Craig Lancaster and Elisa Lorello are authors fairly new to the Boothbay region and are celebrating a new first – co-authorship.
Elisa's main characters are predominantly women whereas Lancaster's are men, the couple explained – no surprise there. However, they decided to shake things up a little bit with “You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky” by having Lorello write the novel's soft and sweet Linus Travers and Lancaster write the harder-edged Jo-Jo Middlebury.
"It was an interesting way for each of us to stretch ourselves, but it was also cool in what came out … The third character in the book, Mr. Blue Sky, is kind of a guardian angel, a stand-in for the universe," said Craig.
With romantic comedy being a fun and interesting genre, both writers wanted to do something refreshing and bring the changed dynamic a little further. Mr. Blue Sky was that selling point for them.
"We didn't find an interest in the story without Mr. Blue Sky. He's not hands on, so to speak, he's not manipulating the events of their lives," said Elisa.
In other words, he's their Puck, their circa 1990s John Madden voiceover, just with more of an affinity for the Fonz than the Favre, Lancaster said of the 1970s loving angel.
However, that is all they will hazard to spoil on the subject of their new book. Just as interesting as their stories in fiction are their stories about themselves and how they feel about what they do.
Before she could call herself a full-time author, Elisa was teaching at North Carolina State University when she self-published her first novel, “Faking It,” in 2009. Likewise, Lancaster's first novel, “600 Hours of Edward,” came out in late 2009 right in the middle of his journalism career.
“At the time I would say I'm kind of married to teaching right now, but I'm kind of having an affair with novel writing,” Elisa said.
Both said their separate journeys into full-time writing were very interesting because everything happened or fell into place around the same times in their lives. Elisa started writing full time in 2012, Craig in 2013. Their first novels, both self-published, came out in 2009. They were subsequently picked up by the same publisher at the same time.
Said Craig, “It's been a few years since I've defined myself as a full-time writer. I'm a full-time jack of all trades … The breakaway from the traditional idea of you have a job that you go to five days a week, 52 weeks a year happened in 2013. You never say 'never' because you never know what you're going to need to do or want to do. I'm having a lot more fun working five jobs than I ever had working one.”
The writers draw a clear distinction between fame and success: The two are not synonymous. “You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky” is Elisa's 11th novel and Craig's eighth. Elisa has also published two nonfiction books and Craig, one collection of short stories.
“We've been successful, but we haven't become famous. Writing and publishing 13 books is a quite a feat,” said Craig.
“I don't think I could have seen that back in 2009 when I published my first one. I was thinking 'If I can sell this to people who aren't related to me, I will be very, very happy.' That was my goal back then and it's kind of my goal again.”
When Lorello and Lancaster talk about writing, it's always about the craft and the world they are creating and never about the ins and outs of selling a book.
Said Craig, “We'll see where this book goes. Whether it succeeds wildly or fails miserably in the marketplace, it's not a failure because we love it. We love what we do.”
“You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky” is available via online channels, as an e-book, and in audiobook format through Audible and iTunes. Any bookstore can order the paperback.