***Thanks to everyone for commenting. The winner of Liza’s book is Comment #14 – StephTheBookworm and she’s been contacted by email!***
Welcome to my first RowenChat with the fabulous Liza Palmer. Liza’s third book, A FIELD GUIDE TO BURYING YOUR PARENTS, was just released from 5-Spot. Liza is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and she always keeps me laughing. Being that she’s on the other side of the continent, I only get to see her at RWA conferences. Worth my membership right there!
Liza has generously offered up a free, signed copy of her new release. To enter, please comment to this post and give Liza some New Year’s love! I will randomly pick a winner Wednesday, January 6th at 9:00 EST.
A FIELD GUIDE TO BURYING YOUR PARENTS
by Liza Palmer
Grace Hawkes has not spoken to her previously tight-knit family since her mother’s sudden death five years ago. Well, most of the family was tight-knit– her father walked out on them when she was 13 and she and her two brothers and sister bonded together even closer with their mother as a result.
She’s been doing her best to live her new life apart from them, but when their estranged father has a stroke and summons them, Grace suddenly realizes she’s done the same thing he had done…abandoned those who need her most.
And need her they do, for inside the hospital walls, a strange war is unfolding between the pseudo-kindly woman who is their father’s second wife and the rest of the original Hawkes clan. Upon reconnecting with her brother and sisters, Grace will find a part of herself she thought was lost forever. As they unravel the manipulative deception of the second Mrs. Hawkes, Grace will finally be able to stand up for her family– and to remember what a family is, even after all these years.
Michelle: So here we are.
Liza: I’m all hopped up on cough syrup and Imodium so bring it on.
Michelle: You in Pasadena. And me in Southern Ontario.
Liza: Me in 70 degrees and you in…
Michelle: Uh… zero degrees. On the dot.
Liza: Jesus. That’s just not even fair.
Michelle: It’s 70 degrees in my living room.
Liza: Saw Sherlock Holmes. Loved it! Jude Law. Hot.
Michelle: Jude Law is unquestionably hot, but for some reason I side with Downey Jr.
Liza: Oh, absolutely. But, it was Jude Law that was shocking to me being hot. He’s usually a question.
Michelle: What did you think of the movie?
Liza: I loved it. Loved it. I want to see it again. You weren’t the only one to be tepid with it — why didn’t you like it?
Michelle: I thought the performances and casting were great, but the plot was too hard to follow and Guy Ritchie’s direction was a bit extreme. I did enjoy the homoerotic subtext.
Liza: Oh, it was totally a romance.
Michelle: Big time. I just wanted them to start making out. I would have been fine with that.
Michelle: Hey…I started reading A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents but haven’t gotten too far into it yet.
Liza: This interview is over.
Michelle: Your voice is unmistakable though. I could tell it was you writing it even if it didn’t have your name on the cover.
Liza: Are you going to ask me what the book is about? I hate that question.
Michelle: I loved via email last week when you were talking about being more plot oriented and then described the book as being about grief, and family, etc. Described via themes rather than plot. So awesome.
Liza: Well for me — this book is way more plot oriented. With Seeing Me Naked it really was about a particular character arc and the plot was just a gauntlet for her to run. With this one, it was about really putting the Hawkes family through their paces — and dealing with abandonment, trust, loss and grief. What’s also new is dealing with a unit of people (the Hawkes siblings) instead of one heroine. Definitely an evolution.
Michelle: There’s romance in it, though, right?
Liza: Oh yes. John is quite possibly the hottest hero I’ve written to date. And the older brother, Huston, is pretty hot, too. 6’4”, blonde, lawyer…my knight in shining armor.
Michelle: Do you say that name how it looks or like Houston? Huss-ton. Hyoo-ston
Liza: Like Houston. It’s Southern. I knew a Huston back in the day, always wanted to name someone after him. Hyooston. And John — whooee. He’s a bit dark. Which was really cool. Writing someone with huge trust issues being in love with someone with huge trust issues.
Michelle: Dark is good.
Liza: He has a tattoo on the back of his neck that reads, “Never Trust a Soul.” Hot.
