Elisa Lorello, author of Ordinary World, discusses genres
Elisa Lorello grew up on Long Island, NY as the baby to six older siblings. Growing up during the '80s, Elisa covered her walls with Duran Duran posters and used lots of hairspray. She explored many passions, including drawing, tennis, and music, but in her early 20's, exercised her gossiping skills while working as a manicurist.
In 1995, Elisa left Long Island to attend the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth for both her bachelor and master's degrees. In 2000, as part of her graduate education in Professional Writing, she became a teaching associate, and met two professors of rhetoric and composition who took her under their wings. This union of teaching, rhetoric, and writing ultimately became Elisa's calling, and remains so to this day. She now lives in North Carolina where she teaches academic writing at North Carolina State.
In 2004, Elisa began her first novel, Faking It. Since then, Elisa has written a sequel, Ordinary World, and is currently co-writing a third novel with a friend and former student. That is, when she can tear herself away from her favorite form of entertainment--Facebook.
Find our more about Elisa by visiting her websites:
Elisa's website: www.ElisaLorello.com
Elisa's blog: I'll Have What She's Having
Facebook: Faking It Fans
By Elisa Lorello
Andi Vanzant had everything she wanted--a husband, a home, a job she loved, a cat named Donny Most. Then a drunk college student plowed into her husband's car and she lost everything...except the cat.
Andi's faced with a nightmare world and the work of trying to transform it into an ordinary world. She's certain that life will never be ordinary again but begins to find her way with the help of an unlikely support group that spans the world--a widowed mother on Long Island, a supportive boss in Massachusetts, an old boyfriend in Italy, and a fortune telling housewife in Peru.
Ordinary World is the story of a woman accepting losses and embracing gifts. To some degree it is the story every woman fears and every woman must some day live.
Genre: Chick Lit/Women's Fiction
Ordinary World is available in both print and Kindle versions.
Video (below): Elisa reading an excerpt from Ordinary World at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had to include this video clip because Elisa is fantastic! You'll definitely want to read her book after hearing this. Enjoy!
Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a print copy of Elisa Lorello's book, Ordinary World, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end. We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment.
Interview by Jodi Webb
WOW: Welcome, Elisa! Ordinary World, the sequel to Faking It, has a female protagonist and touches of romance, but also has more serious issues like the loss of a partner. From my point of view, it could fall under several categories: romance, chick lit, women's fiction, literary fiction. But what do I know! If I headed to my local bookstore under what category would I find Ordinary World?
Elisa: Great question. An agent or editor or even marketing director of a publishing company might tell you otherwise, but I categorize Ordinary World as women's fiction. Although it's a sequel to a romantic comedy, the characters and story are a bit more complex and contain more depth. The protagonist is dealing with issues of loss and relationships, not only with men but also her mother, and trying to reclaim her authentic self. And yet, by far one of the most touching responses I've received was from a widower who really related to Andi's stages of grief.
WOW: The narrowness of some categories confuses me. For instance, what differentiates women's fiction from chick lit?
Elisa: I'm going to quote directly from AgentQuery.com (a great site for writers seeking an agent!): "Chick lit often has light-hearted, amusing tales of dating woes, career foibles, and personal antics as they relate to the problems of average female 20- & 30-somethings: finding the right career, the right man, and the right attitude. The stories are usually fun, down-to-earth, quirky, and entertaining--a good beach read... Like chick lit, women's fiction often explores similar themes related to women's struggles with men, their friends and family, or their own sense of self. Unlike chick lit, women's fiction often delves into deeper, more serious conflicts and utilizes a more poetic literary writing style."
Many of my readers characterize Faking It as a beach read, and Ordinary World as something you curl up on the couch with, along with a cup of tea or hot cocoa. Others call Faking It "chick lit with oomph." Moreover, I have quite a large male readership for both books.
(An independent bookstore in Raleigh, NC shelves Faking It in Southern Fiction because they consider me a local author--makes me laugh, however, since Andi is such a New Yorker!)
[Note: Elisa is originally from New York City, as is her main character Andi. However, Elisa recently moved to North Carolina for work.]
WOW: Do you feel that categories are perceived differently by critics and readers?
Elisa: There's always been a divide between literary fiction and popular fiction. Some readers/writers of literary fiction look down on popular fiction as being too formulaic or simplified, while some popular fiction readers/writers think literary fiction is too snobby or elitist. I've read forums where readers call popular authors like John Grisham and Stephen King "hacks," and Jennifer Weiner is often hailed as the Queen of Chick Lit. And yet, these writers are quite talented and have a solid grasp of their genre. Their prosaic styles are quite different from more literary writers like Theodore Sturgeon, but I don't think it's fair to call one better than another.
I think chick lit definitely receives less respect than women's fiction because it's seen as more shallow, but I don't think it has to be the rule. In Faking It, Andi definitely spends a lot of time fixating on who's wearing what and is constantly reacting to Devin in very physical ways, but there's something else happening under the surface. She's coming to terms with who she really is and making peace with it. She makes peace with her body, her sexuality, and her way of relating to men.
WOW: From a writer's viewpoint, are very specific categories a good or bad thing?
Elisa: The categories seem to be getting narrower. The genre of romance can be broken down into historical romance, paranormal romance, mystery romance, Christian romance, and gay romance, to name a few. On one hand, it makes it easier to query an agent and have a specific category to describe your work. It's also easy for the average consumer to target his/her interests. On the other hand, I think it's getting to the point where it's so specific that an author or an agent may have difficulty determining where the work fits, and that could hinder the ability to sell it.
Faking It topped three different best-seller lists in Amazon's Kindle Store: Humor; Love, Sex & Marriage; and Contemporary Romance. However, if you'll look at what else is on the humor list, for example, you might be surprised to find it there. Ordinary World is also topping the Contemporary Romance list.
