa said...

Abby - I hope you don't mind me posting responses here...

Angela - thanks! I've never been called fascinating before!

Laurel - there are soooo many P&P spin-offs (some better than others). I just finished "Prom & Prejudice" and it was actually really cute. I liked "Agnes Grey" by Anne, so I'll have to check out "Tennant."

Melissa - Thanks! And thanks for reading my YA stuff, too!

Meredith - NA is one of my favorite Austens, so I just had to give it a try. Hopefully Jane is pleased!

Jen - Chapstick lovers unite! As far as greeting cards go, I'm actually lucky to live by a major greeting card company. It was my first job out of college and it’s really fun!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Such a great interview! I, myself, am all about the chapstick. Well, I guess in my case, Carmex. I'm totally addicted and have a stick in my purse, at my desk at work in the bedroom and in the kitchen. You just never know when you might need it! :)

The Golden Eagle said...

This is a great interview!

Jennie Bailey said...

What a fun job - writing and editing greeting cards! GREAT interview as always, Abby!

Colene Murphy said...

HA! Tatooine. Priceless. I do love Lisa so much! Even though she's going to Leakycon. I kinda hate her for that ;)

Awesome interview Abby and Lisa!!!

penandpaints said...

I just came accross Lisa's blog and followed the link for the interview, which was great!
Love the sound of your novel, Lisa.
So Hi to you both!!

Melissa said...

You guys did such an awesome interview! I loved it!

I wish I had chapstick today! It was cold and I was craving it! Also, I love your favorite desert!

Donea Lee said...

Great interview! I only drove by the Jane Austen house in sad. Hope to make it inside the next time!

erica and christy said...

always LOVE your interviews! sorry your lil' moster is sick! christy

erica and christy said...

Good job ladies! (Lisa - Elizabeth Eulberg graduated high school the same year as me about 35 miles away. So I like to pretend I know her because her books really are cute. hehe.)