Michelle: My books seem to all be about control and losing control at some level. Do you find the same themes are recurring in your books — like your core story? I never realized it quite so fully until this most recent book of mine. All about control issues. And that probably says a lot about me. Mine are also about fighting change instead of embracing that what makes us different before we have the chance to be happy.
Liza: Totally. It’s always so weird to learn about yourself from this aerial view. I think I’m always about chronicling that point in time when you really dig to find our who you are and then BE THAT. I love the Chris Rock quote where he says the funniest shit is the shit that’s not funny. That basically sums up my writing.
Michelle: I always think that the funniest people are the most messed up. So many stand up comics are manic-depressive.
Liza: Well, who wants to read about someone who’s robotic and bland? I mean, we hate it in our own lives, but we have to recognize that being a bit of a mess makes great fiction.
Michelle: That’s why models are so boring. They’ve always been gorgeous and had everything handed to them.
Liza: Right, but they rely on others for everything. It’s very adolescent. There’s nothing internal fueling them.
Michelle: Does the humor in your books — and in real life — come to you naturally, or do you have to work on it? I find the more I force it, the less funny I am.
Liza: It comes pretty naturally. The more you try to be funny the more tragic it gets.
Michelle: I like humor, but it can’t all be silly crap. That’s boring. I really like a mix of comedy and tragedy.
Liza: Comedy and tragedy is the only way to go. That’s what makes David Sedaris so good. And even the BBC Office? Oh my god…so good.
Michelle: Do you have a mentor? Someone to bounce ideas off? Or do you just go with what your gut tells you?
Liza: I bounce ideas off my Mom mostly. I mean, I have another writer friend, but we mostly talk script stuff. I mean, your stories are all about — like you said — control issues and really being comfortable with who you are. The vampire stuff is just a means of transportation for those themes.
Michelle: To some extent. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Liza: YOU’RE QUOTING FREUD???? Right???
Liza: Like when you’re eating an artichoke? It’s not about the artichoke…it’s about the mayonnaise.
Michelle: Mmm. Mayonnaise.
Liza: I AM A GENIUS. BOW BEFORE ME AND MY ARTICHOKE METAPHORS!
Michelle: After I finish bowing, let’s talk NEW MOON.
Liza: OH MY GOD. Did you read that great article about why Edward Cullen is such cat nip? That he’s basically porn for women. The absolute end all be all of what women want.
Michelle: Definitely. Women, whether they’ll admit it or not, want to be loved unconditionally.
Liza: That men have these impossible women all around them all the time — beer ads featuring nakedish women with perfect bodies.
Michelle: People who don’t understand the draw of the Cullen just think he’s a creepy, obsessive stalker. Is there a fine line between a stalker and perfect man?
Liza: His only job is to love Bella. It’s fantasy. He’s the ultimate fantasy. In real life? Yeah, he’d be creepy.
Michelle: I’m constantly stunned by the amount of hate that people throw at this franchise.
Liza: It’s all about taking the big dog down.
Michelle: I wasn’t completely in love with New Moon. And I’m still not sure why. I thought Twilight had more soul for a movie even though the effects were crap.
Liza: Oh, yeah….I liked Twilight better. It was more intimate. The whole love triangle was in full effect in New Moon. But, Jacob? That’s bananas. I like that there’s some kid out there making men feel like shit about their bodies. Welcome to life as a female.
Michelle: What I didn’t like about Sherlock Holmes is the same with New Moon. And Pirates of the Caribbean (the second two) it was all sound and fury…signifying nothing.
Liza: Pirates of the Caribbean, yes. That was just a mess.
Michelle: First Pirates — brilliant. Just like the first Mummy movie. Then…not so much.
Liza: Sherlock Holmes was detailed and tight — but definitely worth seeing again. And New Moon…I don’t know. I liked it. Don’t know why. Just did.
Michelle: Oh, I liked it. But I didn’t love it. Have you seen Avatar yet?
Liza: I loathe James Cameron.
Michelle: Gasp! Cameron’s brilliant.
Michelle: Terminator 2? Titanic??
Liza: HATED TITANIC.
Michelle: SHUT YOUR MOUTH!
Liza: I. HATED. TITANIC.
Michelle: Take that back.
Liza: With a fiery passion. Every wet and waterworldly second of it.
Michelle: I can no longer be your friend.
Liza: You liked Titanic??? HOW???
