Monday, December 06, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted

The novelist Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted is the author of nineteen published books for adults, teens, and children. Her most recent books are The Education of Bet and The Twin's Daughter, a YA gothic mystery that Booklist says " rife with twists and moves swiftly and elegantly," and the sixth volume in The Sisters 8 series for young readers that she co-writes with her husband and daughter, Greg and Jackie Logsted. Lauren also pens the "Writer-in-Residence" column for

Lucy Sexton is stunned when a disheveled woman appears at the door one day…a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lucy's own beautiful mother. It turns out the two women are identical twins, separated at birth, and raised in dramatically different circumstances. Lucy's mother quickly resolves to give her less fortunate sister the kind of life she has never known. And the transformation in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But when Helen begins to imitate her sister in every way, even Lucy isn't sure at times which twin is which. Can Helen really be trusted, or does her sweet face mask a chilling agenda?
How did you start out your writing career?

By walking out of my day job of 11 years in 1994. I went home and, like Curious George, I sat down and began to write.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I was reminded how challenging it is to write suspense such that the reader will become confident that the ending is predictable, only to have it be anything but.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I wanted to give readers a glimpse into the identical-twin story from a perspective I'd never seen in fiction before, that of the child of an identical twin. I wanted to say something about how well we really know the people who figure most prominently in our lives. Mostly, though, I wanted to entertain people. That may not be the highest literary ambition, but in an increasingly disturbing world, sometimes that's all a writer has.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

Yes and no. I always knew I'd love being a writer and I do. But what I didn't know before is how relentless everything having to do with the writing life is. If you're lucky you get to rest on your laurels for maybe thirty seconds before the next hurdle presents itself.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

Jo March from Little Women to talk some romantic sense into her; Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby to keep him out of that swimming pool; Kit from The Twin's Daughter because I have a crush on my own literary creation - he's the most purely noble character I've ever written; Nancy Drew because I could use a little intrepid girl power in my life right around now; Carly from "General Hospital" because I admire her moxie plus I'd really like to borrow that fake diamond ring.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

How relentless it all is; how much distracting noise there is in the publishing world; how one letter from a little kid about The Sisters 8 can wipe away all the bad in a day - in the tech-era quest to reach as many readers as possible, it's easy to lose sight of that fact that just reaching one in a meaningful way represents a job well done.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do learn to take rejection and criticism well, and how to separate worthy examples of both from worthless ones. Don't ever forget that the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writers who write in the genres that aren't necessarily considered high-brow or who write books that fail to please on some level don't get up in the morning and say, "I think I'll string together 50,000 to 100,000 words - should be easy! - so I can take advantage of some poor saps." The overwhelming majority of writers are hoping to entertain and/or enlighten you and we are sorry when we do not.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

Best advice is The Five-Minute Rule, the idea that whether a review is a rave or a hate-filled pan, it deserves no more than five minutes of the writer's time and energy. The worst? It's a tie between "write what you know" and "show, don't tell" - both are so overused/misused as to be practically meaningless.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Shoot pool.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Lucy Sexton from The Twin's Daughter but that may just be because eventually she gets to kiss Kit.

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

Picturebook: Dear Tooth Fairy by Alan Durant and Vanessa Cabban; chapter book: Esio Trot by Roald Dahl; YA: Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

That I love my daughter.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

In 2011, Book 7 and Book 8 will be published in The Sisters 8 series for young readers I write with my husband Greg Logsted and our 10-year-old daughter Jackie. And my next YA novel will be published, Little Women & Me, about a contemporary teen who discovers she has an unusual relationship with the classic Louisa May Alcott novel.

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