Friday, April 2, 2010

Meet author Lisa Lipking Leibow

I’m pleased to host Lisa Lipkind Leibow on my blog today. Lisa is the author of Double Out and Back. Originally working as a lawyer, Lisa decided to trade the billable hour lifestyle for fiction writing. Lisa’s work has also appeared in Pisgah Review and is forthcoming in the Sanskrit Literary Arts Magaqzine. She lives and writes in northern Virginia with her husband, and three sons.

Katie: Double Out and Back has been published by Red Rose Publishing. It takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride of infertility treatments as seen through the eyes of three women. Can you give us a brief synopsis?

Lisa: Sure. Not every woman who rides the fertility treatment roller coaster winds up like Octomom!

Who will find friends, family, and fertility?

Three women's lives are intricately intertwined, as Amelia Schwartz and Summer Curtis struggle with the complex dynamics of intrafamily embryo adoption, and Chandy Markum strives to make her patients' dreams a reality.

After more than a decade, of mourning her parents' deaths, anal-retentive Amelia Schwartz decides to take control of her life, pursuing single motherhood via embryo adoption. While her fertility doctor, Chandy, is preoccupied with the destruction of the cosmopolitan Cape Town of her youth and her first love in apartheid-torn South Africa, believing all is lost, her niece, a young, married, overachieving attorney Summer Curtis, juggles zealous career ambitions, demanding bosses, and friction with her husband over family and fertility issues. They must confront the painful reality that, no matter what technology humans devise to manipulate reproduction, prolong life, and construct family units, they have not yet mastered control over their beginnings and endings.

Thrown all into this is one story that can make or break. Are you up to it?

Katie: What inspired you to write this story?

Lisa: I wrote Double Out and Back because I became curious and fascinated with the sociological and societal impacts of assisted reproductive technologies. There are so many different ways we can start families these days, ranging from good old fashioned sex, and adoption, to artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, donated eggs, sperm, or embryos. Children may grow up in homes with a mother and father, single parents, or same-sex parents. Women can give birth to babies not biologically related to them, and the list goes on. I wanted to explore these issues from a literary perspective.

Katie: What kind of research did you do for this book? How long did the research take you?

Lisa: As a recovering attorney, research is one of the remnants I can really use in fiction writing! I tend to get lost in the research as much as I get lost in the writing. For Double Out and Back, I needed to research not only locations, and medical advances in treatments for infertility, but also the rich history of South Africa, the paths of Jewish immigrants. Of course, the internet is a valuable tool for uncovering information. However, living in the D.C. metropolitan area, I have access to a wealth of information and artifacts through the Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress, and a multitude of superb university library collections. More than that, talking to people about their experiences with infertility played a major role in my research. It helped me to gather anecdotes in order to make my character’s experiences ring true.

Katie: How did your love of history play into your writing?

Lisa: I love the challenge of bringing to life a time and place I have not experienced first-hand. It forces me to use my imagination to build a world. I dabbled in this with Chandy’s story in Double Out and Back. Her past in South Africa during the implementation of Apartheid. With my second novel, which is perpetually almost finished, I explore pre-revolutionary Iran, in the 1960s, where mini-skirted women with college degrees are subject to arranged marriages. Here, too, I bring to life a time and place I did not experience first-hand.

However, in both of these instances, the setting is one where I can interview people who have been there and obtain first-hand accounts. I see my interests in historical fiction deepening.

Lately, I have been crafting a novel that takes place in colonial America. It will be my first truly historical fiction in that nobody alive today was there. I must rely on historical documents, museums, and the like to build a realistic portrayal of my characters and setting.

Katie: You say that you write smart women’s fiction: writing mainstream contemporary fiction with elements of historical fiction, multicultural fiction, and dark romance. Is all your writing in this vein?

Lisa: Some call my writing upscale women’s fiction, others call it smart women’s fiction. I liken it to good book club reading – stories with interesting characters and issues that will prompt a great discussion. And, while most of my writing does fall into this category, every once in a while I need to give myself a rest from the more serious subject matter. Whenever that happens, I work on a middle-grade fantasy series that is pure fun and magic.

Katie: This is an e-published book, by Red Rose Publishing. What made you decide to go that route?

Lisa: Across the globe, publishers, literary agents, and bookstores are struggling to anticipate and manage the rapidly changing business of books. The biggest challenge for me was to chart a course for targeting queries to agents and publishers who might take a chance on a first time author in this industry in transition. I didn’t have much luck attracting the attention of an agent as an unknown, first-time novelist. However, a friend from one of my critique groups convinced me to test the waters with some smaller presses who didn’t require agent-representation. I got lucky when Red Rose Publishing, traditionally a publisher of romance novels, decided to expand their mainstream fiction line and that DOUBLE OUT AND BACK was just what they needed. And here I am today, promoting my debut novel!

I have no problem that Red Rose Publishing, an innovative, entrepreneurial, small press, initially published DOUBLE OUT AND BACK in e-book format. E-reader manufacturers like Kindle, Sony, and the soon-to-come Apple, show increasing market penetration, and the younger generation already reads on computer screens, iPhones, and other handheld devices.

Katie: Take us through the steps of getting your book e-published.

Lisa: In response to a query, I was asked to send my full manuscript. Then, just as I experienced with any request of this nature, I waited. Patience is necessary for any writer in the publishing process. But this time, the wait was worth it! After several months, I received a letter offering me a contract to publish Double Out and Back. After obtaining legal advice on the contract, asking tons of questions via conference with my publisher, and negotiating some of the finer points of the contract, I signed with Red Rose Publishing. From there, I was assigned a content editor who helped me see my novel in a new way. We worked well together. I can tinker forever, though. My editor finally had to tell me it was time to let go. From there, a copy editor looked through with a fine-toothed comb, and the Art Director assigned a cover artist. Being able to have input into the cover design surprised me! I hope you like the cover as much as I do. On my initial release date, my book was available for sale via my publisher’s website. Little by little, distribution has expanded to various third party e-book outlets. I encourage readers to support my publisher and me by buying direct:

Available at Red Rose Publishing, Amazon, Fictionwise, All Romance Books, and Book Strand


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great interview, Katie and Lisa. We can't have enough novels about strong women. It's on my list.

Anonymous said...


Lisa L. Leibow said...

Thank you, Joylene! And, Katie, I really appreciate your thoughtful questions. I really enjoyed "Walking on Water" -- or at least being so close to someone who can. {grins}

Lisa L. Leibow said...

Thank you, Joylene! And, Katie, I really appreciate your thoughtful questions. I really enjoyed "Walking on Water" -- or at least being so close to someone who can. {grins}

Sandy Lender said...

Hello, Lisa!
I was delighted to see the Lisa L. Leibow name here at Katie's blog. I didn't get a full idea of Out and Back Again's scope when we talked at the Silken Sands conference a couple weekends ago, so this interview has filled in the gaps perfectly. Kudos to you and Katie. I love the description of Smart Women's Fiction and think such a plot should bring in tons of interest! Thank you both for the time and new info today!
From Sandy Lender
"Some days, you just want the dragon to win."

Pat McDermott said...

Wonderful, thought-provoking interview, ladies. I'm looking forward to reading more of Lisa's savvy and entertaining writing.

Lisa L. Leibow said...

Thank you Sandy and Pat! I hope I get to see both of you again soon, but it's sure nice to visit you at Katie's blog.

If any readers are local to the Northern Virginia area, they can come hear me read some of my work this Thursday, April 8th at The Torpedo Factory Arts Center, Spoken Word Performance. Go to for more details about this special event.