Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Because of A Book with Elisa Lorello

I am pleased to bring you another WOW! author this week.  Please help me welcome Elisa Lorello to the blog!

Author Elisa Lorello grew up on Long Island, NY as the baby to six older siblings. Growing up during the 80s, Elisa covered her walls with Duran Duran posters and used lots of hairspray. She explored many passions, including drawing, tennis, and music but in her early 20s, exercised her gossiping skills while working as a manicurist.

In 1995, Elisa left Long Island to attend the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth for both her bachelor and master's degrees. In 2000, as part of her graduate education in Professional Writing, she became a teaching associate, and met two professors of rhetoric and composition who took her under their wings. This union of teaching, rhetoric, and writing ultimately became Elisa's calling, and remains so to this day. She now lives in North Carolina where she teaches academic writing at North Carolina State. Elisa is currently co-writing a third novel with friend and former student, S. R. Paquette. That is, when she can tear herself away from her favorite entertainment—Facebook.

Because of a book: Creature of Habit

Shelly, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog!

I’ve always been a creature of habit, especially when it comes to books. In the same way I keep coming back to the same coffeeshop or beach, or wearing that comfy sweatshirt until the sleeves are frayed, when I stumble upon a book (or author) I like, I read it repeatedly until its spine is wobbly and its pages jagged. When I consciously think about what keeps me coming back to these authors and their books, three factors come to mind: language, story, and character.

Here are three (of many) authors/books that influenced me in each of these aspects.

Language: Dr. Seuss. Recently I read Green Eggs and Ham to my class of college freshmen. I teach academic writing, but the subject of the day was our attitudes about reading and writing. Namely, how many students have developed an aversion toward reading. You should have seen their faces—the delight they expressed—as they silently recited the words along with me. And I confess that I delighted in reading it to them. The words rolled around my tongue like candy, their simplicity reminding me (and them) that words don’t have to be big to be meaningful, and once upon a time, books evoked feelings of pleasure. Words are like spices; put the right combination together and they make your story delicious. Dr. Seuss was the master of this.

Story: Judy Blume I can still remember my second grade teacher reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to the class; from then on I was hooked. I went to the library and checked out one Blume book after another: Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret; Starring Sally J. Freeman as Herself; Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, It’s Not the End of the World, and of course, everyone’s favorite, the one that came with a wait list, Superfudge. I read these books religiously, finishing one and beginning another and starting all over again when I’d gone through them all. I paid homage to Judy Blume in my novel Faking It, when Devin asks Andi how she learned about sex. “Judy Blume books,” she replies. For me they served a far greater purpose in that they taught me how to tell a story in first person (in other words, how to be a good narrator), and how to make a character relatable as she’s telling that story. This has come in handy both in fiction and nonfiction. And, of course, the stories themselves were wonderful, some containing stories within stories.

Character: Richard Russo. Hank Devereaux from Straight Man (an academic comedy) contains everything I seek in meaningful, memorable characters: wit, depth, conflict, sense, and flaws. Russo also balances arrogance with insecurity, all the while keeping us rooting for Hank. Russo creates ensembles of characters that are real, flawed, sometimes quirky, and oftentimes witnesses to human experience. I go to Russo when I want to understand the small town life or the middle-aged male, or when I want to be inspired by a good piece of dialogue. Russo’s characters talk to each other and themselves. I find myself listening as much as reading when I’m in a Russo novel. And although my characters could not be more different from his, Russo’s characters have taught me about likeability, even if the character is thinking/doing unlikable things.

I enjoy writing because I enjoy reading. Because of these and so many other books (and their authors), I’m a writer of habit—language, story, and character.

Do you have a book and/or author that you visit time after time? What keeps you coming back?

About Green Eggs and Ham: Dr. Seuss turns 50 simple words into magic in this time-honored classic.

Sam-I-am won't give up! He keeps trying to get the grumpy grown-up in the story to taste green eggs and ham.

No matter how Sam-I-am presents the green eggs and ham (in a box, with a fox, in the rain, on a train), the curmudgeon refuses to try them.

Finally, Sam-I-am's pesky persistence pays off. A crowd of open-mouthed onlookers watch in suspense as the old grouch takes a bite. And?

...SAY! The old sourpuss's face is wreathed in smiles as he gratefully acknowledges, "I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you, thank you, Sam-I-am!"

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at Indiebound

About Superfudge:  Twelve-year-old Peter can hardly survive life in the Hatcher household. Fudge is still his biggest problem, but now he has a whole new disaster to consider. Will the new Hatcher baby become a carbon copy of the zany Fudge?

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at Indiebound

About Straight Man:  In this uproarious new novel, Richard Russo performs his characteristic high-wire walk between hilarity and heartbreak. Russo's protagonist is William Henry Devereaux, Jr., the reluctant chairman of the English department of a badly underfunded college in the Pennsylvania rust belt. Devereaux's reluctance is partly rooted in his character — he is a born anarchist — and partly in the fact that his department is more savagely divided than the Balkans.

In the course of a single week, Devereaux will have his nose mangled by an angry colleague, imagine his wife is having an affair with his dean, wonder if a curvaceous adjunct is trying to seduce him with peach pits, and threaten to execute a goose on local television. All this while coming to terms with his philandering father, the dereliction of his youthful promise, and the ominous failure of certain vital body functions.

Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at Indiebound

About Faking It:  What happens when a writing professor and a male escort become friends? Thirty-four-year old professor Andi Cutrone has broken up with her fiancé in Massachusetts, moved back to her native New York, and wants to be a better lover. So after meeting Devin, a handsome, charming escort, she proposes an unusual arrangement: lessons about writing in exchange for lessons about sex. When Devin accepts Andi's proposal, he draws up a contract in which the two are forbidden to see each other socially. There's just one problem: Andi also wants Devin.

Buy it at Amazon

About Ordinary World:  Ordinary World is the continuing story of Andi Vanzant--what happened after the last page of Faking It. Andi had everything she wanted: a husband, a home, a job she loved, a cat named Donny Most. Then a drunk college student plowed into her husband’s car and she lost everything…everything except the cat. Andi’s faced with a nightmare world and the work of trying to transform it into an Ordinary World. She’s certain that life will never be ordinary again but begins to find her way with the help of an unlikely support group that spans the world. She finds a hand to hold in Long Island, Massachusetts, Italy and even Peru. In the midst of her mourning Andi finds herself with a new love affair…or is it more than that? Ordinary World is the story of a woman accepting losses and embracing gifts. To some degree it is the story every woman fears and every woman must some day live.

Buy it at Amazon - Kindle edition


Jodi said...

I love mysteries and usually once you read a mystery you're done with that book, you know the answer to the puzzle. But I read Dorothy Gilman mysteries/adventure stories over and overn again. Her characters are so much fun you just want to relish them, be them.

Elisa said...

Jodi, I love it when you can go back to a book, even when you know the outcome, just to be w/ the characters!

Thank you Shelly for allowing me to be a guest at your blog today!

Margo Dill said...

I love J.K. Rowling--I have read all 7 books and listened to them on audio, some of them twice. I guess I love her characters and her plotting. That's probably why I go back and visit an author again and again because of characters. I really like Philip Gulley's Harmony series and Alexander McCall Smith's number one ladies detective agency series, too.


Elisa said...

Margo, I "read" the first 6 HP books on audio -- Jim Dale did a fabulous job. Don't know if I would've picked them up otherwise. His narration made the difference for me.

Thanks for sharing!

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