Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A perfect lie. A perfect stranger. A perfect thriller. The amazing Lisa Scottoline talks about ONE PERFECT LIE

I am always excited to host  the amazing Lisa Scottoline on the blog. Of course she is the mega-selling, New York Times Bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 29 novels, including her latest One Perfect Lie, which is about my favorite things to read about, a stranger coming to town, high school (where everything is the most dramatic) and lies. But she's also so, so smart, funny, warm, and down-to-earth that you can imagine going out for pizza and wine with her. (We should do that, Lisa!)

Thank you, thank you, Lisa!

 I always want to know about the origin of a novel. What sparked your latest nail-biter?

What sparked this novel? Honestly, something that never has before. I don't know if you've heard the adage that there are basically two plots in the world; one is that a man goes on a quest and the other is that a stranger comes to town – and they are both the same plot line, but written from the opposing point of view. That always stuck with me, and I said one of these days, I'm going to write that novel, which turned out to be ONE PERFECT LIE.

The stranger who comes to town is handsome, (of course, because what good is a stranger if he isn't handsome?), and it's clear from the beginning of the book that he infiltrates a suburban high school with the intent of manipulating one of the kids on the high school baseball team. But the stranger is telling lies, not only to himself but to everyone around him, which makes for a lot of plot twists and turns, in what I hope is an emotionally resonant novel. To say more might reveal some spoilers, so I’ll shut up.  Bottom line, I wanted to write a completely different premise within the type of book that I enjoy writing, the domestic thriller. I hope I succeeded.

I love the comment on the cover--"the most perfect lie is the one you tell yourself." Why do we lie to ourselves?

I'm so glad you like the tagline, "The most perfect lie is the one you tell yourself." Guess who wrote it? Me! I love trying to think of a tagline for my novels because it's really an exercise in boiling them down to the essential emotional truth. And I've lived long enough to have told myself lots of lies, and all of them were perfectly perfect. LOL. I'm sure that's not a good thing, but it's the truth.

There are three women in this novel, who are to a certain extent lying to themselves and so is the stranger who comes to town, but I can't reveal more. Suffice it to say that I think any novel, regardless of category or genre, has to work on several layers and that's what I'm hoping I did in ONE PERFECT LIE. I also wanted to explore the lies we tell ourselves, not only the bigger ones like whether a marriage is good, (and I feel able to write about that credibly, since I'm divorced twice).  But I also wanted to explore the smaller lies, like Facebook lies, the photos that make everything look wonderful when it isn't. That's so fascinating to me because it's so meta: in other words, we are creating our own fantasy in which we convince ourselves that everything is just fine. Facebook has turned us all into authors of our life story, in a book we write for ourselves, about ourselves, and I wanted to explore that as well.

Your novel revolves around a baseball team, and though what I know about baseball could perhaps fill a thimble, it all feels so indelibly real to me. What do you know about baseball and why did you choose this particular sport?

I don't know much about baseball, which was why it intrigued me, and especially because I'm an individual sports type. I play tennis and I ride horses, though in college I rowed in a scull with eight other women, which was when I learned that I was not a good team player. I was always out of step, either too fast or too slow, and no where is that more evident than in rowing, which requires perfect synchronicity.

Thank you so much for saying the baseball in the novel felt real, and if that's so, it's because I spent two weeks hanging with the baseball team at my local high school, watching the boys play, relating to each other and the coach, and spitting countless sunflower seeds. I learned so much more about the game than I could have put in the book because I wanted to keep the pace moving. But it was a hoot, and of course I love the way that the team fills in the gaps that a family leaves, especially for boys at the high school level, who are about to take off for the great beyond. There were times when I swear I could see the little boys in these young adults, and I found it completely charming. I know you have a son and I love when you tweet about him.  I have only a daughter, so it was foreign to me, which is why I wanted to explore it.

I also want to comment that you are known for your absolute kindness and generosity in the writing community.  And you are also hilariously funny--despite writing edge-of-the-razor-blade-thrillers. Does one impact the other at all?

Thank you so much, for your very kind words, and honestly, kindness is the watchword. I'm practically a Buddhist in my practice of kindness and I've only gotten that way more as I’ve gotten older, partly because I value other writers so much, as a book lover. In fact I have just packed my copy of your CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD to take on a book tour, because I love reading on tour. I feel so blessed to be at the point where I keep hoping that friends like you will write more, so I have something to read, LOL!

And as for being funny, I think all writers have a great sense of humor. You have to in our business, because of the struggle to get started, as well as the ups and downs thereafter. It struck me the other day that I feel as if I want to get my career to cruising altitude, and I'm still not there, after 30 novels and 60 years of life on the planet. Being a working writer is like that, so humor is as essential as carbohydrates.

 What's obsessing you now and why?

So many things are obsessing me right now, but most of them are too embarrassing to reveal. OK, I'll play. I just got back from vacation in Sedona, which is my first vacation in five years, and I loved every minute of it. So I'm obsessed with hiking. With crystals. With the Grand Canyon. With yoga. With Buddhism. Basically I went to Sedona and lost my damn mind. I even bought a book called THE TIBETAN BOOK OF LIVING AND DYING, also to read on book tour. I love learning about different religions and philosophies, especially since I wasn't raised in any particular religious tradition and the only thing I worship is chocolate cake. And the coolest thing about being a writer is that we get to educate ourselves on something we’re interested in, and it can help formulate a character or plotline for the next novel.  How cool is that? How lucky are we?  I would encourage any of your blog readers to allow themselves to follow their stray interests wherever they lead.  The wonderful writer Margaret Maron talks about serendipity in the writing process, and I believe this is an example.

What question didn't I ask that I should have?

Dearest Caroline, there's no question you should've asked that you didn't, and I always feel so honored to be a part of your blog and if I may say so, your vast circle of friends. Reading your novels, as well as your tweets, have fortified me, and I am always here for you! Thank you so much for sharing your talent and your boundless loyalty with me. Namaste.

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