Keira: How is your own writing like writing for a soap opera?
Libby: When writing comedy, I’m attracted to outlandish plots, stories that really make me giggle when I think “what if . . .” Soap operas often construct far-out stories, too, and I think the challenge is the same—to keep the readers/viewers caring about the characters and their stories even as they trip merrily off into CrazyWorld.
Keira: What goes on backstage in your writing?
Libby: Well, every morning I wake up to the smell of fresh-roasted Columbian coffee served to me on the lanai by my pool boy, Frederico. Then I have my first massage of the day. After that, my psychotherapist stops by to go over with me whatever “issues” I need to work out before starting to write. Finally, late morning, I approach my office, sit at my computer, sip on herbal tea lovingly prepared by Hilda, my housekeeper, eat bonbons and write until about noon, when I alight to the gazebo in the middle of my Victorian-replica garden for a light repast, usually a salad with goat cheese and apricots and sliced almonds. After lunch, I retire to the media room to watch Days of Our Lives. Then it’s off to nap, more writing, dinner with friends, and theater, the movies or a concert with darling hubby. It’s a grueling schedule.
Sigh. I wish. What usually goes on “backstage” is I try to fit writing around my schedule of freelance projects (writing and editing), laundry, shopping, cleaning, etc.
Keira: What are your top three favorite soaps and why?
Libby: I love Days of Our Lives and have been a loyal fan for years. They have some great villains on there now – Victor and Stefano – and some good core families. I loved Another World when it was on for similar reasons, but also because it mastered the “haves” vs. the “have-nots” story arc so well. Virtually all of their stories had that theme in them. And I’ve occasionally caught bits of The Young and the Restless, which seems to me to be a bit slower-paced and elegant. But its time slot interferes with Days, and I can’t watch soaps all day!
Keira: What are three reasons why Frankie should choose one the hunky leading man, Luke?
Libby: Luke offers her youth, the possibility of a family, and a similar background. He’s in her “peer group” – around her age.
Keira: What are three reasons why Frankie should choose Victor, the older, but dashing executive?
Libby: Victor offers her financial security, unwavering love, and shared values. Although he’s in a different age group and from a different background, their outlook on life is remarkably similar.
Keira: Before becoming a writer you worked in a whole slew of parts including a Spanish gypsy, a Russian courtier, a Middle-Eastern slave, a Japanese Geisha, a Chinese peasant, and a French courtesan. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that time in your life! It sounds so exciting!
Libby: I started out in music, actually getting two degrees from a conservatory in voice performance. For several years after graduating, I sang in the union choruses of Baltimore and Washington Operas, which was a phenomenal experience. I loved singing at the Kennedy Center with Washington Opera in particular. Going through those “stage doors” was a thrill.
Keira: I love your commercial writing tips in Throw Another Bear in the Boat. What are some tips you’d give about editing your writing?
Libby: I’m so glad you asked that because I’m also a freelance editor. Writers could really increase their chances at publication (and win over the hearts of their editors) by being careful about little things. Make sure you keep character names consistent. Don’t mess up the timeline. (Eight days in a week? Two weeks in a season? Uh, not so much.) Work hard on the beginning of the novel. It has to first catch an editor’s eye before it catches the eyes of average readers.
Keira: What is the most interesting thing anybody has ever said about your writing?
Libby: Hmm. . . don’t know if I could single out any one thing. I guess I have found it interesting when a manuscript is rejected by an editor with a lot of praise that reads like back cover blurbs. That has me scratching my head.
Keira: You’re under contract to write a third book – can you tell us anything about it yet or is it all under wraps?
Libby: Technically, I’m not under contract yet. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge to publisher. LOL!). But I am working on a third comedy. Tentatively called Wrong Place, Right Time, it involves a college professor who has spent his academic life (he’s only in his thirties) studying an obscure German monk, Aefle the Miniscule, becoming an expert on the monk’s writings. Returning to his hometown for his cousin’s wedding, the prof gets drunk at a bachelor party, loses his glasses, wanders into the wrong church the next day and stands up to stop the wedding at the “Is there anyone here. . .” part, on a dare made the night before. The bride (owner of a local car dealership), however, has been having serious doubts about her nuptials, so she grabs the chance to leave the altar and runs off with the professor. The groom sues her for breach of contract, goes after the prof for tortuous interference in a contract, and legal, academic, car dealership problems and more aborted weddings –as well as hilarity – ensue. I have a lot of fun lampooning academe in this book. If you would like to read it, please contact editors the world over telling them they must buy it! LOL!
Keira: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Libby: Only that I love writing and feel so blessed to be able to get books published. The publishing business is tough, filled with rejection, so it’s heartwarming to hear from people who like my books. You can visit my website at www.LibbysBooks.com or my blog, which I’ve been updating more regularly now – www.LibbysBooks.blogspot.com — or drop me a note at Libby_Malin@hotmail.com if you’d like to be put on my email list. Also, you can friend me on Facebook at Libby Malin Sternberg. Thank you so much for having me as a guest!
MY OWN PERSONAL SOAP OPERA BY LIBBY MALIN—IN STORES APRIL 2010
Is life stranger than fiction, or vice versa?
Frankie McNally has found the perfect solution for life’s perplexing problems: as head writer for the daytime soap Lust for Life, she works them out on the air!
Meanwhile, Frankie’s being courted simultaneously by the dashing older man sent in to save the show’s sagging ratings and by the soap’s totally hot leading man. And just when Frankie thinks the plot couldn’t get more complicated, a jewel thief starts copying the show’s storyline-a development that could send the show’s ratings soaring, if it doesn’t get Frankie arrested first…
In her signature blending of the hilarious with the poignant, Libby Malin’s latest light-hearted novel combines the best of life and of fiction into an entertaining and incredibly satisfying read.
Buy: My Own Personal Soap Opera
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Libby Malin is published in women’s fiction, including Fire Me, and is an Edgar nominated YA mystery writer. She’s worked in public relations, as an education reform advocate, and was a member of the Vermont Commission on Women. She lives with her husband and three children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information please visit www.LibbysBooks.com.
Giveaway: 2 winners will receive their very own copy of My Own Personal Soap Opera. Open to US and Canada readers only. Enter by telling us why you love soaps or by asking Libby a question! One entry per relevant comment; multiple entries allowed. Ends: April 22, 2010. Best of luck!