Author Interview with Ellen Meister, Author of "The Other Life"
Created By: Bookbundlz
1. If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?
Can I say Dorothy Parker three times? You'll forgive me if I seem a bit obsessed, but I'm the middle of writing a book in which the ghost of Dorothy Parker appears, so she's on my mind 24/7.
Other names? I suppose I wouldn't mind resurrecting J.D. Salinger for a chitchat, if I could actually get him to talk. And how cool would it be to have some face time with Jane Austen?
2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?
One book? That's tough. Maybe EMPIRE FALLS by Richard Russo. I don't think I could ever tire of rereading that. The food would have to be something very high calorie and delicious. I'm picking the entire dessert menu at Cheesecake Factory. (That counts as one item, right?) Terrible to admit, but my drink would have to be Diet Coke. It's like crack for me.
3. What are your secret indulgences?
Diet Coke, per above.
4. What about you would surprise your readers?
Nothing is as certain to make me weep as stumbling upon a truly beautiful sentence in a children's book.
5. What is your perfect day as an author?
The one where I find myself in the zone long enough to write a whole scene that makes me tingle.
6. If you could be any fictional character who would it be?
Atticus Finch from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. What rectitude!
7. What are the book(s) you are reading now?
I just finished HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford, and I loved it. So compelling! Now I'm reading THE RED GARDEN by the glorious Alice Hoffman. Exquisite.
8. What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?
I was knocked out by NINE STORIES by J.D. Salinger. It made me understand what it means to be a writer.
9. (Aside from your own) What book(s) have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?
Susan Henderson wrote a wonderful book called UP FROM THE BLUE that's tender and heartbreaking yet full of hope. Everyone who reads it falls madly in love with this beautifully written story. It's a very provocative read for book clubs--a 5-star choice.
For readers who like to laugh, I recommend DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD by Saralee Rosenberg. It's came out a few years ago but feels very current, and is a great pick for book clubs seeking a heartfelt, relatable and very, very funny story.
About Your Book:
10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
THE OTHER LIFE grew out of a fleeting thought I had when sitting down to write. I was contemplating the notion that each day, when my husband left for work and the children left for school, I got to escape into this fantasy world I was creating with my fiction. That got me wondering what would happen if a married woman like me had the ultimate escape . the ability to slip through a portal to the life she would have had if she had made completely different choices.
But of course, I understood that it would take something monumental for a happily married woman with children to consider leaving her family, even temporarily. I lived with the idea for quite a while before it all started coming together. However, it wasn't until I realized that her mother was dead in one life and alive in the other that I knew I had a book.
11. They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?
It's the people we love that give our lives meaning.
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?
I love those surprises ... especially since I know the things that surprise me will surprise the reader. There were literally dozens of these moments as I wrote THE OTHER LIFE, even though I had spent a year thinking about the story and months outlining it. For instance, I didn't know until I started writing that Quinn's son was a gifted artist. I was shocked and tickled by the audacity of her neighbor, Georgette. But the biggest surprise of all was learning that Nan, Quinn's mother, had lost a part of herself in that suicide attempt.
About Your Writing Process:
13. What is your writing process like?
My process is a bit of a jumble. But at every step of the way there are pages and pages of freestyle notes involved. It's just a way of helping me focus and refusing to give in to writer's block.
These notes are like a running stream-of-consciousness where I ask myself questions about the story and the characters and explore every possible answer until I find the one that feels right. I make notes like this to help me learn about the characters and structure the book. Every time I get a bit stuck and am not sure where a scene needs to go, I'm back to my notes, thinking on paper.
14. What gets you in the mood to write?
Deadlines! Seriously, I work pretty well under pressure.
15. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Ask yourself what your main character truly WANTS. That's going to be the thing that defines your narrative thread, and gets the reader involved in the story.