Name: Laurie Boris
Where are you from: I was born in New York’s lovely Hudson Valley. Other things pulled me away for a while, but it was so beautiful I came back.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Happy to, Fiona, and thank you! I’m preparing to release my sixth novel, A Sudden Gust of Gravity. It’s about a woman who thought her childhood dream of becoming a magician was lost to her, until she’s hired as an assistant to a mysterious and charming street performer. But when he grows more unstable and jealous of the attention she’s getting, she has to decide if putting up with him is worth the price of admission. The story is a mix of romance and psychological suspense, and I expect it to hit Amazon by mid-November.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I might have been twelve or thirteen when I began to keep a journal. Mainly I’d rant about whatever was going on in my life; it was a good outlet during a rough time. Then, with the encouragement of one of my favorite high school English teachers, I tried creative writing and getting outside of my own head for a while. I look at that old stuff sometimes and cringe, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? Even Beethoven probably had one of those little Schroeder toy pianos. Um, maybe not.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
There were many small moments. The first time I read my work aloud to actual people who laughed in all the right places. The first time I toted my manuscript six blocks to the post office to send it to someone who’d asked to read it—on purpose. Man, that thing was heavy. I kept thinking, “Why did I write such a LONG book?” and “Why hasn’t someone invented email yet?”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
In my twenties, I started puttering around with short stories; I was a freelance graphic artist then, and it was a way to keep my mind occupied between work assignments. Then one short story idea began to grow. I was taken with my unlikely-hero protagonist, a reclusive comic book writer based loosely on a guy I’d met in college who went on to work for DC Comics. I joined a writing group for the first time, and their inspiration propelled me to finish. One day, I hope to publish it, but for now I consider it my “practice novel,” and it’s buried deep in my closet. You’re welcome.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I make a cup of coffee, put my fingers on the keys, and…oh, I’m guessing you weren’t talking about that! Readers have characterized my “voice” as one that uses snappy dialogue, spare descriptions, and language that doesn’t get in the way of the story.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I had a working title of The Lottery when I started, because I thought this was going to be a trilogy and that seemed like a trilogy-worthy name. When I decided to keep to a standalone story for now, A Sudden Gust of Gravity popped into my head immediately. While the story is mainly Christina’s quest to get back into magic, she’s also a juggler, and juggling figures into the plot in several ways. The phrase is an old juggling joke, something performers would say when they dropped a ball: “Must have been a sudden gust of gravity.” I like the way it dovetails with a few metaphors in the book, too: from living with the weight of your past to handling sudden adversity.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t usually do messages. I tell the story and leave that to the reader.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
I drew a bit from real life for A Sudden Gust of Gravity. I was a magician’s assistant in Boston for about five minutes a few decades ago. But even though I wasn’t very good at it, the job fascinated me. Scrunching up into a little box illusion is tough work, and the bruises I wrote about are real. So is smiling until your face hurts and standing around in a tarty outfit while you collect maybe enough money for lunch and a load of laundry. And while there are some amazing female magicians working today, I’ve often wondered why there aren’t more. Those are just a few of the reasons writing Christina appealed to me. And I still juggle, so I got to use that in the story, too. Juggling is a lot of fun and great exercise, especially for people who sit at computers all day.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of them are, yes. In addition to pulling on that brief, exciting, and frightening experience as an assistant, I modeled “Uncle Doctor” on my husband’s former physician. When Paul told him we were engaged, the doctor insisted on the pair of us coming into the examination room, where he lectured us about marriage. The moment he said, “Marriage is like a boat; you can only have one captain,” I knew that I needed to put him in a book one day. And I used that quote. But the rest is (mostly) pure fiction.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m in the middle of a John Irving binge. I like to go back and reread him every so often. He’s a master of gentle, dark humor and building unforgettable characters.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m writing the first draft of a novel for National Novel Writing Month. Again, it’s a character that I’ve wanted to play with for a long time, but I haven’t had the chance to open up a story about her yet. For me, NaNoWriMo is a good opportunity to explore these things. I’m not sure what it’s all about yet, but there is baseball. And a few family secrets. I have a few more books in the works, but I’m not telling yet!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I feel so grateful to be involved in a thriving online community of independent authors, including Indies Unlimited and E-Novel Authors at Work. Self-publishing is a tough road, and having their support and friendship really helps.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I have hopes. It’s worked out pretty well for some writers, so I’m not ready to give up yet.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Probably not. I’m pleased with the way it turned out, and I’ve had a wonderful editor in David Antrobus.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure! Here’s a bit from the beginning:
The box arrived on a Tuesday and sat on the kitchen table for three days before Christina could bring herself to touch it. She’d assumed her father’s things had been tossed after all these years, but no—this remained. Mom had found it in the attic and decided that his last surviving possession would make an ideal twenty-fifth birthday present for his only daughter.
