I’m very excited to introduce to you Lesley Dormen, author of The Best Place To Be. She’s been on a blog tour introducing her book and today I have a short Q&A with Lesley. I hope you’ll enjoy meeting her:
BG: The Best Place to Be is a novel in stories with all the linked stories narrated by Grace Hanford. Did you write the stories in the order they appear in the book?
LD: No, I didn’t. I found Grace in the story “I Asked My Mother.” I was interested in her anger and the vulnerability that anger was a cover for. I liked the idea of creating a first-person narrator who was completely reliable or unreliable, just unreliably reliable. And she was funny. So I wrote another story, about Grace later in her life, and I began to think I might have a collection that, tied together, would supply many of the satisfactions of a novel.
BG: Aside from Grace was there another character you felt great affinity for?
LD: Grace’s husband, Richard, is a character it’s impossible not to love. He’s such a steady, unneurotic foil for Grace. Thank goodness she found him!
BG: How long did it take you to complete the novel? And, were some of the stories published separately?
LD: I worked on the novel for six years. Along the way, most of the stories were published separately, in literary magazines and The Atlantic Monthly.
BG: What would you like for your readers to come away with after reading The Best Place to Be?
LD: I hope they come away feeling they’ve been both entertained and moved. Some readers may not completely identify with Grace, but I think she gets under your skin–her flaws and vulnerabilities, as well as her resilience and her dark humor, are right there on the page
BG: You also teach fiction writing at the Writer’s Studio in Greenwich Village. How do you juggle writing your own fiction when you are trying to teach others how to find their own voice?
LD: What I tell my students is the same thing I’m always telling myself. When my writing is going well, I’m passionate about passing along my own experiences. And when it isn’t, I’m trying to be a student of my better self.
BG: When you aren’t writing do you spend a lot of time reading? What are some of your favorite books/authors?
LD: I always seem to be reading about five books at a time. Classically, some of my favorites are Austen and Flaubert. Bronte’s Jane Eyre left an enormous impression on me as a young reader, as did Dickens. Salinger is a writer I still reread. I love Virginia Woolf, Patricia Highsmith, Philip Roth, Alice Munro, Roddy Doyle, Annie Proulx, Lorrie Moore, a French writer named Annie Ernaux. Many more.
BG: What can readers expect from you next? Do you have a new book in progress?
LD: I’m working on a new novel. So far Grace isn’t in it.
Thank you Lesley for taking the time to answer my questions. I know I’m looking forward to your next book.
If you still haven’t read The Best Place to Be, I hope you’ll check out the book. You can read more about it in my full review. I may not read many short stories but what I really liked about this book is that this is a novel told in stories with the same character. I think it works so well to show us a portrait of a modern woman.
Now, Lesley was kind enough to send me a copy of her book but I actually already had my own copy. So this means, you guessed it readers, I have an extra copy I want to giveaway. I hope I’ve peaked your interest so leave me a comment and I’ll do a drawing for the book at the end of the week. Good luck!