The 30-year-old author and food critic, who was married to singer Billy Joel from 2004 to 2009, is taking on the world of fiction with her first novel, Groundswell. Very loosely based on her own life, the book is about a young woman whose marriage to a celebrity falls apart, who then finds solace in the world of surfing.
Celebuzz caught up with Lee and asked her all about the book, and of course, got her thoughts onthe novel that has every one talking, 50 Shades of Grey.
What inspired you to write Groundswell?
I had always wanted to write a novel, it’s kind of been a life-long dream of mine. I’ve tried so many times to write something but I always thought it had to have some kind of connection to food, since that’s my passion and what I’ve made a career of. So I’d write about a girl who worked in a bakery, or was a chef, and I couldn’t get a story to stick. None of it was working. So I had kind of put it on the backburner. I was going through a divorce at the time, and feeling real sorry for myself and I was sitting on the beach one day watching these guys surf. I’d always been afraid of the ocean and I wanted to do something to get out of my own head. I felt like I wanted to unzip myself and step out of my own skin. So, I went and bought a wetsuit and signed up for a surf lesson and I loved it. I felt completely out of control, which was good. About three lessons into it, I was getting out of the water and I had this idea for Groundswell. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I went in the house and started writing and I didn’t stop. I think that for me writing fiction was kind of like looking for love, when you’re looking for it, it doesn’t happen. But when you least expect it, that’s when you find it.
What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
For me, it was the discipline, and doing it every day. You really have to get into the creative process and do it every day, and immerse yourself in that to be able to keep the story going. I had to start giving myself a short-term goal and my goal was to write 1,500 words a day. I’d fufill my goal, then start again the next day. So for me, it was finding that discipline and when I did, it came much more easily.
How long did it take you to write?
Start to finish it was a year and a half, but I’d say the bulk of the book I wrote in about four months, because that was when I realized [I had to] either sit down and write this book or give your check back [laughs].
Were any of the supplemental characters inspired by people in your life?
Absolutely. I definitely found inspiration for all of my characters within friends, and myself and people that I know, and people that I know of. I think that’s the only way, as a writer, to know how people would react in real life, and to draw on your own experiences. I drew from all of that.
Where there any authors that helped inspire this book?
Nora Ephron has always been a big inspiration for me. I love her writing so much. I think she’s so incredibly talented, and I read everything that she writes. So, she was a big inspiration to me.
We have to ask, have you read 50 Shades of Grey?
I actually started reading it a couple weeks ago, and only read like 10 pages of it. Then this morning I got it out and thought I got to read this because everyone is talking about it so much. So I probably read about 100 pages this morning. I get it. I get why there’s this craze around it. I think that we all want to escape from something and that book is certainly escapism and fantasy. You’re not thinking about doing the laundry while you’re reading that [laughs]. On one hand, I feel like there is something a little anti-feminist [laughs], and I kind of have a problem with that. But I think that maybe one of the reasons it’s speaking so much to women is that we have some many things that we have to do, and all the things we have to be in control of, that it’s the idea of just letting go and letting somebody else be in charge. I guess that’s part of it.
Be sure to pick up a copy of Groundswell, out now!