PorterKath and Therese stepping in with a special introduction. As you know, Take 5 interviews at Writer Unboxed are generally dignified affairs, allowing authors to reveal details of their latest novel–the backstory, inspirations and writing process–via five pithy questions. We are proud that T5’s have become something of a classic.

When we send T5 questions to our authors, we always invite them to rewrite any of them–in case there’s something in particular they’d like to reveal about the book that our questions don’t invite. Occasionally an author will do a nip-tuck on a few T5 questions, but it’s never been anything drastic.

Until now.

In a WU first, Dee DeTarsio–one of our original Reader Unboxed reviewers, now contributing to our newsletter–rewrote all of the questions meant to showcase her new novel, ALL MY RESTLESS LIFE TO LIVE. Then she sent the finished Q&A to us. Then we had to pick ourselves off the floor, helpless with laughter, and contact our lawyer.

If you followed our Reader Unboxed site while it was still alive, you will likely remember the camaraderie that developed between the contributors there. Much like it has here. Except over there, there was a special raillery evident whenever Dee and Porter Anderson (who was also an original Reader Unboxed contributor) got together in a thread.

We are pleased to share Dee’s Q&A with you today, another salvo in Dee and Porter’s battle of wits. (And, yes, Porter gave his stamp of approval, and sent us the picture you see here, proving he has an exceptional and truly unboxed sense of humor.)

Grab a box of tissues to wipe away tears of mirth, and enjoy!

TAKE 5: Dee DeTarsio and All My Restless Life to Live

Disclaimer: I can’t promise that you will like this interview or learn anything, but I can issue a money-back guarantee it will be shorter than a Porter Anderson post. (Hey, Porter!)

1. How has Porter Anderson influenced you? 

Every time I want to comment on a post, I ask WWPD—What Would Porter Do? And then I get scared of making a fool of myself and edit it a million times. See, being part of a tribe is awesome. (Can’t you just picture Porter, with a Campari in one hand, raising that bar high, toasting industry insiders?) He recently shared an agent’s perspective from the Muse conference in Boston last month: “Self-published books almost need to be better than traditionally published work.

Oh boy, I’ve learned that the hard way. All My Restless Life to Live is my sixth indie book. It was critiqued and edited by a NYT best-selling author. Copy-edited by a mean ol’ red-penned slasher who seemed to get almost sexual satisfaction from all the errata. (Right? Errata not erotica.) I raffled off a child to go with a publicist. (Hey, Crystal!)

2. Who are you, how old are you, how much do you weigh, and how much money do you make?

I didn’t teach myself to read at an early age. I didn’t write my first story in kindergarten—I was still busy wetting the bed and playing in the can cupboard. I had the same back brace that Joan Cusack wore in Sixteen Candles, and I would have traded being fat for having clear skin in a heartbeat. I read a lot.

I lost my ego along with the placenta of my first-born, making writing a natural career choice. More than seven hundred rejections, three agents, and close-but-no-cigar publishers toying with my affections, I perversevered. (I know that’s not a real word, but it should be.)

Full disclosure: while I am not making enough to pay for LuluLemon writing pants, I could probably spring for a pair of LuluLychees. (I would buy those.) My best month on Amazon was December 2011, when I earned $3000. It has been harder to reach those sweet, sweet payoffs, but I am trying.

3. Favorite Oprah “aha moment?” (It’s a thing, it’s in the dictionary.)

For every lousy cover, disastrous social media interaction, *whistles innocently* and “ews” from douchebag reviews, I learn a little more about the business of reading. I like books that laugh in the face of the sadness of life. (Hey, The Fault In Our Stars.) While I don’t know what’s in the secret sauce of success, I know this much is true: Every book I’ve ever read (including indies) is written with every author’s best.

4. How much TV do you watch? 

No, really. What’s the book about?

Life is a soap opera, especially for Elle Miller, who writes for one. (Ellen dropped the “n” in her name in hopes of finding a better ending for herself.) When her laptop crashes, she borrows her recently deceased dad’s computer and gets way more than she bargained for.

Elle unravels mysterious communications from his computer, while her mom decides to give Internet dating a try. As Elle tries to save her career at I’d Rather Be Loved with a storyline featuring a trip through Atlantis, she takes a trip to the Emmys, and finds herself in the middle of a romance between a real doctor and a hunk who just plays one on TV. Friends, family, and clues from “the other side” all help Elle figure out the difference between living the good life and living a good life.

Fans of Marian Keyes and Jennifer Weiner will delight in Dee DeTarsio’s sparkling prose and lively dialogue as she takes readers into the heart of women’s lives. Filled with friendship, love, loss, betrayal, and challenges that force her characters to find their place in the universe, Dee’s novels give us that hopefully-ever-after we’re searching for.

I always wanted to be a soap opera writer. I do not understand people who hate TV. Some of my best friends are on TV, including my second husband, Jon Snow. (If you think about it, Game of Thrones is the most epic soap opera of all time.)

I write chick-lit which is another word for nothin’ left to lose.  My cover has pink on it, and heart-shaped sunglasses. The title is clunky and ridiculously long. I have a prologue! The writer police are already after me, so I went all out and made that prologue a secret with the readers that the protagonist never learns about.

I am doing KDP Select on Amazon, as well as paperbacks to help with marketing—for reviewers, Goodreads giveaways, and for never making more than .28 cents per copy.

I’ve finally stopped querying agents, because even armed with sales figures and a robust, international fan base of seven, it’s not good enough. With more than 150,000 books sold* (*Sold is such a strong word—since it can also mean free, and sometimes, with paid promos, actually end up costing $), it’s still not good enough.

5. Do you have advice for other writers? 

My goal over the past few years has totally shifted from yearning to be traditionally published, to finding the indie joy. I no longer stutter and give long-winded explanations about what kind of writer I am, as if I were in some sub-species mutant category.  Indie authors do have to try harder, and sometimes, it’s a swing and a miss. (Have you met me?) But, that’s okay.

My mother, of “Be nice and don’t eat sugar” fame, still tells me to suck in my stomach and stand up straight. That is pretty sound advice for anyone, especially writers.

Hey Porter, your smoking jacket called and wants its Erudite Word-of-the-Day calendar back!

Readers, you can learn more about Dee and her latest book, All My Restless Life to Live, on her website, and by following her on Facebook and Twitter.


About Dee DeTarsio

Dee DeTarsio is a TV writer living in southern California. She is the author of THE SCENT OF JADE, THE KITCHEN SHRINK, and just released, ROS.