Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Fran Laniado. My age is somewhere between 20 and 50. That’s as specific as I get!
Fiona: Where are you from?
New York mostly.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I come from a very loving, supportive family. I grew up in New York and New Jersey. I went to Bard College where I majored in Literature. Then I got my Masters in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia University. I’ve been an elementary school teacher for the past few years.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My first novel, Beautiful, is published on July 4, 2018!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I think I wanted to be a writer ever since I could read. I’ve always loved books and stories. Creating them always felt like part of what loving them meant to me.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always loved to write but I’ve always felt weird calling myself a “writer” if I couldn’t point to something I’d actually written as evidence. Strictly speaking anyone who writes is a writer. But personally, I’ve only recently started to feel comfortable calling myself one, as I’ve produced more of my own writing.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A lot. I think that for a while I’d been reading a lot of Beauty and the Beast variants and retellings, and feeling like they sort of missed the mark regarding what made the story special for me. That’s not to say they weren’t good. Some were very good! But none addressed what I really wanted them to, which is the idea that sometimes things and people are beautiful but we don’t see that until we’re ready to.
Also, at the time, there were a lot of YA books that were popular, which I felt depicted unhealthy and disturbing romantic relationships as if that were desirable. I wanted to portray a YA romance that was a bit more balanced, in the context of the fairy tale/fantasy genre.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
That was actually fairly easy. Beauty, what we consider beautiful and why, is a major theme in the book. I knew that it should be part of the title as well. Then eventually I started calling it Beautiful as a working title, and I stuck with it!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Not really. I think “style” is something that emerges sort of organically from what I write. As I was writing Beautiful, a certain voice came through that felt right for it, so I stuck with it. For other stories different styles seem more natural. I think I use the first person narrator a lot in general though. I guess it’s easier for me to feel like I’m part of the story when I use the first person.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Well, it’s obviously a fantasy in terms of plot, since it deals with faeries and spells, but I think that some elements of some characters were based on different people I’ve encountered. I can’t point to any single character and say “s/he was based on this person,” but sometimes a character will say or do something that is inspired by someone I know in some way.
I think in some ways, Finn is inspired by someone close to me, in that he seems pretty awful at first! But we eventually discover that his bad behaviour came from a place of pain. When certain things change it allows some of his wonderful qualities to come through.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Not really. A lot of my work is set in places that don’t really exist, so going there is limited to my imagination. In terms of the parts that are set in our world, I didn’t want to get too specific in terms of historical period or location. I wanted it to feel like it could be almost anywhere.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
It was designed by Adrijus of Rocking Book Covers.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think that one thing that I wanted to illustrate is that idea that people are who they are for a reason. It’s easy to make snap judgements about someone after a single encounter, but without knowing someone’s background it’s hard to see them accurately. With social media those snap judgements are even easier to make. But as easy as it is to judge someone by a tweet or a post, it’s almost impossible to know or understand them on that basis.
Another thing I wanted to show is that there are beautiful things all around us. Sometimes we don’t see them as beautiful until we’re ready to. Sometimes we have to grow and change before we can appreciate things (and people) for what they are.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
There are too many writers that I love to pick a single favorite! I think that with this book I was coming from a place of admiration for writers like Juliet Marillier, Kate Forsyth, Angela Carter, and Caroline Turgeon. But there are soooo many other writers whose work I read and love.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
I’ve been pretty lucky in that most of the people in my life have been really supportive. I didn’t talk about this project for quite a while as I was working on it, but when I decided to publish I started to speak about it more. I think a lot of people where a little surprised, but I felt like they were cheering me on.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
In a perfect world, I’d love to make my living as a writer. I don’t know how realistic that is at the moment though.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That’s a tough one. I don’t know. I feel like I need some time and distance to answer that question.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
A lot! I suppose the most important thing I learned is how hard it is to write a book! I think before I wrote this I wasn’t aware of just how many people are involved in the writing process. When you’re writing a rough draft it seems a bit isolated but after that a lot of people get involved. I had some support from a writers group as I was producing the early drafts. Then there were beta readers and editors… It’s really hard to know when to change something and when to back off and leave it alone. That means that a manuscript needs a lot of eyes on it.
I hope that I’ve also become a better writer as I’ve written this. I think I’ve learned to let go of things that don’t serve the story or the characters, no matter how clever I think they are.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Hmmm… I can’t think of any actor who would be right physically and as a performer for either lead role. They’d also have to be an appropriate age… I suppose I’ll say a talented newcomer is the best casting option.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Read at least as much as you write. Read widely in your genre and outside it. And write. That seems like the advice that everyone gives to writers but it’s true. There’s no magic formula!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I just hope that they enjoy my book, and thank you for reading it.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. I’m really enjoying it so far.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Ever? No. I’m sure it was something that was read to me. I loved fairy tales as a kid though. I used to read lots of different versions of a story and compare and contrast them. Like “in this version of Cinderella there was a fairy godmother helping and in that one it was her mother’s spirit.” I was a strange child!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Lots of things make me laugh. One of the best parts of teaching is that my students make me laugh a lot.
Seeing anyone suffer makes me cry. Especially when my power to help is limited.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Wow, that’s a hard one. Does it have to be someone I’ve never met before? I think I’ll say Shakespeare. I’d love to know his opinions of some scholars ideas about his work.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Aside from reading and writing? I love going to the theater. I enjoy yoga.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I watch an embarrassing amount of sitcom reruns. Generally stuff from the early 1990’s on. I write really well with sitcoms on in the background (go figure!) In terms of shows I actually watch (rather than just have on while I’m doing other things) I like The Americans, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Black Mirror, Outlander (I love the books too). In terms of movies my tastes are probably pretty similar. As long as it’s a good movie, I enjoy almost any genre.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Foods: I like a lot of different things but some favorites are chicken korma, Thai fried rice, and chicken francese. And anything chocolate. That counts as a food, right?
Colors: Blue and green
Music: I like a lot of types of music but I have a weakness for showtunes! Everything from old school Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim, to more contemporary works from Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown and Lin-Manuel Miranda. I also love classical, jazz, pop, alternative/indie and folk.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I think I’d have to find some other way to communicate my thoughts and ideas. Maybe I’d just speak a lot more!
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I’d probably want to spend it with the people I love. I don’t know what I’d want to do though. Maybe I’d record some sort of goodbye message for the people I couldn’t be with. Maybe I’d eat a lot of stuff that I usually avoid because it’s not healthy!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it before. I’d definitely want it written that I lived a long and happy life and was remembered by loved ones.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Amazon author page:
Goodreads author profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18113691.Fran_Laniado
And the link to buy Beautiful is here: https://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Fran-Laniado-ebook/dp/B07DMR32YP/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8