Allow me to introduce Lori Reisenbichler whose compelling debut novel EIGHT MINUTES is the latest must-read for book clubs and women’s fiction readers. Lori took time to share background information on her novel as well as insights into her writing process and advice for aspiring authors. And (ahem) be sure to read to the end to discover Lori’s favorite author.
Tell us about EIGHT MINUTES.
EIGHT MINUTES is the story of a suburban mom who becomes convinced her three-year-old son’s imaginary friend is neither imaginary nor friendly. Her husband thinks she’s overreacting, but she feels she must follow her instinct to protect her son, eventually putting both her marriage and her sanity at risk, to rid her family of something she can neither see or explain.
How did you get the idea for this book?
My son had an imaginary friend named John Robberson. On a visit to my parents in Tucson, all the men in our family—my father, my brother, his sons, my husband and our son (age three at the time) went to the flight museum there. When they returned, my son told me about meeting a grown man named John Robberson, which my husband knew nothing about. The dialogue at the beginning of Chapter Two is verbatim.
Like a lot of moms, I thought it was cute that he had an imaginary friend. But John Robberson didn’t fit my perception of what imaginary friends were supposed to be. My son was very matter-of-fact about him, and they didn’t play together or anything. John Robberson was just there. All the time. It kind of creeped me out, but in a few weeks, my son stopped talking about John Robberson.
Now, my son is 18 years old and doesn’t remember anything about it, but that’s where my interest in imaginary friends began.
Evidently, children all over the world share this common experience – that between the ages of three and six, they see invisible people. Yet the explanations of what this means varies by culture, by how the parents interpret it and explain it to the child. In America, we call them imaginary friends, but there are lots of explanations out there. EIGHT MINUTES is the story of an American mom who is open to an alternative cultural explanation.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a coffee shop writer. I have to wake up, take a shower and get dressed for the day before my brain registers that it’s a work day. I have about three or four shops in my rotation right now. I get a nice chai or breakfast tea with milk, put on those noise-cancelling headphones and get to work. I’m afraid I’m too extraverted to be able to stay home in my pj’s and crank out pages. I just get depressed and start binge-watching old TV shows until my family comes home. Then I run and take a quick shower before they catch me. It’s not pretty.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Three things I recommend before you start trying to be a writer:
1. Get good at lying. Lie like you mean it. Lie like you would if your kid needed you to cover for him. Lie about something that doesn’t matter and see if you can get all the details straight and it all sounds credible. Writing a novel is very much like constructing a huge, complicated lie that works and involves way too many people. It has to look true from every angle.
2. Watch people like it’s a sport. When I was in high school, my sisters and I loved to people-watch. We’d sit on a bench somewhere and make up stories about everyone who walked by. “That guy is Randy. Her name is Danielle and she’s Daddy’s princess. Poor Randy; no way he can measure up. And he knows it. Look at the way he’s walking.” Ha! I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was honing my observation skills. We practiced honing in on one or two details about someone’s appearance and making broad sweeping generalizations about his character. We got good at it.
3. Read like crazy. Read everything, even if you don’t think you’re going to like it. Read romance and sci-fi and memoirs and classic Russian novels and short stories and spy stories and magical realism and celebrity biographies…Read widely and often.
Three things I recommend once you’ve decided to be a writer:
1. Write. Write more than you read about writing. Write more than you talk about writing. Write more of your own work than you read of someone else’s.
2. Learn your craft. I went back to school for an MFA degree; it’s not the right thing for everyone. Go to conferences, writing retreats, anything. Take online classes. Go to your local literary center and take classes there. Do writing exercises. Prompts. Whatever helps you learn. But hold a high standard, and learn your craft.
3. Read like crazy. See above. Only now, work harder at tearing it apart and underlining beautiful sentences and scenes that work…it’s another way to learn your craft.
Who is your favorite author?
Cindy Jones. Perhaps you’ve read her work…
EIGHT MINUTES is available now on Amazon.com in paperback, kindle and audio. You can reach Lori at www.lorireisenbichler.com, Lori Reisenbichler on Facebook, or @LReisenbichler on Twitter. She’s available for visits to your book club and has a Reading Guide available. Please contact her at [email protected] for more information.