Thursday, March 24, 2011

Special Guest: Author Interview & Book Review with Beth Orsoff - How I Learned to Love the Walrus

Q. After you finished the Bar exam, you mentioned you went out and purchased a book on how to write a novel; what (or who) influenced you to change careers altogether from being an entertainment lawyer to a writer? Do you ever miss being an entertainment lawyer?

Beth Orsoff: I don’t miss being an entertainment lawyer because I still am one!  Although now I only work part-time.  I think I wanted to be a writer long before I purchased that first “How to” book.  I just didn’t have the courage to try.  For me, that’s been one of the most valuable parts of becoming a lawyer.  My legal career has allowed me to earn a living while learning my craft as a writer, and it’s what gave me the confidence to try my hand at writing.  Maybe it’s because after you’ve survived the California Bar Exam, you feel like you can do anything! 

Q. Where do you draw inspiration from for your novels?

Beth Orsoff: It’s different for each book.  For the first book, “Romantically Challenged,” it was the experience I and many of my friends were having in the dating world.  Dating in your thirties is much different than dating in your twenties.  There’s much more of an element of “I’m looking for Mr. Right,” as opposed to “I’m looking for Mr. Right Now.”

For the second book, “Honeymoon for One,” it came from a dream I had about a woman whose fiancĂ© dumps her the night before their wedding and she decides to go on the honeymoon alone. 

For the third book, “How I Learned to Love the Walrus,” it came from a newspaper article I’d read about a scientific vessel that discovered three abandoned walrus pups in the Arctic Ocean.  That story became a fictionalized scene in the book, and is the reason I wrote the book.  
Q. Who is your favorite character and why? From one of your own novels? What about in one of someone else’s novels?

Beth Orsoff: From my own novels, it’s “Ethan” from “How I Learned to Love the Walrus” because he says exactly what he thinks, is not at all political, and truly doesn’t care about other people’s judgments of him.
I think my all-time favorite fictional character has to be “Scarlett” from “Gone with the Wind.”  I admit I watched the movie before I read the book, which is rare for me.  I almost always read the book first.  And what’s even stranger is the first time I watched the movie (as a freshman in college) I absolutely hated it.  I thought the film was melodramatic, that “Scarlett” was a spoiled brat, and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why millions of people loved this story.  Then I watched the movie again five years later and adored it.  I’m not exactly sure what caused my change in attitude (although I suspect having to fend for myself in the working world was part of it), but from that point forward I viewed “Scarlett” as a heroine for the ages.  Was she the nicest person in the world?  No.  Was she conniving at times?  Yes.  But she took care of her friends and family, even her arch rival Melanie, and she always found a way not only to survive, but to prosper.  Back then women didn’t have a lot of options.  “Scarlett” was ahead of her time.  

Q. Chick lit is still considered, by many, to be a controversial term. Do you mind being called a chick lit author? What made you decide to write books in the contemporary women’s fiction/chick lit genre?

Beth Orsoff: I don’t mind being called a chick lit author because I don’t view the term as derogatory (even though others sometimes use it for that purpose).  Chick lit is merely a sub-genre of commercial fiction; and the purpose of commercial fiction is to entertain. 

These days most people have hectic lives—jobs, families, and a lot of stress and responsibilities.  I’m one of those people.  When I sit down with a book at the end of a long day I don’t want to be challenged, I want to be entertained.  I want to forget about my own life and get wrapped up in someone else’s.  And I want to know that no matter what obstacles the protagonist faces, she will triumph in the end.  I hope that’s the sort of experience I provide for my own readers.  If so, then I’ve done my job.  I find no shame in that.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to write women’s fiction/chick lit, it’s just where my voice and my stories naturally fit.  

 Q. What are some of your favorite books? Authors? Genres?

Beth Orsoff: About half of the books I read are women’s fiction/chick lit, and the other half are a smattering of all other genres including mysteries, thrillers, humor, and the occasional literary novel.  In my own genre, I’m a big fan of Jennifer Weiner and Emily Giffin.  Outside of women’s fiction, I love David Sedaris and Nicky Hornby.  

Q. What are your interests/hobbies outside of writing?

Beth Orsoff: I’m a huge movie fan and a TV-aholic.  But I don’t watch reality television.  There’s too much really good scripted television (e.g., “30 Rock,” “House,” and “Breaking Bad” just to name a few) and too few hours in the day. 

Q. What advice do you have for wannabe writers out there?
Beth Orsoff: Take the time to learn your craft.  Just because with current technology you can publish your first draft, doesn’t mean you should publish your first draft. 

Q. What is something that most people wouldn't necessarily know about you?

Beth Orsoff: I love Elmo.  (Yeah, the red guy from Sesame Street.)
And now my review of…

How I Learned to Love the Walrus (An Arctic Romantic Comedy) by Beth Orsoff

Meet Sydney Green, whose days as a publicist to the stars in LA may be numbered if she can’t turn things around for at least one of her clients.  Never one to give in to the pressure, Sydney makes an elaborate proposal to save both her dying career and a dying population of walruses all in one feel swoop – that is so long as her boss and hunky movie star (and secret boyfriend), Blake McKinley, all cooperate. As the saying goes, Sydney learns the saying “nothing worth having comes easy” all too well as she is met with much resistance on her month long trip to Alaska. Never mind the cold, wet weather or the midnight sun, but no one told her that she’d be sleeping in a tent, taking sea showers, sharing in the cooking and cleaning and sacrificing all access to electricity – in other words, no blow drying her hair, no charging her satellite cell phone or laptop, and no laundry! If that wasn’t bad enough, her writer for the “Save the Walrus” film’s script has just quit, the expedition’s leader, Jill, expects her to volunteer during her “free time”, Jill’s six year-old son keeps bugging Sydney to role-play the Star Wars battle between Luke and Darth Vader with him and the group’s lead scientist keeps arguing with Sydney at every chance; but it will all be worth it when Blake finally shows up, right?

A fun story with vivacious characters, engaging plot lines and unique settings, Beth Orsoff’s How I Learned to Love the Walrus tackles themes of self-exploration, honesty, preservation and humanity. That may seem like a serious laundry list of topics but Beth Orsoff’s talented writing enables readers to think about the reality of life and our environment while filling page after page with much romantic humor. In such a way, readers are both entertained and enlightened and extremely satisfied. I mean, who ever thought that reading about a dying breed of mammals in the Arctic would be an exciting topic of interest for a chick lit novel? Clearly, Beth Orsoff is ahead of the rest of us as she successfully created a story about a twenty-something woman who finds true meaning in her life while counting walruses on an expedition at sea. How I Learned to Love the Walrus is the third book written by entertainment lawyer, Beth Orsoff.


1 comment:

  1. I am currently reading ROMANTICALLY CHALLENGED and it's great fun. And I can so relate to her dating woes!