Interview with Author Laurie Frankel + Giveaway

Let’s welcome Laurie Frankel to Reading Reality! Her latest book, Goodbye for Now, just came out on August 7, and is a fascinating blend of technology, social networking, science fiction and near-future possibilities. It’s a love story. And it’s also about the eternal realities of the human condition. A lot gets packed into one story! (See review for more details)

You’ll have a chance below to win a copy of Goodbye for Now for your very own, but in the meantime, here’s Laurie to answer a few questions.

Marlene: Tell us a little about yourself. What does Laurie Frankel do when she’s not writing?

Laurie: Well, I have a little boy, so mostly what I do when I’m not writing is parent. I used to also teach college — writing, literature, gender studies — but that left me not nearly enough time to parent and write. I do yoga. I listen to baseball on the radio and cook. I go to the theater as often as I can. I love to travel though, on account of the small child, I do that less these days than I’d like. And I read. A lot.

Marlene: Some advice here, please. How did you convince you mother to think of your books as her “grandbooks”? That sounds awesome.

Laurie: I didn’t have to convince her. It’s her term, all her idea. It is awesome. Both of my parents are just really, really great — supportive, loving, generous, and absolutely over-the-moon stoked about my writing. I am very lucky. So I guess that’s my advice: be lucky enough to have great parents. (Not especially helpful advice, huh?)

Marlene: What inspired you to write Goodbye for Now?

Laurie: At the beginning, honestly, it was frustration with Facebook and all the time we all spend online these days. I kept having the sense that the time and energy I was spending keeping in virtual touch with old classmates and ex-work-colleagues was time and energy I was taking away from keeping in actual touch with my close friends and family. That’s not what Goodbye For Now is about, but that is where the inspiration came from.

It also came from an idea I had when my grandmother died. She and I emailed each other a lot, and when she died, I had this idea that a good programmer could write software that could fake emails from her. I sat with that idea for years, convinced it was a great idea for a product, before I realized that I’m not a software engineer nor an inventor nor a developer, and that this was a good idea, not in real life, but for a novel. And luckily, I am a novelist.

Marlene: Reviewers are making comparisons between Goodbye for Now and David Nicholls’ One Day. Do you think the themes are similar? (I keep thinking of Steven Spielberg’s film A.I.)

Laurie: Goodbye For Now and One Day are both high-concept love stories, but thematically, indeed, I think A.I. is probably closer. People also keep saying Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and I think that’s a pretty good comparison too.

Marlene: And when you describe the story to people, what genre do you think it falls into?

Laurie: Great question and hard to answer. When I started it (and this wasn’t that long ago), I was calling it Speculative Fiction, even Sci-Fi, but by the time it’s coming out, it’s just not that farfetched anymore. There are lots of people working on technology remarkably similar to the tech I imagine. There are lots of people suddenly concerned about what happens to our online, virtual selves — all our archived emails and chats and Facebook activity and blogs and social media presence — after we pass on.

Marlene: It looks like Goodbye for Now might BE turned into a movie. Wow! Who would you like to see playing Sam and Meredith?

Laurie: Yup, film rights have been optioned. Very exciting. The folks working on the movie are just amazing. It’s great talking to them. The best part of the movie is it has almost nothing to do with me. Watching someone else take this project on — including the casting — is just incredible. I, for instance, have no idea who should play Sam and Meredith, so I’m delighted to leave that in the capable hands of the filmmakers. I have, however, been casting my fantasy version of the film with dead actors — since Goodbye For Now is all about virtually recreating the dead — and I think Jimmy Stewart as Sam and Natalie Wood as Meredith would be just about perfect!

Marlene: A lot of people are going to focus on the technology in Goodbye for Now. Do you think something like RePose might ever be possible?

Laurie: Very possible. There’s a TED Talk about this very thing called, “After Your Final Status Update.” There’s a Facebook app called “If I Die.” There’s a service called Dead that sends messages — on your behalf, as you — after you pass on.  A decade-and-a-half dead Tupac came back to perform at Coachella. So yeah, very possible I think. Likely even.

Marlene: Do you believe in soul mates?

Laurie: I do. Because I’m certain I am married to mine. I cannot explain though why some people seem to find theirs and some people don’t. This doesn’t seem fair to me. Maybe some people don’t have or don’t need or don’t want a soulmate. I don’t know. But I do believe I found mine. Lucky, huh?

Marlene: Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

Laurie: A little bit of both. This book came to me whole — a miracle — but as a play and then it changed a lot in the writing of it anyway. My favorite part of the whole book-writing process is when it surprises me, when characters cross their arms and say, “No Laurie, sorry, but that’s not what’s going to happen next,” or even better, when they say, “Hello?! Are you a moron? That’s not what’s about to happen. This is what’s about to happen. Duh!” And they’re so right. I love those moments. So I have a sort-of plan, but then I let it — even encourage it to — rewrite itself.

