“Fiction Is Always Happening In The Background”: An AWRW Interview of Author Laura Lee

lauraleeAuthor Laura Lee has written a dozen non-fiction books with such publishers as Harper Collins, Reader’s Digest, Running Press, Broadway Books, Lyons Press and Black Dog and Leventhal. Her book, Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation, has sold more than 85,000 copies. She has also written two collections of poetry, and a children’s book, (A Child’s Introduction to Ballet).

I recently read and reviewed, Identity Theft, by Author Laura Lee, which is a novel about a bored employee in a rock star’s office, who catfishes an enamored fan, in the guise of his boss, and sets off a chain of events he cannot control. I absolutely loved Identity Theft, and you can find my review, here!

Today I am interviewing, Author Laura Lee, and I encourage everyone to leave her a supportive comment! Please welcome her to A Well Read Woman Blog!

Hi Laura, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed on A Well Read Woman Blog. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born in the metro Detroit area. My father was a writer and dreamer so we moved a lot. I spent my junior high years in Bowling Green, Ohio where he was getting his MBA in creative writing. I grew up around writers and I didn’t think of being able to express things in writing as a particular skill. I just assumed everyone did that.

My grandmother, Leonore Allman, was an actress (she played Miss Case on the old radio series The Green Hornet among other things). She encouraged me in my acting ambitions. I have always admired performers, but I have much more of a writer’s temperament. So I didn’t have a lot of success in theater school, but people did start
to take an interest when I would write plays.

That was my first hint. I went to broadcast school after college and worked in radio for a number of years, around the time that everything was changing over to automation. It was while I was working in radio that I first put my toe in the water and started publishing articles here and there. I burned out on radio– quite a drama in itself– and then came back to Michigan for a while, working at Borders Books and Music. I started in books and worked my way up to Music Lead Clerk. (Alanis Morissette was the big record at the time.)

I started focusing much more seriously on writing. Eventually I found my way to upstate New York where I worked at the Albany Times Union as a reporter, which is an experience I would recommend for any writer. While I was doing that I sold my first book. Eventually I ended up working for folksinger Arlo Guthrie’s non-profit and at a coffee shop in the front of his offices. I also became the public relations director for a nationally touring Russian ballet company around this time.

T25010416he last year I was there I was on the road with the company in a big tour bus. That is where I met my current partner, a Russian ballet dancer. After my father passed away, I ended up back here in Michigan again and I now divide my time between writing books and speeches and touring the U.S. with my ballet project half the year. So like Ethan, I have worked in the offices of touring entertainers. Like Ollie I spend a large part of the year on the road and like Candi…

I’m not sure my life resembles Candi’s all that much, actually. But I have had my share of rock star infatuations.

(I’d like to mention to readers who have yet to read Identity Theft, that Ethan, Ollie, and Candi are characters from your book. 🙂 )

What have you written other than Identity Theft?

Identity Theft is my 16th book I think. It is my second novel. The first was called Angel. (They’re working on releasing a second edition of Angel right now.) My biggest seller was The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation, the most quirky and fun was The Elvis Impersonation Kit. My one children’s book is called A Child’s Introduction to Ballet. My most recent non-fiction book was Don’t Screw It Up published by Reader’s Digest last year.

(More books by Author Laura Lee can be found, here!)

I just read the book blurb for The Pocket Encylopedia of Aggravation, and nearly laughed my head off! I love your sense of humor, and how you inject that into your books. 🙂 I’d like to include the blurb in this interview, to give readers an impression of your humorous writing style.

The Pocket Encyclopedia Of AggravationBook Blurb

From airline food, bagpipes and Barney to soggy cereal, telemarketers and warts, here is the first A-to-Z, illustrated compendium of everyday annoyances–complete with truly informative scientific explanations and wry commentary.
When it comes to aggravation, it’s the little things that count. Car alarms, fingernails on a blackboard, having a song stuck in your head, cookie mush at the bottom of your coffee cup, mosquitoes, mimes, chain letters–and those silly curtains between First Class and Coach, what are those about?

The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation is a unique tour through the things that drive us crazy, full of fascinating details about their inner workings, causes, remedies and histories. Deadpan cross-sections, diagrams, and technical drawings bring such things to life as VCRs that flash 12:00-12:00-12:00 and the sound waves created by nails on a chalkboard or crinkly candy wrappers.

Purchase, here!

Are you working on anything presently? If so, would you mind sharing?

I’m always working on a lot of things. My next book will probably be a non-fiction title that is in the works right now. (Not yet under contract, but promised). I’ve also written a stage play. I’ve been working on a biography for a few years when my schedule allows it. Fiction is always happening in the background.

I like that, “Fiction is always happening in the background.”  That means a number of things to me.

25010416In Identity Theft, the main character, Candi, has a celebrity crush on 80’s Rock Star, Blast. Why do you suppose people get wrapped up in and obsessed with the lives of the rich and famous? What is it about celebrities that some people find so fascinating?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve always been someone who became intrigued by certain artists. On the one hand, I’ve never had any interest at all at the kind of gossipy People Magazine stuff–what stars are wearing, who is dating who. The whole Royal Wedding thing leaves me completely cold.

