Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, the writing team behind THE STATUS OF ALL THINGS, YOUR PERFECT LIFE, and the upcoming THE YEAR WE TURNED FORTY (expected publication April 2016), all published by Simon & Schuster/Atria, have been best friends for over twenty-five years. They blog (hilariously) at LizandLisa.com where they share their lives and this interviewer’s go-to list of book recommendations. Thank you, ladies, for joining us over here at Women Writers Women[‘s] Books. We’re thrilled to have you!
Let’s start from the beginning, your beginning.
Where did you grow up?
Lisa: I grew up in Seattle and Southern California
Liz: San Diego, CA, where I still reside.
What were you like as a kid? A teen?
Lisa: As a child I was very shy! I loved to read, loved school—would often go when I was sick because I didn't want to miss anything. I loved to entertain my family—putting on shows for them with my brother. As a teen I was a handful for my parents! I definitely thought I knew everything.
Liz: I was the youngest of three and the only girl, and I was very sassy! Like Lisa, I loved to read, but I HATED math, probably because I was terrible at it. (thankfully neither of my children have inherited this!) As a teenager, I was a brat. Seriously. I wish I could go back and be nicer to my parents during that time---and I try to be extra nice to my mom each day to make up for it!
Lisa: y’all (Although that might've been two!)
Liz: legit (even though I'm not 22 years old)
Lisa: I have a DIY side. I’m crafty. I secretly like to replicate things I see on Pinterest
Liz: Graphic design--I'm obsessed with Canva and love to create things there!
Best meal you prepare?
Lisa: Taco night is popular at our house. I make a pretty mean guacamole. (I got the recipe from Liz so she deserves the credit!)
Liz: Italian sausage and peppers. (I don't look it but I'm half Italian!)
Book on your nightstand right now?
Lisa: The Rocks, Barbara the Slut, Everybody Rise, The Precious Ones and Six Months
Liz: China Rich Girlfriend, Cold Feet, Pretty Girls, I'll See You in Paris
Which writers inspire you?
Judy Blume, Emily Giffin, Kristin Hannah, Jane Green, Deb Caletti,
Your combined voice is fun and relatable. How do your “voices” in real life compare and differ?
People who know us well do think we talk alike. It's interesting, because even though we are really different in so many ways, we share a commonality that is almost eerie. We can't tell you how many times we've texted each other the same thing at the same time!
Your stories are utterly fresh and fun. Is there a specific passion that fuels your choice of premise?
Thanks! Our ideas are based on life observations and experiences. (Although we have never switched bodies or time traveled!) But most importantly, on what we want to read!
Lisa wrote the first chapter of the first book you wrote together. Liz wrote the second. What is your process now five books later?
We do alternate chapters but we also edit each other’s work as we go. So neither of us can really stake claim to a whole chapter. In fact, save for a few lines (like the first in YOUR PERFECT LIFE that Liz wrote) we don't have a clue who is responsible for what!
How long does it take you to decide on a story? Develop it? Write it?
Pretty quickly. We always have a few ideas lingering about. And we will get on the phone and decide on one. The development process happens as we go. We aren't big outliners but we do talk often about where the story is going and what our characters motivations are. It usually takes us 4-6 months to write a book.
Salty or Sweet?
Lisa: salty! French fries!
Liz: Salty all the way! Chips! Guacamole!
Coffee or Tea (or, as in the interviewer’s case, Diet Coke)?
Lisa: coffee! Venti Americano with vanilla
Liz: coffee—same order as Lisa. (Of course!)
Luxury Vacation or Exotic Adventure?
Lisa: luxury vacay
Liz: Can I do both? Ha!
Eating In or Eating Out?
Lisa: Eating out
Liz: I eat out a ton for work, so I really like to create a beautiful meal and enjoy it at home.
Dog or Cat?
Liz: Dog! Although I really love cats too!
Night Owl or Early Bird?
Lisa: Early bird
Liz! Early bird! I can barely make it past 10pm.
Thank you, Liz and Lisa, so much dropping in. Welcome to the WWWB family! We will be supporting and rooting for you forever more. We are so happy for you for your success, and grateful to you for always keeping it real. :)
"Fun, clever and utterly engaging." Mary Kubica, NYT Bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL
“Change your Facebook status, change reality? This book will be a like.” (Cosmopolitan)
“Another page turner from Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, who are best friends in real life (and not just on Facebook).” (PopSugar)
"Pop culture references and a healthy sprinkling of magical realism combine to make The Status of All Things a timely reminder that all is not what it seems. With a sparkling narrative that will have you turning pages at a breakneck speed, this is women's fiction at its finest." (Tracey Garvis Graves New York Times bestselling author of On the Island and Covet)
"I raced through The Status of All Things at a breakneck pace. A perfect blend of what-if and what-should-be, Fenton and Steinke have found a rhythm together that works. They bring that little touch of magic we could all use in our own lives to the page with vibrancy and wit." (Catherine McKenzie bestselling author of Hidden and Forgotten)
"Written with heart and keen insight into the influences of social media, The Status of All Things tells the tale of one woman’s quest to change the past. The story gives us magic, a touch of whimsy, and a reality that’s hard to shake. Smart and true with a pitch-perfect ending, it will leave readers feeling satisfied and also asking 'what if?'" (Michelle Gable internationally bestselling author of A Paris Apartment)
“A new twist on modern day women’s fiction…the integration of magical elements works surprisingly well in this witty story that is much more than charming romance. A fun and fast read for fans of Meg Cabot and Jennifer Weiner.” (Library Journal)
“With their razor sharp wit and astute social commentary, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke—two of women’s fiction’s brightest stars—tackle the question: Would you be truly happy if you could rewrite your own fate via Facebook? And the answer is definitely not what you expect." (Emily Liebert author of WHEN WE FALL)