Excerpt + Interview: Love At The Speed Of Email by Lisa McKay

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In a memoir that reviewers have called a “modern-day fairytale”, a single thirty-something receives an email from a distant stranger proposing they date. As they get to know one another via email they must confront troubling questions about purpose, passion, and what it really means to commit to a person or a place.

Love At The Speed Of Email is the story of an old-fashioned courtship made possible by modern technology.

Love At The Speed Of Email
Title: Love At The Speed of Email
Author: Lisa McKay

Lisa looks as if she has it made. She has turned her nomadic childhood and forensic psychology training into a successful career as a stress management trainer for humanitarian aid workers. She lives in Los Angeles, travels the world, and her first novel has just been published to some acclaim. But as she turns 31, Lisa realizes that she is still single, constantly on airplanes, and increasingly wondering where home is and what it really means to commit to a person, place, or career. When an intriguing stranger living on the other side of the world emails her out of the blue, she must decide whether she will risk trying to answer those questions. Her decision will change her life.

Purchase from Amazon | CreateSpace

Excerpt

Read Chapter 1: Spinsters Abroad here!

Reviews

“Love at the Speed of Email is part grand romance, part travel memoir and part essay on life's most precious gifts. Lisa McKay is a phenomenal writer; clever and comedic, poignant and pitch-perfect. You will love this love story.” -Susan Meissner, award-winning author of The Shape of Mercy and A Sound Among the Trees

“Love at the Speed of Email, Lisa McKay's engrossing memoir about life and love and home, is a wild ride that spans the globe. At turns funny, contemplative, and romantic, Lisa's story resonated on many different levels and kept me eagerly turning pages, hoping for a happily-ever-after ending to this modern day fairy tale. I can't recommend this extraordinary book highly enough!” -Nicole Baart, bestselling author of Far From Here and After the Leaves Fall

A portion of profits on this book will be going to support two charities in Laos: Pencils of Promise and the Luang Prabang Boat Library. Pencils of Promise builds schools and trains teachers. The Library Boat carries books up and down the Mekong to villages that can only be accessed by boat.

So come on guys, purchase it!

As for the interview, go under the cut to read more (and some relationship advice)!
Tell me about the process of moving your life from the real world onto the printed page. What did you enjoy? What did you hate?

Some of the things I loved most about writing the memoir were inextricably bound up with some of the things that I hated.

I loved that writing the book helped me relive so many good moments and funny conversations. Writing about these things helped me pin down and cement a lot of happy memories. Conversely, however, I didn’t enjoy reliving and dissecting some parts of my own story that I’m not proud of.

I loved the fact that writing the memoir really made me think. During the process of writing this book I learned things about myself – about my actions and reactions, about my approach to commitment, and about how I conceptualize home.

But sometimes I also hated the fact that writing this memoir made me think so deeply. It took me more than three years and three very different drafts to write this book. There were many times when I looked at something I’d written and knew that I wasn’t quite there, but had no real idea yet of how to take it to the next level. I would try to reframe that feeling for myself as “a season of growth and possibility” but what it usually felt like was “a season of being stuck and frustrated”.

How did your friends and family feel about appearing in your book?

So far everyone seems to have taken it well. I only changed two characters names – everyone else appeared under their own name – so before I finalized the manuscript I did send it to almost everyone who has a significant “speaking” role with a list of page numbers where they appeared and a request to let me know if they had any questions or concerns. I didn’t give them veto power, per se, but I did want them to see what I’d written and to hear their thoughts.

Funnily enough, a couple of my family members were a bit concerned about how other family members might feel about their portrayal, but no one was concerned with how they came across. In fact, the person I was most worried might be hurt thanked me for portraying them in such a good light.

The trickiest part of navigating this wasn’t with family, it was with friends and previous boyfriends. However contacting previous love interests to let them know what I’d written about them before I made it public actually proved to be a healing exercise for me. (You can read a whole post on this topic here).

How was the process of writing memoir different than writing fiction?

When I was writing my first novel (My Hands Came Away Red) I found myself getting surprised by what was happening. As I figured out the “what” of plot, however, an understanding my character’s actions and reactions followed fairly naturally.

Writing a memoir reversed this process. I already knew what happened – I’d lived it – but I had to work much harder to figure out what it all meant to me, then and now.

The plotting process was different, too. With the novel I wrote my way into the story blind, without an outline. As I wrote, the story gained momentum as events unfolded.

In contrast, I had a clear vision for the start and end of the memoir, but little idea of how I was going to get from one place to the other. Despite repeated outlines I continued to flounder in the middle until the very final drafts of the manuscript.

You write a lot about long distance relationships in this book. Do you have any words of advice for people in long distance relationships?

Gosh, long distance relationships are there own special brand f challenging. Being apart from someone you’re dating (or married to) is so hard in many ways, but that distance can bring some unique benefits, too.

I think the biggest benefit of all is that being apart forces you to communicate. So a couple of words of advice on that front:

Make communicating a priority. Find out what tends to work for you (talking every day or every two days, writing emails, sending texts, etc) and then treat that communication the same way you’d treat a commitment to have dinner with that person face to face. Sure, there will be some days when you might have to reschedule a phone call for whatever reason, but make sure you’re prioritizing communicating.

Ask and answer questions that go beyond “what did you do today”? I have a free e-book coming out in a month or two called 201 Great Questions for Couples in Long Distance Relationships. Find a copy of that or something like that and use it to help you ask questions about bigger picture “stuff”.

You spent three months writing letters to your husband before you ever talked or met. How do you think that influenced the way that your relationship developed?

Writing all those letters to each other – a whole books worth – gave us time and space to ask and answer questions. We wrote about anything and everything. About childhood and work and what we’re passionate about and the little details of how our days had been and what we were reading …

This helped pace us – it allowed us to get to know one another in a measured, thoughtful, way before anything else entered the picture. It meant that when we did meet in Australia for the first time we had a really solid foundation of respect and liking to build upon. I think it’s possible that months of writing letters enabled us to learn more about each other than we would have learned if we’d been dating more traditionally and living in the same city.

You've chosen to self-publish your book – what sort of hopes do you have for it with the reading public?

I had a great experience publishing my first book with a traditional publisher and I’m excited to explore this new frontier of self-publishing. Technology is changing publishing so rapidly – I find it amazing that I can publish this book and undertake a (virtual) book tour without leaving Northern Laos!!

As for my hopes … I have several. Starting grand: I hope that everyone who reads it loves it and that it sells a million copies.

More modestly (and much more sensibly) I hope that it entertains and I hope that it makes people think. I would love to see this find it’s way to people who will enjoy a good love story or who are grappling with questions about home, commitment, or long distance relationships.

More modestly still, I hope to sell enough copies to break even on this project. I’d like to earn a living from writing someday and this particular publishing adventure is all part of the process. 

Thanks for hosting me on this virtual book tour (isn’t the internet amazing?? I remain astounded that I can launch a book from Laos).

Speaking of which, I’m looking for ways to get the word out about this book this summer, so if anyone reading would like me to visit their blog just let me know. Please do pick up a copy of Love At The Speed Of Email on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or drop by my blog and say hello. I’d love to hear from you.

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So thank you so much Lisa for that very thoughtful interview! So many insights that made me go "oooohhh, that's right". So support Lisa McKay by buying her book or dropping her a comment o'er her blog!

About Lisa McKay
 
Lisa is a psychologist who specializes in stress, trauma   and resilience. She currently lives in Laos. Love At The Speed Of Email is her second book. To learn more, visit www.lisamckaywriting.com.

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