About author, Francine LaSala: Francine LaSala has written nonfiction on every topic imaginable, from circus freaks to sex, and edited bestselling authors of all genres through her company, Francine LaSala Productions. The author of novels Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything, she lives with her husband and two daughters in New York. Drop her a line at email@example.com.
Tell us about your books, “The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything” and “Rita Hayworth’s Shoes”: I’m that annoying kind of writer traditional publishers don’t trust because I can’t seem to write in one genre. Rita Hayworth’s Shoes is a quirky screwball rom-com, centering around a pair of “magical,” life-changing secondhand shoes. The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything is more of a kooky psychological drama/light mystery about a woman with amnesia lost in her suburban housewife life who, upon getting a gold dental crown, starts remembering things… So I guess they are alike in that they are both sort of wacky and involve objects that help the protagonists find themselves, and change perspective and destiny, etc., etc. But are completely different in the way they get there. 🙂
What is your favorite word? Starts with an F, ends with a K. (Hint: It’s not flask, though that’s not a bad one either.)
How do you come up with titles of your books? They come to me. Sometimes I need to start writing a while to get the title, which eventually pops out of the material. Sometimes I know the title and start from there. That was the case with both Rita Hayworth’s Shoes and The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything. Each started with an experience that sparked a title, and then Blamo! Books! (Well, maybe it took a bit longer than that, but you get it.) If I don’t have a title, it’s impossible for me to know a book. Which I guess is part of the reason I have so many WIPs floating around. (The other reasons being my severe A.D.D. and raising small children…)
Which other authors would you like to meet? Christopher Moore tops the list these days! But in reality, many of the authors I’d like to meet are all right there in your Chicklit Goddess Facebook group. I feel like I know so many of the ladies so well from our daily interactions, but how cool would it be to raise a glass and rage together! (Well, maybe not “rage,” but whatever grown-up goddesses do for fun…)
Who or what inspires you? Life inspires me. There are so many things that happen every day, large and small, that are just magnificent. You have to look for them–you can’t expect them jump in front of you like an old friend at the mall or something. You really have to be scanning for them. Sort of like stalker I guess. But truly, there’s just so much out there that inspires! When you look at the world with a writer’s eye, the question really becomes “What doesn’t inspire you.”
Name three things that must every writer have: 1. A burning desire to tell and share amazing stories. 2. A thick skin to guard and protect you when others don’t believe your stories are quite so amazing. 3. An editor to help show you the distinction between what you think is amazing and how your expression of such amazingness may or may not be working.
What is your favorite part of the writing/editing/publishing process? I love the whole process–when it’s working. When it isn’t, I hate the whole process. In all seriousness though, I love the writing. When it’s flowing, when I feel like I’ve really “hit it,” there’s no greater feeling in the world! (As a side note, I’ve been enjoying the marketing process much more now that it’s become more of a shared, “team” endeavor.)
What are you reading? Right now, I am reading Cindy Roesel’s Viewer Discretion Advised, as well as a horror novella by Douglas Clegg, and the galley for Patti Callahan Henry’s new novel, And Then I Found You, coming out this April. (Did I mention the A.D.D.?)
If you’re not working, what you doing? Drinking. (Ha! Just kidding. But it would be boring to admit I’m pretty much always working. Even when drinking…)
What time of day do you seem to work the best? My most productive time: 4am to 7am. I’m fresh from (maybe not quite enough) sleep, and the mayhem has not yet descended in my house.
Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? I always thought I’d be hardcover / paperback girl forever, until I got a Kindle this past Christmas. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how quickly I was converted… I think I’ll always love to have my most special books in non-digital formats, but the ebook thing really appeals to my “anti-clutter/simplify life” side.
Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects? Too many projects, too little time!
- A women’s fiction, multi-generational “fractured” romance that’s still sort of kooky but runs a little darker than my usual fare.
- A trilogy of absurd “fairy tale” novellas, in collaboration with my husband (who’s actually not a bad writer for an architect).
- A steamy erotic novel about a trophy wife who takes a break from that life at a reputably raunchy resort.
- An as-yet-untitled and therefore in-limbo series about ancient party nymphs living in modern times.
- A novel / screenplay / TV treatment (which will it be?) about college roommates who end up living together again in their 40s…
No wonder I can’t get anything done!
Write What You Know
It’s unlikely that I’m ever going to write a sci-fi novel about time-traveling part-humans living at a space station on Jupiter. Even less likely that I’ll ever set a story in the Wild West. It may be cliché, but I definitely like to write about what I know. And then, of course, turn it on its ear…
Rita Hayworth’s Shoes comes from a point in my life when my heart (and self-esteem) were shattered by not one, but two relationships combusting over a short period of time. One was long-term and stale (like the relationship between David and Amy). The other was more of a flash-burn. In any case, I really did buy a pair of expensive shoes and did sort of make a wish that with that purchase, things might turn around for me…
The Girl, the Gold Tooth & Everything was born out of my own identity struggles with marriage and motherhood; with being a freelance writer, which many mistook for being a “free” writer when the economy tanked; with looking to “self-help” to try to help myself get my feet back on the ground. I also do have gold dental crown I never asked for and don’t want, but that’s besides the point!
So yes, I do build my fiction from life. I do sometimes I put into my stories the pain and confusion, the joy and the bliss I have felt. I steal snippets of friends’ and foes’ best lines and build dialogs around them. I create scenes inspired by my awkward times and my most wonderful moments.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that in any story, elements can be lifted right from the writer’s own experience, and there really isn’t anything wrong with that. Whether these experiences become foundation or flourish really depends on the writer and the story.
As for my recent experiences, I’m certainly not going to write a book about going to the grocery store. But I might write a scene about something unusual happening in a grocery store. Who knows–maybe part-human time travelers from Jupiter will land in the produce aisle and surprise my protagonist du jour, a woman in search of a fresh head of broccoli (and, underneath that banal quest, her life’s purpose), then everything will change for her…
And maybe not. I guess the point is that sometimes to make life bearable and understandable, and maybe a little more interesting, we writers sometimes steal from what we know and then switch the elements around and re-decorate them before we slap them down on a page. For me, the best part is being surprised with how it all gets re-expressed and turns out in the end. Life is definitely not like that. What do you think?
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