Hey all...So. This is a super, super special post for me. One of my very best friends in the world (see photo evidence below--two pics from very different visits--seasonally speaking--to Elizabeth Miles in Portland, Maine, where DELIRIUM, my second book, is set; one pic from our recent vacay to Mexico...looks like she has GREAT taste in beach reads, huh??) just got her first big book deal! I could gush all about it, but rather than do that, I thought I'd let her do the talking!
1. You're working on your first novel. What can you tell us about it?
I'm thrilled to be writing FURY, which is the first book of a paranormal horror trilogy that takes place in New England. It's sexy and scary! The first book will be published in Fall 2011 by Simon Pulse.
2. How does it feel to be writing your first book? What is the most challenging part so far? What about the most gratifying?
It feels amazing, truly. The biggest hurdle so far as been carving out time to write regularly. It comes so much easier when I do. The most gratifying part is when the words just come spilling out, and I know in my fingertips and my brain that they're good. I've also really enjoyed observing and participating in the editing process. This is a new experience for me and I am learning so much.
3. You're a journalist. How does writing fiction differ from journalism, in your view?
Gosh, they are such different animals, fiction and journalism. For one thing, when I'm working on FURY I don't have to constantly worry about "getting something wrong" -- stuff that I make up can never be factually inaccurate! I also have to learn to linger. When I write news stories and analysis, the goal is to be as straightforward and concise as possible. Certainly I don't strive for abstruseness when writing fiction, but there is room to wander, to provide backstory, to describe details that might not immediately push forward the plot, but that help create mood and atmosphere. It's more lyrical.
4. So--you live in Portland, Maine, huh? Tell me three of your favorite things about Portland (and "when Lauren comes to visit" does not have to be one of them, as it goes without saying!).
a) Being so close to the water, and the woods.
b) Portland is a small city full of creative, exciting people who also know how to relax, enjoy good food, and create the lives they want to live. Everyone knows everyone, after a while. I feel like I'm part of a community.
c) When I moved here, I caught an acting bug that had been dormant since high school. On a whim, I tried out for a community theater production of "Oklahoma!" and got cast as Ado Annie -- one of my all-time favorite female roles ("I'm just a girl who cain't say no / kissing's my favorite food" -- ahem...). I've been performing pretty much non-stop ever since, and the opportunities just keep getting better and better. I love the people I've met through theater, and I love the chance I get to inhabit different characters and behave in ways I'd never be able to off-stage.
5. What about your three least favorite things about living in Maine?
a) Being six hours away from my best friends and my family (not just trying to earn points here).
b) See "everyone knows everyone," in "b," above.
c) The cold can get rather oppressive, after about five months. But it just makes summer that much more delicious...
6. You have two cats. Describe, discuss.
Wow, I can't believe you're giving me a separate platform to discuss the cats. Their names are Ender and Bean (named after two characters in a great sci-fi book called Ender's Game). I got them as kittens when I moved to Maine. They are brothers, with orange fur and terrifically sweet dispositions. When I moved to Maine I was going through a bit of a rough patch, emotionally, and they really helped brighten my spirits. Bean is slightly aloof and has outstanding jumping abilities. Ender, who prefers being held, often sits with his legs splayed -- very crass. I love them so much. Thank you for asking.
7. What are three things readers would be surprised to know about you?
a) I'm actually a big scardey cat. I can't watch scary movies without covering my eyes and I am a little afraid of the dark. In this way, it's rather strange that I'm writing a book that's meant to send shivers up people's spines.
b) I'm an only child.
c) I love frogs and toads.
8. What are some of your favorite books? Music?
Before I Fall, obviously. Also: The End of the Affair (Graham Greene), anything by David Foster Wallace, Middlemarch (George Eliot), Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), the Anne of Green Gables series, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avi), anything by Anne Carson, The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizbeth George Speare), My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George), The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway), The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley), Very Far Away from Anywhere Else (Ursula K. LeGuin)...I could go on, but I won't. I really love books, you know?
As for music: I love showtunes, of course, plus classic rock like Dylan and Van Morrison, pop heroines like Britney and Beyonce, and indie-rock girl stuff like Rilo Kiley, Joanna Newsom, and Neko Case. I've been listening to The National a lot recently.
9. If you could eat one thing RIGHT NOW, what would it be?
My grandmother used to make this steak-and-potatoes dish that had a virtually unpronounceable German name (phonetically, it's something like "Gedinska steak and kertuffletushspice"). The steak was simmered in a tomato-based sauce, and the potatoes were cubed and cooked with sour cream and paprika. She made a lot of delicious things, but that was my favorite, and I'd kill for some right now, and always.
10. Will you corroborate the fact that you and I used to be part of a cheese club in high school? What about the same a cappella group? Do you remember any of your solos?
Will I corroborate it??? It has a permanent spot on my resume. And of course our shared experience in the Quaker Notes was formative. My solos, duh: Silver Thunderbird, Right Here Waiting (sniff sniff), O L'amour? (or was that you? omg go listen to that right now, btw -- it's like a nostalgia tsunami), Soul to Soul, Because the Night. I also remember that you sang Better Man, among others, and that a few of those a cappella parties reached levels of crazy I haven't seen since.
Okay! Thank you for having me! It's so great being best friends with you!
Go follow Elizabeth at her brand new blog!! (With correct link this time!)