Author Interview with Joanne Lessner, Author of "Pandora's Bottle"
Created By: BookBundlz
1.If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?
J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, W.S. Gilbert
2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?
Seltzer, dark chocolate, and the Complete Works of Shakespeare
3. What are your secret indulgences?
People Magazine. It’s better than other celebrity gossip rags, because it features real people, too. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
4. What about you would surprise your readers?
I have an award-winning collection of ballpoint pens. No, not really, but I have sung in Carnegie Hall.
5. What is your perfect day as an author?
Having that impossible-to-predict experience when a character makes a choice different from what was in my head, and the story takes an entirely new—and altogether better—turn.
6. If you could be any fictional character who would it be?
Elizabeth Bennet. Who wouldn’t?
7. What are the book(s) you are reading now?
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. I’m not one of those people who can read multiple books simultaneously.
8. What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?
I’m not sure if it was actually my favorite, but the one that springs to mind is The Cracker Factory by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt. It was about a housewife who kept having nervous breakdowns and winding up in the psych ward. I have no idea why it appealed to me, but I know I read it more than once. Maybe it was because it suggested that grown-ups don’t really have it all together, which I now know to be true.
9. (Aside from your own) What book(s) have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?
Gone Girl has so much moral ambiguity, and the ending, to me at least, changes the genre of the book in retrospect (I can’t say more than that without spoiling.) That’s a book I really wanted to talk about when I finished it. But I don’t tend to think of books as “book club books” per se; I think any well-written book can generate an interesting discussion.
About Your Book:
10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
My husband remembered hearing about a waiter at the Four Seasons Restaurant who dropped a half-million dollar bottle of Bordeaux dating back to the French Revolution. The bottle shattered, and the wine spilled all over the carpet. But what grabbed my imagination was the image of a room full of snobby wine aficionados diving to the floor to lick it up. I thought that was pretty hilarious and bizarre. From there, I started asking myself what kind of person spends that much money on one bottle of wine, and what would it feel like to lose it at the critical moment? Also, how would it feel if you were the waiter? And it grew from there.
11. They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?
So often, you only have access to your goal after you surrender your expectations. And sometimes the curves that life throws can yield experiences far more memorable and rewarding. Also, I’ve always been fascinated with the “other.” Whatever it is that’s the opposite of me. There are always lots of opposites attracting in my work, with someone having a window opened into a world that’s alien to them and learning what things look like from another person’s perspective.
12. Writers are often surprised by something that happens in their book. Perhaps a character says or does something you did not think they would, or something you thought would only be a couple of paragraphs turns into 10 pages. What surprised you about your book?
This time it happened on the research end. I needed to find out how a wine could be made to last over two hundred years, and I wound up meeting with Michael Migliore of Whitecliff Vineyards in Gardiner, New York. After learning about the rich history of the Hudson Valley in American winemaking, my story took a different direction. It brought things full circle in an unexpected way.
13. If you were crafting a discussion question for book clubs to discuss about your book, what question do you think would generate the most discussion?
I’ve spoken to quite a few book clubs, and the ending seems to be more open to interpretation than I imagined. I know how I think it ends, but so far the only person who agrees with me is my tenth grade English teacher!
About Your Writing Process:
14. What is your writing process like?
Haphazard. I juggle a lot of things: I’ve got two kids and a day job in public relations, I write music criticism for Opera News, and I still perform. So generally I’m squeezing in my writing whenever possible. But the upside to not forcing myself to a routine is that my subconscious is always percolating. So when I do sit down to write, most of the time it flows pretty easily.
15. What gets you in the mood to write?
I find a cup of peppermint tea tends to focus me.
16. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
When I was a student at the Aspen Music Festival, I got a great piece of advice from the wonderful soprano Arleen Auger: don’t audition before you’re ready, but when your opportunity comes, be ready. Translating this into writing terms—don’t publish until your work has been professionally edited and your cover professionally designed. But the moment in publishing is now, so get ready!