My name is Liz Borino and I’m 23. I’ve lived in four states and in Venice (for three weeks, but it counts!). No matter where I am, there’s a constant dialogue in my head of stories untold. Many years ago, I started writing down some of these stories and that’s how Expectations came about.
Expectations depicts the story of twins Matt and Chris, who are trying to win their overbearing father’s approval and ‘earn’ their trust funds. This requires both of them to make huge sacrifices in what they want in life and they have to come to terms with whether or not it’s actually worth it.
Introduce us to Matt and Chris. Can you tell us a little about their personalities?
Let’s start with the fact that they’re identical twins, which gives them a spiritual connection to each other. This connection comes into play several times in the story. It’s how Matt knows when Chris gets hurt and Chris realizes the emotional pain that leads to his brother’s alcoholism. No matter what they’re dealing with individually they make it a top priority to be there for the other.
Now to actually answer the question, especially at first, Matt is a people pleaser. He works at a job he hates, to ensure his father’s approval and acquisition of his trust fund and he continues to do this until the people he loves are threatened. Chris, on the other hand, takes no crap from his father and once he admits his feelings for Aiden makes the decision to put that first. He’s always been seen as defiant in his father’s eyes.
Now that you’ve reached 'The End' and have polished all you can polish, do you miss the characters you spent so much time bringing to life? Which of your novel’s characters do you have a special soft spot for in your heart?
Well, first of all, the polishing is nowhere near over. I’m waiting to get Lazy Day’s edits and then I’ll spend quite a bit of time doing everything I can to make sure the story is the best it can be. And my characters are alive and well on my blog, where I still post, though less frequently, through their point of views. But, yes, I do miss their constant chatter. However, I know other characters will start talking soon. Actually, they already have. The problem is deciding which set to listen to.
My favorite character? I’d have to go with Chris. From the very beginning he was determined to be who he was and his love and support for Aiden is unconditional. I really do love them all for different reasons.
What do you hope readers take with them after they've had the chance to read your novel?
I hope people realize their lives are their own and making compromises for what they really want in life will make them miserable in the end. On the other side, there’s a lesson for those trying to change their family and friends into what they believe to right. It rarely works, and it always alienates the people you think you’re helping.
So, have you come back down to Earth after receiving a contract offer from Lazy Day Publishing or are you still walking on sunshine?
Can I say both? Then, I’ll go with that. I’m still beyond thrilled, but I realized the other day that since my novel comes out in just a little over two months =O…there’s a lot of work to be done on it in a short amount of time. But you know what? Its work I’m happy to do and I’ve got a great support system in the publishers and other authors at Lazy Day. I couldn’t imagine a better outcome.
Tell us a bit about your path to publication. What route did you take for getting your story published? Did you do a lot of agent/publisher querying?
At first I did the traditional agent query/contest submission, only to receive form rejection letters and not make it to the second round. So, I stopped and reevaluated-everything. I fixed my query letter, word count, and the places I was querying. After honing in on my genre and editing my book down, by 40,000 words, I began looking for other opportunities in publishing. I wanted someone who understood and believed in my story. And that’s exactly what I got.
Rejection. As authors, we really have to learn to roll with it. And sometimes, it seems like the positive rejection is harder to swallow than the blunt, negative kind. How did you cope with it? Did you receive any passes on your work that really made you scratch your head?
Probably my most ‘devastating’ pass was from a big contest Amazon holds every year that seeks unpublished work. I put devastating in quotes because really I wasn’t. Would it have been easier if it was accepted and I got catapulted to stardom with my first book? Sure. But nothing really comes easy and now I’m grateful it didn’t get published in that form. It was far too rough.
What is your take on the ever-changing face of the current publishing climate? Obviously the digital age has reached our bookshelves with readers like the Kindle and Nook. You have those who sit on the fence, happy to have their paper and ink books but see benefits to the eBook trend as well. Then you have the vocal opposing factions of print versus digital. Where do you stand?
I think eBooks are the way of the future. However, I’m not about to say that paper won’t be around in a decade. I just don’t think it’ll be the main way we consume books.
How do you write? Are you organized in how you put together your work, or do you tend to let the words flow as they may? Where do you go or what do you do when you need some inspiration?
I’m a pantser all the way! Seriously, I find out the story as the characters tell it to me. I generally know the elements I want to include, for this story a dance recital, family ties, to name a few. But Expectations has changed SO MUCH since it’s conception. I know it wouldn’t have gone through these changes if I had an outline made up.
There is an endless supply of resources available in the bookstores and online. We can Google how to format our manuscripts, how to piece together a query, what agents are or aren't looking for, and so on. Sometimes, though, the best advice comes from someone who's been living the process-writing, submitting, revising, etc. If you had the chance to offer advice to somebody who was about to take the plunge into writing their own novel, what would you say to them?
Don’t take advice! No, really, don’t. there’s so much conflicting voices out there, “follow the market”; “Write what you love”; “Make an outline”; “Let the story flow”;…you get the picture. Every writer is different, as is every story. There’s no one path to success. I say do your research and follow your gut.
I think everybody has a guilty-pleasure book or series they turn to for sheer entertainment and escapism. What's your favorite guilty-pleasure read?
I like The Secret books. They give me a sense peace as I read them. I’m not sure if I completely believe in the Law of Attraction, but I’m finding more and more personal evidence for it.
I’ll always credit Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird as the source of my love for reading and writing. Who is your literary inspiration, and why?
As a teenager, my inspiration was S.E. Hinton. She wrote and published The Outsiders at age 14. That’s exactly what I used to tell people when they told me not to take my writing so seriously. Also, most of her books are told from the point of view of young men, something I’ve always done…and no, I have no explanation for that.
Now my writing inspiration probably lies in Michael Cunningham. His books are profound, while at the same time as being engaging. I really admire the fact that he not only writes Pulitzer Prize winning novels, but also writes the screenplays for his books that turn into movies.
A very special thank you to Liz for paying a visit to The Dirt and not laughing at me while I tried to channel Lois Lane and pull together some sensible questions. Check out her blog here, and remember to add her novel, Expectations, to your shopping cart on December 1, 2010!