I am beyond thrilled to be able to host Lisa here for the next few days as she tours the blogosphere with DOUBLE OUT AND BACK. This was a fantastic story that I would recommend to any mother, any mother to be, or really anyone out looking for an entertaining read.
Release Date: August 13, 2009
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing
ISBN +13: 9781604353655
Not every woman who rides the fertility treatment roller coaster winds up like Octomom!
Who will find friends, family, and fertility?
Three women’s lives are intricately intertwined, as Amelia Schwartz and Summer Curtis struggle with the complex dynamics of intrafamily embryo adoption, and Chandy Markum strives to make her patients’ dreams a reality.
After more than a decade, of mourning her parents’ deaths, anal-retentive Amelia Schwartz decides to take control of her life, pursuing single motherhood via embryo adoption. While her fertility doctor, Chandy, is preoccupied with the destruction of the cosmopolitan Cape Town of her youth and her first love in apartheid-torn South Africa, believing all is lost, her niece, a young, married, overachieving attorney Summer Curtis, juggles zealous career ambitions, demanding bosses, and friction with her husband over family and fertility issues. They must confront the painful reality that, no matter what technology humans devise to manipulate reproduction, prolong life, and construct family units, they have not yet mastered control over their beginnings and endings.
Thrown all into this is one story that can make or break. Are you up to it?
- - - - - - - - - - -What was your inspiration for writing DOUBLE OUT AND BACK? Why was it important for you to tell this story?
I wrote DOUBLE OUT AND BACK because I became curious and fascinated with the sociological and societal impacts of assisted reproductive technologies. There are so many different ways we can start families these days, ranging from good, old-fashioned sex and adoption, to artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, donated eggs, sperm, or embryos. Children may grow up in homes with a mother and father, single parents, or same-sex parents. Women can give birth to babies not biologically related to them, and the list goes on. I wanted to explore these issues from a literary perspective.
Do you come across any snags or any roadblocks when writing it?
Summer’s, Amelia’s, and Chandy’s stories came to me separately, almost as if they were three novellas. However, when it came to presenting the tales in the most effective way, I felt a need to weave together the multiple plotlines. It was a huge challenge to fit together all of the pieces of the puzzle. But in the end, it really worked!
What is your favorite aspect of DOUBLE OUT AND BACK?
The aspect of the novel I found most exciting to write is the part that takes place in pre-Apartheid South Africa. One might call me a historical fiction writer wannabe. But because this was my first novel, I was reluctant to head full-force into the challenges of that genre. Chandy’s story, however, let me dabble in the genre and practice creating a time and place I never experienced first-hand. I hope I succeeded in bringing District Six in Cape Town to life for my readers. If early readers are any indication, I have done fine, since one reader was surprised to hear my American accent, as she thought I hailed from South Africa.
How are fans responding to your book?
DOUBLE OUT AND BACK has only been available for a few weeks now and I’m thrilled to have received requests from book clubs to participate in their discussions of it. In fact, if any of your readers are in a book club and would like to add my novel to their picks. I’m available to participate in your discussion of the novel either via conference call, on-line chat, or in person if you live in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Contact me via my website.
Did you have to do any special research when writing DOUBLE OUT AND BACK? How did this impact the book?
I tend to get lost in the research as much as I get lost in the writing. I needed to research not only locations, and medical advances in treatments for infertility, but also the rich history of South Africa, the paths of Jewish immigrants. Of course, the internet is a valuable tool for uncovering information. However, living in the D.C. metropolitan area, I have access to a wealth of information and artifacts through the Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, and a multitude of superb university library collections.
By way of example of how information I uncovered along the way impacted the novel, I point to two bits. First, I discovered a database listing where Jews leaving Eastern Europe emigrated at the turn of the century, including their stated occupations, family members, and planned destinations in and out of Liverpool. This gave me some of the background I needed to bring Chandy’s grandmother to life in a meaningful way.
The more I read, the more I became fascinated by the melting-pot of diverse cultures in pre-Apartheid Cape Town. I became saddened with what happens when such a rich, cosmopolitan community is torn apart by political extremists. Another intriguing piece of information that influenced this aspect of DOUBLE OUT AND BACK is a now-declassified briefing books from the US State Department on South Africa and its implementation of Apartheid. Through this collection, I was able to piece together more of Chandy’s history and the memories that haunt her.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey on the road to publication?
Across the globe, publishers, literary agents, and bookstores are struggling to anticipate and manage the rapidly changing business of books. The biggest challenge for me was to chart a course for targeting queries to agents and publishers who might take a chance on a first time author in this industry in transition. I didn’t have much luck attracting the attention of an agent as an unknown, first-time novelist. However, a friend from one of my critique groups convinced me to test the waters with some smaller presses who didn’t require agent-representation. I got lucky when Red Rose Publishing, traditionally a publisher of romance novels, decided to expand their mainstream fiction line and that DOUBLE OUT AND BACK was just what they needed. And here I am today, promoting my debut novel!
What do you like (or dislike) about writing in this genre and publishing eBooks?
DOUBLE OUT AND BACK is mainstream fiction. It has some elements of historical fiction, multicultural fiction, chick lit, and dark romance. I guess if I had to classify it, I’d call it smart women’s fiction. I like writing smart women’s fiction because it allows me to explore political, medical, and social issues from a literary perspective. The process of researching history, geography, technology, and psychology then crafting a story from what I discover stimulates my intellectual curiosity and provides a tremendous creative outlet.
