This is the first in a series of author interviews I’m planning. And what better way to start than with the superbly talented and highly prolific Erica Orloff, who also writes young adult fiction as Liza Conrad. I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I was when Erica agreed to the interview. I love her adult and young adult fiction. Her books are always a ‘must buy’ for me. So, here goes:
Please will you tell us about your latest book:
The Poker Diaries, which I wrote under my YA pen name Liza Conrad, is about Tallulah “Lulu” King, a 15-year-old girl who lives between two worlds–her mother’s on Central Park West, wealthy, cultured, and her father’s in Hell’s Kitchen, where she plays illegal back room poker in her grandfather’s bar. When she is blackmailed into playing a high-stakes game, the streetsmart Lulu may, for the first time, be in over her head.
How long have you been writing, and what made you start?
I’ve been writing since the second grade, I think. Basically since I could conceive of short stories. When I was 21, I formed a writers’ group, and continue to be in one today, and I worked as a book editor and ghostwriter for a while–and then came into my own as a novelist four years ago. I’ve always wanted to write. It’s just a part of me. I don’t think I can NOT write.
Many people spend a long time searching for an agent. What was your agent hunt like?
It was more like an agent accident. I didn’t hunt. I was consulting for a publishing house at the BEA in
Everyone loves a good call story, what was yours?
Well, I really am so in awe of people who never give up despite years of rejection, so I always feel like people want to throw things at me when they hear mine. Basically, I found my agent through serendipity, and then he sent out Spanish Disco to a couple of big houses and was getting really great feedback–except everyone was a little leery of a pill-popping, tequila-swilling b-word of a heroine. But one editor said, “I wish I could buy something so edgy, but I can’t–my list plays it safe. But send it to my friend at Red Dress Ink.” My editor read it in a weekend and bought it–so I sold my first novel in just a short time–and how amazing is that for an editor at one house to insist my agent send it to her friend at another house? When I did get the actual “call,” I have to say, I was numb for three days.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Hone your craft. As an editor, I have read a lot of manuscripts that truly weren’t ready–they were so far from ready that I knew these writers were going to get a lot of rejection. And yet the aspiring writers behind them loved writing and clearly poured their hearts into their work, but I felt like they should take a writing class, join a writers’ group, go to some conferences . . . Then, when you are ready, never give up. Ever.
What are you working on at the moment and what books you have coming out in the future?
I am knee-deep in a trilogy, writing as Erica Orloff, for Nocturne, the paranormal romance line. My first stand-alone Nocturne comes out February 1st and is called BLOOD SON. And, like all working novelists, I’m honing a couple of proposals and always writing!
Thank you so much, Erica. It’s been a pleasure interviewing you.
Erica Orloff (writing as Liza Conrad) is a writer living in