Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Straight Chatting from the Library: Laurie Boris

Laurie Boris, the author of Sliding Past Vertical, has stopped by The Library today to talk with us.  Leave a comment or ask a question--Click the tour banner for the tour dates.

Laurie will be awarding a Grand Prize of a $30 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and an e-book copy of her backlist book, Drawing Breath, will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter at each stop.

What is your favorite book today? Anna Karenina or Lolita. Depends on the day. I love the big, fat Russian novels. I love the complexity and the relationships. That Nabokov made me empathize with such a broken character like Humbert Humbert is just genius.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

A literary love story about codependence, timing, and ill-considered decisions. Okay, that’s sort of cheating, nine words plus a hyphenated term. Will you take a check for the library fine?

Do you have any bad book habits?

Okay, I’ll tell: I skip ahead to find out what happens next. It’s a habit I picked up from editing. If I’m working with an especially engrossing story, I’ll read ahead so I don’t get caught up in the story and miss the mechanics. This is one reason why I’m so fond of e-books when I’m reading for pleasure. It’s harder to flip ahead and go back to where I was. It makes reading mysteries and thrillers more fun for me.

One book at a time or multiples?

Multiples! I have four or five books going. I pick them up according to my mood. If I know something’s going to be a thrill-ride page-turner, I won’t read it before bed; I know it will keep me up too late. If I need intense distraction, I’ll reader lighter books.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

Bookmark. I like to leave my books in good shape for the next reader. Unless it’s a close-to- my-heart favorite like Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Then I’m scribbling in the margins and dog-earing favorite pages.

Favorite book you've read this year?

For the last couple of years, I’ve been exploring books by independent authors pretty much exclusively. One of my favorites is Martin Crosbie’s My Name is Hardly. It follows a really compelling character in Northern Ireland during “the troubles” as the Irish Republican Army clashed with the British army. Not only is it a time and place that has not been greatly mined in print, but it’s good writing.

Favorite place to read?

I adored reading in bed. I did it for years, and got to the point where I couldn’t fall asleep without it. Then I developed so many neck and upper back problems from propping that book up (Harry Potter nearly killed me), I needed a lifestyle makeover. So I treated myself to a pretty, portable editor’s desk and set it at one end of the kitchen table. That’s where I do my nighttime reading. Ergonomically proper, with soft lighting and a comfortable chair.

Do you loan your books?

No, I don’t. I give them away. I’ve accumulated so many, because I can’t bear to hear people say things like, “Oh, I can’t keep Aunt Millie’s collection, so I’ll just have to toss them.” I’m like a book foster mother. Seriously, my bed could never collapse because of the stacks of books piled beneath the box spring, and my armoire contains more books than clothing. I don’t like to loan my precious favorites, but everything else, I’ll gladly pass along. For good.

Favorite book to recommend?

For my writer friends, I recommend Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird. One of the best books on writing I’ve ever read. For readers, I love to recommend The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s so beautiful and haunting.

What would make you not finish a book?

If the writing doesn’t engage me, if it isn’t well edited, or if there are too many egregious errors. I haven’t abandoned too many books. Sometimes it’ll just be the mood I’m in. I couldn’t get into Life of Pi at first, but a friend suggested I give it another chance. I felt ready to read it again, and adored it.


Sarah Cohen is a walking disaster. She means well, but the ex-diver’s hasty decisions wreak havoc on her life in Boston. Good thing Emerson is a phone call away in Syracuse, with a metaphorical mop to clean up the mess. Their long-distance friendship can be excruciating for him, though.

Years after they shared a brief college romance, he’s still in love with her. When everything goes wrong, Sarah takes another plunge: back to the scene of her last mistake, to start fresh. Unfortunately for Emerson, the move puts her too close for comfort. Her attempts to straighten her life’s trajectory are sometimes amusing and sometimes catastrophic.

With Sarah around, is anyone safe?


It was a room Sarah had slept in before: a small room with butter-yellow walls sticky from generations of fingerprints and a warped closet door that wouldn’t stay closed. It smelled of wet wood, stale cigarettes, and old coffee. Even though the room had been vacant all summer, the damp, anxious-student smell hadn’t left and probably never would.

It’s not like I’m going to be here forever, Sarah thought, as she pulled on her new nightshirt, a giant blue tee with the Penthouse logo printed on the breast pocket. Emerson gave it to her when she’d realized that throwing out what the dealers had ruined left her nothing to sleep in. Even wrapped in its original plastic, the shirt had assumed the musty funk. It reminded her of college, when this charmingly shabby neighborhood, this house, this room, and Emerson had been her refuge from a variety of awful roommates, from bad phone calls home, from men who failed to live up to her expectations.

In the narrow bedframe sagged a thin mattress, and the sheet—Emerson’s spare—was worn transparent in the center. The springs complained as she sat and fluffed up the sad little pillow a former tenant had left behind. She tried not to think about the backache she’d have in the morning.

Sarah tossed for a while, trying to find a comfortable position, a spot that didn’t sag too badly. She gave sleep a chance but the stubborn bitch eluded her. It was the mattress, the smell, or maybe the T-shirt, too new from the package and itchy. Maybe it was the humid night. Or just knowing Emerson inhabited the room across the hall.

His typewriter hummed, and the clack of the keys, fast then slow then fast, became a kind of dance step. With a ping and the return of the carriage, it started again. I’d never write about you.


Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She has been writing fiction for over twenty-five years and is the award-winning author of four novels: The Joke's on Me, Drawing Breath, Don't Tell Anyone, and Sliding Past Vertical.

When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, cooking, reading, and helping aspiring novelists as a contributing writer and editor for She lives in New York's lovely Hudson Valley.


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  1. Thank you for hosting me today. I love libraries!

  2. Hi again Laurie! Gosh I'm finding out such interesting stuff about you in all these guest posts and interviews! I'm super glad you decided to book a tour :D

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

    1. We meet again, Andra! These are pretty cool. Thanks for visiting. :D

  3. Great interview; great questions. But skipping ahead to read the ending? Unforgivable!

    1. Thanks, Melissa. I know. I'm bad. It doesn't spoil the end for me. I just like to know what's coming. :D

  4. I'm with Melissa. Skipping ahead ey? I'll have to write the climax in Russian next time just to drive you crazy. But I'll bet you speak Russian, so that won't work! ;)

  5. Great interview!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    Sounds like a really good read!!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  6. Loved the interview! Thanks for sharing it and the giveaway. Sounds like a really good book. Wishing everyone a wonderful and magical holiday season. evamillien at gmail dot com

  7. A love story about codependence? That's intriguing!
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

    1. Not your usual love story...thanks, Catherine! :D

  8. Thank you, Librarian Judith, for being such a lovely hostess. I promise to at least try not to look ahead at endings... ;)

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview thank you.


  10. Congratulations, Eva Millien, you're our winner of a copy of Drawing Breath! Thank you, everyone, and Librarian Judith, for letting me come visit during my tour. :D