Dream Interview of Laurie Boris: Finalist in The Best Indie Books of 2013 Awards
September 3, 2013
[It’s that time of the year again when The New Kindle Book Review is running its Best Indie Books of the Year awards. Top five finalists for the 2013 awards in various genres were announced September 1, 2013. In keeping with our tradition established last year in the first year of the awards, we have asked each of the finalists who care to participate to provide us two pieces: a dream interview and a dream review. Although these will appear under my byline and Caleb Pirtle’s, the posts are the work of the finalist authors. We hope you enjoy them and use them as an introduction to the works of these fine writers.-SW]
Today we have Laurie Boris, author of Don’t Tell Anyone, a finalist in the literary fiction genre.
Good Things Gone Bad
I expected the gates at the bottom of the driveway; I expected the rows of tidy seasonal plantings that bracketed me as my car putted to the front door. The strip search, however, was a bit of a surprise.
The clip-clip of stylish heels came to my rescue. “There’s no need for that. She’s an indie author,” said the cool, smooth voice that had once told me, along with a television audience of millions, a thousand things to do with lemon zest. “Terribly sorry. They’re just trying to prevent me from getting any insider trading tips.”
The hands eased off me. I straightened my clothing—and considered giving the one on my left my phone number—as I turned toward my hostess.
“The kitchen is this way. I got all the ingredients you requested, most from my garden—the dill is simply divine—and I can’t wait to get started. What a great idea, letting me interview you while we cook!”
“Thanks for inviting me, Martha.” I had the oddest feeling I was being tailed; a peek over my shoulder revealed nothing but tasteful furnishings.
She reached for a giant pot hanging on a rack over her stove. “My pleasure. I loved your book. There simply aren’t enough novels these days that feature food and moral dilemmas so prominently. How did you manage to weave those two aspects together?”
I grabbed a knife and two large onions. She gestured with a tip of her chin that I could quarter them on the butcher-block island at the center of her kitchen, a room that looked like a centerfold from Williams-Sonoma. “It felt sort of organic.” The knife was so sharp that the mere weight of it cleaved the onion in two. “Estelle grew up in Brooklyn, a typical Jewish girl of her era. She got married, and when her mother got sick, Estelle cooked for her parents. Then, years later, when Estelle is diagnosed with cancer, her daughter-in-law tries to cook for her. But Estelle is having none of it, one, because she doesn’t trust Liza—”
“A godless hippie raised by wolves.” Martha giggled as she reached for a pitcher of filtered water to fill the pot. “That was one of my favorite lines. Sorry for interrupting. Continue.”
“Anyway, food, as you’re well aware, is fraught with symbolism. It’s love, it’s comfort, it’s rejection…”
“So in essence,” she turned up the heat under the pot, “Estelle is rejecting her as a daughter-in-law at the same time she asks Liza to pull the plug when the cancer gets intolerable.”
“Hence the moral dilemma. At least for Liza.”
“For Estelle, too, I’d imagine.” She neatly butchered two free-range chickens and added pieces to the pot. “There’s just something I have to know. The incident that sets the story in motion is autobiographical…”
“True. My mother-in-law concealed her breast cancer until a trip to the emergency room outed her.”
Martha nodded somberly. “That’s a terrible thing to put a family through. I’m sorry.”
I shrugged. “I’ve made my peace with it, mostly through this book. And the occasional glass of wine.”
“What I want to know…are any other parts of the book autobiographical?” Her eyes gleamed. “The chemistry between Liza and her brother-in-law is awfully spot-on.”
I felt heat rising into my cheeks that wasn’t from the boiling chicken and busied myself chopping root vegetables. “Charlie is funny and totally adorable, and he’s partially based on a guy I roomed with in Boston, but no, I didn’t draw on my personal history for their past.”
“Adam is more my style,” Martha mused. “A handsome, alpha-male stockbroker…”
She flinched and grabbed her ankle, which I now noticed was cuffed in a delicate turquoise bracelet. “Aversion therapy,” she said. Her face changed gears and she skimmed foamy fat from the soup. “Anyway. I loved the book. You handled a touchy subject with humor and compassion. How have readers been responding?”
“They’ve been great. Some acknowledge that because they’re either cancer survivors or have had a family member with the disease, they were originally reluctant to read the story. But once they started relating to the characters and the humor—one even said she didn’t expect that it would be a page-turner—more readers were willing to take the chance.”
“Well, I’m glad I did. I’ve been recommending you to my, um, alumnae, shall we say. They found the prison scene quite relatable, even down to the smoking ban and the horridly unflattering uniforms. They ought to switch to natural fibers. I tried to tell them…”
I gestured to the untended pot, about to boil over. “Oh, dear.” Her hands fluttered as she turned down the heat and gave the water a skim. “Well, why don’t we wrap up the interview and just cook? Is there anything else you’d like to mention?”
“Yes,” I said. “I think I’ve been followed. If an author named Hugh Howey shows up asking for a massage during his interview, don’t fall for it. He did that with Natalie Portman last year and she still can’t get it off the tabloids.”