Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Identity Theft, (The Novel): Guest Post by Author Laura Lee @LauraLeeAuthor

Please give a warm welcome to Author Laura Lee, who was kind enough to stop over at A Well Read Woman Blog! The following is Laura’s guest post, where she reveals ten things you didn’t know about her novel, Identity Theft.

Identity Theft is a novel about a bored employee in the office of a rock star, who flirts with a fan online in the guise of his boss, and sets off a chain of events he cannot control.

Enjoy, and leave your thoughts below! 🙂

Identity Theft
follows three characters and alternates the narrative from their points of view.

Because each main character has a different understanding of reality, it was important to tell the story at different times from each one’s point of view.

All of the main characters, except for one, go by nicknames or assumed names.

Ethan, the character who takes on someone else’s identity, is the only main character who has not changedhis name in some way. His best friend, Lloyd, goes by the nickname Ale. Ale’s girlfriend is named Alexandra but called Sasha. The rock star born Oliver Thomas goes by the stage name Blast and the main female character changed the spelling of her name from Candy to Candi when she was in high school. She also has a last name that is frequently changed from Tavris to Travis by bureaucrats who think it is a typo.

Identity Theft was structured to subvert a popular romantic comedy trope.

I have a pet peeve about those stories where a character poses that something that he or she is not and the fraud creates the possibility for two characters to fall in love. Often in these stories the person who was duped is seen as somehow lucky to be tricked.

The viewer or reader is supposed to think that the person was too shallow or closed minded to notice this other person and so by pretending to be someone else her eyes were opened and they could live happily ever after.

I wanted to tell a story that begins as if it is going to be one of those but which takes the fraud and its consequences seriously and goes off in a different direction.

Originally, I wanted to subvert it even more by giving Ethan his comeuppance in the end, but an agent advised me against this and I went with his suggestion.

The character of Ethan was inspired, in part, by disgraced reporter Stephen Glass.

Ethan is the character who sets the drama in motion by responding to a fan’s online post as if he is the rock star Blast and not a kid who works in his office.

Several years ago I saw the film Shattered Glass and there was something fascinating about Stephen Glass’s denial that he had been caught fabricating stories. His lies were so obvious and poorly constructed you couldn’t help watching and cringing as he kept doubling down on them. His own ability to convince himself he could wiggle his way out of it was as impressive as it was delusional. I wanted to create that kind of feeling for the character of Ethan.

Blast’s office is an amalgam of three real places.

I am most likely to draw from real life in the settings, rather than in the characters and plots of my novels. I like to have a visual image of where things are happening and so I tend to imagine real places I have been. Blast’s office combines a musician’s office I worked in briefly with a touring ballet company office I worked in for a few years. The musician’s office had a gold record on the wall with a spider caught under the glass and in the ballet office my desk was a door balanced over a couple of short filing cabinets.  Ollie lives above his office on the third floor of a building he owns. The musician I worked for owned a building, but I never saw the upper floors. I think they were full of storage. The upstairs apartment, which was once a dance studio, is based on a lot of upper level dance studios in old buildings that I have visited in my second career as a traveling ballet master class tour producer.

If you’re so inclined, you can play a “spot the famous name” drinking game with the book.

Identity Theft name-checks lots of famous people including John Lennon, John Hinkley, Oscar Wilde, Monica Lewinsky, Jude Law, David Bowie, Katheryn Bigelow, Steve Martin and Anthony Bourdain– to name just a few.

Both of my novels contain references to my second career producing ballet master class tours.

In my first novel, Angel (which is about to be re-released in a second edition) the character Ian once dated a ballet dancer. In Identity Theft, the rock star Ollie lives in an apartment above his office which was once used as a ballet studio and still has ballet barres and mirrors on the wall.

The novel was originally going to be set in Detroit and Chicago.

It was important to have Ollie’s office and Candi’s home be located far enough apart to be two different metro areas and yet close enough to drive in a day. Originally, I thought Candi would live in Detroit and working in the auto industry and that the rock star’s office would be in Chicago but Los Angeles has some of the strongest anti-stalking laws in the country and for that reason Candi was moved to San Diego and Ollie to Los Angeles.

Aspects of Ollie’s character were inspired by ballet dancer David Hallberg.

When I was writing Identity Theft, I went to see the ballet dancer David Hallberg speak.
Hallberg was in great demand because he had just been named the first American principal dancer with the Bolsohi Ballet in Russia which gave him a level of fame very few ballet dancers ever have. He is very soft spoken. I watched him walk out from back stage never looking up from the screen of his phone. The phone gave him a bubble of protection. He was in the room, but not accessible.

Someone said she thought it was very rude of him not to acknowledge the fans who had come to see him. It struck me that this is the way an introvert normally would walk through the world, trying not to have to interact too much with strangers. But when it is a “famous” person it is interpreted as a snub.

I have always been fascinated with the phenomenon of the shy performer– actors, dancers and musicians with great stage presence who are shy off stage. I already envisioned the rock star as quiet in real life, but having his experience while I was writing the book pushed me to really emphasize Ollie’s shyness and introversion.

There is a fossil of an unpublished novel in Identity Theft.

When I write a novel, it helps me to have a larger theme to explore and go back to. With my first novel Angel, it was the metaphor of the mountain.

In Identity Theft it is personal identity and the external forces that shape it.  You have three characters who feel, in different ways, that they are not able to be who they want to be. Ollie wants to be a family man. Candi wants to be a successful middle class professional and Ethan just wants to be respected for who he is.

As the story unfolds each loses control over the identity he is trying to maintain in one way or another. One character in particular experiences an almost total assault on the sense of self.

The first novel I ever wrote was called “The Birth of What’s Living.” The title was a reference to an Arlo Guthrie lyric: “the death of what’s dead is the birth of what’s living.” Fortunately that novel was never published because it was terrible, but the theme still resonates and I find that idea is really at the heart of this novel as well. By losing all of these false selves they have been trying to maintain, hopefully the characters come out the other side a bit more authentic and born to something new.

When a bored employee in the office of a rock star 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
Genre: Psychological Suspense, Women’s Fiction

AWRW Book Review of Identity Theft

Available in Kindle and Paperback, purchase here!

About The Author

Laura Lee

I am the author of more than a dozen books, the novel Angel, and numerous non-fiction titles including The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation (Black Dog and Leventhal), now in its third printing and published in France under the title Le Dictionaire des Contrairites; Arlo, Alice and Anglicans (Berkshire House/W.W. Norton), which tells the story of the church made famous in Arlo Guthrie’s song and movie Alice’s Restaurant; The Name’s Familiar: Mr. Leotard, Barbie and Chef Boyardee (Pelican Publishing), a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection and its sequel The Name’s Familiar II; the 100 Most Dangerous Things in Life (Broadway Books/Random House), which was featured on Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning; Blame it on the Rain (HarperCollins), The Elvis Impersonation Kit and A Child’s Introduction to Ballet (both Black Dog and Leventhal), Schadenfreude, Baby! (Lyons Press), and Broke is Beautiful (Running Press).

The San Francisco Chronicle has said of my work, “Lee’s dry, humorous tone makes her a charming companion… She has a penchant for wordplay that is irresistible.”




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