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Interview with Lisa Lucca & Mark Fiore, authors of You Are Loved

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Tell us about You Are Loved

Our book is a non-fiction epistolary account of how our thirty-year friendship grew to become a unique modern-day love story. . .

Twenty years after first meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area and becoming tight friends, Lisa had long since moved back to Chicago when we began re-establishing contact via emails. Over the next ten years we wrote to one another about our respective lives, which, by now, were centered on dysfunctional relationships, child-raising, and a quest for life purpose.

Smash-cut to late summer of 2010 when I file for a divorce, Lisa moves back to the Bay Area, and we print out those ten years-worth of emails. During a sunny autumn weekend we start randomly pulling from the foot-high stack and begin reading these past emails aloud to one another, alternately laughing and weeping at the humor and heartfelt poignancy with which we had written about our lives. After one such emotional afternoon I gesture to the stack: “You know what this is, Lis? This is one hell of a love story”

We spent the next two years organizing and editing over two thousand of those emails into what is now our book.

So what genre would you say it is?
“Creative Non-fiction epistolary” describes it more accurately than “memoir”. Where our book differs from true memoir is that our story is told in real time, and not as a look back on past events. Epistolary just means a story told in letters.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Some readers will enjoy the voyeuristic quality of reading a private email exchange between a man and a woman who are communicating in real time about their lives, goals, and challenges. There are readers who will enjoy discovering, as we did, the way a relationship based on true and loyal friendship evolved into a heartfelt, spiritual love which, as the story shows, is not easy to define. Also, anyone who has had to make – or is in the process of making – difficult, life-changing choices about being true to themselves will find support and encouragement within the pages of this book. Finally and simply, this book will appeal to anyone who enjoys a modern-day true love story.

But how can emails tell the full story? There won’t be emails about your first walk by the Bay, your your first kiss, sex…
Mark: Keep in mind that we were on opposite sides of the country living separate lives when we were writing those emails, so we had very few shared experiences to write about, let alone romantic ones. There are indeed gaps that occurred – weeks or months with no contact – but those gaps were an organic result of the changes happening in our respective lives.

During the first days of the editing process for the book we considered writing some “fake” emails to fill in the gaps as to what took place during those weeks or months but decided against it because, for one thing, it would have been inauthentic to do so.  Adding commentary didn’t feel right either. We also felt comfortable and a bit playful with the idea that, for those readers caught up in the story, those natural gaps would create a bit of tension and mystery for them, enough that they might actually enjoy coming to our book talks with their questions and participate in the conversation we want to have about what love really is and what it means.  

Lisa: As Mark says, the book follows the emotional arc of our story and takes place primarily while we are across the country from one another. Having been friends for decades, we had had plenty of beach walks, all-night conversations and shared many hugs before our romantic relationship got under way. Those looking for the any juicier details will want to join us at our events!

Which of you was the first to realize that what you shared was love and not just friendship? How did it happen? 
Mark: The friendship we’d established early on was solid and deep, but, years later, the ten-year process of sharing poignant, heartfelt feelings about the changes in our respective lives is what led to the beginning of our first real romantic relationship with one another. In fact, it was ludicrous how much denial I was in about the role I played in creating it: I honestly had no idea of the impact some of my words had on Lisa. On the day I proclaimed our foot-high stack of printed emails “a helluva love story”, Lisa just looked at me like: About time, buddy! She was there first, way ahead of me.

Lisa: Over the many years of our early friendship we had developed a real love between us. I secretly had a bit of a crush on him, too, though I never let on since he didn’t seem to have any romantic interest in me. As we reconnected years later, now both married, our friendship became about mutual support and the ease of having someone close who knows you and “gets” you. When I saw him again in 2009 there was an undeniable attraction to one another and that’s when romantic feelings emerged for me, though I was unsure of whether we would ever have the chance to explore them. The rest is in the book!

When you look back over the years, do you regard those 30 years you spent apart as wasted, or as necessary to ensure that you appreciate what you have now? 
Mark: We certainly don’t think of any time we may have been apart as being wasted. Looking back, it’s easy to see the value and importance of having followed our separate, individual paths. During those first years of knowing each other, of spending time together, the only thing we were sure of is that we liked each other a lot, and that getting together to talk, cook, listen to our favorite music and drink wine was a guaranteed good time. We’d spend hours discussing God, spirituality, metaphysics, oracles, the nature of the soul, human behavior . . . we just couldn’t get enough of trying to get a handle on how it all worked.  Eight years after we’d met we still had not established or had a romantic relationship, but we certainly talked with one another about the ones we were having with other people.

On the night of Lisa’s going-away party, bound for Tennessee to marry a man she’d met while working production for Janet Jackson’s world tour, I was there with my future wife, Lisa was there with her future husband, and we wished one another well after making sincere promises to stay in touch. We saw each other only couple times in the next twenty years.

Lisa: I agree completely with Mark. Our relationship would not have lasted if we had gotten together in the ‘80’s and we would not have the spiritually deep connection we have now if we hadn’t had the life experiences that brought us to who we are. We appreciate what we share so much more at this stage of our lives.

What was the most challenging part of producing this book?
The editing process was quite a chore. Once we printed out the emails we had to read them all, first to last, looking for a thread that wove them together to form an interesting story. During this reading process – which took several weeks – we threw out anything that was redundant or didn’t contribute to the forward movement of our changing lives. Then we printed a proof. Lisa dialed in the cover design while we repeated this process through four more proofs until we felt really solid about the final product.

Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Mark is the author of more than twenty-five journals and has written dozens of stories, articles and essays which, although well received and considered brilliant by a few close friends and one family member, have yet to be discovered. His day job is as a contractor, specializing in custom finish carpentry and kitchen remodels. He is also an accomplished drummer, playing with many bands in the SF Bay Area over the past several decades.

Lisa is a successful Life & Business Coach specializing in helping others realize their creative potential. She had yet to adopt her current pen name when she was a contributing author to A Guide to Getting It: Purpose and Passion and Water Cooler Diaries.

We live in the SF Bay Area and can be found frequenting cool neighborhood establishments in search of good Pinot Noir and great calamari.

Have you got a blog where readers can keep up with your work?
We’re just getting a blog under way since having released the book in mid-October. Readers can follow us and comment at our website: www.youarelovedthebook.com.

Where can we follow you on Facebook and Twitter?
Facebook: www.facebook.com/youarelovedthebook
Twitter:  @youarelovedbook.

Where can we buy your book?
Paperback copies are available on our website and ebook downloads can be purchased at Amazon ( US , UK ).

What’s next?
We’re now putting our energies into promotion. We’re already booked for appearances and talks at some local bookstores and libraries, as well as doing podcast and print interviews. We’re actively connecting with book clubs and independent bookstores across the country and have events booked in California and Colorado in January and February, so far. We both continue to write about our lives as we move through them and have another book in mind for readers who want to continue to follow our story.

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