Today, I have an interview with Laura Lee, author of Identity Theft
- What inspired you to write Identity Theft?
There are really two answers to that. The first idea for the book came a decade or so ago. It was a time when celebrities were first building their own web pages and they were interacting directly with fans in a way they never had before. A lot of well-known people were initially a bit more accessible online than they are today because it took a while for them to figure out how to maintain the proper boundaries online, how responsive and involved they should be with their fan communities and so on. There was also a lot of anxiety about exactly who you were talking with online. This was before Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all of that. So if you were talking to someone online, it was often just a screen name. Now you can check people out and research them a bit more. But people are also more immersed in the online world, so in some ways it is easier for someone to pretend to be someone he is not than it was then. So I imagined how it would feel for a person who thought she was building a relationship with a star who she admired, how magical it would seem to her. She would feel like Cinderella at the ball, like anything might be possible. Yet because it was all online, she might not be speaking to the person she believed she was at all. I thought about this along with a lot of other ideas and it became just one more unfinished idea until I saw Adam Ant in concert recently and the idea came back to me, and it seemed like the idea was actually quite modern and it could be used to examine a larger philosophical question of how people form their identities in the 21st Century.
- How did you get into writing? Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
My father was a writer, and he always said I was a natural writer. I actually wanted to be a performer. I got a degree in theater and worked in radio for a number of years. It turns out that I do have an ability in writing but I do not have much ability in performing. I admire people who do have that ability. Now, in addition to writing, I work with a dancer who has great stage presence. They’re complimentary but very different arts.
- If you could take over anyone’s identity for a day, whose would it be?
It might be interesting to be a painter. Maybe one of those Russian icon painters. They train for years and meditate and try to express a mystical relationship with the religious figure they have depicted. At the moment, that seems quite an appealing thing to try if I could have the painting skill along with the identity.
- What do you think it is about the internet that entices people to catfish someone else or assume someone else’s identity? Why do people do it?
I don’t think it is the internet that makes people do that. There have always been imposters. In fact, there is a long tradition in fiction of stories about people assuming different identities. People feel constrained by the social identities they have to maintain and often daydream about not having to be the person they have always been. A lot of kids at some point or another play the game of introducing themselves to a stranger using a different name. It’s limiting being the same person from day to day.
- Do you have a writing ritual, like music and coffee? Something else? Utter silence?
Not really. I write ideas down whenever I have them and at a certain point I feel I have gathered enough to start to see a big picture and then I sit down at the computer and work on it in earnest. The hardest part about writing anything is starting. This is especially true of novels. The scope of them is overwhelming. So I don’t write novels. I write bits and pieces until a novel appears.
- What book do you wish you could have written?
Harry Potter. I would like the royalties.
- What are you working on next?
I’m working on a non-fiction book that was assigned me at the moment. I have an article coming out in the July issue of The Wildean, the jornal of Oscar Wilde studies. I’m really excited about that.
Thanks, Laura for stopping by to talk about your book! Read on for links to buy!
Identity Theft :
When the rock star she idolized responded to her e-mail, Candi was thrilled. When he started to flirt with her, she thought all her dreams could come true. The fantasy takes over her entire life, but none of it is true. The man of her dreams is not a rock star at all, but a bored office worker whose internet game quickly spins out of control.
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Laura is the author of 16 books with such publishers as Harper Collins, Reader’s Digest, Lyons Press and Running Press. She is best known for humorous reference such as The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation, which sold 85,000 copies for Black Dog and Leventhal. Her first novel was Angel published by Itineris Press and will soon be released in a second edition by DPS. The San Francisco Chronicle has said of her work: “Lee’s dry, humorous tone makes her a charming companion… She has a penchant for wordplay that is irresistible.”