Monday, April 22, 2013

My Life on Craigslist - Interview with Author

Synopsis:  FINALIST OF USA BEST BOOK AWARDS.  Craigslist can be a real sharkfest! But it's a mirror of who we are. Alexandra Ares takes these two statements to a dark, funny place in this page turner satire of today's wildest mores brazenly unleashed on America's largest free online dating website. A zany New York girl trolls it for fun, love, sex, relationships and everything else, doomed to run from trouble to trouble. But she has a special talent...

Meet Emily Thompson, 25, quirky, wholesome, with a keen eye for contemporary art. One year after she moves from Buffalo to the trendy East Village, where she lands a job in an art gallery and an artist boyfriend, her life is turned upside down when she loses everything. Alone, broke and discouraged, she turns to Craigslist to find - for free - everything she needs for both fun and survival. She soon discovers a wild, flawed world where everyone is either the con or the conned, and decency has flown the laptop, the desktop, and the smartphone.  A roommate who is rarely home, turns out to be an escort, which makes Emily get on her high moral horse, but later, when Emily herself is forced by circumstance to become an escort for a day, things spiral out of control...

With her deadpan wit and trademark unconventional insight, Alexandra Ares delivers a fast-paced, rakishly entertaining and ingeniously plotted novel that confirms her status as one of the hottest new writers around.

Interview with Author:  I am thrilled to be able to share this interview with Alexandra Ares!

Favorite color, food, drink and animal?

Red, chocolate mousse, wine…as for animals it's a tie between dogs and horses.  

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Strolling in Central Park, travelling, discovering a book that I enjoy reading – which all amounts to escaping into another universe.  

When/Why did you start writing?

I started writing in January 2005, after a series of life changing events that I described in Dream Junkies, my most autobiographic novel so far, that, by the way, just won an award last week (Finalist of the Book of the Year 2012 Award by the prestigious ForeWord Reviews). Dream Junkies is a character driven novel with strong romantic elements and some outrageous ideas that might offend less liberal people…I grew up in Bucharest, Romania where my dad was a well known playwright, so I decided to make a name for myself in a different field, in TV. Only when I moved to New York, in 1998, I gave myself “permission” to become a writer. It was something that I had always imagined myself doing, ever since I was a teenager scribbling in my diary or writing short stories and plays; but doing anything ‘long form’ meant breaking a certain barrier, one that I wasn’t prepared to break until much later, in the US.

Where/When do you feel most comfortable writing?

For some bizarre reason, I’m feeling highly creative in New York. My life is complicated here, nothing seems to flow easily, except my creative juices. I write at my desk at the 31st floor in my apt, looking at the East River. You could say I live and write in “a room with a view.” 

Have you ever been inspired by another author? If so, who?

There are many novelists that I admire, but I can’t say that they inspired my writing. Ironically, I feel most inspired by Woody Allen, a screenwriter, because he is so free, unconventional and funny, and each of his films/screenplay explores a new genre. I don’t know any other novelist who does that, so I would like to be the first one.

Is it hard to let the characters go once you complete a novel?

I like to joke that I write because I can’t afford a therapist, so each novel explores things that interest me at that point in time, and by the time I finish it, I’m ready to move on.  Each of my novels has an open ending, giving me space to return if I’ll ever want to, and readers often asked me to write sequels. Yet I fear that writing sequels would turn me into an overly commercial author, so I prefer to let my characters go.  

Where does your inspiration for a story come from?

Real life, real people, and budding ideas that germinate under the status quo pushing their way up into the mainstream. Dream Junkies written in 2006, published first in Europe, and only recently here, talks about many of the issue that came in the forefront of American speech only with the OWS movement.  My life on Craigslist, explores the increased promiscuity of the mating habits and the once ‘off stream’ becoming ‘mainstream.  The Other Girl rants against the last feminist taboo, ageism, and the fact that women are still socially expected to date and marry older men, while older men feel entitled to date younger women, even ridiculously younger, as their birth right. This is the last double standard that I hope next generations will change. 

So what I think what sets me apart is that I am trying to write novels that are not only about plot, story, and escapism, but also about ideas, if only somewhere in the background. But don't get me wrong: I do want to entertain my readers, not bore them or preach to them, so I write in a light-hearted, self deprecating way about these serious things. I also enjoy picking a very personal experience and transforming it into ‘fiction’ by being intellectually detached from it. I don’t fall in love with my characters, to the contrary, I challenge them, and explore their vulnerabilities. Women authors are not really expected to do that. They are expected to deliver strong heroines that could be role models. I don’t think men authors have to worry about that, which often allows them more real life complexity. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, my novels are inspired by my life as a single woman in New York, and explore the different challenges single women meet in different phases of their lives: in their mid 20s (My Life on Craigslist) when they try to find a way to their dreams; in their early 30s (Dream Junkies) when they have had many experiences, but many question if they are on the right track, and late 30s (The Other Girl) when they stopped looking at life with starry eyes and their options changed. My characters are usually misfits, people who question the status quo, vibrant, vulnerable, brave, and, of course, in trouble.  I hope the readers of your blog will  like them. 

Do you have a favorite author?  Who? Too many…I love Ayn Rand (Fountainhead), Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), Elie Wiesel (The Night), Balzac, D.H. Lawrence, Tom Wolfe, Margaret Mitchell, Nabokov, Candace Bushnell (her first book, the Sex in the City collection of vignettes), Jennifer Egan and, most recently, Colleen Hoover. I don’t write like any of them, but I enjoy their books a great deal. 

Connect: Connect with Alexandra and check out all her books online, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.  Alexandra has an entire part of my website titled “find me”, where I list a bunch of writers groups and forums that I belong to, from Pen American Center. to various blog communities.  

Purchase it:  Purchase My Life on Craigslist, Dream Junkie, and The Other Girl online at Amazon.

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