A Quick Chat with Author Laurel Mayer

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?
Sometimes a simple daily interaction triggers a cascade of ideas. I find inspiration in some random places. When I’m washing dishes or running an errand, an idea will pop into my head, and I allow my mind to wander with it. I’m fascinated by choices, and how the most seemingly benign decision can alter life.

I have been influenced a lot by literature, but I think I’ve been equally influenced by television. I’m drawn to character-driven stories that entertain while reflecting the full spectrum of human nature. In my debut novel, Pushover, I’ve couched fundamental relationship themes in the glitz and fanfare of Hollywood. As a result the novel sweeps the reader away to this larger-than-life world that cannot escape the fragile truth about human nature.

How do you choose which perspective to write your novels from?
I tend to write from the third person omniscient perspective. It’s most comfortable for me. I prefer knowing what my characters are feeling and thinking, and then controlling how that information is delivered to the reader. I think it creates intimacy, and fosters the reader to become more emotionally invested in the characters.

Do you identify with any of your characters? If so, which ones and why?
I do. I’ve spent a lot of time with the characters from Pushover, and have come to know them quite well. Vic, Dani, Melinda, Lucy, even Blake, are endearing to me. They may dwell in the artificial glow of Hollywood, but their interactions and struggles are authentic. Many of the experiences and emotions that they feel are universal. Loss and forgiveness are themes that many readers can relate to.

I find that many readers identify with Dani, her struggles to be independent and content. Despite her success, she is susceptible to self-doubt, and I think that’s an honest feeling for many women. Readers are also drawn to Vic, and his vulnerability and guarded emotions.

However, not all of my characters are likeable. That would be boring, and certainly not a true reflection of life. Mean, cruel, selfish, thoughtless people exist, and it’s interesting to illustrate that dynamic in this story. None of the characters are perfect. Just like all of us, they are flawed with weaknesses that provoke a number of emotions in readers.

Are there messages or lessons that you hope readers will take away from your novels?
Well, the title of the book, Pushover, implies two meanings: the literal act of being pushed over, and the notion of being a pushover, someone taken advantage of and easily manipulated. Beyond that I try to leave Pushover open to interpretation. I crafted the novel to be a fast-moving, entertaining read, but if readers prefer to dig a little deeper, there are larger themes. I appreciate that some readers are just looking for an escape, and others enjoy analyzing the literary value. It’s my hope that I deliver on both counts. Lately I’ve been visiting local book clubs to discuss the novel, and I continue to be amazed at how readers react to the characters and story. It makes for a lively discussion.

What are you working on now?
Pushover is out in paperback now so I’ve been actively visiting book clubs and participating in author events in the Boston area. I am also in the early stages of my next novel. I’m hoping to make some progress on that project in 2012. I post updates pretty frequently on Facebook and Twitter as well as my site www.laurelmayer.com, and welcome readers to introduce themselves and keep up with me that way.