She almost sent the package back. But then she didn’t.
“Get it out of here, already,” one of her roommates told her. So she took it off the table, stuck it in the corner of her bedroom, and covered it with a green pashmina.
As a child, she’d memorized the contents of the tarnished metal case engraved with her father’s initials: three silver cups, a half-dozen red sponge balls, five decks of cards, a few magic quarters, a selection of spring-loaded wands, and various other doodads and thingamabobs handy for a close-up magician to have up his sleeve.
Pick a card, Chrissie.
She itched to hold the decks, palm the tiny objects the way he’d taught her, but another part of her wanted nothing to do with it.
She thought about it on the way to yoga, and on the way home, and after her long shift at the restaurant. And her sleep fractured, leaving her as wide-awake as the thrum of Boston outside her window.
This went on for another week, until she got the call that her boss, Rosa, was in the hospital, and the restaurant was closed. Now there was nothing to think about but the box, and what it contained. And the truth was, no matter how great her anger at her father and herself, her desire to open the box was greater. She craved the comfort of those old, familiar objects.
Swallowing the knot in her throat, she flipped the latch. It sounded louder than all the traffic on Commonwealth. Her fingers once again tasted the textures—the foam of the sponge balls, bits of red crumbling into dust; the shiny silver cups; the decks of cards engineered for tricks.
Pick a card, Chrissie.
Shuddering, she snapped the lid shut.
It was too late for her. Too many years had gone by, and her skills were shot. She might as well give the box away—to the owner of the magic store she passed on her way to yoga class. But she didn’t.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Making the time to get it all done! I’m a freelance editor, in addition to writing, so time management is important. So is coffee, and a supportive spouse who doesn’t laugh too hard when my hair is going in six different directions because I haven’t had time to get a haircut.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’ve mentioned John Irving, but I also swoon over Joyce Carol Oates and T.C. Boyle. Both write some tasty prose. I love Joyce Carol Oates’ darkness and Boyle’s literary humor.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I like to set my books in places I’m familiar with. Sometimes they are places I haven’t visited for a while, so I like to go back before I publish to make sure everything is where I’ve left it. Google is a great tool, but it’s not the same as walking the streets my characters walk or getting an up close and personal sense of where they live and work.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My husband, an illustrator and web designer, does my covers. I think all those years ago, I foresaw that I’d be an independent author in need of a cover artist, so I married one.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I adore my characters—well, some more than others—and the hardest part for me is writing a scene in which they get hurt. I don’t want to put them through the pain, but it’s part of the story, part of their growth. Sometimes—a lot of the time—I cry.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I began writing as a “pantser.” That means I sit down and start writing, without a very organized idea of what I’m writing about, and let the characters steer me toward a story. Lately I’ve been experimenting with outlines. I learned that writing from an outline didn’t kill me. And deviating from that outline when necessary didn’t kill me, either.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep writing. If you love it, if you can’t imagine a life without it, go forth with the words. Learn your craft; get some feedback. Revise, repeat. I can’t speak for other writers, because we’re all on our own journeys, but I know that this process has helped me become a better writer and learn to trust my own voice.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
You might have already guessed that I’m a baseball fan and that I love to read. I’m also fairly active: I walk and swim regularly to help combat all those hours at the computer.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My brain has been so full lately, from editing and writing, that when I’m done with work I want to chill out with something light, like The Big Bang Theory or a cooking show. As far as movies, I’ll usually opt for a comedy, if it’s my turn to choose.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I love science. I might have become a meteorologist or an astronomer.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Why, yes! You can read my not-very-regular posts about writing, books, and language at http://laurieboris.com/
Thank you for letting me visit, Fiona. I love to hear from readers. You can visit me at:
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/laurieboris