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10 Questions with Claire LeZebnik author of Families and Other NONreturnable Gifts

1.      Bookmarks or dog ears?
Both.  Bookmarks when I have something close at hand that works—I can never find a real bookmark when I need one, so I’ll fold up a tissue or an old receipt.  But if I’m really tired and desperate to go to sleep, I’ll just dog-ear a page.  I ALWAYS feel guilty when I do that though.  And I’d never do it to a library or borrowed book.  Only to one of my own.

2.      Dust jacket on or off when reading a hard back?
 On.  I like to use the flap to mark my place (see above, re: how I never have a bookmark when I need one).  Also I just like to remind myself what the cover looks like.  It’s my biggest problem with the Kindle, not having the cover art in front of me.  I love cover art.  I feel like the picture connects with the written word in my mind and leaves a stronger, longer-lasting impression of the book there.

3.      What is the first book you remember reading by yourself as a child?
Dr. Seuss’s ONE FISH, TWO FISH, RED FISH, BLUE FISH.  My brother (two years older) taught me to read with that book.  I was the youngest of five, so by the time I came along, my mother just left it up to my siblings and my own motivation to get me reading.  My brother kind of taught me everything I know, come to think of it.  But it wasn’t all noble: he used to teach me how to do his homework and then I’d do it all for him, very proudly.  It was like Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence.

4.      What are you reading right now?
I just finished Susanna Clarke’s THE LADIES OF GRACE ADIEU, which I loved, and now I’m reading an advanced reader’s copy of Maile Meloy’s first middle-reader book THE APOTHECARY, which is totally captivating.

5.      Do you have a favorite author?
Three-way tie between Dickens, Bronte (Charlotte), and Austen.  If I had to choose one, it would probably be Austen.  But I don’t have to, do I?

6.      Was there a book that inspired you to write?
Every book I read when I was younger inspired me to write.  Reading was what I DID as a kid.  If you were looking for me, you’d find me sitting on the back of our living room sofa, facing our bay windows with my legs wedged between the ridged parts of the radiator (our house was always cold), reading some novel or another.  I can’t think of any one book that inspired me more than others: I loved anything that was romantic.  And since all I did as a kid was read, all I could do as an adult was write.  I didn’t have any other skills.

7.      Do you have a favorite place to write?
Standing up in our dining room.  We have this bar-on-wheels that I bought at Pottery Barn years ago.  It closes up into a high cabinet and when I put my laptop on top, it’s the perfect height for me to stand and type at.  I do have a little office upstairs off of our bedroom, but I feel too far away from the kids and the action up there and I have to sit down to work at the desk, which usually hurts my back (I slouch).  If I stand up, I feel like I stay more alert and my back doesn’t hurt as much, although my feet do start to feel sore after a while. 

8.      How does your garden grow?
Beautifully, thank you, but not because of me.  We had it re-landscaped recently with drought-resistant native plants.  I used to think succulents were weird-looking but now that I’ve lived in southern California for a couple of decades, they make much more sense to me than trying to reproduce a British or east coast garden in a desert.  And some of them are truly staggeringly beautiful.

9.      What is the last thing you Googled?
How to spell ukulele.  Our whole family was playing a parlor game earlier today with my brothers-in-law and nephews.  It’s called Bowlful of Nouns and it’s a fantastic game—you write your own nouns (the crazier the better) and throw them in a bowl and take turns getting your teammates to guess them, first using clues, then only one word, and then charades.  It sounds complicated but it’s not.  It’s just fun.  Anyway, I wanted to write “Johnny’s sparkling green ukulele” (because my son has a sparkling green ukulele that he inherited from his cousin) but I wasn’t sure whether ukulele was spelled “uku” or “uke.”  So I googled it.  Yes, I am a TOTAL NERD.

10.  What makes you cringe?
Anything rubbing against Styrofoam.  Absolutely unbearable to me.  That sound makes me want to howl and beat my head and crawl into a cave.

Thanks so much for stopping by Bookhounds!  

Be sure to pick up Claire's new book:


Despite her name, Keats Sedlak is the sanest person in her large, nutty family of brilliant eccentrics. Her parents, both brainy academics, are barely capable of looking after themselves, let alone anyone else, and her two uber-intelligent siblings live on their own planets.

At least she can count on one person in her life, her devoted boyfriend Tom. Down-to-earth and loving, he's the one thing that's kept Keats grounded for the last decade. But when Keats's mother makes a surprise announcement, the entire family is sent into a tailspin. For the first time, Keats can't pick up the pieces by herself. Now she must reevaluate everything she's ever assumed about herself and her family-and make the biggest decision of her life.

About the Author

Claire LaZebnik lives in Los Angeles with her TV writer husband and four children. She is the author of the novels Knitting Under the Influence, The Smart One and the Pretty One, and If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now. 

Like you need another reason to buy her books! 

You can find Claire:
Website: HERE
Facebook HERE


  1. Another great Q&A! Claire seems pretty fun. I read the Smart One and the Pretty One and really liked it, can't wait for this new one!

  2. What makes me cringe it he rubber, I hate it really. it feels like my teeth are loosening up

    Zero Dramas

  3. Just read her newish YA novel, Epic Fail. Great send up of P&P in a LA private school setting. The dad is great as he hides in his back office of the house, the mom slightly over eager!


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