Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns - with author Elizabeth Leiknes


I recently had the opportunity to read this wonderful book, The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns by Elizabeth Leiknes. You can read my review here.


Click here for the recipe to Lucy Burn's Candy Apple Martini.


Click here to read chapter one of The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Leiknes grew up in rural Iowa and can make thirty-seven different
dishes featuring corn. She attended The University of Iowa as an undergrad, and The University of Nevada, Reno for her Masters. Her most recent accomplishments include publishing an article entitled “Writing Spaces: Expanding the One Story House” in The Quarterly, and completing two other novels, Black-Eyed Susan, and The Understory.
Lucy Burns was “born” somewhere between a third and fourth helping of Captain Crunch in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy with her first child, but the majority of Lucy’s story was written during her maternity leave somewhere between debilitating bouts of new-mother panic attacks, and squirting milk in various inappropriate locations about town. Elizabeth has a love/hate relationship with great white sharks, and a slight penchant for speaking in hyperbole, which she says she never does. She now lives and teaches English near Lake Tahoe with her husband, two sons, and mentally ill cat.




Why did you write this book?

While pregnant with my first son, it occurred to me that with motherhood drawing near, I had a small window of time in which to realize a lifelong dream of writing a novel. I wrote throughout my pregnancy, and completed the novel while on maternity leave. Why I wrote it is tough to answer. It was clearly more than an item on my to-do list. Once Lucy evolved from an idea to a constant companion in my mind, it became more of a compulsion than a task to tell her story.


How did it come about?

For a college writing class, I wrote a short story entitled “The Furnace.” In it, a woman named Lucy Burns works as a Faustian henchwoman who escorts very bad people to her basement furnace, and ultimately, their death. My husband actually came up with a lot of the premise. But when I decided to expand the story into a full length novel, I wanted Lucy to have a solid reason, one routed in goodness, for doing what she does, so I developed her back story and tempered it all with a healthy dose of Midwestern guilt.


What else have you written?

My first experience with publishing my work was an article entitled “Writing Spaces: Expanding the One-Story House”, which was published in The Quarterly, a publication of the National Writing Project. The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns is my first novel, written about five years ago. Since then, I’ve written a second novel, Black-Eyed Susan, and a third, The Understory. Currently, I’m working on my fourth novel.


When did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

I’m not sure I knew it then, but while growing up in a very small town in Iowa, (population 78, if you included pets) I began my own newspaper, in which I wrote silly jokes and stories about community members. I copied it on my dad’s copier at work, and delivered it via my banana-seat bicycle. I doubt if anyone really read it, but I definitely liked the idea of someone reading what I’d written. Later in fifth grade, I wrote a short story from the point of view of a pumpkin who wasn’t picked at the pumpkin patch, and despite its strange sentimentality, my generous mother deemed me a storyteller. In college, I fell in love with the short story all over again, but didn’t really begin serious writing until graduate school.


What would you like readers to take away from this novel?

I hope they all take away something different, something relevant to their own lives, but mostly I hope they’re reminded that no matter how dark or impossible something seems, hope is usually not that far away, and no matter how jaded a person may look on the outside, there is often a core of goodness underneath.


If you had to say this book was about one thing, what would it be?

Motherhood. No question. Lucy’s main goal throughout the whole novel is to break away from the evil that’s been holding her back, and have what she’s always wanted--a family.


Who will be interested in this book?

Everyone, I hope! I’ve always thought of this book as a hybrid of sorts; perhaps Bridget Jones meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think its fast-paced plot, humor, and emotional arc will appeal to a variety of readers.


Lucy Burns is quite an exceptional character. After all, most people don’t spend their days damning others to hell. Yet, even though she is dark, often unapproachable, and sometimes, downright scary, she has an unusual appeal for readers. They empathize with her, even root for her. Why do you suppose that is?

I think Lucy represents the dual nature of what it means to be human. Is she the devil? Or is she a saint? I think it’s more natural than not to have to ask both of those questions about one human being. There are gray areas in life; there are gray areas with people. One could argue that Lucy is both devilish and saint-like. Ironically, circumstance makes her both. One could also argue that most of us are a little of both. I myself am quite evil before my first cup of coffee in the morning. Conversely, I cried for ten minutes when Wilson the volleyball drifted away in Castaway. Depending on the day, we all exhibit varying degrees of human and inhuman behavior, and I think, deep down, readers identify with that in Lucy.


Sin is ever present in this novel, yet at its heart, it is truly a morality tale. What would you say to those who see more dark in this book than light?

First of all, I never intended this book to be controversial in any way, nor did I intend to use it as a platform for any serious discussion about religion or justice. It is more comedic than dramatic. Having said that, laughing alone is never enough for me in a story. I prefer my stories to be three-quarters funny, and one-quarter poignant and tender. I wanted Lucy to be sassy and exhibit sharp wit when appropriate, but it was also very important for me that Lucy, in the end, no matter how dark the journey was, did the right thing, even if that meant making the ultimate sacrifice.


