Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Release Feature Meet Me At Emotional Baggage Claim

It's my great honor and pleasure to present my New Release Feature plus a special Q&A with mother daughter author team Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella.

Here's Lisa's

Lisa Scottoline Q&A

Debbie - What was your proudest moment as Francesca’s mom?
Lisa - I don't have a single proudest moment, and for me, motherhood is a teary blur of proud moments.  I was proud the day Francesca was born and drew her first breath, and I've been proud every day since.  My pride in her isn't linked to any of her accomplishments, though she has plenty.  It's just really about unconditional love.  I always think of my late father, who, when someone at one of my signings asked him if he was proud of me, he answered, "Lady, I was proud of her the day she came out of the egg."

You write fiction and collaborate with Francesca on your column and books.
Can you tell us how and why you became a writer?
I had been a trial lawyer, but when my first marriage ended and I became a single mother with a three-month-old baby Francesca, I found that I had to make under another way of earning a living, because I wanted to stay at home and raise her.  This was over 20 years ago now, and at the time I didn't feel that there were enough strong, smart, and funny female main characters in fiction, and since that's what I imagine myself to be, I started writing. 

Is there a negative side to co-authoring with your daughter?
Not at all.  My daughter Francesca writes her essays and sends them to our amazing editor, Jen Enderlin at St. Martin’s, and I send mine, so we don’t write together per se, which I think is best for us.  I love Francesca no end, and she doesn’t need me to tell her how to write.  She’s a wonderfully talented writer herself and has her own unique voice.  My job, as her mother and co-author, is to encourage her to write in her voice, not mine.

Do you consider your “Chick Wit” column a sort of comic relief from your more serious fiction writing?
Do you need comic relief from your mystery writing?
I don't consider writing the humor memoirs as comic relief from my fiction, because there has always been a fair amount of humor in my fiction.  Because I write it.  Everybody who's any good writes from the heart, and the soul, and I like to laugh.  In fact, I like even more to make other people laugh, and I think even my earliest mysteries are populated by characters who are witty and clever, which I can attain after 37 rough drafts.  So in a way, rather than one form of writing being a relief from the other, they’re both parts of the same whole, probably along some spectrum from total clowning around, to murder with intent to clown around.

You have many writing awards.
Is there one that is more special than the others?
Most of us authors crave praise like puppies, and I am the worst offender in this regard.  Awards, certificates, nice reviews, reader email, and any morsel of positive reinforcement keeps me going like oxygen, premium gasoline, or chocolate cake.  I still need to be told I'm a good dog, and in this regard probably I would single out the Edgar Award as being my most favorite treat ever.  It's given for excellence in crime fiction, and it was a thrill for me not only to receive it, but to later become President of Mystery Writers of America.  That said, now that I've written been writing for so long for a long time, my secret real goal is to have a body of consistently excellent writing over the life of my career, so, no pressure.

What are you working on now?
I just finished the my next stand-alone novel, entitled DON’T GO, which will be out in April and is a huge departure for me, in that it tells the story of a male main character, an Army surgeon who serves in Afghanistan.  However, DON’T GO specifically asks the question whether a single father can never feel as competent as a parent as a mother.  So in a way it's continued a exploration of mothering, this time with testosterone.  

I've also just proofread my new entry in the Rosato & Associates series, entitled ACCUSED, and coming out in July.  It stars Mary DiNunzio and Judy Carrier, and in the novel, they represent a 13-year-old girl who believes that the man convicted of her sister's murder is actually innocent  So it's kind of a twisty, emotional plot, blending family and crime, if I don't say so myself.  Readers have been asking for the Rosato lawyers to come back, and so at this point in my career, I'm thrilled to have three types of books going out into the world, my stand-alones like DON’T GO and COME HOME, the humor nonfiction series with Francesca like MEET ME AT EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE CLAIM, and Rosato & Associates, back every summer, starting with ACCUSED.

Are you a reader?
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
I read constantly, in almost all areas, except maybe history.  I love crime fiction, but I read all kinds of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir because for me, it's ultimately about voice, and memoir can have extraordinarily strong voice.  I also listen to audiobooks, because I walk a lot, as I have way too many dogs, and I just love to be told a story.  In fact, I'm a fan of storytelling in all of its many forms, whether it's ebook, audiobook, or somebody I just met in the ladies room.  Talk to me.  I'll listen.  I'm easy that way.
Lisa, thank you for this and good luck with the book.

