Today I speak with Leslie Burton-Lopez, a contributing author to the Fairfield Scribes’ upcoming anthology When to Now. Previously in the process of author interviews I would ask questions to the interviewee, they would provide an answer and I would follow up to clarify or get more information. I would then take the information and pull it together into a coherent piece and publish it in the form familiar to those who’ve read the rest of my interviews.
Leslie was different. I asked my questions and she provided the answers and between fits of laughter as I read, I already knew I was going to have a difficult job pulling this into some sort of interview style piece without losing the sense of the answers. So I didn’t. Instead, with a bit of light editing I have published a transcript of how the conversation went. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
Leslie, many thanks for talking with me today. Let’s start off by telling me what you do when you’re not writing.
The amount of YouTube videos I watch is embarrassing. I dream and fret about the design of my tiny house on wheels.
I do jigsaw puzzles with my way-out-of-my-league girlfriend. I sometimes work, but only enough to keep me swimming in money.
Where are you based?
My mind in California where I am from. But sadly, corporeally I live in Connecticut for the time being. Homesickness is a mental health issue. I defy anyone to tell me it isn’t!
I was raised in Davis, California, an over-educated college town with miles of walking / biking greenbelts, pepper spray, and an extreme aversion to big-box stores. We rode our bikes to school year-round and never locked our doors. I was named MVP of my soccer team, The Green Mean Machine in 4th grade. My younger brother and I played outside until mom yelled at us to come inside to peel garlic before dinner.
What’s your life story so far?
My story is still in development. I am hoping to get it optioned by Miramax for my debut as a superhero. So far the only superpower I have identified in myself is the ability to select the correct size of Tupperware needed to accommodate leftover food. I hope this amazing spatial ability will translate into something worthy of the silver screen in a few months.
I am half Puerto Rican, but you can’t tell. It seems that my mom had a recessive gene somewhere, so I popped out blonde and green-eyed. Either that, or the mailman didn’t wear a condom…
Do you have a favourite book about writing?
No, I don’t. I have a degree in English, so I’m sure there have been some helpful ones along the way, but none stand out. Now I am questioning whether they made a mistake in letting me have a degree. I eat through about one a week. So if my math is correct, I have read 2,888,311.
Have you published before?
I have. In order to earn the afore-mentioned, now-questionable degree, I worked on a publication of short stories and pretentious and angsty student works called Watershed, released semesterly. I am also the co-author for the Spanish textbook ¡Chevere! bemoaned by first-year Spanish students at four universities.
Can you tell me about the mechanics of your writing process?
I write hunched over my laptop. If I feel inspired and I’m not near my laptop, I’ll write notes on post-its and promptly forget I have done so. These unhelpful bits of paper usually end up stuck to my window until the sun fades them into illegibility. I don’t have any writing rituals, it’s usually a mad dash to get something out. I do my best work under deadly deadline pressure. Always have.
I use Word for the actual writing. Is that old school now? To use Word? HEY. At least I don’t include two spaces after a period. Give me a break here. My favourite part of the process is the first draft. It’s the easiest, and I am extremely lazy. I also believe that first drafts can be the strongest. Subsequent revisions can make you get second-guessy, and nobody likes self-doubt. Revisions are my least favourite. Too much room for error, and again, I am lazy.
I then let the Fairfield Scribes tear my work apart. I have a running story about a roller derby heroine that I let my friend read. Speaking of, she has been bugging me about a new chapter about Muffy. If you’re reading this, sorry Jen! I’m lazy…
The anthology is published by the Fairfield Scribes, can you tell me about the process of joining?
After a questionnaire, a writing sample, a promise of my firstborn, a drug test, and a probation period of one month, I was accepted into the Fairfield Scribes. I am now a member of the most prestigious group of writers anywhere in the world. Our top-secret, password-protected meetings are held once a week, and we busy ourselves with eating staggering amounts of pizza, and occasionally deigning to critique each other’s writing.
Can you tell me about the Scribes?
They’re fellow human people who get together to nerd out about writing. They are all really good. Like published-a-million-times good. I am an impostor – albeit an adorable one.
Do you want to tell me about the anthology you contributed your story to?
Ah. Here is where we get into the fun-dirty stuff. Hear ye, hear ye! Get your time travel itch scratched with this year’s Book of the Year: When to Now. Dedicated to writers who are just starting out, the Fairfield Scribes are proud as peacocks to present this dazzling array of short stories replete with pseudo sciency chronological time manipulation. It’s a trip.
This collection was also a contest open to other beginning writers. Submissions poured in like Hogwarts acceptance letters, and we worked hard to read them all. The winner was Cynthia C. Scott for her story “Ruby’s Paradox”. A stunner. Mine is the second story to appear in When to Now, titled “Baggage”. Not as stunning as Scott’s, but still a relatively entertaining read for anyone looking for second chances. It’s marginally better than a finger in your eye.
All fiction. All time travel. All imaginative, creative, [insert more of your favourite positive adjectives here], and all worth your while.
Could you describe the book in an elevator pitch style?
No, but I do have a weird thing that I do every time I get into an elevator. Without fail, I look for the certificate of when it was last serviced. You’d be surprised to find out how many elevators are out of date. Be careful out there, my friends! Avoid getting the shaft.
What sort of research did I need to do about the work?
I personally didn’t have to do any research, but some of the stories are very detailed and sciency. So much hard work went into this anthology, especially from the always-amazeballs lead editor Alison McBain. She herded us cats like an award-winning collie, shepherding us to the greatness that is When to Now.
What was my biggest writing challenge?
The re-writes! As afore-mentioned, I am a lazy, lazy writer. I also have a hard time letting go of my “babies”, those sentences that I think are borderline standalone Pulitzer winners, or at least worthy of appearing on a kitchen magnet, or bumper sticker. The hardest thing to do is to kill your babies. Deletion is a crime against my humanity.
Where you involved in the publishing process?
I am just the talent. I have had nothing to do with the publishing process. I just show up and look pretty.
Has the work been reviewed?
I give it ten stars, so yes.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers?
Orange is my favourite colour, I played roller derby for Sac City Rollers (Sacramento) and Rat City (Seattle), I want my tiny house to be done arredy, I lived in Spain and Italy, I own my own writing-based marketing business, I’m a HuffleClaw, I wear a 7.5 shoe, I abhor even numbers, and my dad says that I am the strongest fragile person he knows. Get your copies of major literary geniusy epic, When to Now, on October 1st, 2018, on Amazon.
There you have it everyone. A big thank you to Leslie for taking the time and making my day. I wish Leslie and the Fairfield Scribes all the best with their anthology, When to Now, which is out 1st October 2018, available to pre-order now. It’s not the last we’ve heard about the Scribes, the anthology or it’s editor in chief. In upcoming posts I take a look at writing groups, what it takes to edit an anthology and we’ll have more interviews with those that contributed.
If you enjoyed this interview then why not follow my blog where I’ll be posting more interviews soon and I regularly provide an insight into my own experiences as I work towards publishing my debut novel, In The End. If you’re an author, or you’ve just got an interesting story to tell and you’d like to be interviewed, just drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org