Today I have the good fortune to interview Lori Reisenbichler on her novel, Eight Minutes. Lori is more than happy to talk to book clubs if anyone is interested!
1. Tell us a little about Eight Minutes…
Eight Minutes is the story of a suburban mom who becomes suspicious of her three-year-old son’s imaginary friend, and becomes convinced that he’s neither imaginary nor friendly. Her husband, a rational engineer, thinks she’s reading too much into it, but she can’t let it go.
The seed of the story was planted when my son came back from a visit to a flight museum in Tucson talking about a grown man he talked to named John Robberson. The dialogue at the beginning of chapter two is verbatim. Like Shelly in the book, I jumped all over my husband for not supervising our son. My son talked about John Robberson every day after that and not in a typical, playful way. Like Shelly, I noticed and worried about it, but unlike Shelly, I dropped it. Within a couple of weeks, John Robberson seemed to go away and now, my son is eighteen years old and doesn’t know what I’m talking about.
2. What do you love the most about writing?
For me, writing is a luxury. Even though I love stories and have always been an avid reader, I never considered writing as a career option. I wasn’t an English major. Writing always came easily to me, but producing a novel wasn’t on my bucket list. Until I started trying to do it. It’s harder than it looks, folks. Which, for me, makes it a perfect fit. Writing is a creative pursuit that’s challenging enough that I have to keep learning and fun enough that it feels like playing.
3. Do you write everyday? What is your writing routine like?
I treat it like a job. I block out time on my schedule Monday through Friday, wake up, take a shower, get dressed and go to work. I have about three or four coffee shops that I have on rotation, where I know I can sit and write in peace. I have to get out of the house to kick into work mode.
4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
When I got serious about writing, I went back to school. I got an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University, which is in Louisville, Kentucky. They have a low-residency option so I only had to be away from home ten days each semester, and the rest of the time I had a private writing coach. For me, I needed to take this step, but I know it’s not for everyone. There are lots of resources out there. My advice is this: learn your craft, however you can. Keep your standards high and find a small circle of people who share your high standards and will hold you to it. Those are your first readers. I’m not saying that it has to be perfect, but the rookie mistake I see most often is that the writer gets frustrated and just wants to be finished. Hang in there. Learn more. Make it better. Don’t put your work out in the world too early.
5. What are your top three favourite novels?
This is a really hard question because it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to three. I’m going to forego naming the classics, but they are all on my list. Instead, I’m going to give you three women writers who I would read anything they wanted to write:
1. Audrey Niffenegger, especially HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY. Twins. Ghosts. Beautiful sentences. Who could ask for more than that?
2. Louise Edrich, whose work is full of magical realism in a uniquely American way. Hard to pick a favorite but A PLAGUE OF DOVES is high on the list. It’s not exactly a page-turner kind of beach read, but it’s fantastic. It’s got everything from snake handlers to kidnapping and miracles. (Do I sound a little like Stephan on Saturday Night Live?)
3. Lorrie Moore. She’s a short story writer that delivers the perfect mix of funny and smart. BARK is her latest, but if you can get your hands on any of her work, you’ll start to love short stories.
If I can sneak three more in on you, I’d recommend these books by debut authors: GOLDEN STATE by Stephanie Kegan, SECRET DAUGHTER by Shilpi Gowda, and MY JANE AUSTEN SUMMER by Cindy Jones.
6. What are your writing goals?
I want to write book club books. My first writing goal is to write in an accessible way – easy reading, fast paced, plenty of surprises and twists—about issues that everyday women deal with all the time –like families, relationships, issues of the heart and soul.
It only took me about a year to write EIGHT MINUTES, but it took me four years to revise it, get an agent and get it published. Because it needed that time and all those revisions. I hope it doesn’t always take that long. My latest writing goal is to write faster and get to the finished product more efficiently.