Lara Reznik is a native New Yorker who studied at the University of New Mexico and the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop. Bagels & Salsa is her third novel.
Writing books since she was six years old, Reznik retired from an executive position in information technology after the success of her first novel, The Girl From Long Guyland, published in 2012. In 2015, Reznik published her second book, The M&M Boys.
Reznik currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two miniature Aussies.
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Author Lara Reznik blends suspense, romance, and humor in her latest novel, BAGELS & SALSA (http://www.larareznik.com/bagels-and-salsa). Loosely based on Reznik’s life, the story of Laila and Eduardo highlights the turmoil that surfaces when a Jewish sociologist from New York and a
Early reviews of BAGELS & SALSA praise the story’s dynamic plot and colorful characters:
“The author tells a simple love story, but she structures the novel to provide a panoramic view of her characters” (Kirkus Reviews).
“Another lovely read from Lara Reznik! . . . As with all her novels there are also plenty of fun subplot twists and turns. I wanted more.” (Barbara Gaines, Former Executive Producer of The Late Show with David Letterman).
BAGELS & SALSA opens at a high school assembly hall in a rough part of the Bronx where Laila Levin is giving her first postdoctorate presentation on the US teen pregnancy epidemic. Her fear of public speaking and a chance encounter with the Son of Sam unravel her as several loud bangs crack through the air. Laila falls on the stage and injures her right shoulder. Fortunately, Dr. Eduardo Quintana jumps into action.
What begins as a playful flirtation while Laila recovers in the hospital propels into a more serious relationship with the handsome doctor. Their mutual passion is so intense that it stuns them both. The unlikely pair share strong family values and an interest in teen pregnancy prevention. After a brief courtship, Eduardo persuades Laila to accompany him to his family’s ranch near Española, New Mexico, where he plans to open a family practice. The rural town has one of the highest pregnancy rates in North America: the perfect place for Laila’s research.
Once in New Mexico, Laila is blatantly rejected by Sylvia, Eduardo’s controlling mother. Sylvia wants Eduardo to marry Violet, his high school sweetheart, who has recently returned to New Mexico after a failed flight attendant career and a walk on the dark side of Hollywood. Violet’s mother and Sylvia cook up a plan to send Laila packing and reunite their children. The Quintanas hold a large pig roast and invite a menagerie of tattooed cousins, rodeo stars, and mariachis. And the drop-dead gorgeous Violet makes a grand entrance.
In the midst of the pandemonium that results, a shocking family secret is revealed, and Laila and Eduardo’s love for each other is severely tested. Can their relationship survive the fierce clash of cultures, the murderous intentions of a Son of Sam copycat who has stalked Laila from New York City, and their own uncertainties about the upheavals that their union will cause in their lives?
Reznik’s first goal in writing BAGELS & SALSA is to entertain readers. However, she says, “On a more thematic level, I’d like readers to think about the importance of embracing religious, ethnic, and cultural differences, which have been at the core of so much conflict in the world.”
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Has writing always been a passion for you or did you discover it years later?
At a very young age, I discovered books offered me a great opportunity to explore worlds filled with fascinating people and places. At six years old, I tried my hand at writing a novel of my own. Throughout my childhood, I always kept journals and wrote poems and short stories. I don’t know what possessed me to write, whether it be a need for creative expression or an escape from a mundane childhood in the suburbs of Long Island.
As an adult in the 1980s and 1990s, while raising three boys and working full time in IT, I wrote three novels and three screenplays. Frankly, I have no idea how I did that. The kids remember me hunched over a laptop during their numerous soccer and baseball games. I wrote whenever I could, during lunchtime at work, on vacations, or late at night after everyone was asleep. My husband deserves a lot of the credit for his undying support and for doing more than his share of cooking and co-parenting.
Do you have a day job? What do you do?
I worked as an IT executive for over twenty-five years. After the breakout success of my first published novel, The Girl From Long Guyland in 2012 (which has been downloaded over 150,000 on Amazon), I retired from my day job to write full time.
Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors? Great question.
1. Write about something you are passionate about rather than trying to write about a topic or in a genre you think is popular. For one thing, by the time you complete a whole book, the elusive market will have changed, and for another, your lack of enthusiasm for the story will be reflected in the prose.
2. Writing is a craft that like any other career takes training and practice. Read books on writing such as Sol Stein’s On Writing, Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, or John Truby’s The Anatomy of a Story. Take a novel writing course online, or at a local college and/or find a critique group through your local writer’s league.
3. Once you have a foundation on novel writing, write a complete first draft of your book. Be prepared to edit this draft many times until it is as good as you can get it. Realize that the process can be very tedious and the rewards are rarely monetary. Often critique can be difficult to take. You have to really be dedicated and want it badly.
Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?
I look at writing like any other job I’ve ever had. Rather than waiting for inspiration, I write at least five days a week. Occasionally, life issues get in the way or I just get distracted. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about writing was from my professor and the prolific writer, Rudolfo Anaya (Bless Me Ultima). It’s quite simple. “A writer writes.”
What hours do you write best?
The schedule that works best for me is to eat breakfast, work out at the gym or play tennis, then start writing around 10 am and continue until 3 or 4 pm. Sometimes, if I’m on a deadline, I’ll get back to it after 9pm and stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I try to avoid that if possible, as I pay the price of being exhausted the next day. I know authors who say you must write the second you wake up, and others who need a glass of Scotch and a good cigar and write until the sunlight peeks through their curtains. Bottom line, you need to find a routine that works for you, and stick with it.
Are you an avid reader? Generally, I’m reading a print book, a digital book, and listening to an audible book simultaneously. Right now, I’m rereading Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns in paperback, Isabel Allende’s The Japanese Lover on my Kindle, and listening to Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, on my iPhone.
What are you currently working on? I’m currently writing another psychological thriller based on a real-life murder mystery. Truth is stranger than fiction and I couldn’t make up a more spellbinding plot or create more devious characters than the true story of a Manson-like con man; his jealous mistress, a professed alien queen; and a salt-of the-earth soccer dad, surrounding the mysterious disappearance of a beautiful Japanese bank teller.