In book 1 of The Life & Times Series, “Irene in College”, Irene comes face-to-face with the realization that college is anything but easy. At the mercy of an insufferable mother, pompous boyfriend, malevolent best friend, dim-witted nuisance, and an ineffable college professor, what would be easy about it? Come join Irene as she learns how to deal with it all.
Irene thought college would be the easy part—get good grades, make new friends, and say good-bye to a daunting past. Little did she know that the whimsy of life would have other plans for her!
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About The Author
Lori Goldson the Middle School Academic Director for the Philadelphia non-profit organization SquashSmarts. She has been in education for seven years. During her years as a college student at the University of Delaware, Lori took a fondness to Latin American culture. She has traveled to Dominican Republic, Spain, Mexico and Puerto Rico. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Erik.
Q & A with Lori Goldson
Where did the concept for the Life and Time series come from?
The series comes from a short story I began in 2008. I initially started a story that focused around four women who lived different lives and were brought together through a particular incident, but I wasn’t completely happy with that story. I decided to focus in on one protagonist instead of four, and incidentally Irene was the one that stuck. However, the other character names that I used–Michaela, Nicolette, and Emily–are all used in this series as well. I am very much into the idea of growth and prosperity through life lessons, so I thought that readers like myself would appreciate a series that focused on being just a regular person who goes through ups and downs and in some way, whether through blind faith or hard work, manages to rise above it all.
Why did you feel you had to write this particular series?
Like I mentioned before, this series stems from another story I had worked on, but wasn’t completely satisfied with. As I got into the new series, it just kind of took off. I had been at such a stalemate with the original story, it was nice to feel free with the writing, not like I had to force rhetoric.
How did you come up with Irene’s character? Is she part of you or someone you know?
As I mentioned, Irene was from my original short story. In that story, she was physically the same character–a Latina college student. However, she was a bit more assertive and boisterous, but not everyone is like that (hence why I added Michaela, who is kind of Irene’s alter ego). I do believe all people have those moments of internal turmoil that Irene experiences throughout this story. So many times we spend so much energy debating with ourselves over what we truly want that we make ourselves crazy.
Irene is definitely part of me, but part of everyone. The goal with that character was to ensure that she was someone everyone could identify with, which is a large part of why she stuck so much for me from my original short.
What do you want readers to take from Irene in College? and the Life in Time series?
The hope is that readers of the first book will, first and foremost, enjoy the story. I hope people get a good laugh and maybe even feel some sympathy for some of the more poignant parts of the story. Secondly, I’d want people to feel encouraged to be more open to self-discovery. A large part of this book and the series as a whole is Irene’s journey of self-discovery to fulfillment and independence. I’d love for readers to realize that you can change, grow, learn, and discover at any stage of life, and there’s no age limit on finding yourself and your happiness.
What 4 tips would you give a person wanting to write a ChickLit book or series?
First, I’d definitely say don’t let the term “ChickLit” confine you. It’s a term that can be defined in a variety of ways. Originally, I knew my focus was Young Adult, and never considered this ChickLit until I decided that I was going to define ChickLit as driven by female characters with a variety of strengths and weaknesses that women encounter regularly. Some might consider ChickLit to be just a female protagonist, or a woman searching for liberation. There are so many ways to explore the subgenre, that I think boxing it to only mean one thing is limiting.
Second, I’d say think about your friends, family, past acquaintances, and yourself. Every experience is valid, and makes for great storytelling. Some of the encounters in this story have been from past experiences. Why not? Why not use those life lessons, those upsets, those joys, and those friendships-gone-bad to your advantage?
Third, conflict is a must. I don’t think it’s possible for women to not endure some sort of conflict from other women, men, or even themselves. We tend to think a lot, and internal conflict can makes for great stories.
Lastly, fantasize. I find that some of the best stories come from a place that is not a person’s current reality. Irene has had a few experiences that I never experienced first hand, but could only imagine what it would be like to do those things, and it made the story that much more entertaining to write. Let the imagination go, and escape to another place.
Who is Lori Goldson?
I’m an introvert. Often this comes off as arrogance in public settings because I will not go out of my way to speak to people as I rather have them speak to me first, but that’s because I’m observing. I like to take in my surroundings before diving into conversation or any other action. I’m also very low-maintenance. For instance, I have friends who I might not speak to be once a month, or visit very seldomly, but when we are together, we just pick up where we left off. I am not the kind of person who needs, or even wants, interaction on a regular basis. If I didn’t have to interact, I’d probably remain a recluse.
Do you believe it is important for writers to also be avid readers?
Absolutely. For me, it helped me set a standard for myself. While all authors have their own style and voice, I know that reading YA and ChickLit authors like Ann Brashares, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus has given me a standard I would like to reach. Also, I would imagine it’s difficult writing to a target audience if you’re not in tune with what they like to read to create your own artistry.
What has been your biggest challenge/achievement as an writer and published author?
The greatest challenge has been transitioning into the career of being a full-time author. It is time consuming, but because I have a day job, I cannot focus on it as much as I would like. I am confident I will get there, but I just have to keep working on it daily. The greatest achievement would be getting published! I know a lot of people are into self-publishing, which does heed more residuals, but I like the fact that I am signed to a publishing company that helped me get it right as this is my first novel. I’d been published online and in the paper as a student journalist, but publishing a novel has a very surreal feeling. It’s like of all the things I’ve been fortunate to do in my life, this is the most awe-inspiring for me.
What new project (s) are in the works for you?
I am finishing up the sequel to Irene in College. Haven’t settled on a title yet, but it is the second book in the series and I am 17 chapters in. I am so working on a couple of other books and playing around with some other stories. None are quite ready for publishing, but I am excited about the different types of writing that will be available for the public in time. I am also working on another series with a male protagonist. I’m excited about that project because it’s a retrospective that takes place during his teen years in the 1990’s. I love playing around with different ideas.
Where can readers find you?
Readers can find me on Twitter (@elle_gee_jones). I’m still working on my website and a Facebook page, so they should definitely check my Twitter for when those other outlets will be available.