The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Malena Lott, whose newest book, Dating da Vinci, is released this week. Along with being an author, she also edits a book review website for women and is a popular speaker and consultant on creativity and branding.
I asked her to tell us a little bit about Dating da Vinci. “A young widow searches for ‘la dolce vita,’ the sweet life, with the help of a handsome Italian immigrant named Leonardo da Vinci,” she said. “During her Renaissance, Ramona looks for answers to whether or not her late husband cheated on her before he died to finally put her suspicions to rest and move on. She finally dusts off her dissertation on the Language of Love to get her Ph.D. Her journey is made more difficult by her ‘they-mean-well’ family and friends, including her young sons, her Evangamoms, her thrice divorced best friend, her Energizer Bunny celeb fitness sister, and her sister's new beau, who she thinks is just being nice to her because he feels sorry for her.”
Malena told me that normally she gets an idea and a theme—then the characters come along afterward. “For Dating da Vinci, I knew I wanted to write about a woman’s awakening—a journey to joy—and Leonardo da Vinci,” she told me. “So the plot stemmed out of one man’s insatiable curiosity about the world and a woman who had really given up on the idea of love or joy ready to explore that again.”
In addition to her writing, Malena is also a reader and is always reading at least one non-fiction and one fiction book at a time. She can normally read one of each a week. She enjoys sharing reviews of what she reads at Athena’s Bookshelf each week. And, there’s no telling what you might find there as she primarily reviews women’s fiction (nearly all genres), mainstream and eclectic non-fiction.
Another reason she’s such a voracious reader is that she enjoys finding new authors and loves to learn new things. It not only helps keep her mind fresh and entertained, it also might show her something new to try in her own writing.
For example, before she read Bridget Jones’ Diary, she’d never written in first person point of view. She told me, “I love getting that personal with the reader.”
Everything she’s ever read has shaped her in some way, she told me, no matter whether it was literary or pop fiction. “Reading,” she said, “always makes you a better writer.”
When she reads a book and doesn’t want it to be over, she knows she’s run into good writing. And, that’s what she tries to do with her own writing. She admits that each writer has their own voice and style, but said, “At the end of the day, it’s ‘did the reader feel a part of the story?’” When she has made the reader care about the story, when she makes the reader laugh, love, cry or feel whatever emotion she wants them to feel, she’s done her job.
It’s easy sometimes to get very swept up into things, but when Malena’s not writing she told me, “I am usually trying to practice staying in the present moment.” She smiled and continued, “I love Oprah’s Soul Series on XM-Radio, traveling, and spending time with my family.”
And, speaking of her family, she told me that her toddler has picked up on one saying she uses a lot, ‘that doesn’t make any sense.’ She added, “I think that’s where he also picked up ‘freakin’.” She and her husband, Rod, and their three boys make their home in Oklahoma.
On a personal note, she shared with me that she does indeed cry in movies. In fact, she said, “I usually don't believe a movie was good unless I've cried a few times. Even in the happy ones!” I also asked her what one thing she thought scientists should invent and, I have to say, I agree totally with her answer. She told me that she thinks they should invent “an inexpensive robot that will clean your entire house.”
You can keep up with Malena on her website, http://www.malenalott.com