Friday, May 17, 2013

**GIVEAWAY** plus interview with Lian Dolan author of Elizabeth The First Wife who talks about her novel, her life and her wish to be in The Tournament of Roses Parade––"Some people dream about being on Broadway, I just want to ride down Colorado Boulevard on a float."

Elizabeth the First Wife

Elizabeth Lancaster, an English professor at Pasadena City College, finds her perfectly dull but perfectly orchestrated life upended one summer by three men: her movie-star ex-husband, a charming political operative, and William Shakespeare.

LibraryJournal-Starred review:VERDICT This novel owes its success to the wonderfully developed cast of characters, especially Elizabeth, a fully grounded adult who deals gracefully with life (no chick-lit slapstick clutziness here). Fans of Katie Fforde and Jill Mansell will find much to like here.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI



Lian, it’s great to have you chatting today celebrating the release of your newest novel Elizabeth The First Wife.
I’m so happy to chatting with you.

Tell us a bit about the new novel
Elizabeth the First Wife is the story of a Shakespeare professor in her mid-thirties who finds herself really stuck in her life; she never quite got over her first husband; she’s overwhelmed by the expectations of her high- achieving family; and really, she’s been wearing the same Frye boots for years. Now, out of the blue, she has a chance to shake-up her life, really define who she is in terms of her career and finally establish a clear indentify for herself within her family. She’s ready to take ownership of who she is. In the middle of all that is her now-famous actor ex-husband, an avant-garde production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a political scandal and very sexy relationship over Skype. Plus, a fun, contemporary take on Shakespeare.

Lian you have an impressive background in the media as well as being a bestselling author.
Where did your love for writing come from?
I have always loved to write and to read. I think the two go hand-in-hand. I grew up in a big family where great storytelling and being entertaining was the only way to get heard at the dinner table.  And reading and discussing books was a regular part of the conversation at home. As the youngest of eight kids, I had a lot of exposure to literature, thanks to my brothers and sisters. I just took the verbal skills I learned at home and started putting them on paper. Over the years, from high school on, I’ve written everything from restaurant reviews to sports videos to TV pilots. But it really took me a long time to work up the courage for fiction writing. A novel seemed like a monumental task and I was 45 when I say down to write Helen of Pasadena, a social satire. I felt like I’d finally found my full creative voice.

Now onto your broadcasting side.
Tell us how you and your real sisters started Satellite Sisters.
Does this program still air and if so when and where can we listen?
Satellite Sisters began with the idea that you rarely hear real women on the radio talking about the real issues that we talk about all day long: family, work, current events, news, our haircuts, cheap celebrity gossip.  We wanted to bring the sound of friendship to air, discussing the whole range of interests that women have. My four older sisters and I thought that we could do that on the radio, just like we did at home over dinner or on the phone, even though we had no radio experience. Satellite Sisters debuted in 2001 on public radio and we moved to ABC a few years later. We spent a great ten years on the air, talking about everything under the sun, laughing, crying, interviewing newsmakers and writers and everyday people.  Best job ever.  Currently, we produce one podcast a week. You can still hear Satellite Sisters online at iTunes or our website

Can you tell us about your “Chaos Chronicles”. What are they and how did they come about?
The Chaos Chronicles is the name of my podcast and blog about my adventures in modern motherhood. For seventeen years, I’ve been a working mom in a house with three men and big dog. It started out at humor segments on Satellite Sisters, then it became a monthly column at Working Mother magazine for fours years, then morphed into a blog and now its back on the air as a podcast on iTunes and With Chaos Chronicles, I try to make the day-to-day issues of parenthood fun, relatable and tied to the news or current events. Talking about my roles as a wife and mother gives me an opportunity to gain perspective on those roles. I love that part of it. The Chaos Chronicles is a storytelling, advice, comedy and sometimes just flat-out whining.

Both of your novel’s feature women protagonists who’re from Pasadena and you live in Pasadena.
Is there a reason your characters are your neighbors?
I have always been drawn to books or films or TV shows with a strong sense of place. I’m not a fan of the “generic midwestern city” sort of locale.  I like to really get a feel for the setting, as if it’s part of the story. Pasadena has been my home for the last twenty years and I’ve spent those decades making a lot of observations. Even before I wrote about Pasadena, I thought it was a great setting for women’s fiction. It’s a big multi-cultural city with a broad socio-economic spectrum, but right in the center of civic action is a tightly bound group of people who have been here for generations with their own very specific traditions, rituals and code. As a writer, that makes for a lot of great contrasts and conflicts to work with.  There are also an astonishing number of world-famous cultural institutions, from Caltech to the Huntington Library, that really serve my plots well, as I like to mix in a little history with my romantic comedy.  And, of course, the glorious Rose Parade with all its pomp and tradition. Who doesn’t love a good parade?

How was releasing your second novel different than releasing your first?
Totally different. There were zero expectations with my first book, outside of selling a few copies to people that weren’t my relatives. Helen of Pasadena did very well and the reviews were so positive, I tried not to let that freak me out when I sat down to write Elizabeth the First Wife.  I feel like I found a very different story to tell with a very different main character but with enough of the same humor and heart to satisfy readers who loved Helen. With the release of the second book, I already have a built in audience, which is a great gift for a writer.

Do you have a target audience for this novel?
Shakespeare enthusiasts, theatergoers, women who like Anthropology, dog lovers, real estate looky-loos, girls who never got over their college boyfriends, suckers for romance, English majors, gardeners, foodies and readers who fell in love with someone on Skype. I think that covers everybody.

Is there another novel in the works?
Barely, but yes. In the research and conceptualizing stages.  Once again, it involves a contemporary woman who is inspired by a historical figure as she muddles through her own life. Sorry, as I do live near Hollywood and have developed a writer’s paranoia about people stealing my ideas (because they DO!), that’s all I’ll reveal at this time.

Now let’s talk about your dream of appearing on a Tournament of Roses parade float.
First tell us how and why this dream came about and then we’ll hop on over and get you a Facebook page fans can like to see if we can make this dream a reality.
I have always loved parades since I was a kid. And I happen to live in Pasadena where the Rose Parade is truly an event that brings the community together every year. Seeing the Rose Parade in person is a miraculous site. It’s bigger, brighter and bloomier!  Plus, it’s put together with such respect for tradition. I just love it.  Some people dream about being on Broadway, I just want to ride down Colorado Boulevard on a float.
I have had the thrill of being named an Honorary Rose Queen and if that’s as close as I get, I am at peace with that.

Do you have any signings or events for this novel where fans could meet you in person?
I have a ton of events this time around. I’m thrilled to be out and about in May, June and July. I’ll be in: Pasadena; Manhattan Beach; Maplewood, NJ; Sag Harbor, NY; Westport, CT; Madison, CT; Ashland, OR; Bend, OR; Portland, OR; and Chicago, IL. The best place to find the compete listing with locations, dates and times is here at

Lian, thank you for chatting with us for awhile, good luck with the novel, your talkshow and getting that seat on a Rose Bowl Float (make sure you practice your royal parade wave).
As the Rose Queens taught me, the key to the wave is: Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist.

Visit Lian's website here


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  1. Chaos Chronicles sound like fun, my children are all in college but I bet you have some stories to share!

    1. Don't they sound great. thanks for the post Kim, Have a great weekend!!!

  2. the interesting group of characters

    1. Hi again bn, thanks for the comment and good luck!