Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been friends for 25 years. In college, they made a vow to one day write a book together. And THAT is where anything common about this tale comes to an end. Because not only did they follow through with their promise … they kept at it and kept at it until Simon & Schuster bought not one, not two, but THREE of their manuscripts! I’m so happy to welcome this dynamic duo to Skipping Midnight.
After the interview, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Your Perfect Life.
Before we get into what Your Perfect Life is about, I’d love to hear a bit about the road you took to get here. Before landing the deal with Simon and Schuster, you wrote two other manuscripts. Where are these now?
Our road to publication was hard and full of many rejections along the way, but we were prepared for that. In fact, the more NO’s we heard, the harder we tried. Our first two manuscripts didn’t sell, but in hindsight, we’re thrilled they didn’t. Because we probably—make that definitely—wouldn’t have ended up with the dream team we have now. And we feel so lucky to have our incomparable agent, editor and publisher. Timing is everything and when we wrote Your Perfect Life, we could feel that it was different—we were proud of the characters we’d created and the humorous, yet heartfelt story.
Knowing what you know now about the industry, why do you think Your Perfect Life had a different outcome?
That’s a hard one because the industry is so subjective that you never really know the answer to a question like this! But here’s what we think is at least part of the answer: When we wrote the prior two manuscripts, we were trying too hard to write what we thought the industry wanted. And when we did that, we compromised ourselves too much. Once we said, eff it, we’re going to tell the story we want to tell, it all seemed to fall into place.
Haha. I like that. Now, what is Your Perfect Life about and why do you think people will love it?
Your Perfect Life is the story of two long time best friends who wake up the morning after their twentieth high school reunion to discover they’ve switched bodies. (It’s not autobiographical, we swear!) We hope readers will love it because they’ll be able to relate to wondering what someone else’s life is really like. In the case of our protagonists, Rachel and Casey, they are best friends who have grown up together, yet there is still so much they don’t know or understand about the other’s life. The story has its Freaky Friday-esque laugh out loud moments, but there are also emotional points in it too. And we hope when the reader finishes our book, she (or he!) will be able to say, I just read a novel that was entertaining and enjoyable. In a nutshell, we want you to be satisfied.
Because my series is about best friends who happen to be fairy tale princesses, I’d love to know: Which fairy tale character (doesn’t have to be a princess and doesn’t have to be Disney), can each of you relate to the most? Which would you be if you had to choose?
Lisa: This is the perfect question for me right now because I have a three-year-old daughter. It’s Princess-ville USA over here! I’d love to be Princess Anna or Elsa from Frozen, and not just because I’ve seen the movie 1,000 times, but because of the theme of this movie—that true love comes in all shapes and sizes and it doesn’t have to be a knight in shining armor who can love you so much he can save you. (For the one or two people on the planet that don’t know, in this movie, a true love’s kiss comes from Elsa to her sister Anna.) This also reminds me of YPL. Rachel and Casey make life-changing sacrifices for each other that tap into a unique love/bond/friendship that we hope our readers will relate to—one that can often only be shared between women.
Liz: That’s easy: Belle! Have you seen that girl’s bookshelf? Beast really hooked her up with that library! But also, I love that Belle was willing to look past the fact that Beast was, well, A BEAST and saw what was underneath—it’s a lesson I try to teach my kids as well. (And I also let them know she got hooked up with a totally hot prince at the end as a reward!)
Interesting. I always thought the prince at the end of Beauty and the Beast looked like Fabio. But moving on … Even with a large publishing house like Simon & Schuster, it’s often hard to get your titles out there. How do you make sure your work reaches its target audience?
We’re treating the launch of our novel like the launch of a business. We have an amazing publicity team, but we’re also out there personally making sure our book is getting into the hands of the people who can share it. We have walked into book stores and libraries to set up events, have reached out to bloggers and other authors for help and have come up with strategies for how to best utilize social media. We are constantly on the phone coming up with new ideas be a lot of sleep in the next couple of months!
As you know, a writer’s life is certainly not an easy one—from rejections to dwindling sales, to tough reviews, and so on. How did you get through the bad days?
We’re lucky because there are two of us. So we’re usually not both feeling down at the same time. Or if for some reason we are, one of us usually isn’t feeling as bad as the other. So the one that’s got a little more positivity in her can talk the other off the ledge. But if for some reason that doesn’t work, sleep always helps and tomorrow is always a new day.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you can share with aspiring writers?
Always take a day off after getting feedback before deciding its value. Often, your initial reaction can be defensive. Take a day, mull it over, and then go back to the manuscript with fresh eyes. And no matter what, just keep writing!
Your next book, The Status of All Things, is due out in 2015. What can you tell us about that?
We’re very excited about this book because we think it taps into something we can all relate to—feeling pressure to only show your perfect self, perfect life, perfect everything on social media. We each have different people we’re friends with online whose lives always look like a glossy advertisement and we wondered, what is really going on behind those filtered photos? What would that person really say about her day if she felt like Facebook was a safe space to be honest? And we came up with the idea for the book. It’s about a woman who realizes she can change her life by what she writes in her Facebook status. There’s magical realism mixed in with very real emotions and feelings. And we can’t wait to share the novel with you!
In addition to checking their website, lizandlisa.com, be sure to keep up with them on Twitter (@LizandLisa), Facebook, and Instagram. Your Perfect Life is available for pre-order at both Amazon.com (US) and Amazon.co.uk (UK).
ENTER TO WIN!
Comment below to win a print copy of Your Perfect Life (US addresses only, please.) The giveaway will remain open until 11:59 p.m. (PST) Tuesday, June 3, at which point a winner will be chosen at random.
Best of luck to you all!
FEED YOUR BEACH BAG!
Also at Amazon, Desperately Ever After is available in both print and e-book formats. Centered around a group of friends who just happen to live in castles … it’s Desperate Housewives meets the Brothers Grimm, perfect for “Once Upon a Time withdrawal” (says Chick Lit Central) and a great beach read!
Next Wednesday, June 4, author Aven Ellis will stop by to talk about life, writing, and the road she took to publication. Plus, she’ll give one lucky reader an e-copy of her latest release, Waiting for Prince Harry.
Mark your calendars!
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