Marlene: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

Laurie: I remember learning to read — not the process, the actual moment. I was three. My dad and I were stopped at a light, and there was a sign that said, “Stop here on red.” I turned to my dad and said, “That says stop!” and he knew I was actually reading it because it wasn’t a stop sign — I was reading the word not just the shape. He made a huge deal of that which, of course, is why I remember it. My mom is a reading teacher, so I had help as soon as I was ready for it. My grandmother started reading me Shakespeare when I was about five. I come from a family of readers for which I have always been grateful.

Marlene: Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

Laurie: Same people. Reading and writing are two sides of a coin for me. They have always been one drive. Reading good books has always inspired me to put them down and write between chapters. And when I get stuck or need inspiration writing, I take a break to read something good — usually just a few pages does the trick. So while my family was nurturing me as a reader, they were also nurturing my writing. They have always been very supportive. As I say, my parents are more excited about my becoming a published author than I am. They are very, very proud.

Marlene: What book do you recommend everyone should read, and why?

Laurie: Hamlet. You gotta read Hamlet. Reading tastes differ and times change and everyone has different literary needs, but Hamlet is in everything and everything is in Hamlet. Sometimes that play annoys me, and often that character annoys me, and parts of it just draaaaaaagggggg, BUT it also includes passages which are simply the best use of language to date. You know how they say Mozart makes your brain smarter without your conscious mind having to do anything? I think reading Hamlet does that too.

Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future? What comes next after Goodbye for Now?

Laurie: Soon, soon, I will take a break from promoting Goodbye For Now and start another novel. I can’t wait! I’m dying to get back to writing. I’m not talking about the next project yet, but I am very excited to get back to it. I’ll keep you posted.

Marlene: Coffee or Tea?

Laurie: Both. For sure. Hot in winter. Iced in summer. Four or so times a day. At least.

That sounds to me like a case of “instant writer, just add caffeine”. Works for me.


Speaking of things that work, Laurie’s publisher, Doubleday, is giving away a copy of Goodbye for Now to one lucky entrant here at Reading Reality. The winner will receive a print copy of the book, so this giveaway is open to US entries only.
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Review: Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel

What happens to us after we die is the province of religion and philosophy. The ones we leave behind go through an entirely different process, we grieve the loss. We mourn the hole that person has left in our lives; we heal the broken places, we eventually move past it.

But what happens when, out of a different kind of love, someone uses technology to short-circuit that grieving process? If you can stay in denial indefinitely, are you healed, or are you just broken differently?

In Laurie Frankel’s latest novel, Goodbye for Now, she asks one of the biggest questions of all. What if love, with a little help from technology, meant that you really never did have to say goodbye? Would that be wonderful? Or terrible? Or both?

Sam Elling is definitely a genius programmer. It’s both the good news and the bad news. Like so many very geeky people, he’s great at the technical stuff, but not necessarily so good at the social stuff. Considering that Sam works for an internet dating company, it’s almost ironic. So Sam creates an algorithm that matches people with their soul mate, and it works perfectly. He knows it works perfectly because he uses it for himself first, and it brings him the love of his life, Meredith.

It also gets him fired. Internet dating companies thrive on repeat business. People who find their soul mates on the first try, well, they don’t come back.

Sam still figures he’s ahead. He not only got a terrific severance package, he got Meredith. He can always find another job, but another soul mate? Not a chance.

But Meredith’s love for Sam has come with a profound loss. At the same time that Sam walked into her life, her beloved grandmother Livvie stepped out of it. Livvie died. In the fullness of her years, but still, Livvie was Meredith’s rock, and now, Livvie is gone.

Sam has time on his hands, and Meredith wants Livvie back. Just a bit of her. Meredith wants to be able to email her and get a response, just like she used to do when Livvie was in Florida for the winter. There’s lots of email to work with, and well, it’s just another algorithm. And a little artificial intelligence. Sort of like the old computer program ELIZA, only more complicated.

And more addictive. Once Meredith gets that first email from Livvie, she’s hooked. She has her grandmother back. Livvie’s just in Florida. Merde (Sam really does call her Merde) knows it’s not really Livvie, but it sounds just like her. It does.

And Merde is happy again. And she wants to share the gift with other people who are grieving. From Sam’s need to help the woman he loves, suddenly they have a business ameliorating, (or is it extending?) the grief of hundreds.

Until it all crashes down.

Escape Rating B: Goodbye for Now sticks with you because of the questions it asks. As a love story, it is heartbreaking, but I’m not sure that was the point. I keep going back to what it says about those we leave behind, and how people deal with getting over the loss of a loved one.

You probably will have the same reaction I did when I finished, which was to go hug everyone you love (including petting any animals you have). Goodbye for Now definitely gets at that sense of how grief mows you down.

Then I started thinking, not so much about the tech as about the human side. The fascinating and scary thing about the tech side is that it will probably become possible sooner than we think. And would people become addicted to “emailing” the dead? Even knowing it wasn’t real? Heck yes, some people will get addicted to anything. Looking toward the past would be more comfortable than forging a new and scary future.

As a story, I think I was expecting more tech gadgetry and less contemplation. But the questions that Goodbye for Now asks about grief and the human response are profound and well worth contemplating.

