Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Presents Stephanie Lehman

Today's t-shirt: UT Southwestern Medical Center. That was where I had my first job out of college, in the public information office. I had to go to a conference for university public information professionals, and for the welcome event we had to wear t-shirts from our schools, so I bought this one at the school gift shop. I still freelance for that school.

I'm almost done with the revisions on Damsel Under Stress, just one chapter to go, but that chapter will be affected by changes I make to book 4, which I'm supposed to be discussing with my agent today. Meanwhile, today the folks at Ballantine are having a meeting to discuss the cover and related stuff for Damsel. I can't wait to see the result! Seeing your cover for the first time is one of the more exciting (and possible nervewracking) parts of this job. It's soooo crucial, and you have sooo little control over it, but at the same time, it's like seeing your baby's face for the first time and finding out how the rest of the world will see this thing that's been living inside you for so long.

But enough about me. I've got another Girlfriends Cyber Circuit guest. You Could Do Better by Stephanie Lehman is about a woman trying to choose between the man of her dreams -- and her fiance. (oops!)

Daphne Wells is way too busy watching television to start planning her wedding. She tells herself that being glued to the boob tube counts as research for her job at the Museum of Television and Radio. But the truth is, as much as she’s looking forward to a future with her fiancĂ©, Charlie, their sex life just isn’t ready for prime time.

Then Daphne meets sexy, successful writer/producer Jonathan Hill when he comes to the museum for inspiration. Daphne spends a weekend in the Hamptons at Jonathan’s beach house—on business, of course—but the picture comes in loud and clear: This man can turn her on as if he’s a remote control. She’s more confused than ever about marrying Charlie. What if she can do better?

Now, the interview:
What inspired you to write this book?
I came up with the idea that my main character would be a curator at The Museum of Television and Radio so I’d have an excuse to go to the museum, watch old episodes of THIS IS YOUR LIFE, and call it research.

Describe your creative process.
I used to be offended by the idea of outlining. I would begin a novel with total faith that as I wrote, the story would unfold into something interesting, gripping and meaningful. As a result, I have three (unpublished) novels that happen to have no plot to speak of. Now I can’t imagine writing a novel without an outline. At the very least, I need to fool myself into believing that I know where I’m going. Writing a novel is such a massive undertaking, and the thing is, I don’t think you can know how a novel should begin until it ends. And I don’t think you can know how it should end until you have your beginning. And the middle! Let’s not even talk about that.

Do you have any writing habits or rituals?
I must have coffee and some kind of breadlike sweet (muffin, scone, Danish, bagel) to get me going. I don’t think it would be possible for me to write without caffeine, flour and sugar. But not too much flour and sugar, because then I’ll just want to take a nap. It’s taken me years to know how to gauge exactly how much flour and sugar is optimal.

How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
I am nothing like my heroine. She is smart, sensitive, independent and extremely competent. Also, I’ve never had a good memory for information and could not possibly retain all that TV trivia.

Are you a big TV watcher yourself?
Um, can I get back to you on that? 100 GREATEST RED CARPET MOMENTS is starting…

What are your favorite things to watch?
I love to watch my husband do the dishes, my children clean their rooms, and my mother get out her credit card when we’re at Banana Republic. Oh, you mean TV! Well, I prefer the channels under 49, but will watch things between 50 and 100 if it comes to that.

Is there something in your life where you think you could have done better (or could do better)?
I admit (under duress) that I definitely watched too much TV while doing homework during my formative years, and my grades show it. And I definitely could’ve done better with this questionnaire!

Chocolate: dark or milk?
Dark, preferably Scharffen Berger 82% Cacao Extra Dark…

(oh, now I'm hungry!)

What are you working on now?
I’m working on another novel, but scared to say anything in case I jinx it. I do have an outline though!

For more info, visit Stephanie's web site or her blog, The History of Television.

And I may have to add this to my Labor Day weekend chick books marathon because it sounds like a hoot!

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