There are strands of truth in all fiction. What in this book did you “borrow” from your own life?

Well, I’m sad to say that I indeed killed my sister’s cat--but I was only three or four years old and it was absolutely an accident, so don‘t get all judgmental yet! We had a play mailbox, just as I described in the book, and I was playing “house,“ pretending to mail my sister’s cat Midnight to my grandma. But I was interrupted and consequently forgot that she was in there. It was horrible and gruesome. And apparently I still feel awful about it because it surfaced in this story thirty-five years later. Let’s see…I did, do love music and consider it to be a religion of sorts. In the 70s, my sister and I did listen to Barry Manilow records every Sunday, thus Teddy Nightingale’s role in this novel. And I do love to-do lists like Lucy. Oh, and I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t at one time, either wished she could eat copious amounts of fattening foods and not get fat, fantasized about sending a rude clerk to hell, or fallen in love with her writing instructor.


A huge thank you to Bancroft press and to Elizabeth for sharing this with me. Bancroft Press is allowing me to give-away one copy - open worldwide.


Commenting with your email address = 1 entry
Posting on your blog, leaving the link here = 2 entries

Contest will run until Midnight July 5th, and the winner announced on July 6th.

76 comments:

  1. Hey Wendy! Thanks for posting yet another great contest :)

    +1 jennilovevirgo AT aol DOT com.

    Also posted on my blog.

    +2 http://goodcontest.blogspot.com/2009/06/contest-open-sinful-life-of-lucy-burns.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice review and interview:)

    my email mandischreiner AT gmail DOT com

    I added this contest to my sidebar

    smexybooks.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just read the first chapter and the review. Sounds like an intriguing book!

    lynda98662 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds great! I really want to read more about Lucy!

    mj.coward[at]gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'd love to read this.

    lovinfitch(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  6. What an amazing interview, Wendy! WOW.

    I'd love to read this, but don't enter me. I need to catch up on what's here first. That may take me until age 85, however...

    Anyway, thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great interview! Book looks like a fun read too! Thanks for the giveaway! Please enter me!

    quzy (at) mac (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  8. This really sounds interesting. Please count me in.

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I blogged it:
    http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/2009/06/book-giveaways-in-blogworld-06-13-09.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. Looks like a good read, please enter me into this drawing.

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
    jake.lsewhere[at]gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I added this book to my WL when I read your review of it and would love to win a chance to read it!

    +1 purplg8r@aol.com

    +2 And I blogged about the contest here

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've just received this one and looking forward to it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sounds like a great book. It was a very good interview and I loved your review.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Super review and interview..makes me want to read this book. Please enter me. Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Please enter me. Thanks!

    tiffanyak1986(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great interview! Book looks like a very interesting read. Thanks for the giveaway! Please enter me
    frana(dot)lokas(at)gs(dot)t-com(dot)hr

    I also put a notice about this contest on my blog (right sidebar:
    http://angel-on-a-move.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  17. I really like the sound of this one. It's a nice change from most of the books I read. Would love to read it. :0)

    Thanks!
    librarygrinch at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sounds like a great book.Please count me in on the giveaway
    thank you

    elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  19. This book sounds great! I'd love to win it!
    Thanks!
    beax0002 (at) umn (dot) edu

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great interview! I'm excited about this book - it sounds like so much fun! Please enter me!

    melacan at hotmail dto com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

    avalonne83 [at] yahoo [dot] it

    ReplyDelete
  22. Please count me in - I went to Univ of Iowa and there is a LOT of corn around there
    msboatgal at aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'd like to be included! tWarner419@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. Nice contest!

    lilibethramos@live.com

    Posted on side-bar: lilibethramos.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. I would love to be entered. Thanks.

    carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Very informative interview.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    Kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Posted on my blog here http://metroreader.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  28. The book sounds great! I put it on my paperbackswap list. :P I'd love to win it.

    Blogged: http://www.morbid-romantic.net/2009/06/15/book-giveaways-0615-0621/

    Valorie
    morbidromantic@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. This sounds great, I'd love to read it!

    marielay@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Sounds intesting, and completely different then anything I've read, I'd love a chance to read this thanks!
    unforgetable_dreamer_always(at)hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks for the giveaway.

    chocolateandcroissants (at) yahoo (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  32. Please enter me in your giveaway. Thanks. jessica(at)fan(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  33. This book sounds so interesting. I read the interview with the author and really enjoyed it. I think I would like to get published in the Quarterly too, or any big literary journal or magazine. I also agree that we are made of gray; none of us is truly white or truly black but a mix of both and that there's always something special underneath. I'd really like to read The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns. =)

    lindanmc (at) hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. count me in =) I'm always looking for new books/author and this one seems great.