Format read: print ARC
Genre: contemporary fiction, science fiction
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Number of pages: 304 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Publishing
Formats available: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Purchasing Info: GoodreadsAuthor’s WebsiteAmazon, Doubleday Publishing, Book Depository

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 8-5-12

Looking at the calendar, it’s pretty clear that the break is over. Three tours this week AND three next week.

Oh, and I’m going to a family reunion over the weekend. Can I schedule or what?

Lucky for me, my friend Cryselle from Cryselle’s Bookshelf will be guest reviewing on Friday! Thank you, Cryselle!

But between now and Friday, what’s going on?

Monday’s Ebook Review Central features Dreamspinner’s June titles. This was the month they released their Time is Eternity Daily Dose collection of short stories, novellettes and novellas. Let’s just say it felt like eternity compiling the review list with all the added titles. You’ll see tomorrow.

Tuesday I’ll be interview Sheri Fredrick’s about her contemporary fantasy Remedy Maker, as well as reviewing this fun new book. Her Remedy Maker, Rhycious, is a centaur with PTSD after a century-long war against the wood-nymphs. One of the cooler things about this story is that the mythological creatures live in real-world Pennsylvania, in Amish country.

Wednesday is the day that Laurie Frankel will be giving away a copy of her new book, Goodbye for Now, in conjunction with an interview and a review of that absolutely fascinating story. I’m still trying to find the right words to describe the story. It’s a love story for the 21st century, absolutely. What happens when a geek decides that he doesn’t want to let go?

Thursday’s guest is Nana Malone. She’ll be at Reading Reality to talk about Forsaken Protector, the second book in her Protectors series. (The first book, Reluctant Protector, is available free for Kindle, check it out!) These read like superhero romances to me, and they’re fun!

And if this week isn’t awesome enough, there’s next week to look forward to!

Jane Kindred will be here early next week to talk about her wicked angels and protective demons series, The House of Arkhangel’sk. The first book in the series, The Fallen Queen, was amazing and intense, and the second book, The Midnight Court, promises more of the same. Along with convoluted angelic court politics and demonic love. Reviews will be posted with the interview. Yum!

Speaking of yummy, I couldn’t resist Adrienne Giordano’s Relentless Pursuit when it popped up on NetGalley. I’ve read the entire Private Protectors series, and I’ve loved every single one of them, so a new one is a real treat. If you like romantic suspense of the security-agency persuasion, give Giordano’s series a try. Start with Man Law. (Not thrilled with the title, but the book was terrific!)

That should be enough for one week. Or even two. But it’s not. The next Robin Owens Celta book, Heart Secret will be out on August 7. Yep. Already pre-ordered.

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 7-29-12

Mid-summer blog break part deux (a word which totally flummoxed the online dictionary, however flummoxed did not!)

The above only adds to the never-ending stream of anecdotes (anecdata, which is not a word but should be) that online dictionaries are not all they are cracked up to be.

Monday is the day for Ebook Review Central. And the calendar has come back around to Carina Press’ June 2012 titles. Carina always has a lot of candidates for the featured book slots, and this time was certainly no exception. (I will give you a hint about this week’s features. I feel sorry for everyone else if Shannon Stacey ever publishes three titles in a single month!)

On Thursday, August 2, I’ll be interviewing author Jamie Salisbury about her contemporary romance Timeless Sojourn, and, of course, reviewing the book. Ms. Salisbury is coming to Reading Reality as part of Goddess Fish Virtual Book Tour.


Now next week I have something really neat coming up. I’ll be interviewing Laurie Frankel, the author of Goodbye for Now, as well as reviewing her new book. Goodbye for Now is both high-tech and a love story. And it’s about letting go. And not letting go. Think of One Day with a touch of A.I. thrown in. I can hardly wait.


And I always have new books. I know I’m going to download An Officer’s Duty by Jean Johnson, the second book in her Theirs Not to Reason Why military science fiction series, the minute it’s available. I thought the first book, A Soldier’s Duty, was utterly awesome, so July 31 can’t come soon enough for me.


Speaking of fantastic series, the second book in James R. Tuck’s Deacon Chalk series is due out next week. That’s Blood and Silver. The mid-series novella, Spider’s Lullaby, has been out for a while. I’ve read them both, I just need to post reviews, because if you like dark, gritty and snarky urban fantasy, this series is fantastically good. Start with That Thing at the Zoo for background and immediately follow with Blood and Bullets. Rock ’em, sock ’em urban fantasy with guns and attitude instead of spells and attitude.

Something I’m looking forward to reading next week is Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels. It’s the first of a series about a defense firm posing as Harley mechanics and motorcycle buffs. So all the books are going to have that utterly delicious bodyguard crush thing going on. And they’re set in my favorite home town, Chicago. So you’ve got alpha ex-military males, hot bodyguards, cold city, bad bikes, and the first story is all about breaking the guy code rule dating your best friend’s little sister. The series is Black Knights, Inc. Books 2 and 3 are In Rides Trouble and Rev It Up. If they are as good as they sound, I think I’m going to be glad I already have them all from NetGalley.

What exciting books are you looking forward to in this long, hot summer?