AUTHOR INTERVIEW: LARA REZNIK AUTHOR OF BAGELS & SALSA @eipress


Lara Reznik is a native New Yorker who studied at the University of New Mexico and the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Bagels & Salsa is her third novel.
Writing books since she was six years old, Reznik retired from an executive position in information technology after the success of her first novel, The Girl From Long Guyland, published in 2012. In 2015, Reznik published her second book, The M&M Boys.
Reznik currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two miniature Aussies.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process. Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Bagels & Salsa evolved from a screenplay I wrote in 2001 that was a finalist in a Writer’s Digest contest. The novel is both a prequel and a sequel to my bestselling psychological suspense novel, The Girl From Long Guyland, which is told in alternating chapters set in 1970 and 2012. Since numerous fans of Guyland wanted to learn more about the relationship of the Jewish protagonist and her Hispanic husband, I fleshed out the semi-autobiographical screenplay into Laila and Eduardo’s love story.

LOGLINE: Summer 1977. As the Son of Sam terrorizes New York City, Laila Levin, a Jewish sociologist from Long Island, takes a romantic gamble and follows Eduardo Quintana, a dashing Latino doctor, to rural New Mexico where their love is tested by his controlling mother, a drop-dead-gorgeous ex-girlfriend, a deranged ex-student of Laila’s who stalks her cross the country, and major cultural differences.
Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Since this is my fifth novel, the process of writing novels becomes easier with each one.

 Like most novices, when I wrote my first novel I used the “seat of my pants” method without planning much in advance. Later, after studying the craft of writing, participating in critique groups and working with professional editors, I ended up throwing out more than half of the first draft because it didn’t have a coherent plot let alone a story structure. Also, many of the subplots took the reader down rabbit trails that led nowhere.

On the other side of the spectrum, many writers (often engineering, accountants or scientific types) spend days, weeks, and months developing detailed plot outlines and analysis of each character’s journey. One down side to this method is if the author changes the course of the plot while implementing the outlines into prose, everything following is then rendered useless. Another down side is a writer can lose the passion and momentum of their story idea if they spend months writing synopsis and plot analysis. One author friend of mine became so sympathetic with his antagonist, that she ended up morphing into co-protagonist forcing the author to scrap pages and pages of analysis and begin the whole process all over again.

Study the craft of writing to save an enormous amount of time and grief. This can be accomplished by reading books on novel writing by writing gurus such as Dwight Swain’s, Technique of the Selling Writer, Christopher Vogler’s, The Hero’s Journey, and/or John Truby’s, The Anatomy of a Story.  

Other ways of getting learning the craft include taking a writing class at a local college, or online, and/or joining a critique group with other authors.

After four decades as an author, I’ve discovered the method that works best for me is somewhere in between writing “by the seat of my pants” and creating complex outlines and deep analysis.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

As an indie author, I’ve focused on marketing the digital version of my novels. I was shocked to have over 150,000 digital books downloaded when I published The Girl From Long Guyland in 2012. It has since garnered over 330 Amazon reviews and some terrific editorial reviews. The book has clearly struck a chord with baby boomers who enjoyed taking a ride down memory lane.

Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m currently writing another psychological thriller, Dance of Deception, based on a real-life murder mystery. Truth is stranger than fiction and I couldn’t make up a more spellbinding plot or create more devious characters than the true story of a Manson-like con man, his jealous mistress, a professed alien queen, and a salt-of the-earth soccer dad, surrounding the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful Japanese bank teller. The book should be completed by December 2018.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

In Bagels & Salsa, the collision of two vibrant cultures adds a surprising amount of conflict and tension on the hero and heroine’s relationship. Prejudice rears its ugly head from both families adding insurmountable obstacles for the couple to overcome.

Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

With globalization multicultural families are more common than ever. Even the British monarchy is dealing with the challenge of welcoming someone of a different ethnic and social background into their esteemed family.
Bottom line, I hope readers of Bagels & Salsa are entertained. On a more thematic level I’d like people to think about the importance of embracing religious, ethnic and cultural differences which have historically been at the core of so much conflict, hatred and war in the world.

About the Book:

Title: BAGELS & SALSA
Author: Lara Reznik
Publisher: Enchanted Indie Press
Pages: 296
Genre: Suspense/Romance/Humor

Author Lara Reznik blends suspense, romance, and humor in her latest novel, BAGELS & SALSA (http://www.larareznik.com/bagels-and-salsa). Loosely based on Reznik’s life, the story of Laila and Eduardo highlights the turmoil that surfaces when a Jewish sociologist from New York and a Hispanic doctor from rural New Mexico fall hard and fast for each other. Their blossoming relationship develops against the backdrop of terror the Son of Sam created in New York City during the summer of 1977.
Early reviews of BAGELS & SALSA praise the story’s dynamic plot and colorful characters:
“The author tells a simple love story, but she structures the novel to provide a panoramic view of her characters” (Kirkus Reviews).
“Another lovely read from Lara Reznik! . . . As with all her novels there are also plenty of fun subplot twists and turns. I wanted more.”  (Barbara Gaines, Former Executive Producer of The Late Show with David Letterman).
BAGELS & SALSA opens at a high school assembly hall in a rough part of the Bronx where Laila Levin is giving her first postdoctorate presentation on the US teen pregnancy epidemic. Her fear of public speaking and a chance encounter with the Son of Sam unravel her as several loud bangs crack through the air. Laila falls on the stage and injures her right shoulder. Fortunately, Dr. Eduardo Quintana jumps into action.
What begins as a playful flirtation while Laila recovers in the hospital propels into a more serious relationship with the handsome doctor. Their mutual passion is so intense that it stuns them both. The unlikely pair share strong family values and an interest in teen pregnancy prevention. After a brief courtship, Eduardo persuades Laila to accompany him to his family’s ranch near Española, New Mexico, where he plans to open a family practice. The rural town has one of the highest pregnancy rates in North America: the perfect place for Laila’s research.          
Once in New Mexico, Laila is blatantly rejected by Sylvia, Eduardo’s controlling mother. Sylvia wants Eduardo to marry Violet, his high school sweetheart, who has recently returned to New Mexico after a failed flight attendant career and a walk on the dark side of Hollywood. Violet’s mother and Sylvia cook up a plan to send Laila packing and reunite their children. The Quintanas hold a large pig roast and invite a menagerie of tattooed cousins, rodeo stars, and mariachis. And the drop-dead gorgeous Violet makes a grand entrance.
In the midst of the pandemonium that results, a shocking family secret is revealed, and Laila and Eduardo’s love for each other is severely tested. Can their relationship survive the fierce clash of cultures, the murderous intentions of a Son of Sam copycat who has stalked Laila from New York City, and their own uncertainties about the upheavals that their union will cause in their lives?
Reznik’s first goal in writing BAGELS & SALSA is to entertain readers. However, she says, “On a more thematic level, I’d like readers to think about the importance of embracing religious, ethnic, and cultural differences, which have been at the core of so much conflict in the world.”

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