Please share with readers who Lou Aronica is?
I’ve been hanging around the book publishing world for more than thirty years now. I started at Bantam Books, ultimately becoming Deputy Publisher there. Then I moved to Berkley Books to become Publisher and then took the same title at Avon Books. About ten years ago, I left New York publishing to focus on my own writing and working with other writers. Blue is my sixteenth book, though it is only the third that I’ve published under my own name (the others were published pseudonymously or with me as a ghostwriter). When I first started writing, I wanted a bit of anonymity because many people in the publishing world knew me and I wanted to stay under the radar. Last year, though, I had my first New York Times bestseller as a writer and it was a book that I published under my real name. I think I’ll only be using my real name on books in the future.
On the personal side, I’m married and have four children ranging in ages from twenty-two to five. It’s a full like, thankfully.
What type of hobbies do you enjoy?
The two diversions I love the most are cooking and music. I’m a fairly serious foodie and I’m regularly trying new ingredients and creating new recipes. I also love going out to eat, so we spend a good deal of time either in or traveling to restaurants. We have a family of foodies, and we’ve been known to drive an hour and a half for some great pie. With music, I’m constantly downloading new music (always legally – those of us in the intellectual property business need to stick together) and trying to find new artists. I also have a little recording studio in my basement, and I write songs.
Where is your favorite place to travel and why?
My favorite place I’ve been is Tuscany. The combination of food, culture, history, and setting is unbeatable. Taormina on the Sicilian coast is a close second. In fact, if I could choose one place to go on a writing retreat, it would be Taormina. I’d have a view of Mount Etna from my window and hopefully have more creative eruptions than the volcano had.
When you are writing, do you listen to music or do you prefer the silence?
Because I love music so much, I’ve tried writing to it, but I’ve found it too distracting. I’ve tried several combinations: music I knew well (I found myself singing along too often), music I didn’t know at all (I found myself too intrigued), instrumental music (better than the others, but still too present), but I’ve always found that it breaks my concentration.
Do you think your past experience as a publisher in the book world helps you in writing novels?
I think my experience as a publisher helped somewhat, as it helped me to judge my own writing from a professional perspective. What helped even more was working with the great writers I worked with over the years. Getting to see how truly accomplished writers work and evolve their stories was like taking a decades-long master class in fiction writing.
You have a creative development company named The Fiction Studio. Please tell readers what The Fiction Studio is?
The Fiction Studio is a company dedicated to creating original works (all my solo writing and collaborative work comes under this banner) and to working with writers to refine their own work. I’ve helped writers develop stories from the idea stage, I’ve helped writers polish their manuscripts, I’ve rewritten books for writers, and I’ve done everything in between. When I left the corporate side of publishing, I felt that there weren’t enough services available to writers that offered a publisher’s perspective while still being completely sympathetic to the writer’s perspective. That’s what I’ve always tried to do with The Fiction Studio.
You are launching a new branch of The Fiction Studio…The Fiction Studio Imprint. How is this different?
The imprint is a direct response to the business model shift that is underway in the industry. Traditional publishing is undergoing huge changes because of the explosive growth of digital delivery. Self-publishing has become a viable option for writers, but the problem with most self-publishing is that it lacks the professional standards of traditional publishing. With the Fiction Studio imprint, I wanted to put together a digital publishing operation that maintained the standards of a New York house. I’m putting a very high emphasis on editorial quality and presentation because I think these issues are even more important in the digital world.
Your latest novel, Blue was a product of six years in the making. What took so long?
There were a couple of things at play here. One was that this novel was much more important to me than anything I’d done before. I was dealing with issues that mattered a great deal to me, things like father-daughter relationships, the consequences of divorce, and the need for and possibilities of imagination. I wanted to do justice to those themes, so I took my time with the writing.
The other issue was that the novel kept developing layers. Every time I thought I’d finished, another component of the story emerged. Each of these layers required a complete rewrite of the manuscript.
Before this, the longest I’d ever taken to write a piece of fiction was nine months, and the longest I’d ever taken to write a book was a year and a half. This was quite a surprise to me.
Did you have a favorite character in the book?
My oldest daughter Molly was the inspiration behind this novel. While nothing that happens to Becky in Blue actually happened to Molly (at least I don’t think she’s ever traveled to a fantasy land, though I’m sure she didn’t tell me everything she did in college), I had Molly in mind the entire time. For that reason, Becky is decidedly my favorite character, though I also have a great deal of fondness for Chris’s friend Lisa because she never lets him wallow.
How did you come up with the magical world of Tamarisk?
Tamarisk was actually a bit of a challenge as a creation because it had to be a world that was created in stories told between a father and his very young daughter – but I didn’t want it to come off as cute. I battled this for several drafts of the novel. The evolution from the Tamarisk I started with – which had things like talking fish and lots of candy-coated images – to the Tamarisk that appears in the actual novel was dramatic. Two ideas came to me to help me make the world that shows up in the book. One was that I decided that Becky would evolve the world as she got older. As she grew more sophisticated, her vision of Tamarisk became more sophisticated as well. The other idea was that, when Becky decided that she would no longer tell Tamarisk stories, Tamarisk started to evolve on its own. Therefore, the Tamarisk that readers see is more nuanced than the one its creators envisioned.
What are some of the new books that The Fiction Studio Imprint will be publishing in 2011?
There are eight books planned for the first half of the year and they range from a wildly imaginative teen science fiction novel to an intense and very fresh twist on a serial killer story to a delicate and profound novel of character set in a small Canadian town. Right now, there’s no specific focus for the imprint other than that I am quite fond of each of these novels. I think I’m going to stick with that plan for the conceivable future.
Any last words?
Thanks for having this chat with me. As you’ve probably guessed, Blue is hugely important to me, so I appreciate every opportunity to talk about it. If your readers have any questions about it or about The Fiction Studio, they can always write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for this interview.
Fourteen year old Becky just wants to be a normal teenager. Becky’s father, Chris knows that sending as much time with his daughter is very important to him. That is why, when Becky starts visiting the magical world of Tamarisk, while at his home, he does not care. Tamarisk is a place that Chris and Becky made up a long time ago. There in the land lives a Queen named, Mina. Some thing is wrong in Tamarisk. Mina needs Becky’s help. Can Becky help Mina save Tamarisk before it is too late?
Blue is the first novel I have read by Mr. Aronica. This book kind of reminded me of the movie, Bridge to Terabithia. I admit that I have never read the book but the movie was good. If you saw the movie you will remember that the two main characters, Jess and Leslie created this magical, fantasy world. Just like the movie, Blue is enriched with great characters, a moving story line, and an author who will have you want to read more of his work. I could feel the anguish Chris felt for his daughter and wanting to spend as much time with her as he possibly could. The world of Tamarisk is full of intriguing people, who are almost as real as Becky. Blue is a five star read in my books!
Courtesy of Mr. Aronica, he is giving one lucky reader the chance to have their story critqued by him. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Comment on this post about this interview and leave a email address. The winner will be picked on January 16th.