Wife's Tale (Lansens)

Author Bio
Birth—July, 1962
Where—Chatham, Ontario, Canada
Education—St. Clair College (Windsor, Ont.)
Currently—lives near Los Angeles, California, USA

Lori Lansens was a successful screenwriter before she burst onto the literary scene in 2002 with her first novel Rush Home Road. Translated into eight languages and published in eleven countries, Rush Home Road received rave reviews around the world.

Her follow-up novel, The Girls, was an international success as well. The Wife's Tale, her third novel, was published in 2009. Born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, Lori Lansens now makes her home in Los Angeles with her husband and two children (From the publisher.)

Her own words:

I was born in July 1962 in small-town Chatham, Ontario, a rural community near the border to Detroit, Michigan, where I spent the first eighteen years of my life, a landscape that would become the backdrop for my first three novels.

My father worked at a factory that made trucks. My mother stayed at home and cared for me and my brothers, one a year younger than me, one a year older, all of us born in July.... We were free to explore, to wander, and to wonder.

I attended St. Ursula Catholic School from kindergarten to eighth grade. My friends were mostly Italian and Portuguese and I loved their homes with the sides of beef and pork curing in meat lockers, and cloves of garlic dripping from ceilings, and the curious second ovens that they all seemed to keep in their basements. I was strongly influenced by my religious upbringing, and at one point considered becoming a nun, but when our parish refused to baptize my bi-racial cousins I stopped going to church altogether.

After high school I attended St. Clair College in Windsor to study advertising and business. My plan was to become a copy writer, to marry my passion for writing with a practical approach to making a living.

I met my husband of twenty-five years, Milan Cheylov, when he was a young actor. He’d recently returned to Toronto from acting school in New York and I was new in town, working in the classified advertising department of  [Toronto's] The Globe and Mail. We met by coincidence at Bennie’s, an old deli near Yonge and Bloor Street. We talked about books and he asked what I was reading. I pulled a tattered, decade-old copy of Mordechai Richler’s Cocksure from my purse. Milan grinned, reached into his duffel bag and pulled out the same novel.

After writing a dozen more short stories, none of which were published, but for which I received just enough encouragement from editors, I decided to try my hand at dramatic writing. Milan suggested I take a few acting classes to better understand the actor’s process and I found myself bitten by the bug. My most memorable moment was playing a scene opposite Al Pacino and John Goodman in Sea of Love. My part was cut out of the movie, but the week I spent on set helped pay our rent that summer. My lowest point was appearing in a children’s play, dressed in a squirrel suit, being upstaged by a fly in a window. I quit acting and turned back to writing— this time a screenplay—South of Wawa. The movie, starring Rebecca Jenkins and Catherine Fitch, was produced in 1992. One reviewer compared the screenplay to Chekov while another wondered if the screenwriter had been dropped on her head at birth.

[After several years] Milan suggested I take a break from the film world to write the novel I’d been dreaming of aloud for so many years..., and with Milan working long hours on film sets, I sat down to write the first chapters to Rush Home Road, the story of an old black woman who lives in a trailer park near Chatham, and the little mixed-race girl she takes in to change the course of both of their lives.... I finished the first draft of Rush Home Road in the weeks before my son was born. Our daughter was born just weeks after Rush Home Road was launched.

Shortly after The Girls [my second novel] was launched, my husband and I made the difficult decision to leave Canada, the city we’d lived in for twenty-five years, our family in south western Ontario, all of our friends, for Milan’s career opportunities in the television industry in L.A. Even before we’d made the decision to move I’d heard Mary Gooch calling from the sidelines—a woman in her forties who undergoes a dramatic transformation.

Milan and I live with our children in a rural canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains with coyotes and bobcats and rattlesnakes. From my office above the garage I can see a horse ranch across the road and beyond that, the tawny hills and clear blue sky. I’m currently at work on my next book.
(Adapted from the author's website.)

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