Michelle: Because it was brilliant. And it made me cry like a bitch. I don’t cry at movies.
Liza: What made it brilliant?
Michelle: The plot sucked me in. The romance. The action. EVERYTHING. Even the crappy Celine Dion song.
Liza: I hear Avatar is amazing. I’m rolling my eyes, of course, as I type that.
Michelle: Worst movie of the year for me? Love Happens.
Liza: Oh really???
Liza: What…was that Jennifer Aniston?
Liza: I love her, why can’t she find a good movie?
Michelle: No idea.
Michelle: What are you working on now? The newly contracted book?
Liza: The new one is Book Four — and it’s awesome. I’m loving it.
Michelle: Does it have a title yet?
Liza: You like the title? BOOK FOUR?
Liza: We were playing with “White Picket Fences: And other crimes against humanity.” A bit long.
Liza: I’m kind of loving “When the Dust Settles.”
Michelle: That’s better.
Liza: It’s all about the choices women have. The Happy Homemaker vs. Rosie the Riveter. And how women are compelled to put forth this shiny happy life. Marriage is great, children are beautiful….and yet, we’re all kind of scared and lost. The Curse of Martha Stewart, I say.
Michelle: Does it have a release date?
Liza: Hopefully 2011.
Michelle: Are you doing a book a year? Or is it more than that now?
Liza: I want a book a year. That’s my goal. I’ve got an idea for Book Five, which is nice. And percolating is a necessary step that we all overlook and devalue. Because there’s really nothing concrete to show for it.
Michelle: You’re doing other stuff — screenwriting?
Liza: I’ve started doing some screenwriting — I wrote a TV pilot that’s getting some traction. A total departure.
Michelle: That sounds awesome. I’d love to do that too.
Liza: And I’ve started a feature script, which I’m loving. It’s a totally different muscle.
Michelle: How do you feel about reading your reviews? Bad reviews still take the wind out of my sails, even after doing this for over four years. Now I try to avoid them — GoodReads, Amazon, etc.
Liza: it’s such a siren’s song though, right???
Michelle: It is.
Liza: I never read reviews — or didn’t in the past. I’ve read my share for Field Guide.
Michelle: The more popular you are, the more haters there are.
Liza: Oh, totally.
Michelle: It’s a sign of success. I read other people’s bad reviews to make me feel better. And that’s what makes me remember it’s only one person’s opinion.
Liza: You’re evil. I never do that. Ever. Ahem.
Michelle: I can look at those bad reviews and take them with a grain of salt. But not my own.
Liza: I know…it’s not logical. It’s absolutely illogical. It doesn’t make it any less hurtful. We know that insults have more to do with the person saying them than with us, it doesn’t make it feel any better.
Michelle: God, I’m starving. I think I’m ordering in. The diet can restart in the new year.
Liza: I should probably eat something besides Robitussin today. What are you going to eat?
Michelle: Chicken wrap.
Liza: I believe In N Out Burger is calling. And I’m going to answer the shit out of that call.
Michelle: Answer that call.
Liza: Are you going to get fries?
Michelle: Maybe I am. I admit nothing. I worked out with my trainer this morning after tons of turkey and I thought I was going to die.
Liza: And look at you going to the gym. Coolio. I do yoga. And walk.
Michelle: Enjoy your 70 degree weather.
Liza: There’s the ending.
Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl which Booklist says, “…manages to infuse a message of self–acceptance that isn’t heavy-handed or cloying. This quick-witted author is sure to develop a following.” Conversations with the Fat Girl became an international bestseller its first week in publication, being named a Target Breakout book, as well as hitting Number 1 on the Fiction Heatseekers List in the UK the week before the book debuted. Conversations with the Fat Girl has been optioned for series by HBO by the producers of Rome, Band of Brothers and Generation Kill. Palmer’s second novel is Seeing Me Naked, which Publisher’s Weekly says, “consider it haute chick lit; Palmer’s prose is sharp, her characters are solid and her narrative is laced with moments of graceful sentiment.” Palmer’s third novel, A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents will be published in January 2010. Palmer currently lives in Los Angeles and is hard at work on her next novel as well as several film and television projects.
For more info, visit Liza’s website at www.lizapalmer.com