Thursday, November 15, 2012

Interview with author Lisa Maliga

 Out of the Blue

I would like to thank Ms. Maliga who was kind enough to agree to an interview to go along with my review of her recent release Out of the Blue. And don't forget to check out the giveaway--info can be found at the bottom of my review for Out of the Blue

About the Book
Tell us a bit about your novel.
Sylvia Gardner is an innocent young woman who has been told by her mother that she’ll never amount to anything. Vivian Gardner repeatedly tells her daughter not to trust any man because they only want to use her. Sylvia falls in love with a British actor after seeing him on TV, a man who has no idea she exists. After two years of yearning for Alexander Thorpe, she summons the courage to take what little money she’s saved from working two jobs, and heads off to England to find him. He lives in a small Cotswolds village and that’s where she stays--in the only hotel in Windrush-in-the-Combe.
Alexander is going through a personal career crisis, as he wants to continue making art films. He still hasn’t embraced the notion of “going Hollywood.” Additionally, the walls of loneliness and booze are closing in on him as he’s between acting gigs.
After two weeks, Sylvia is running low on money, so she looks for a job. Until that fateful night when the actor enters the hotel’s pub …

What gave you the idea for Out of the Blue? How long did it take you to write?
I took some time off from work and traveled around England for several months. One of the villages where I stayed had a hotel/pub/restaurant and staff occupied two of the six rooms. One of the staff members was a gregarious Italian woman who was there to improve her English.  There was a “television personality” who had once upon a time acted in some British “telly” shows. I'd never heard of him but the way he was treated by the locals clued me in that he was important. The young Italian woman knew about him—guess she saw his shows in Italy or something, and she was really interested in the actor.
This book took about twenty years to write. I lost count of how many drafts it underwent. It got its start on DOS and I remember saving it on those 5” floppy disks. Every time I bought a new computer and/or a new version of Windows, the manuscript also was upgraded and revised.

Which character was your favourite to create? Why?
Alexander because he had to be this beacon that attracted Sylvia. I wanted him to be memorable and have lots of depth. Getting into his head was a challenge, but it was fun as he’s a decent guy, not like some of my other characters in some of my other books.

If you were asked to make a soundtrack for Out of the Blue, what songs would be on it?
Those mentioned in the book, so you’d get rock, reggae, pop, jazz and disco! For example: Passion [Rod Stewart], You Gotta Walk and Don’t Look Back [Mick Jagger & Peter Tosh], Baker Street [Gerry Rafferty], and Autumn Leaves [Miles Davis].

If your book was turned into a movie, who would you choose to play the leading characters?
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers who was in The Tudors and also played a young Elvis – quite convincingly. Another contender is Stephen Moyer [Vampire Bill in the Trueblood series] as both Alexander and as Curtis, my lead in The Wilkes House Haunting. Stephen is a bit of a chameleon so that’s why. As for Sylvia, that could be Anna Paquin or Natalie Portman.

What’s your writing process like?
Plop myself in front of the computer and start typing. Sometimes I distract myself by visiting Pinterest. There’s something therapeutic about looking at travel pictures or cute animals frolicking about. Or those photos of cakes and cookies and other desserts…and the chocolate…OK, then I got back to work again.

About the author
What is a normal day for you? Take us through your usual routine.
After having a light breakfast, I either go skating or go back to sleep for another hour.  Usually I go skating and afterwards I stop off at a park where I can walk around in a peaceful and serene environment and can feed my squirrel-friends. I’m able to reflect on my current and/or future writing projects as I walk around the lake. Then I pick up a croissant on the way back to my house and take a shower, using my own soap, and change into my comfy sweats. I’ll work on my various projects until dusk. Then I go for brief evening walk. Afterwards, I have dinner—usually pizza, Indian or Chinese takeout. I always eat and read so I try getting caught up on various books that way—as I eat slowly and read quickly. I return to my writing until around 10 o’clock and then it’s time for a movie.

