Jan 9, 2017

Laurie B. Levine - Guest Post

When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
I co-authored my first article when I was in graduate school. It was really exciting to see my name in print as an author as a 23-year-old. I published several other academic/clinical articles and book chapters, and assumed that’s the kind of writer I would be. After I had kids, I lost interest in academic writing, and the research that goes along with it. I like intellectual challenges. I had been wanting to tell a story like this for a while so I challenged myself to learn how to be a novelist.

Is being an Author all you dreamed of, or did it just happen?
I’m a bit shy so I love and hate all the attention that comes along with having a book out.

What was the very first thing you ever wrote?
The first thing I remember writing was an essay in fifth grade that got me in some trouble. It was an essay on what we’d like to change about ourselves but when the teacher gave us the title, “What I’d like to change about myself,” I took her literally. I wrote a composition on her flaws, as I saw them, and what I thought she should change about herself.
The first thing I ever published was an article called, “Axe Murders, Spiders and Webs: The Use of Metaphor in Couples Therapy” which I co-coauthored with a professor.

What was the inspiration for your book?
I started writing this story several years ago but then put it down. I was inspired to pick it back up after a female teacher in our town was accused of sexually abusing several male students. There were two objectives for me in writing this book. The first was to shed some light on the fact that women can be abusers too. There’s a lot written in abuse and trauma literature addressing men as abusers, but very little about women. I wanted to write a story that depicts an attractive, charming woman in that role. The second objective was to draw attention to a more subtle form of abuse. When most people think about child sexual abuse, they think about an adult engaging in direct sexual contact with a child. Now I Know It’s Not My Fault highlights a kind of abuse that occurs under the radar, but can be just as damaging.

Who is your literary hero?
I love Sue Monk Kidd, particularly the Secret Life Of Bees.

How much of your characters are based on your traits or someone you know personally?
All the characters are composites of people I know. It was fun to pull qualities or quirks of different people and combine them to make the characters in the book. The character that’s most like me, although not in appearance, is Erica. The things Erica says to Alex throughout the book, and especially towards the end, are things I would say.

Describe your main character in six words.
Not in any particular order: bright, articulate, vulnerable, funny, resilient, lonely.

Describe the world you’ve created in six words.
Not in any particular order: Dangerous, competitive, lonely, loving, confusing, real.

What scene was your favorite to write?
My favorite scene was near the end when Alex arrives at Sandra’s house on her bicycle and finds Sandra in the garage. The conversation they have as they shoot baskets on the driveway was very satisfying to write.

What scene was the hardest for you to write?
The scene where Paula spanks Alex in the back of her boyfriend’s van was difficult to write. I knew what I wanted the scene to be but it’s a horrible moment for Alex. By then, I had really grown to like her by that point. Part of the impact of what Paula does to her isn’t visible as she retreats inside herself so it was challenging to make that come alive in the scene.

What are you working on now?
I’m not writing anything now but I am percolating on a story that picks up with Alex, the main character in Now I know It’s Not My Fault, ten years down the line. I really like the character. It would be interesting to see where she is after college and how her experiences with Paula affect her life into adulthood.

Goals? Accomplishments? Improvements?
One goal is to get this book read by as many as possible. It’s such an important story, but also warm and funny at times. My other goal is actually sit down and start writing my next book.

Are there any authors or books you recommend?
I love Richard Russo’s books. I’m currently reading Nobody’s Fool. I also love The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
I have a private practice and three kids who keep me pretty busy. I love taking long bike rides and running. I also love to go to the movies.