Q&A: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke
San Diego author Liz Fenton just finished a new novel, The Status of All Things, with her best friend since high school, Lisa Steinke.
SDM: Where did the two of you attend high school and college together?
Lisa and Liz: We attended Vista High School and Cal Poly Pomona.
SDM: When and how did you realize you wanted to become writers?
Lisa: I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a little girl. My first book, There’s a Jungle in My Closet, was self-published and the four people who read it (my immediate family) quite enjoyed it! But I also had a dream of working in television and I did that for fifteen years before I left to write full-time.
Liz: I was always an avid reader and writer and while in college, Lisa and I always discussed writing a book together—and when she came to me years later and brought the idea up again, we mapped out some ideas and began writing!
SDM: Where and when do you do most of your writing and do you have any rituals?
Lisa: I have a loft that is an absolute dream space to write in. It feels like I’m hidden away from the rest of the world. I work from home but have to be very dedicated so I don’t get sidetracked. After I drop my four year old at preschool, I go into my home office and write or take care of anything website related.
Liz: I have a full-time “day job” so writing time can be hard to come by! I love to wake up Sunday mornings, while the house is still quiet, and write in my office before everyone gets up. Music is a MUST. I love anything slow and moody that will blend into the background of my mind.
SDM: Did your life in San Diego have any influence on the book?
Lisa and Liz: Absolutely. Our novel takes place in Southern California, specifically in Los Angeles. Because we grew up in San Diego, we will always pay homage to the lifestyle and geography of SoCal in our books.
SDM: In this new novel, Kate is given the power to go back in time and rewrite history through Facebook but it never seems to go as planned. What gave you the idea to write a modern twist on a classic story?
Lisa and Liz: We were talking about our Facebook nemesis. That’s how we personally refer to the people we have a love/hate relationship with online. We see them post their perfect family photo and we feel that pang of jealousy. Even though we know they probably had to take fifty to get that one shot. And even though we also do the same thing. From there, we started brainstorming the idea that our main character be social media obsessed and be given the power to make wishes come true online.
SDM: Many of the chapters open with Facebook statuses and hashtags. Tell us about your decision to give social media such a big role in a novel.
Lisa and Liz: That was actually our editor’s idea and we loved it! Social media, whether we like it or not, is here to stay and is a part of most people’s lives. So we felt it would be the perfect tie in for this book.
SDM: The main character Kate is constantly posting her entire life, from statuses to photos, onto social media. Can you relate? How often do you post online?
Lisa and Liz: Yes, we can relate. More than we’d like to admit! We post online daily. But we also try to be aware that people only want to hear from us so much. We don’t want to clog anyone’s feeds with too many statuses! Being authors, we walk a fine line between letting our readers know what we’re up to, but not inundating them with too much.
SDM: Friendship is a big theme of this novel; Kate’s best friends Jules and Liam are there for her through everything. Is their relationship at all based on the twenty-five year friendship between you two?
Lisa and Liz: There are definitely aspects of our friendship in the relationship between Kate, Jules, and Liam. They’ve known each other since college and we’ve been friends since high school. And when you’ve been friends with someone for that many years, we believe it gives you a certain amount of license to get involved when you see fit. To be honest in ways you might not be with others. To stand by that person even when you might not agree with the choices she’s making. Jules looks out for Kate in a way that she doesn’t look out for herself. Liam is protective of both women. Kate leans on each of her friends, but in completely different ways. They are all there for each other, through anything, no matter what.