A delight in contemporary fiction…
Laurie Beth Finkelstein lives far enough north from Los Angeles to enjoy a slightly slower pace, but not far enough to escape the traffic. Laurie shares her life with a husband, two grown sons, and two cats, thankfully not all living in the same house.
Laurie splits her time between writing, painting, and advocating. Her debut novel, ‘Next Therapist Please’ while fictional, mirrors many aspects of her life. Living with depression, anxiety, and OCD has challenged her as well as provide occasional comic relief. Laurie hopes to help smash the stigma of mental illness one laugh at a time. “I champion those with mental illness to break the stigma and 10% of the gross sales are donated to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”
A romantic comedy, Next Therapist Please, has its light and breezy moments, as romantic comedies invariably do, but there’s a lot more to this well-written and enjoyable novel. Janie’s social anxiety leads her to encounters with six different therapists, and the author deftly guides the reader through the varying types of therapy a person with anxiety may encounter.”
” Next Therapist Please will delight romantic comedy fans, but it’s also most highly recommended as an insightful contemporary fiction novel that addresses mental health and the issues and challenges the mentally ill face every day.” Vertikal had a wonderful opportunity to interview Laurie and talk about her life and her book.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing is energizing. It is an activity that once I begin for the day; I get more and more into it. I get so involved I don’t like to eat or take restroom breaks! I can write for 12 hours and feel great after, thrilled that my characters come to life.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My Husband LOL! He’s retired and is constantly on the move in and out of the house. He breaks my concentration and flow. I just want to say, “Go, sit, stay, shush.” He is loveable like a dog, but not as obedient!
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
I love this question! Yes, and it is very tricky. I will start a book and if after a couple of chapters I’m not drawn in, or the writing is clunky, I put it down. But then I don’t like to not finish a book, so I force myself to continue reading. Perhaps focusing on structure and other elements to take my mind off the fact I am not enjoying the book.
If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
Do not rush the process. Take your time to get it right. Go through critiques, beta readers, and substantive edits. Then edit the heck out of it once all comments and suggestions are marinated and the direction of the story is clear. Only then should it go to a professional copy editor, proofreader, etc.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
My first book was written without a plan, known as being a pantster. Some people prefer writing organically that way. I find preparing an outline, plot points, arcs, character studies, etc., make me much more efficient and productive.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
In junior high, I took a creative writing class. I found that my stories elicited real emotions. I think making a reader feel the story is where the power is.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I love romantic comedies and one of my favorites is from an indie author. The novel is called Miss Adventure by Geralyn Corcillo. She has quite a few more that are really funny.
What does literary success look like to you?
Getting my message out and making a difference in people’s lives. With Next Therapist Please my goal is to smash the stigma of mental illness by humanizing mental disorders and by donating 10% of my sales to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In my upcoming nonfiction humor book, AH0OT! I will be able to help people by teaching them how to use marijuana responsibly and effectively. I want to break the perception of what a stoner is.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I’m a visual artist as well as author. I would work in any capacity utilizing my creative outlet. I’m terrible with office work. I would be the worst restaurant server ever. I can’t deal with retail. I used to want to be a librarian, so maybe that would be a good fit. Once I performed at a Six Flag’s Amusement Park dressed as Warner Brothers characters. I loved it but the costumes were too heavy and never fit comfortably.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I look forward to all reviews. Of course, my favorites are when a reviewer says they related to the character and feel less alone in their mental health struggles. The bad reviews are a natural for any book. Some are funny to read and some I learn from. Some are mean. It’s all part of being an author and all of it is welcomed. But I don’t understand the point of being mean in a review!
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Is this like Lent? If I look at it from a trade-off point of view, I would give up television forever. No Netflix, no DVD’s, no Pay per View, nothing. Unless one of my books became a television show or movie, I certainly must watch it. My second choice is to give up the time I spend on my art. I would give up painting and drawing to be a better writer. But I won’t give up my soul. I think I might need one at all times.
Hear the interview with Laurie Finkelstein on A Taste Of Ink LIVE