    It posted about the contest on my blog! http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=440213834&blogId=495124611

    Tynga85 at Hotmail .com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thanks for the wonderful interview. This book sounds great, please sign me up for the giveaway.

    jedziedz@hotmail.com
    jess
    barney's book blog

    ReplyDelete
  36. Mary D
    zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    Hi Wendy :) Okay, your interesting review has me hooked - I gotta read this one!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hi Wendy!

    Thanks for another great contest!

    Please count me in!

    I also have this contest posted on my blog @ http://myblog2point0.blogspot.com/ right under my banner.

    Looks like a really fun read and what a great interview!

    Dottie :)

    gymmom_027@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'd love to win this. I just read a great review of this book at Book Smugglers...
    chayanna82(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  39. Please include me in your giveaway


    "Canadian Contests, Freebies, Coupons, Deals, Games and Fun:
    CoolCanucks.ca"


    bluebelle0367(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  40. Looks like an intriguing book. Hope I win.
    nmcdon at hotmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  41. Looks good, please enter me!
    booksobsession(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  42. +1 I posted on my sidebar at http://booksobsession.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  43. I would love to be entered in this contest.

    budletsmom(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  44. Would like to read this. :) Thanks!

    misusedinnocence@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  45. Please include me in your giveaway.
    Thanks
    Carlene
    iluvreading(at)Verizon.net

    ReplyDelete
  46. please count me in - it sounds like a fun read

    gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  47. I enjoyed your review of this book & would like the opportunity to read it.

    Please count me in - Thanks!
    megalon22[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  48. Looks interesting - thanks!
    pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  49. This sounds like a somewhat dark, but interesting story. Please include me in your drawing.

    rsgrandinetti@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  50. I'd love to join! It sounds like a fun book!

    +1 issa(dot)mojica(at)gmail(dot)com

    +2 posted it in my blog's sidebar:
    http://fictiondoesitbetter.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  51. Man, her town is smaller than mine, and mine is small, 1200 people. Hers is like microscopic. :P

    +1 Laina1312@gmail.com
    +2 I posted about it here: http://bookcontestlinks.blogspot.com/2009/06/june-21st-2009.html

    ReplyDelete
  52. I would love to win!

    +1 cnhand84 at yahoo dot com
    +1 posted on sidebar under contests on blogs

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hi Wendy,

    Please enter me in the giveaway.
    Thank you.

    buddytho {AT} gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  54. I posted this on my blog.

    http://carolsnotebook.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/giveaways-in-blogland-8/

    carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  55. Please enter me! Thanks.
    allygotts567[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  56. Just like the author, I remember listening to Barry Manilow as a kid! Please enter me.

    jgbeads at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  57. I check your review and I'm intrigued by this book. If this is international, please do enter me. :D
    linna.hsu(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  58. Would love to win..so enter me in please:)

    -Kaly
    kalynnick@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. Your an amazing woman Elizabeth. Writing was the least thing on my mind while I was pregnant.All I could think about was what food I was craving. I'd like a chance to read your book.

    Hugs, danette

    danetteschattinglounge at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  60. count me in
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  61. Sounds like nice book, I am in :D

    blodeuedd1 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  62. Great interview...thanks Wendy and Elizabeth!
    The book sounds intriguing...count me in!
    +1 prodhi@live.com
    +2 posted about this here:
    http://prodelektric.blogspot.com/2009/06/wendys-giveaway.html

    ReplyDelete
  63. I am alway looking for different authors to read. I have added this one to my TBR list. The book sounds so good.
    JOYE
    JWIsleyATaol.com

    ReplyDelete
  64. I'm running behind on entering, but lovely interview.

    I really do want to read this one. It sounds amazing.

    -Lauren

    lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  65. Lovely interview and great contest
    +1 seahn-gallagher(at)hotmail(dot)com

    Seahn

    ReplyDelete
  66. Count me in!
    oheeyore at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  67. wheresmyrain@yahoo.com
    looks like a good read

    ReplyDelete
  68. You always have the best contests! This sounds really good and that was a great interview. Please include me too.

    I also added this to my sidebar.
    www.wrightysreads.blogspot.com

    5wrights1[at]verizon[dot]net

    ReplyDelete
  69. This one sounds so good, I can't wait to read it! Please enter me!

    Carey
    thetometraveller (at) yahoo [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  70. This one sounds so good, I can't wait to read it! Please enter me!

    Carey
    thetometraveller (at) yahoo [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  71. Count me in please - thanks!

    libneas[at]aol[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  72. Great interview! Please enter me.
    stacybooks at yahoo

    ReplyDelete
  73. I'd love to win this!
    lovinfitch(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  74. please enter me!

    holly.kay.lee (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  75. I would like to enter the giveaway!
    delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  76. Enter me please! This book sounds interesting!

    paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

    ReplyDelete

The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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