When you’re not writing, what else do you like to do?
Ice skating as it’s something physical and requires lots of concentration—along with some balance. I tend not to think about anything other than what I’m doing so that’s what makes it so therapeutic both physically and mentally.
I also enjoy making my own soap and bath and body products. Within the next few months, I’ll be spending more time in the kitchen as I’m going to write and photograph another book about my aromatic creations.

Tell us about the day you found out Out of the Blue was going to be published. How did you react?

Since I’d been working on the book for so long, it seemed a bit odd. Therefore, I dove right into my next project; a chick-lit/horror novelette entitled An Author’s Nightmare.

Is there a certain book that has made a lasting impression on you?
Many books have. I think The Road did, as Cormac McCarthy is such a poetic writer and I was intrigued with the apocalyptic theme. Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White is a massive book, but so riveting--a Victorian story that doesn’t hide the grittiness of 1870’s London. Paul Theroux’s Mosquito Coast and his nonfiction work Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China along with his sequel to The Great Railway Bazaar, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star. There are tons of other books, but ultimately anything written by the Dalai Lama impresses and inspires me.

What made you want to become a writer?
I could use my imagination. I also got my first library card in kindergarten so I grew up reading a lot, especially biographies and autobiographies. I imagined writing my own book when I was in grade school. Later, I began writing one-act plays and short stories. In high school, I wrote part of my first novel and abandoned it a year later as I tried to writing a fantasy novel. That also went nowhere. I kept trying and finally managed to complete a full-length stage play followed by a screenplay. While I went out to L.A. to write movies [and some TV], I kept getting the feeling that novels and short stories were more my speed and began writing them. I didn’t have to worry about budget constraints or some of the wacky above-the-line talent.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you want to have with you?
A small grocery story and library. Maybe a Target.

What’s next for Lisa Maliga?
I keep saying I’m going to finish Leaving Nadir, the sequel to Notes from Nadir. Another horror short story is being written and will appear in a bundle along with Satan’s Casting Call and An Author’s Nightmare.
Bonus Questions

Favourite movie/TV show/food/season?  
 A few: Little Buddha, Dead Man Walking, Apocalypse Now, The Wizard of Oz, Halloween [original], Psycho, Kundun, Seven Years in Tibet, Casino, Goodfellas, The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Schindler’s List, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Hotel Rwanda, Seven, Sunset Boulevard, Gladiator, A Clockwork Orange, Platoon, Heaven & Earth, Natural Born Killers, Salvador, Scarface, Kill Bill [both], Pulp Fiction, The Terminator and it’s sequel, The Apostle, Alien and Aliens, Dawn of the Dead [2004], Ratatouille, Pinocchio, Rosemary’s Baby, JFK, Gangs of New York, Taxi Driver, and The Good loads more.

TV: Homeland, Breaking Bad, Dexter, True Blood, SouthLAnd, Mad Men, American Horror Story, Walking Dead [season 2 was boooring but this season is like season 1: intense], Dragnet [have seen all of them], Weeds [except for the last 2 seasons when it should’ve ended], Californication, Oz, Amazing Race, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Sopranos and the first few seasons of Survivor.

Who would you give the award to for best first kiss (in a movie)?
Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog in The Great Muppet Caper.

Sweet or salty?
Sweet. Namely, chocolate. Chocolate bars, chocolate shakes, chocolate ice cream, chocolate pudding, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies ...

Worst fear?
Running out of whipped cream when I’m about to have hot chocolate.

Author Bio:
Lisa Maliga has been writing ever since she learned how to put crayon to paper back in kindergarten. Since then, she has learned to type and uses a laptop, citing it as way more convenient.
A fan of taking digital photos, you will find some of them on her website and in her nonfiction books. The masthead is a shot of the Pacific Ocean taken at sundown. Variations of this photo are seen on the covers of North of Sunset and her short story collection, South of Sunset. As an avid squirrel-watcher, all photos in Squirrels in the Hood were taken by the author.


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