Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the type of chick you would find shooting pool and throwing back beers, smooth and confident and able to play tough with the boys. Then suddenly, without warning, she will shift gears and debate politics and the role of women in literature without skipping a beat from her cool persona. Lauren is brainy and pretty, bold and smart, all packaged into a teeny little person with a big talent for writing.
She has three published novels, The Thin Pink Line, Crossing the Line and A Little Change of Face, and if you are inspired to google her name, you are bound to find some her of writings on the web as Lauren is quite prolific. Join me for a martini as we chat.
Tell me about Jane, your beloved pregnancy faker from The Thin Pink Line and Crossing The Line- she was a fun character for readers because she was so flawed and yet endearing. How would you describe her?
Readers who open the books thinking they’ll encounter The Girl Next Door are in for a shock since most people wouldn’t want to live next door to Jane Taylor! Jane is a charming sociopath who has two saving graces:
1) for someone so wrongheaded about so many things, many readers find her to be refreshingly self-aware, meaning that she says things right upfront like, “If what follows smacks of being something of an apologia, I think it only fair to point out that most people never see their own tragic flaws. For my part, I am fully aware of what my shortcomings are. Does that mean I should be instantly forgiven them? Hardly. But at least I’m willing to be honest about who I am, and if who I am is a fairly small-minded person who wastes most of her days in silly-minded pursuits, nothing about who I am has ever been quite so bad as to add up to Jack the Ripper”
2) whether it’s with best-friend David, love-interest Tolkien, or baby Emma, I think most readers can readily see that when Jane does love, she loves fiercely, and while she may not always be the ideal person – not even close – she would lay down her life for those she does love.
Right in the beginning of A Little Change of Face, we learn Scarlett has great breasts. Was this little nugget of information based on yourself?
Oh, you’re sneaky, Cindy! First, you ask me an easy writing question, and now this??? OK, I’ll fess up: Scarlett and I share the same breast size, which I’m told is the most common in America: 36C. But as for “great,” hers are great, while I am now a middle-aged mommy, so you can draw your own gravity-based conclusions.
Who would you like to see play Scarlett on the big screen? I think the book would make a fun movie. I love the idea of a reverse Ugly Duckling.
I do too. After all, haven’t we all read the book about the woman who loses 15 or 50 pounds and gets the man? I wanted to write about an attractive woman who sabotages her looks and – sort of, since I don’t want to spoil the ending – gets the man. As for your big-screen question: Me. I think I should play Scarlett Jane Stein. Oh, and I should play Jane Taylor in The Thin Pink Line too. Really, I should play all my heroines, since I can do a great British accent for Jane and I’m willing to get my breasts done to play Scarlett. But – heavy sigh – since I’m thinking Hollywood will not want me in this way, I’d like to see an actress who is slightly older than Scarlett, like Sela Ward, get the part, because if I’m not going to be a star, I might as well fight ageism from the sidelines.
I read about your agent ordeal on BookAngst101. As writers we must face tons of negative responses, issues with agents, bad reviews…why do we do this to ourselves? It’s a career filled with disappointments and rejection yet we keep plugging along- why? It's not like we get free Prada and Marc Jacobs for writing books.
I’ve heard from many people who found it refreshing, if disturbing, to read an honest accounting of how difficult this business can be. Why do we do this to ourselves? I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I do it because I love writing. The great short-story writer Lorrie Moore once wrote something to the effect that the only reason to be a writer is if you can’t not be a writer. Every time I cite that, I get flak from some person who gets disturbed at the notion of the writer as “tortured artiste.”
Well, I’m here to say that I’m not a tortured artiste, but I’d never be doing what I’m doing if I wasn’t driven to do it. There are a lot of careers I could do that, based on IQ and temperament, would be easier for me by comparison: lawyer, stock broker, politician all come to mind. And I don’t think that with any of those professions I’d work nearly as hard as I work now. I work seven days a week. When I’m not writing, I’m revising, promoting, helping other writers find their way in this business, doing interviews like this thoroughly enjoyable interview with you; the list goes on. I do it all, and do it proudly and gladly, because I love writing and if I can make enough money at it to keep doing it for a living and still sock away enough to someday put my five-year-old through college, it’s all good.
I'm sassy, fun and silly. Three words to describe yourself?
Short, 36C, resilient.
In five years, I want to be smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee on the banks of the Siene while scribbling my life story- where do you see yourself?
A: Still writing, still living in Danbury. My daughter will be 10 by then; my niece, who now lives with us, will be 20. I’ll be helping them make their way in the world, I’ll still be shooting pool whenever I can, and, with a little luck, in addition to the chick-friendly books I’m known for now, I’ll be publishing a wider variety of material as well.
What magazines do you like to read? Favorite books? Please say junky tabloids and fashion mags!
Does TV Guide count? I’m afraid that between writing and reading obsessively, I don’t read many magazines, but my husband does like to laugh at how I read TV Guide every week. As for favorite books, in terms of all-time greats, I love Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby, Love in the Time of Cholera, Ahab’s Wife, Memoirs of Cleopatra. In terms of things I’ve loved so far this year, Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Queen of the South is wonderful – I love how he writes women – and both of Emily Giffin’s books, Something Borrowed and Something Blue, are enviably good. I’ve been on an insane mission this year to read a book a day – previously I’ve read 100-250 books a year – that I did an essay on a few months back that’s archived over here.
What is your take on the celebrity obsession so many people have? (myself included, ahem!)
That’s an easier question than the breast question! We’re obsessed for two reasons: one, because when something’s going great for a star, we get to live vicariously (“Oh, I wish I were Tom Cruise!”), and, two, because when a star starts to tarnish a bit, we get to comfort ourselves by saying things like, “Well, at least I’m not Tom Cruise!” Really, it’s all about the vicarious kick.