Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Downward Dog, Upward Fog by Meryl Davids Landau

Welcome to Author Meryl Davids Landau.

This is Meryl’s fiction debut. Previously, she wrote articles for numerous national magazines, including O, the Oprah magazine, Reader’s Digest, Glamour, More, Prevention, U.S. News & World Report, Parade, Self, Redbook, and Whole Living. Her magazine writing has won several awards, and was a finalist for a prestigious National Magazine Award.

INTERVIEW
What was your favorite book when you were a child? 
I loved The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, where a little boy plants the carrot seed and knows—despite all the doubters around him—that it will grow into a carrot, which of course it does in the end. Even as a young child I understood that believing in yourself is a powerful thing.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Where else can you get both fun chick lit and an uplifting, spiritually-inspiring (non-religious) read?

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published?
The best part by far is hearing from readers who said Downward Dog, Upward Fog motivated them to take up yoga or meditation or to rededicate themselves to their lapsed spiritual practices. I love the idea that a light, easy read can also carry a deep meaning that connects people to their higher selves without being preachy.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Mint chocolate chip. But I adore almost any flavor. Ice cream is my biggest weakness (or, as I prefer to think of it, my biggest pleasure). It’s no coincidence that the main character in my novel works as a special-events manager at an ice cream manufacturer called Favored-Flavors. That was always one of my dream jobs!

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Readers routinely ask me if Lorna Crawford is me. From the standpoint that I’m not a single woman with a hot boyfriend, a wretched mother and a job in an ice cream company, she isn’t. But the book sprang from a question I heard another author answer on TV about how she came up with her book: She said, “I asked myself, where are the novels for women like me.” Like Lorna, I’m a person who tries to bring more spiritual awakening and serenity into my daily life—and like Lorna, I frequently don’t succeed.

What’s your favorite season/weather?
My favorite season is spring, but if the choice were only between winter and summer, I’d take summer any day–which is why I left the Northeast and moved to South Florida! Once the sun goes behind the clouds, all I can think about is climbing into bed and never getting out!

What is your favorite quote?
It’s one I actually included in my novel. (My main character reads self-help books in addition to attempting yoga and attempting meditation and a few lines from those book are in my novel. In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle writes, “Surrender to the grief. Embrace it. Then see how the miracle of surrender transmutes deep suffering into deep peace.” Anytime I try to resist something I don’t like, I make it worse, but when I accept it (which doesn’t mean I have to like it), the pain and disappointment immediately go away—and often, so, too, does the problem.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
Now that my teenage daughter starts her school later, I luxuriously get to sleep in till 7:30 or even 8 o’clock! I try to do a little yoga or meditation in the morning; sometimes it’s just a few minutes. After breakfast and driving my daughter to school, I enter my home office to work on magazine article assignments. (I’ve been a magazine writer for more than 20 years—the novel came about because after so many years of reporting facts I thought it would be fun to make stuff up!) I write mostly about healthy living for Reader’s Digest, Whole Living, the Oprah magazine, Prevention, and other publications. After lunch—more often than I would like something grabbed quickly in the kitchen and hauled into the office–I work on publicity for my book, which includes Facebook, Twitter, blogging for the Huffington Post, and writing guest posts like this one. At some point I try to get some fresh air, even if it’s just a few minutes standing by the beautiful lake behind my house. Finally, I spend a little time working on the sequel toDownward Dog, Upward Fog. (I’m as eager as my readers to see what happens to Lorna next!) Once dinner is finished, I go on Goodreads, where I moderate the Yoga Folks book group; read something for pleasure; and hang out with my family. Occasionally I get out to a yoga class, but that doesn’t happen as often as I would like.

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
I’m a sucker for romantic comedies, especially those made from great novels. I heard Alison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life is becoming a movie. I have no idea when it will be coming out but I’ll be first on line. I loved that novel!

Write a Haiku about your book.
How fun!
Lorna wants inner peace
Yoga? Breathing? Self-help books?
Just embrace “what is.”

Spontaneity or Planning Ahead?
I like to decide what to do on weekends when I wake up Saturday morning. I’ve a friend who schedules six months out—which is why I hardly see her! My more spontaneous nature is probably why I like magazine work so much: the deadlines force me to focus but they’re not so far out, the way a book is, that I can delay it.

Beach or Pool?
Beach for feeling the sand in my feet and the breeze in my hair, and watching the moon rise over the ocean—I live in South Florida, after all. But for swimming, I’m a pool girl. Feeling fish graze my legs gives me the willies.

PC or Mac?
I’ve been a Mac girl since before even the iMac days. I’ve always loved the intuitive ease of use—although my college-student, computer-engineering son says I’m paying a big premium for that enjoyment. And I totally adore my iPhone!

Text or Talk?
Talk, although my kids are getting me in the habit of texting (they won’t answer the phone if I call!), and I’m starting to see the value. It’s much more efficient to send brief text than to have to socialize at the start of each call.

Skittles or M&Ms?
Chocolate beats any other candy every time.

Downward Dog, Upward Fog
Lorna Crawford has a great boyfriend, longtime friends, and a well-paying job as special- events coordinator at a premium ice-cream manufacturer. But, out of sorts and filled with self-doubt, the 33 year old soon realizes that what she really wants is to stay on the spiritual path she keeps diving off of. Lorna jump-starts her efforts at a silent yoga retreat. But after returning from the mountain, she quickly loses her connection in the face of scheming coworkers, judgmental girlfriends, and, especially, her overly critical mother. Lorna also wrestles over her future with her boyfriend, a hot guy who takes her to the hottest places, but who can’t discern a meditation cushion from a toad stool. Reading spiritual books and visiting a channeler and energy healer move Lorna forward, but her confusion remains. Lorna’s seeking is put to the ultimate test when personal tragedy strikes. Will she come to truly understand that living spiritually has little to do with how you pretzel yourself on the yoga mat (although she gets plenty good at that), and everything to do with embracing the twists in everyday life?

Giveaway Details
One paperback copy of Downward Dog, Upward Fog, personalized and signed by author Meryl Davids Landau.
Open to US only
Ends 1/30/12

Optional Extra Entries

+1 Follow Meryl on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/MerylDL

WINNER: SARA KOVACH