by Lisa Diane Kastner
GENRE: commercial romance
Lauren has a dead end job as a waitress at the Oaklyn Diner. She becomes ecstatic when the diner is chosen to be the focal point of an upcoming movie, *Jersey Diner,* starring Jonathan Pearce. When filming ends she moves to California to start a new life with him. Lauren quickly discovers that all that she thought was real and true are in question.
“Here’s a copy of the script, read through it and then go over the scenes with the girl.”
“I can try. I never acted so I don’t know how much of a help I’ll be.”
He plopped it into my arms. The script weighed more than a stacked tray.
“This isn’t about acting. It’s about realism. That’s why we need your help. You’re a real waitress and this one just doesn’t get it.” He smirked. “If I could get ten cents for every time one of these actresses thought they could feel their way through a part. I’d be a zillionaire. Then give me a dime for every time they were wrong. Oh. I’d be …” He stopped. “Start reading.”
I had opened the cover and started flipping through the pages.
“Good. I knew you’d be the right person for the job. We’ll pay you for your time. You can be our ‘Resident Expert on Serving.’ Ya know, like a martial arts expert.”
Welcome Lisa! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
Hi and thank you for having me. I’m originally from the East Coast. Grew up a Jersey girl and migrated to Philadelphia and then New York, and I now reside in Los Angeles with my amazing husband and our two kittens (The Master and Margarita). I am a book nerd (I read everything), a foodie (yes, please!), a sporadic worker outer (I think I just made up that word), and a music fiend. I love traveling and head to some place foreign every chance I have.
Is JERSEY DINER a single title, or part of a series?
Great question – it’s a single title but the characters show up as secondary characters in other books.
What were your inspirations for the story?
I wrote Jersey Diner because I was interested in why someone obsesses over another and what would prompt that obsession. When I was a teenager I was on USA Network’s Dance Party USA and had several fans. Some of which tracked down my address and phone number and decided to call me on a regular basis. Luckily none of them were truly obsessive and it made me wonder what if someone was more determined? Also, I had crushes when I was in junior high and high school but wasn’t very good at socializing so I wanted to explore what if someone took that crush to an extreme and that’s how I came up with Lauren.
When I first began writing Jersey Diner all of the imagery and references that came up were very mid-80s. I liked the contrast of the 1980s bright colors (blue eyeliner and bright yellow shirts) and pop songs (Wake Me Up, Before You Go-Go (Wham!), Like A Virgin (Madonna), Tainted Love (Soft Cell), Don’t You Want Me (Human League), Every Breath You Take (Police), Don’t You Forget about Me (Simple Minds), Jessie’s Girl (Rick Springfield). Everything seemed innocent and yet there was a dark undertone with the impending fall of Wall Street in 1987. Which is a nice parallel to the events in the book.
Please share your setting for JERSEY DINER. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
I grew up in New Jersey although the town in the book is fictional it’s based on Pennsauken and Oaklyn areas in the mid-80s. I think the descriptions and the vibe in the book are pretty spot on. It’s an environment in which everybody knows everyone else. Lots of great people. And a world that’s changing from being small town with local businesses to large retail companies coming in and putting the little guy out of business. It’s a world where blue collar workers are having hard times finding jobs while those who are college graduates are having an easier time and those with no degrees are kind of stuck in limbo. It’s a place with a huge heart, a big laugh, and a lot of dreams.
When did the writing bug first bite?
Others knew I was a writer before me. My stepmother, Violet Smith sent me a white journal with gold leafing and encouraged me to write. My father taught me out how to write AP (Associated Press) and the reverse pyramid, before I hit my teens. I hid in my bedroom and wrote comic books and musings. I could be found at any time with my nose in a book or losing myself in television shows. I escaped into worlds that I created or that someone else created. I guess it was inevitable that I should be a writer. Now, if you talked to me when I was a kid, I would have told you that I was destined to be a rock star even though I was terrified of singing solo in public (still am).
Who are you favorite authors, book/series?
The list is gonna be long and not inclusive. Here we go: Anne Frank, Ann Rice, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Junot Diaz (love, love, love), Carolyn Turgeon (love, love, love), Jennifer Egan, Tom Perrotta, Da Chen, Sara Gruen, A. S. Byatt, Hannah Tinti (love, love, love), Charles Baxter, Jincy Willett, Paulo Coelho, Jhumpa Lahiri, Italo Calvino, Jamie Ford, J.K.Rowling …. And a bajillion more.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
Everyone mentioned above although I’m pretty sure it would either be a KILLER PARTY or mass chaos would ensue. Not sure. Either way booze, hot tubs, tunes, and board games would need to be involved.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
I love yoga, Zumba, running (ok, technically it’s fast walking/jogging but for me it’s running), reading, museums, traveling, and I’m a foodie. I’m also a music nerd. So, the traveling, foodie and music nerd parts all definitely come out in the novels. I have a book, LUSCIOUS, which will come out sometime in 2018/2019 and much of the book explores different eateries and bars in the Philadelphia area while following the main character in her “exploits”. 😉
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
When I was nine, I died on the operating table. At one point when I was unconscious, I could feel this pull and a presence. I started scrambling, like scratching to pull myself back. I yelled, “I’m not done yet!” and then I woke up in the hospital attached to a dozen gizmos and with my parents at my bedside. So, that was pretty freaky.
What is the one thing that you would tell an inspiring writer to do?
REVIEW WILL BE LATER IN THE DAY. I’M SO SORRY.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lisa is a former correspondent for the Philadelphia Theatre Review and Features Editor for the Picolata Review, her short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as StraightJackets Magazine and HESA Inprint. In 2007 Kastner was featured in the Fresh Lines @ Fresh Nine, a public reading hosted by Gross McCleaf Art Gallery.
She founded Running Wild Writers and is the former president of Pennwriters, Inc. (www.pennwriters.com). She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, her MBA from Pennsylvania State and her BS from Drexel University (She’s definitely full of it). Her novel THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS was shortlisted in the fiction category of the William Faulkner Words and Wisdom Award and her memoir BREATHE was a semi-finalist in the nonfiction category of the same award.
Lisa presented at a TEDx in Seattle on The Power of Connecting. And presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) on the “You Sent Us What?” panel.
Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey The Redness migrated to Philadelphia in her twenties and eventually transported to Los Angeles, California with her partner-in-crime and ever-talented husband. They nurture two felonious felines who anxiously encourage and engage in little sparks of anarchy.
The book is on sale for $0.99.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Lisa Diane Kastner will be awarding a $50, a $25 and a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winners (three winners) via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway ”