I first met Lisa at the Writers’ Digest Pitch Slam in New York City. She jokes now that she “picked me up.” I suppose she did, although I seem to remember the two of us simultaneously locking eyes and smiling before she swaggered over and introduced herself.
The tiniest adult person I know, Lisa has a spirit that can’t be contained. As she wrapped her arms around me, it didn’t matter that we were strangers. I felt as if I’d known her for years.
I slumped down on the carpeted floor across from her. She followed suit. We’d arrived early to make sure to be the first ones in line, and because we’re both more than a little tightly-wound. I checked my watch. We were a full hour early. We’d been advised to arrive early and wait for the doors to open so we could be among the first to go inside for what’s best described as the literary version of speed dating. An hour was aggressive, sure, but Lisa and I wanted to be the first to run from table to table, pitching our respective book ideas to agent after agent until our allotted time was over. We were invested in making it. Plus, as I’d later learn, we’re equally perfectionistic and feel a need to compensate for feelings of inadequacy by doing our respective bests.
She asked the question we were both thinking. “What’s your book about?”
“I’m pitching a YA manuscript,” I said. “How about you?”
Lisa flashed a wide, endearing smile. “Mine’s a memoir project. Wanna hear the pitch?”
“The best seats I ever had were at my mother’s wedding in Madison Square Garden, and the best cocaine I ever did I got from my father’s friend, the judge.”
That was when I knew we were going to be lifelong friends.
Although my YA novel has yet to find a home, Lisa’s memoir is now published and available for purchase. As soon as I got my autographed copy, I started reading it and I didn’t stop until it was over. In fact, I made notes in the margins and underlined so many words that the book is now virtually unreadable by anyone but me. I found her story of growing up with a druggie for a father and a Moonie for a mother heart-wrenching and humorous. And, despite the differences in our upbringings, I related a lot to the feelings she experienced coming of age with two parents who were ill-equipped to show their love.
Recently, I interviewed Lisa on my podcast, The Transformational Storyteller Podcast. So far, it’s the longest episode. Her experiences are enthralling! I won’t include any spoilers, but suffice it to say, the episode is worth listening to…