But when I was younger especially I would become intrigued by a particular artist, listening to his music or seeing him perform would spark my imagination. When I was a kid I loved Davy Jones of the Monkees. Then I became fascinated by John Lennon. I went through a Beatles-obsessed phase. My 80s star was Adam Ant. I am older than Candi, I actually grew up in the 80s and I had posters of Adam Ant over every inch of my walls. I liked the fantasy world of MTV videos much more than I liked the reality of junior high school. People tend to be fairly negative on this type of thing– being a fan. It is considered immature. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that this tendency to focus on someone and use him as a jumping off point to imagine a different life is pretty much what I still do. It is the same thing that makes me a writer. I like to daydream and to imagine other possibilities. Most of the musicians I admired gave me some glimpse of another world whether it was The Monkees groovy pad or Adam Ant’s “a new royal family a wild nobility, we are the family” or later Arlo Guthrie and Woodstock and the 60s counter culture. They provided fantasies of different ways the world could be organized–around art and music rather than commerce and status and all the things that make us feel small from day to day.

The initial idea for Identity Theft came back in the 1990s when the internet was fairly new and the idea that fans could interact directly with their favorite stars through fan forums was still novel. (At this time I was working in a musician’s office, sitting under a gold record with a spider in it.) So the main elements of the plot were there. But
I put it aside for a long time until I went to see Adam Ant in concert again last year and I found myself reflecting on my 13 year old self and my current self and what those rock star dreams meant to me at the
time. The technology has come a long way since then too. The virtual is even more real than it was when I first hatched the idea.

I think rock star crushes are a part of growing up. 🙂

In Identity TheftBlast hands the reigns over to Ethan, the new kid in the office, to take over his social media accounts, with instructions to post updates about his tours, etc.  Did Blast create an atmosphere where it was easy for Ethan to get carried away by chatting with fans in the chat forums, and sending private messages as if he himself was Blast? Do you think, in a way, that this was partly Blast’s fault? Or should Ethan have had more self control, and stuck to his tasks?

Ollie/Blast is of a different generation than Ethan. To a certain extent, I think he gave the social media to the kid because he figured kids know how to do that stuff. It’s what kids do. Not that everyone in his 50s is uninterested in technology, but that is clearly not Ollie’s core competency. He was going through a tough period and didn’t want to deal with stuff and he farmed it out. I’m guessing he didn’t conduct a very thorough interview with the kid before he hired him, but he didn’t think he was going to be doing anything too difficult in the office. I’ll leave it to the reader to make those kinds of moral judgments.

If Identity Theft was adapted for film, who could you see playing Candi? How about Blast, and Ethan?

I saw Demetri Martin in “In a World” and it occurred to me that he would make a great Ethan.

Even though he is the wrong age for the part, I think Tim Minchin would be a great Blast. He definitely has a rock star look.

I would love it if Candi were played by an unknown who was pretty in a unique, real girl way rather than a Hollywood way. I found it annoying when they cast Rene Zellweger in “Bridget Joneses Diary.” If they could bring themselves to cast someone who is more than a size zero to play someone who is self-conscious about her weight, I think it would be a great start.

Someone like Sally Hawkins would be great playing Candi. Candi is someone who is really cute and lovely, who at the same time feels like she comes up short compared to a more model-esque sister.

Great choices!

Is there one subject that you won’t write about as an Author?

I don’t think there is anything I would be afraid to write about or feel that I would like to write about but wouldn’t. I’m more constrained by the kind of writer I am and the kinds of things that work for me. I would be unlikely to write a Hobbit type fantasy because those kinds of stories don’t interest me, for example or a horror book with lots of blood and gore because I don’t like that.
It’s hard enough to get an idea that keeps you going and productive for the long haul of writing a novel without censoring yourself. When the writing gods give me a viable idea, I just say thank you and get to work.

What is your least favorite part of the writing/publishing process?

The pay sucks.

Haha! Yeah, I hear that!

Is there anything that I haven’t asked that you would like your readers and fans to know?

I have fans?

I guess one thing I would say about Identity Theft is that it is not necessarily what it first appears to be. There is a certain romantic comedy trope that the book does resemble in some ways in the beginning. It might be a bit different than what you expect.

That is very true, and yes of course you have fans! 🙂

How can your readers and fans get in touch with you?

I have a blog: https://lauraleeauthor.wordpress.com/ and I tweet @LauraLeeAuthor

Thanks, Laura! I appreciate your candor!

25010416Identity Theft, Book Blurb

When a bored employee in a rock star’s office decides to flirt with a fan online in the guise of his boss he sets off a chain of events he cannot control.

Paperback, 310 pages
Published February 8th 2015 by Elsewhere Press

Purchase, here!








4 thoughts on ““Fiction Is Always Happening In The Background”: An AWRW Interview of Author Laura Lee

  1. Great interview – as always.Identity Theft has been on my tbr list since I read your review so it’s been good to get to know a bit more about the author.

    Liked by 1 person

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