By Jules Lavallee
Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 6/24/2021- This book illustrates the stories of 12 women, all on a different path in life, with one common overarching theme: the beauty, honesty and compelling nature of the female experience and what it means to be a woman. Through each character’s intimate journey, specific truths are revealed about what it means to be a woman—in a relationship with another person, in a particular culture and era—and how these conditions ultimately affect her relationship with herself. The perfect plane, beach or everyday read!
You are an award-winning author, doula, and women’s empowerment activist. Tell us about your background.
I grew up in New Orleans during the 70s. I absolutely got messages at home, at school and from society at large that informed my understanding of gender…
“Be a good girl.”
“Back down to boys and don’t make them feel bad.”
“Don’t take up too much space.”
It took a lot of work for me to come into my own. Now I try to find ways to advocate for and empower others. Through writing and being a doula, I have been able to support women—on the page, in conversation, and in the delivery room.
What compelled you to write, Life and Other Shortcomings?
I wrote one story at a time with no forethought about the stories co-existing in a book together. One day, I realized my characters would know one another and, inspired by A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, I set out to link my stories. That was a very fun and creative process.
This looks like a great Summer read. Take us through the creative process.
Yes, I’ve been told Life and Other Shortcomings is the perfect summer read! The stories cover some weighty themes (infidelity, domestic abuse, aging), but the book’s tone is light and even, at times, humorous. As far as the creative process goes, I usually get inspired by a character trait or an event. Then I start taking notes and observing everything—body movements, comments and jokes people make, settings. I tend to wake up early, while it’s still quiet in the world, and in my apartment, and I do my best, most creative work while drinking that first cup of coffee.
What did you learn along the way?
Never give up!! Once, when short story submissions were made only by snail mail, my mail was lost for an entire summer. When the post office finally found our mail, my husband went to get it and brought it home in a black garbage bag. A story I’d submitted got three responses, which normally you would not get all at one time. One was a standard rejection letter. One was marked with a red pen and the editor said that if I was willing to do significant edits, he’d publish my story. And one was an acceptance letter. It was a lesson to me that editors have different tastes and needs at different times. And that I must keep trying because it only takes one.
Any surprises while putting this book together?
At one point, I submitted these stories as a collection but they were not linked. All the stories were stand-alone pieces that had been previously published. Many had won awards and the collection was getting great feedback but no takers. The surprise came when I had the idea to link the stories. The undertaking totally changed the structure of the book. While Life and Other Shortcomings is a collection of stories (since we follow the characters throughout) the book has an arc much like a novel.
Who will enjoy Life and Other Shortcomings the most?
Women 30-60 have been enjoying the stories and commenting that the book and the characters are so relatable. But, I have to say, male readers have appreciated the collection and that has been an unexpected bonus.
Life and Other Shortcomings is available on Amazon in Kindle or paperback format.
Life and Other Shortcomings is available through my website: Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Indiebound, iBooks, and Bookshop