WOW: Sounds like the publishing gods that fit books into slots can't agree about your novels. What would you call Ordinary World?
Elisa: I call it a "dramedy," even though Barnes & Noble doesn't have that section in their stores! The term is usually reserved for film or television (M*A*S*H* or The West Wing, for example), but I think it applies to Ordinary World. Despite the storyline being so much about loss, there's till quite a bit of humor in the novel. Even the opening chapter has comically absurd images, although the protagonist is really suffering.
WOW: What types of books do you read?
Elisa: If you were to ask me to name the primary genre of books that I read, I don't think I could give you just one. My favorite writers range from Richard Russo to Bill Bryson to David Sedaris to Marian Keyes to Jennifer Weiner to Nora Ephron to Aaron Sorkin. Bill Bryson is known as a travel writer, but his books are hilarious. Sedaris is primarily nonfiction. Aaron Sorkin is a playwright, first and foremost, and doesn't write books. Nora Ephron was a journalist before she wrote screenplays. What these writers/authors have in common is a sense of language, wit, humor, timing, story, description, and character. Their characters are smart, as are they. Every time I read (or watch) something that these authors have written, I think, I wish I'd thought of that! and I get motivated to work on my own story. Better still is when I read something from Jennifer Weiner, for example, and notice that I did, in fact, think of something similar!
WOW: As writers, should we be considering these pesky categories as we write? I've read that if, as an author, you can't point exactly to where your book should be shelved in a bookstore you need to refine your subject. Do you agree?
Elisa: Yes and no. I think the first obligation you have as a writer is to write the best story you can, and write it well. The last thing on my mind while drafting both Faking It and Ordinary World was where it was going to be shelved. Andi's story needed to be told. However, it's very important to get reader feedback before you start querying agents or independently publish, and list to agents' feedback if they give you any. That will help you refine your writing, which will ultimately help you with genre placement.
I worried that Ordinary World was too different from Faking It in terms of style and tone, but so far it hasn't been a problem.
WOW: What's coming up next for you? And, in keeping with today's theme--under what category will we find your new book?
Elisa: My next novel is called Why I Love Singlehood and it's about a coffee shop owner who blogs about the benefits of living single--all while trying to get a date. I'm co-writing it with a dear friend and we're having a blast with it. We would definitely call it a romantic comedy--more chick lit with oomph!
WOW: That sounds fun! Thank you, Elisa, for chatting with us today, and for sharing your wisdom on genres. You really helped clarify the puzzle of book categories. :)
Want to join Elisa on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.
Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!
February 1, 2010 Monday
Elisa will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Elisa's novel!
February 2, 2010 Tuesday
What makes you a book lover? Today novelist Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, shares her thoughts on books and reading in the "Because of a Book" feature on Write for a Reader.
February 4, 2010 Thursday
What do you collect? Share your hunting and gathering instincts with Elisa Lorello, a novelist who gave the characters in her novels Faking It and Ordinary World collections of art and...bobbleheads!
February 5, 2010 Friday
The blogosphere is alive with opinions about e-books. Good, bad, or ugly? Elisa Lorello, who is releasing her second novel in both print and e-book, shares her opinions about Kindle and print books with Susan Johnston today. What are your thoughts on e-books?
February 8, 2010 Monday
Don't you just love book reviews? Stop by Fiona Ingram's blog today for her take on Elisa Lorello's novel Ordinary World.
February 9, 2010 Tuesday
Could you bow to another's muse? Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, writes today about her experience collaborating on her third book with a former student. Readers also have a chance to win a copy of her latest novel--print or e-book--winner's choice!
February 10, 2010 Wednesday
Today novelist Elisa Lorello shares her tips on leaving the humdrum behind and making your next bookstore reading fun, fun, fun! Elisa's latest novel Ordinary World is the sequel to her debut novel Faking It.
February 12, 2010 Friday
Novelist Elisa Lorello will be writing on "How to Mix Comedy with Grief" at Writer Inspired today--something she's done in her latest book Ordinary World. Stop by for a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.
February 15, 2010 Monday
Elisa Lorello will be visiting Fresh Fiction for a surprise guest post! Stop by today for a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.
February 16, 2010 Tuesday
The interesting people from Elisa Lorello's debut novel Faking It have returned in Ordinary World. Elisa talks about "The Evolution of Character" in today's post. You also have a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.
February 17, 2010 Wednesday
Today novelist Elisa Lorello writes about e-books and print books--can they co-exist? Stop by to tell us what you think!
February 18, 2010 Thursday
Get a peek into the world of novelist Elisa Lorello with an interview by Cathy Stucker.
February 19, 2010 Friday
Stop by for reviews of Elisa Lorello's Faking It and the sequel Ordinary World.
February 22, 2010 Monday
Novelist Elisa Lorello will be writing about e-books and, in celebration of blog host Michelle Fabio finally getting on the e-book bandwagon, Elisa will be giving away an e-book of Ordinary World and one of Faking It.
February 24, 2010 Wednesday
Elisa Lorello calls her latest novel Ordinary World a 'dramedy'. Find out why she thinks a combination of comedy and grief can make a book stronger. Also, don't miss the last chance to win a copy of Ordinary World! Elisa's giving away a print and e-book copy and an e-book or her debut novel Faking It.
February 26, 2010 Friday
Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, guests posts about how characters go from wisps of idea to full fledged people. And this is your last chance...drumroll please...to win an e-copy of Ordinary World. This is Elisa's last stop. What fun we've had!
To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar HERE.
We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.
If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our touring authors, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a signed copy of Elisa Lorello's novel Ordinary World! (In the print version.) And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!