And here's Francesca's

Francesca Serritella Q&A

Francesca-First thank you for taking the time to do this.

Debbie -What’s the best thing about being Lisa Scottoline’s daughter?
Francesca -There are so many wonderful things about having Lisa Scottoline as my mom, but the best is easily her warmth.  Anyone who comes to one of our signings knows that my mom is a hugger, and she’s the same at home.  She has a big, warm, cuddly personality, and although I strive to impress her, she never makes me feel like I have to.  She is always my soft place to fall.

What’s the worst thing about being Lisa Scottoline’s daughter?
She’s a worrier.  Every mother is, but all of my mom’s emotions are larger than life, and this is no different.  I tell her she has a “Chicken Little energy” where she gets some worst-case-scenario stuck in her head and then goes around and around it until she’s ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN the sky is falling.  You can’t reason with her once she’s in a tizzy, so I usually give in.  But even this has its perks—thanks to my mom’s worrying, I evacuated my New York apartment just before Hurricane Sandy hit—my building has been without power and heat for over ten days, but I’m safe and cozy at home.  Thanks, Mom!

This is your fourth collaboration in book form with your mom.
Do you see more ahead?
Do you see any solo books ahead?
We have another of these collaborations coming next November, entitled  HAVE A NICE GUILT TRIP, and honestly, we have so much fun writing these memoirs, I hope there will be more after that.  The transition of child to teenager gets a lot of attention, but I think the period of greatest transition, especially between mother and daughter, comes after college.  That’s when the child-parent relationship really has to change to one between adults, and ours is ever-evolving.  I’m sure my mom and I will have to readjust when I get married, and again when I have kids.  And again much later, when she inevitably moves in with me—yikes!!
It’s always been my dream to become a fiction author, and I just finished a novel of my own, titled GHOSTS OF HARVARD.  It is a psychological drama about a young woman struggling to come to terms with her older brother’s suicide at college.  When she starts hearing voices, she fears she may be losing her grip on reality—or are they ghosts?  The story has elements of American history as well as the supernatural, but it centers around the fact that in a family, no tragedy touches only one person. 

Did you seek advice from your mom when you decided to become a writer?
I talk to my mom often about the ups and downs of the writing process.  It’s great to have a parent who understands and accepts the realities of working in a creative profession.  But I don’t typically ask her for specific advice on my writing, even for the books we write together.  In that department, she has truly given me the space I need to find my own literary voice, and I’m so grateful.

Is having a famous author in the family a hindrance or a blessing for your own writing career?
It’s been a blessing, but maybe not in the ways you might expect.  My mother’s struggle has given me more advantages than her success.  My mom was not an author when I was born; I got to watch her build her career.  She worked for years on her first novel and it was never published, but I saw her dust herself off and write another.  Today, her great success might be daunting if I hadn’t seen the everyday hard work and perseverance it took her to get there.  Now I can start on my own knowing that failure is an event, not a definition, and that any writing career is hard-fought, not an inheritance.

I have to admit that the covers of your books really grab me, this is, in part, what makes me choose what to read.
How do you choose what you read?
Are you a fiction or non-fiction lover?
I’m so glad you like the covers!  We love them too, and we put a lot of thought into them.   I am definitely influenced by cover, who isn’t?  But the main influence of my reading list is word of mouth.  My friends will tell me the latest books they enjoyed, or I’ll ask a bookseller for a recommendation, or I’ll even check reader reviews online.  It’s why I think book clubs remain so popular—for a supposed solitary activity, reading is fundamentally social.

Fiction is my first love and I always make time for it, but I also really enjoy memoir.  I just love stories about people, I don’t care if they’re true or false.  I like biography too, but memoir has the added bonus of the author’s own voice and possibly slanted perspective on his or her life.   For a while I was on a kick of addiction memoir—those are fascinating because, at bottom, it’s always a family drama, just with life and death stakes.  But if that gets too grim, I’m a sucker for those “I have a bad dog” or  “My rescued cat rescued me” animal memoirs.  I cry every time.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years, I hope I will have several novels published and a happy family started.  In addition, my mom and I will have probably written a couple more memoirs, one on my mom’s mania planning my wedding, and one on her hysteria over my first baby.  It will be a blast.

Thank you Francesca
Good luck with the book
Thank you, Debbie, for your thoughtful and fun questions!  -Francesca

Be sure to visit both women's websites-Lisa's is here and Francesca's is here
Buy the book here