An Interview with Author Lori Roy

April 6, 2011

Lori Roy is an alum of the Eckerd College Writers’ Conference: Writers in Paradise. Her debut novel, BENT NOVEL, has just been released by Dutton. Lori was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book.


First, congratulations on the publication of BENT ROAD, and for taking the time to answer a few questions.  Can you talk a little bit about what inspired you to write this novel and the evolution of the project?

During my first WIP conference, I received some great advice—if you want to learn plot, write a short story. I took that advice to heart and wrote a short story that ultimately lead to BENT ROAD. I would say both the short story and the novel began with setting. Characters sprang up from there and lastly plot. It took me about a year and a half to write the book, which included countless revisions.

BENT ROAD has gotten a lot of pre-publication love, garnering rave reviews such as:

KANSAS CITY STAR -
“A cruel calculus drives Lori Roy’s impressive debut novel, “Bent Road.”…Like Michael Chabon’s work, which sometimes crosses genres, Roy’s novel could be called literary fiction or mystery. Whatever the label, “Bent Road” is written with the care and craft of stand-out storytelling.”

SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER
“Bent Road, Lori Roy’s debut novel is a winner. A suspenseful example of American Gothic, its shocking twists and turns will keep you turning page after page to conclusions both surprising and inevitable.”

And, the talented Julianna Baggott checked in on your blog to talk a bit about how BENT ROAD is an example of  “a blur of genres.” What is your take on some of the melding of genres going on in publishing today?

As a reader, I look for well-rounded characters and an engaging voice, but I also like a great story. I want a bit of suspense and a bit of mystery, something to make me turn the page.  As a writer, this is the balance I attempt to strike in my work. Perhaps it is considered a crossing of literary fiction with genre, but I consider it writing the book I want to read.  By the way, this is another piece of great advice I received while attending a WIP conference.

I know you have been part of a writers’ group and a reading group. How do you feel the two experiences have influenced you as a reader and a writer?

Because of the reading group, I tend to read a well-rounded list of books I might not otherwise pick up. The group is also made up of intelligent, demanding readers who raise issues and questions during our discussions that I often consider when I am writing. These discussions give great insight into the various ways one piece of fiction can be interpreted by different readers. As to the writing group, I believe critiquing other writers’ work is the best way to develop writing skills. As we become able to identify strengths and weaknesses in other people’s work, we become better able to identify them in our own work.

Some writers listen to music while writing, some need silence, some have a special place they like to write and others are able to scratch out notes on planes, in coffee shops, etc. What is your ‘ideal’ writing environment?

I don’t listen to music when I write, though I do listen to specific music while driving to put me in the right frame of mind for whatever project I am working on at the time. For example, lately I’ve been listening to the soundtrack from WINTER’S BONE.  Generally I write in my home office in the morning. In the afternoon, I move upstairs with my portable computer. And I always drink green tea when writing —served hot, even in the summer.

Who are some of your influences as a writer? And, what are you currently reading?

The Writers in Paradise program was very important to my development. I learned how much I have to learn from the program and met some very good friends there.  Mary Lawson is among my favorite authors, and I recently reread both of her books. She does a wonderful job of marrying great plot with excellent writing. I am currently reading REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier.

What can readers expect next from Lori Roy?

I am working on another book and hoping to finish it soon. This one is set in Detroit during the late 50s.

I’ve heard that you did some cooking experiments in order to create more vivid scenes in your next novel. How was that process? Are you a big cook?

I made pierogi, which is a small stuffed noodle that is boiled and then sautéed in onions and butter. It was great fun, and given all the mistakes I made along the way, it was a very helpful exercise. Butter does burn, overstuffed noodles will split, and if you pour the potato water down the drain, you must boil more potatoes. My family would laugh to hear you ask if I am a big cook. The answer is no. I am not any sort of cook, but I wing it as best I can.

Care to share the recipe?

I followed a gal on Youtube…search “pierogi making” and you’ll find her.

This is your first book length publication. There are many writers out there who are working toward that very goal. What would be your advice to those writers?

I would suggest they write everyday, humble themselves to the craft (a quote from a fellow Solstice student whose name I can’t remember, but I would still like to credit him) and spend time critiquing other writers’ work.

Lori is still doing events for the release of BENT ROAD. Stop by and see her when she’s in your neighborhood! And, don’t forget to get your copy of BENT ROAD. You will not be disappointed!

Thursday, April 7, 2011
7:00pm – Discuss and sign
Inkwood Books
216 S. Armenia Avenue
Tampa, Florida
(813)253-2638

Saturday, April 16, 2011
9:00am-5:30pm
University of Central Florida Book Festival
UCF Arena
Orlando, Florida

Friday, April 22, 2011
7:00 pm
Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore
273 Pineapple Grove Way ( NE 2nd Ave )
Delray Beach, Florida
(561)279-7790

Saturday, April 23, 2011
5:00 pm
Books and Books
265 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33154
(305)442-4408

More praise for BENT ROAD:

NPR

“Bent Road is a long, winding journey, just like its titular street, where murder comes from love, friendship turns to ash and family bonds strengthen only through the worst sort of circumstances. But Roy is in full narrative command, taking her time to point the reader to the next direction, but always certain – even if we are not – that what comes next is what must happen, not what we hope or wish would transpire.”
Read entire review here

People Magazine (3.5 out of 4 stars)

“Roy is calculated in the way she builds and eases tension…even the simplest scenes crackle with suspense.”

The St. Petersburg Times

“This tautly written, chilling piece of heartland noir is the first novel by Lori Roy…and it’s an impressive debut…deftly marrying a story of domestic violence and familial love with a gothic mystery that is compelling at each turn of the page.”
Read entire review here

Booklist

“In her debut mystery, Roy excels at creating the kind of ominous mood that is unique to the novel’s small-town setting….Terrifying and touching, the novel is captivating from beginning to end.”

Bookreporter
“…One cannot walk away from BENT ROAD without feeling almost certain that the events detailed here occurred somewhere out in the Midwest, at an all-but-invisible crossroads far from the nearest interstate, where people keep to themselves and settle their own problems. Nevertheless, you will want to visit.”
Read entire review here


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