I am interviewing author Lauren Baratz Logsted today. If any of you are familiar with her works, you know what a treat this is! Ms. Baratz Logsted has written some 31 books, ranging from children’s books to teens, to adult novels. I recently had the joy of reading THE BRO MAGNET, a “bromantic” comedy of epic proportions. Laugh out loud funny at almost every turn of the page, THE BRO MAGNET is sure to keep you in stitches throughout. I hope you enjoy this conversation with author Lauren Baratz Logsted.
S. M. Nystoriak: Normally I would begin an interview with an author about where they hailed from, what their impetus for becoming a writer was, etc. But we’ll get to that. Lauren, your writing in The Bro Magnet had me laughing out loud on just about every page. I nearly hurt myself laughing so hard at the opera scene. (Perhaps this book should come with a warning!) When writing scene after scene of zany mishap, are you cackling along like your readers are? If so, how do you get through it! Everything is described so vividly, the reader can almost live the scene along with the character!
Lauren Baratz Logsted: I know that it’s frowned upon for a comedian to laugh at her own jokes. That said, there were moments while writing certain scenes in The Bro-Magnet when I couldn’t help myself. There was the barn opera scene, of course, plus the discussion about loopholes and the extended scene in which Johnny and Sam go to buy a cat. Having written a few angst-filled books in my time (Vertigo; The Twin’s Daughter), it really is a lot of fun to write a comedy that even occasionally makes me laugh.
S. M. Nystoriak: So many times, we come across people who then become part of our lives. Do you know any people like Johnny, Billy, Helen, Big John? The rest?
Lauren Baratz Logsted: My husband is a bit like Johnny to the extent that he’s a bit of a bro-magnet himself. My husband has had two novels published – he and my daughter also helped me create the nine-book Sisters 8 series for young readers – but during the day, he’s a window washer. Like Johnny, my husband has customers who like him so much, they ask him to go skiing or what-have-you. In fact, it was after one such incident that I got the idea for The Bro-Magnet. But other than that? Those characters are pure invention.
S. M. Nystoriak: The Bro Magnet is written from the male perspective, from boyhood to adult. I teach music in a middle high school. The way you describe the behavior of the middle and high school boys really struck a chord with me! As a woman, did you find writing in the male perspective a challenge? Were you able to draw on real life experiences for any of The Bro Magnet scenarios?
Lauren Baratz Logsted: This was not my first time writing from a male perspective. The YA novel Crazy Beautiful is written in alternating he-said/she-said fashion. As it turns out, I’m beginning to think I may be better at writing from male than female POV, since my female main characters are not always likable while readers seem to love Lucius from Crazy Beautiful and Johnny from The Bro-Magnet. Although I have my own secret desire to take my cat to the neighborhood bar, that has yet to happen and very little from The Bro-Magnet comes from real life. The one exception is the chapter in which Johnny talks about things he’s done in the past that guys think are hysterical but that girls tend to hate. I actually dated a guy in college who did every single one of those things.
S. M. Nystoriak: The premise of this story can be summarized as “Always a groomsman, never a groom.” What a clever twist on the famous adage! What made you decide to write about that?
Lauren Baratz Logsted: I just love taking traditional storylines – like “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” – and finding a different angle that sheds a whole new light on an old story. Years ago I had a book published called A Little Change of Face. It’s not the best book I ever wrote – far from it, so you stand warned! – but it does have a fun premise: a gorgeous librarian decides to sabotage her own looks in order to see what life is like when she’s no longer a swan. I figured, we’ve all read the ugly-duckling-into-a-swan story a million times in fiction, but what about the reverse? That’s the way my mind works.
S. M. Nystoriak: Tell us a little bit about your publishing experience. I know that you have had traditionally published books, as well as e-books. From your own perspective as a writer, what can you tell us about the difference in publishing types?
Lauren Baratz Logsted: In terms of the trad vs. e-book debate, I don’t come down heavily on one side or the other. Each has its merits and weaknesses. I will say that one of the things I do love about the e-book revolution is that it does give the author unprecedented levels of control and it gives books like The Bro-Magnet – the kind of book that New York might find too quirky to publish – a chance to reach readers like you. Another great thing about e-books is that you don’t have to hit it big with a book right away to be a success. With traditional publishing, a few months into a print book’s life, if it’s not selling, it might be gone completely from the stores. But that’s not true with e-books. I have one called Pursuing the Times that came out seven months ago. It’s a comedy about a successful author of female-centric fiction who will do anything to get reviewed by the New York Times. Initially, sales were almost nonexistent. But in recent months, it’s been getting lots of review notice and sales have been picking up nicely. With traditional publishing, this would never happen,
S. M. Nystoriak: How would you describe your road to being first published? Did you have an agent? Do you have any advice for novelists looking for that elusive agent/publishing connection?
Lauren Baratz Logsted: It took me nearly eight years and seven books written before I sold my first book, on my own, as part of a two-book deal. Since 2003, I’ve had 31 books published, 23 of those by major publishers. So to detail my story would probably require a whole book! Over the years, I’ve had several agents and in fact am on my sixth. But she’s wonderful and we’ve been together for almost eight years. The best advice I can give to other writers is to join Backspace: http://bksp.org/. There’s a modest annual fee but it’s an online forum for writers and the best place I know for writers to learn the business and make connections with other writers who are serious about what they do.
S. M. Nystoriak: Tell us a little bit about your background. Did your upbringing have a lot to do with your writing career? Was being a writer something you always saw yourself doing?
Lauren Baratz Logsted: I come from a family of book lovers, so it was in the cards pretty much from the start. When I was 12, I had an English teacher that gave me my first inkling that I might be able to write stories people would want to read, but it wasn’t until 20 years after that that I quit my day job to get serious about writing.
S. M. Nystoriak: What were some of your favorite books growing up? What are some of your favorites now?
Lauren Baratz Logsted: Growing up, I was more of a Trixie Belden girl than Nancy Drew. I also loved Lloyd Alexander’s five-book series The Chronicles of Prydain and, when I was older, A Separate Peace by John Knowles was a favorite along with Jane Eyre. My favorite novel by a dead author is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My favorite novel by a living author is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My favorite novel from 2012 is Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann and so far in 2013 it’s The Antagonist by Lynn Coady.
S. M. Nystoriak: Wonderful List! My last question: If you could create an iPod playlist for The Bro Magnet, what would you include?
Lauren Baratz Logsted: It’s funny, but I almost never listen to music when I’m writing, so that kind of question is almost impossible to answer. I can tell you what definitely would not be on it: anything by ABBA or the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever, but you’ll need to read the sequel, Isn’t It Bromantic?, to fully understand why.
S. M. Nystoriak: Thanks so much, Lauren! I encourage any and all adult fans of comedic reading to check out THE BRO MAGNET, by Lauren Baratz Logsted. Her Amazon Author Page can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Lauren-Baratz-Logsted/e/B001IYZAH0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1362863248&sr=1-2-ent
And, for those wishing to learn even more about Ms. Baratz Logsted, her website is here: http://www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com/