Saturday 16 January 2016

INTERVIEW: Lara Reznik

The Flurries Unlimited team was lucky enough to have a quick chat with best selling author and screenwriter, Lara Reznik.  This is what we discussed:
FU:  You've written two books so far and several screenplays. Which is your favorite and why?
LR: That's almost like asking which of your children do you like the best.  I love each of my novels and screenplays for different reasons, but if I have to choose one, I'd select The Girl From Long Guyland. It's the quintessential story of the baby boomer generation, my generation, then and now. The narrative is told during two different time periods of protagonist, Laila Levin's life. In many ways it was like doing a jigsaw puzzle attempting to bring past and present scenes together seamlessly while building suspense along the way. At one point, I had index cards with scene synopses all over the living room. It was also the most difficult book to write because I did draw a lot from my personal background.

FU:  There are so many different genres to choose from, and, as far as your books go, you've written in two completely different ones.  How did that come about?
LR: This is such a great question. For one thing, I read a variety of genres including literary, women's fiction, historical fiction, memoir, suspense/thriller, and coming-of-age to name a few. I also find myself drawn to independent films where the story is more a slice of life than a Hollywood formula movie with X amount of car chases, sex scenes, and a cast of beautiful actors. I'm at an age where I rather write stories that move me versus try to cater to an audience. It's certainly a terrible marketing strategy. Generally, an author builds a tribe of readers who like a specific genre. However, based on over four-hundred-fifty Amazon reviews of my two books, it appears my tribe of readers are following me because they like my writing style and are willing to cross genres with me. My next book is a romantic suspense novel and the following one a real life murder mystery.
FU:  Your Amazon bio shows that you have an interesting background.  So how did you end up going from English major to IT management and back to writing? 
LR: You asked, so I'll tell you and try to keep it shorter than my dissertation. I wrote my first novel at age six so obviously creative writing has always been in my blood. But when I started college at eighteen, I didn't know I could pursue creative writing as a career. Therefore, I became an English major because of my love of literature. From Shakespeare tragedies, to Dostoyevsky and Chekov, Virginia Wolf, Jane Austen, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, and Doris Lessing, I loved them all. Along the way, I took some creative writing classes in both poetry and prose. When I graduated I worked in some really tough schools where it was more about survival than teaching. I was hit in the head with rocks on bus duty and fought with the administration over their spanking children with a paddle. So I quit teaching and got a master's degree in human resources.

In 1983, while at home with young children, I wrote my first  "real" novel. At the time, desktop computers had just emerged in the U.S. As soon as I saw the word processing capabilities of the first IBM PC computer, I had to own one to edit the novel. At the suggestion of my husband, I placed an ad in the local paper to write résumés for job seekers to pay for it. Voilà, my business, New Age Services, was born. From there, everyone who came into my home office wanted to know how to use the computer. So I tapped in on my teaching background and offered classes in word processing and spreadsheets. My business grew substantially after receiving a contract from the University of New Mexico to develop and implement a software application program. I built the Continuing Education program from inception to include six laboratories that offered over two-hundred computer classes a semester.

My family moved to Austin in 1995 where I obtained a job purchasing hardware and software for a utility. During the day I worked in IT and raised three boys. I wrote fiction in the evenings and on weekends and produced three screenplays and three novels. The screenplays were optioned and garnered numerous awards. After the break out success of The Girl From Long Guyland, I finally allowed myself the luxury of writing full-time. And here I am doing what I love, and happier than I've ever been in my whole life.

FU: They say that every character has some of the author in him/her.  Which of your characters is most like you?  In what way?
LR: There's a little of me in all my characters even the villains. I'm truly fascinated getting inside the heads of sociopaths. But I'd be lying if I didn't say Laila Levin wasn't the most like Lara Reznik. A number of Amazon reviewers are convinced the Girl From Long Guyland is my autobiography. I take that as a compliment that I was successful in creating a fictive world with a plot and cast of characters that appear quite real. The late sixties was an aberration from the rest of my relatively conservative life, and I did some pretty wild things. I wasn't as naïve or crazy as Laila, but I was a stereotypical hippie, feminist, and anti-war protestor. Evidently, the novel has struck a chord with other baby boomers’ who enjoy taking a ride down memory lane to a time when we “lived for today,” and “loved the ones we were with.”

FU: what is on the horizon?  What are your new projects? When is your next new release?
LR: My next novel, Bagels& Salsa, is due out in early May. It's a prequel /sequel to The Girl From Long Guyland. Even though Laila's husband Eduardo played a relatively small role in Guyland, he's been the hands down favorite character of many of my readers. So I decided to write a romantic suspense novel set in 1977 that is basically the story of how Eduardo and Laila met. Throw in a psychopath, a drop-dead gorgeous ex-girlfriend, some pregnant teenagers, two conniving mothers, and hilarious cultural differences and you have the ingredients for Bagels& Salsa.

 I'd like to end this interview with my sincere compliments to the Flurries Unlimited staff for doing their homework on the authors they’ve chosen to interview. I applaud them for developing very challenging questions. Thank you so much for the opportunity.
FU:  Thank you very much.  It was our pleasure. :-)

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