As for publishing eBooks, I have no problem that Red Rose Publishing, an innovative, entrepreneurial, small press, initially published DOUBLE OUT AND BACK in e-book format. E-reader manufacturers like Kindle, Sony, and the soon-to-come Apple, show increasing market penetration, and the younger generation already reads on computer screens, iPhones, and other handheld devices. For those who crave the printed page, the trade paperback of DOUBLE OUT AND BACK is coming soon.
Why did you decide to become an author?
As a child I loved to play make-believe. Later, as a teen and young adult, I became involved in Community Theater. This allowed me to stand in someone else’s shoes and play pretend some more. Some may even argue that my play-acting carried over into representing my client’s best interests as an attorney for those years. Once I made the transition away from practicing law and sought a creative and intellectual outlet I could fit into my hectic family life, delving into the craft of writing fiction seemed a natural fit. The need to get into another character’s head and show the world from a new perspective is so much like acting and playing make-believe of my youth. Coupled with the love of research, writing, and discipline that my legal education and career instilled, I found being an author the perfect pursuit to in which to capitalize on my strengths.
What is your writing routine like? Do you do anything special to warm up, cool down or keep the story going?
I don’t know if I have a real routine, with warm ups, cool downs, or anything like that. However, when I’m writing a first draft of a story, I make it a point to hold off on any revisions and trudge through to the end. This write now, revise later mode of getting the first draft onto the page and out of my head has worked well for me. It’s freeing. It makes me less afraid to make a mistake. It makes it so I don’t get bogged down in the details. If I can’t come up with a good description of a location or I’m not sure which path I wish a character to travel, I make a note in the text, or write both scenarios to choose from later, and move on. The first draft is a brain dump and I’m the only one who ever reads it. The real work comes at revision time. That’s when the novel really takes shape.
With your busy schedule, you must have some wonderful time management tricks. Care to share?
My life with a husband, three boys, a dog, and two turtles is a happy chaos that doesn’t lend itself to a strict, daily, writing schedule. However, I do set aside at least two, full days each week to write. I have organized a writer’s commitment group at my local library where area writers get together once a week to work on their own projects, then break for lunch together at a nearby, local dive. The other writing day is spent meeting a friend to write together and have lunch. I hope you don’t find my mention of lunching with other writers odd. It’s actually an important part of my writing life. Writing can be isolating and it’s nice to find colleagues with whom to take a break in the middle of the day.
Other than these two structured times, I fit in bonus writing-time where my schedule allows, in between carpools to sporting events, music lessons, play dates, religious school, etc.
Every once in a while I get to a point in a manuscript where I need a huge chunk of time to take a look at the big picture, to see where there are pacing issues, and to discover plot holes, inconsistencies, and redundancies. That’s when I take-off for a weekend, immerse myself in the manuscript, and come home with a concrete list of improvements, additions, chapters to edit, descriptions to hone, opportunities to delve deeper into character. Then I can take that list and work through it using the fifteen-minutes-here, twenty-minutes-there approach that real life allows.
Our readers always like to know, what kind of books do you read or what authors do you like to read?
I have diverse taste in reading. I enjoy reading fiction with a strong voice and unique perspective. I love quality women’s fiction, mainstream fiction, historical, and literary fiction. I read and love so many authors, it’s difficult to narrow it down. However, here are some of those I consider the masters. I’m in awe of Alice Munro’s ability to sum up an entire lifetime in a sentence. I love the quirky characters of John Irving, the vivid, detailed descriptions of Ayn Rand, and the strong, pithy dialogue of Ernest Hemingway. I admire the character driven fiction of Julia Glass and the expertly plotted tales of Steven King. I admire the boldness of Barbara Kingsolver to tackle multiple, first-person points-of-view in one novel, and Amy Tan’s ability to carry me to a time and place I’ve never been and make it seem real to me.
What are your goals now that DOUBLE OUT AND BACK is complete?
My primary goal is to keep on writing. I have so many plot ideas percolating in my brain, I only hope I have enough time and energy to write them all.
Are you working on any other projects currently?
I routinely share that I’m perpetually almost finished with my second novel. The first draft manuscript of a young adult fantasy novel is also awaiting my attention. And, as I mentioned above, numerous other novel concepts are in the research and development phase.
Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Sure. DOUBLE OUT AND BACK is available now at www.RedRosePublishing.com and is coming soon to other e-book outlets, like Book Strand, Mobipocket, All Romance, My Book Store and More, Barnes and Noble, Fictionwise, and Amazon. Distribution of DOUBLE OUT AND BACK is still in what I’m calling its “Sneak Preview,” e-book phase. The print book is coming soon. If you would like to learn more about me or my writing, visit my website at www.LLLeibow.com. There, you will find links to my individual blog, Lisa Leibow’s Fodder for Fiction, and my group blog, The Roses of Prose, and buttons to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Also, if any of your readers plan to be in the Albany, New York area on September 12, from 1:00-3:00 in the afternoon, stop by to join me and other select Red Rose Publishing authors for a book signing at Borders Books in the Crossgates Mall. It should be a blast!
Finally, I can’t thank you enough for having me as a guest on A Journey of Books. I really enjoyed being here.