May 20, 2013

Interview with Caren Lissner

This novel proves to be that perfect fit for one who is trying to discover who they are and who they want to become. For me, it reminded me of my favorite pair of jeans, you know, the ones that you search through crowded department store aisles while listening to infants crying. Just when you begin to give up, there they are hidden amongst the skinny jeans and the oh-so-baggy ones even your mother wouldn't be caught dead in! As you stand on your tippy toes, arms stretched high, you can hear "We Are The Champions" as your finger tips reach for those denim devils with the 24 inch waist. Victory!!

Why do we long for that stiff pair of jeans because after a few washings, they become comfortable, soft and a perfect fit? They have seen us through good times and bad. From our first date to our last break-up, they become familiar and some might say our friend. For Carrie, she too is on a quest to find that perfect relationship: a mixture of love, trust, and familiarity. She must discover who she is while showing grace and love to others.

I am elated to introduce and interview
Caren Lissner
About the Author:
Caren Lissner is an editor for a chain of weekly newspapers based in North Jersey, directly across the river from midtown Manhattan. She grew up in Freehold and Old Bridge, N.J., then majored in English at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. After graduation, Lissner worked as a newspaper reporter. As she covered gritty political battles and festivals, she also continued her fiction and satirical writing, sometimes placing essays in the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Weatherwise Magazine. Her offbeat first novel, CARRIE PILBY, was published in June of 2003 and will be republished by Harlequin Teen in July, 2010. Lissner’s follow-up novel, STARTING FROM SQUARE TWO, was released in March, 2004. She is presently working on a third novel, several short stories, and a screenplay. She and her husband live in North Jersey.
Interview Questions:
 I was hoping you could also shed some light on the movie as well. Do you have potential stars picked out. Is someone writing the movie script who you admire/are you writing it? etc.
The producer and the director are in charge of all movie-related items; usually the author of the book doesn't get too involved in that. As soon as they let me know who's starring, I'll let you know! The producer happened to read the book when it first came out and gave it to the director, who loved it too, and they decided to make the movie together. They have both been involved with some of the most critically acclaimed films in Hollywood, so I'm hoping for great things. But they are doing this as an independent film, so we need support from everyone.
I am curious if you have a book trailer which highlights carrie pilby or a video of you telling about the book. If not, that's okay :)
Everyone should go to which is being updated all this coming week. We are going to launch an effort on Kickstarter to get the movie made. Independent films often start out that way these days, so take a look at the page. We welcome help and involvement from all.
 Are the names of the characters in your novel important?
Yes, extremely. I love naming my characters. People associate different things with a name. Some names seem strong, and you can give them to strong characters; some names are feminine so you'd give them to a feminine character. Some sound like porn star names. Some names have stereotypes. The name "Eugene" is stereotyped as being smart, and a "Bertha" would be thought of as overweight, for whatever reason. I'd probably stay away from those names.
What about the titles of your novels?
Yes, titles are important too. A title can tell you a lot or be a little mysterious, but it's always important in setting a tone.

Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?

The biggest one, I guess, is people making false assumptions about you based on your work. Just because my character thinks a certain way, doesn't always mean I think the exact same way!
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
I guess it's important to try to communicate in the real world rather than holing up in your room fantasizing and imagining. Although I find it fun to hole up sometimes. In fact, tonight is a Friday night, and I think I'll just get a pizza and relax. Sounds easy enough, right?

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Well, the re-release of Carrie Pilby is the most recent. I've gotten a lot of suggestions from friends, but I'm not sure. It'll be exciting to see who gets picked!

When did you decide to become a writer?
I've been writing since I was very young. I used to fold over pieces of paper and draw on them to create picture books. When I was in first grade, I read Superfudge by Judy Blume and instantly wanted to write a book like that. I started writing my own young adult book about two brothers. I didn't finish, but I enjoyed it at the time. I get tons of ideas all day long about things that would make great books, or just little ideas and "what ifs" that I'd like to explore via writing.

Where did your idea for a young genius come from?

I wrote Carrie Pilby in my twenties, when I saw situations as much more black and white than they are. I thought I would take it to an extreme and explore black-and-white beliefs through the eyes of a young character who was very judgmental and didn't have enough real-life experience. I figured that if she was a genius who didn't know how to socialize or relate to people her age, that might explain why she had to analyze every decision she makes and every decision others make, and why she is so judgmental. Of course, she gradually learns to broaden her mind and realize there are shades of gray.

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about
The publishers came up with the covers, but they are very eye catching. The Harlequin Teen version of Carrie Pilby shows her sitting on a couch, looking shy and wallflower-ish, which is perfect. At one point, it looked like you could see between her legs, so I pointed it out ot the publisher's art department, and they quickly fixed it. That's not exactly what they were going for.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I end up rereading my all-time favorites: Phillip Roth, Carson McCullers. Once in a while, I like something new, but usually it's not a whole body of work. I'm always taking suggestions for great new books! I mostly like contemporary women's fiction, but I also like memoirs a lot.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write stories that are in your heart, because writing and revising and submitting is a long process, and you want to make sure it's worthwhile to you no matter what happens. Also, a story that you go into with enthusiasm is going to be a story that people enjoy. Readers can tell when you love your material.

Thanks for the interview! Please check out our Kickstarter campaign via We need your support!


  1. Great interview. How exciting to have your book turned into a movie!

  2. Great interview :) Good luck with the movie.

  3. Love it! I can't wait to see what happens with the movie! (and to finally start the novel tonight!)

  4. Thanks, all!! Hope you enjoy they book. And a big thank you for that interview, Katelynn. Your blog is so well designed and a pleasure to read. Also, love the analogy about jeans. We're always looking for that perfect fit.
    Note: The Kickstarter page is not up yet and will have a ton of interesting information, so I'll leave an update when it's up. In the meantime, for anyone reading this, please click "like" on the Facebook page if you get a chance! If you click my name, above this comment, you will go right to it, and also the link is on the webpage.


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