Eva Lesko Natiello is a native New Yorker, who, by transplanting to the New Jersey suburbs, conceived her first novel, “The Memory Box“, an award-winning debut thriller. I’m excited to announce that she has graciously consented to an interview on Fictionophile.
Also, she has generously agreed to provide a signed copy of her novel in order that I might host a ‘giveaway‘ open to the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In order to qualify for the draw, readers must ‘like‘ or ‘comment‘ on either this blog post, or, on the post of my review of “The Memory Box“.
Thanks so much Eva!
Welcome to Fictionophile.
F: “The Memory Box” is your debut novel. It has been very popular with readers, and it won the Houston Writer’s Guild Manuscript Award in 2014. To what do you attribute its success? (besides your obvious writing talent)
ELN: There are a few things I think are at work here. One, the Googling aspect. It’s sort of a secret thing people do, Google themselves. Not many people talk about Googling themselves. It feels a little shameful, like trying to overhear what people are saying about you. So, to see how someone’s Google search goes terribly wrong, it comes with a little shudder, and a “what if that happens when I do it?”. It feels voyeuristic, and we all love that! The second thing at work, I believe, is that it is a fast read. I have heard from many people who have a hard time sticking with a book till the end. They are so happy to get sucked in and to, well, get to the end! The third, I think, is the popularity of the “marriage thriller.” In a world where everything feels knowable, it is truly the last bastion of privacy: a couple’s private life. The fourth, it is a extremely popular book club book. And book club people love to talk about books! So they have helped tremendously with the word of mouth.
F: How old were you when you first began writing?
F: What inspired “The Memory Box”? How long did the writing process take?
ELN: The book was inspired by a story I read in the New York Times about a teenager who Googled himself and discovered that he was on a missing persons list in Canada. I thought, if you could find out something so personal from a Google search, that was previously unknown to you, that’s pretty amazing. Writing took about a year, editing took longer!
F: Are re-writes part of your personal writing process?
F: Your novel was set in the state where you live. Do you think it is best to set your novels in locales with which you are familiar? Do you think an author can do justice to a setting of a novel if they have never been to the place about which they write?
ELN: I am in awe of authors who write historical fiction for exactly that reason. For creating such a realistic portrait of a place and time which are foreign. I don’t think I could do that.
F: When I was reading “The Memory Box”, I felt increasingly sorry for Caroline’s husband, Andy. Do you view him as a sympathetic character, or was he just a pawn in Caroline’s plan?
ELN: People in book clubs often tell me that he infuriated them. They thought he was very naive (they sometimes used much harsher descriptions!), but I always remind people to remember that it’s through Caroline’s eyes that we get to know Andy. It is through her perception of him. It would be very interesting to read this story through Andy’s eyes, wouldn’t it?
F: Your protagonist, Caroline had some deep-seated emotional issues. Did you find it difficult to get inside the head of someone so innately psychotic and filled with angst?
ELN: Yes, it was very difficult and often unsettling and traumatic for me. It presented a very difficult conflict.
F: Control is a predominant theme in “The Memory Box”. Even when her life was chaotic, Caroline always had her daily schedule nearby. Is your own life very structured? Do you maintain a daily schedule?
ELN: That’s funny! I try to give myself the impression that I have things under control. The reality often does not match that impression! I do, however, keep to-do lists all over my desk. The problem for me is that once I write them, I very rarely look at them again!
F: Caroline, the protagonist of “The Memory Box” seems obsessed with twins. Are there any twins in your own family?
ELN: No. I have no twins in my family but I am super curious about them. I have about three more story-lines with twins in them.
F: The family’s Westie terrier named Smarty Pants added some needed diversion from the intensity of the plot of your novel. Do you have a Westie in your own life?
ELN: No. I don’t even have a dog! But dogs also are very intriguing to me. The dog is definitely a character in the book. There is a dog in the book I’m writing now. They are often a good side-kick to the main character. Smarty Pants is a clever one….
F: Writers are also avid readers. What type of book do you like to read for pleasure?
F: Do you believe that libraries continue to provide a valuable resource for youth and adults alike? Or, do you think the internet has made visiting libraries a practice that is becoming obsolete?
ELN: Funny you should ask. I was recently asked to speak at a library association’s annual meeting about the changes in publishing and self-publishing and how those changes are going to change the way libraries stay relevant. I believe there will always be a need for libraries as part of a community. They’re essential. It will be necessary for them to keep up with how readers consume books and media in order to stay relevant.
F: If you could sit and enjoy a chat and a glass of wine with another thriller novelist – who would it be?
F: What current novelist do you feel is underrated or deserves to be more well known?
F: Do you watch crime television? If so, what are some of your favourite shows?
ELN: I don’t watch crime television unless I am looking to see my brother, Luke Lesko, who is a TV and film stuntman and, no surprise, he often appears on crime TV programming.
F: Does your next novel have a title yet? Can you tell us anything about it?
ELN: The working title is “Mistaken”.
F: Will we see Caroline Thompson in another novel? Would you ever write a series? Do you find the prospect of maintaining a series daunting?
ELN: I am open to this idea, and I have been scribbling a little regarding this. (Wow, that sounds very cryptic, doesn’t it?)
F: I am a huge fan of cover art and have been working on a blog series called “Cover Love”. How much input did you have in choosing the dustjacket for “The Memory Box”?
F: I’ve just retired from a library career and have known for some time that mysteries/crime thrillers are some of the most read genres of fiction. Why do you think crime fiction is so popular?
ELN: I think because it’s a fast read. That is so important today because our attention spans are shrinking.
F: How do you wish to be contacted by ‘fans’? Facebook? Twitter? Your own blog?
ELN: All of the above! I love to hear from readers and I’m often contacted through Goodreads, my website, Facebook and Twitter. Actually, it was through Twitter that I learned The Memory Box hit the New York Times bestseller list!
F: Thanks SO much for answering my questions, and, being patient with my nosiness. It was a pleasure to have you visit my blog.
Readers!!! Don’t forget to enter the draw for a signed copy of Eva’s best-selling novel “The Memory Box”. Just ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on this post or on my review of her novel before midnight on December 11th. Good Luck!
The draw is open to the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. I will enter all the entrants name in a Random Name Picker, and the lucky winner will receive a signed copy from the author.
Contact links for Eva Lesko Natiello:
Eva thought you might like to read an article written in Vice Magazine by a journalist named Caroline Thompson. (the same name as the protagonist in “The Memory Box”). The journalist found her book in the craziest and most perfect way possible — she got a Google alert email that she set up for her name. The alert said: Caroline Thompson Googles herself and discovers shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember. She was freaked out. She thought it was her. Then when she clicked on it she saw that it was a fictional character with her name who Googles herself. The journalist ended up writing an article about this for Vice. I attached it below (please forgive the crude headline of her article…). It was very wacky. You can imagine her reaction to one day opening up her emails and seeing one sent to her from Caroline Thompson! She was shaking!