What follows is an interview with author Liz Borino about her debut novel Expectations, which comes out on Lazy Day Publishing on Dec 1, 2010. Liz can also be found on Twitter @lizborino and Facebook. Her thoughtful tweets about her book and writing in general are worth checking out on Twitter. This is the first in a series of interviews with my fellow Lazy Day Publishing authors. Interview starts below.
What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
EXPECTATIONS, depicts the struggle between what we desire for ourselves and our familial obligations. This is personified by Chris and Matt Taylor, identical twins, who are trying to win their overbearing father’s approval and acquire their trust funds. Their best friend and roommate, Aiden O’Boyle, left his family behind in Ireland to pursue a career in dance.
Robert Taylor, Matt and Chris’s father has set certain conditions that must be met in order for them to receive their trust funds. Matt must work at a job he hates, while struggling with alcoholism. Chris has to deny his own desires and deep love for Aiden, to get married to Matt’s girlfriend. All the while, their father continues to use extreme measures to ensure his sons’ compliance. The story takes place against the backdrop of preparation for Aiden’s upcoming performance.
Tell us something about yourself. (Where are you from, what is your background, how long have you been writing or anything we might find interesting about you.)
Liz Borino is the debut author of Expectations. Throughout her education, including a Bachelor’s Degree from Hofstra University, she’s kept her stories to herself, but this only child is all grown up and wants to share them with the world. Her roots are in Bethlehem, Pa, but she loves to experience new cultures. As fun as that is, Liz likes nothing better than curling up at home with a good book or her work in progress.
What inspired you to write this book?
Last year I read The Secret and I wanted to write a book about living your own life and not conforming to the expectations of society. It went through a lot of plot changes, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out.
Does the location depicted in your novel have an impact on the characters and your book’s overall theme?
You know, I was going to say no, that I just picked New York because that’s where I happened to be living at the time, but upon reflection, it does have an impact. People of every background go there to change their lives because it’s so different from most every other place in the world and presents unique opportunities.
How did you choose the title?
That also went through many changes. For a long time, it was just called Right, as in picking your right path, but then I realized in my synopsis I kept talking about the expectations of the boys’ families.
What do you think is unique about your book? What are some of the more unique themes you explore in this novel?
I made sure to present Chris’ and Aiden’s relationship as a mainstream romance. I deliberately did not make it a m/m story.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I went through the traditional publishing route, trying to find an agent, querying everyone I could, but after a few months of rejections, I started again. I revitalized my story, shortened my word count and searched out smaller presses. I desired a publisher with a unique and innovative vision. That’s what I found with Lazy Day Publishing.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I love this question. I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid who lived in her head. There was always some story playing out up there and it was consistently more interesting than my own experiences. Eventually, I started writing them down. They weren’t always good, but I knew from day one I had to keep doing it and soon I was dreaming of making it my career.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I write in the morning when the house is silent and I’ve hopefully had inspiring dreams or wake up with a plot point solved. I sit there with my breakfast and Snapple and just let the words flow.
That’s another thing. Every time I start a story I try to outline. It doesn’t work. My writing process refuses to meld like that. I’ll fill out pages and pages of character sheets, but as soon as I start to outline the characters refuse to talk to me. Someday, I’ll learn to stop trying to go against the proven process.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I’m really bad at this. I usually end up with a name generator. This story was interesting because I needed ethnic Irish names. One of my main characters, Aiden, was originally named Shane, same as one of my cousins. I had the hardest time renaming him. I went through so many Irish names, but it had to go well with Chris.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I’m still learning. I’ve learned every step of the way. Probably the biggest lesson has been striking the balance between my vision for the book and my publishers. I’ll tell you, I’m incredibly lucky that those visions have melded almost flawlessly.
Do you think e-books are the future of publishing? How is it working with a digital publisher?
I think e-books are here to stay, but they will not be the exclusive format that people receive their books. I know there will always be people who prefer paper books and that’s why they’ll always be people willing to cater to them.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I’d let my manuscript sit longer before editing it. You need distance from a story to properly evaluate it and the first time I didn’t give myself that.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I don’t stick to a genre. I like anything with a compelling story line and characters I want to root for. I find that in Michael Cunningham books all the time. Aiden was actually inspired by one of his characters, I’ll let you guess which one.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I’m working on Escape, the sequel to Expectations. It continues the story of the twins and how they come to terms with their own conflicting views and experiences with parenthood.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Stop seeking advice. Know yourself and know your story. Know what you see for your career and move accordingly
Who is the ideal reader for your book?
Someone who is starting their adult life and figuring out who they are.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?