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Q&A with Carlsbad Author Let Go From Newspaper Job

After a 25-year journalism career, Cathy Lubenski explains what it's like to be laid off and try something new.

Carlsbad resident Cathy Lubenski has her second book due out later this year. In a Q&A with Carlsbad Patch she talks about the path to becoming a published author.

Carlsbad Patch: When were you laid off and why?

I was laid off from the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2009 (after 13 years as an editor and reporter) as one of about 200 people who got the boot at the same time. We former UTers call it the May Massacre. There had been one layoff before that, but it was very small. Layoffs have continued since then as the paper was sold and then sold again. Why was I laid off? Well, Patch is one of the reasons why! People are going to the Internet for their news and turning their backs on traditional newspapers. And why not? They're not dependent on an editor to pick what stories they want to read and they get updates almost immediately. The other reason I was laid off, I'm sure, is because I have a big mouth and didn't always edit what I said - just like the main character, Bertie Mallowan, in "Trashy Chic."

Carlsbad Patch: What was it like to start over?

I'm not sure I have started over! I'm still mourning the loss of the profession I'd spent over 25 years working in. However, I'd seen the ax coming and started "Trashy Chic" three or four years before I was finally laid off. After I won the San Diego Book Award for Best Unpublished Novel of 2009, I knew I might be able to make it as an author. So I was kind of pre-set mentally to work as an author before the layoff.

Carlsbad Patch: Did you always want to write a book?

I'm one of those rare people who NEVER wanted to write a book. It just wasn't something that I thought about often and when I did, it seemed like a lot of work. And, yes, it is a lot of work! But I had to make a living so I did some honest self-assessment and came to the conclusion that writing is what I do best and would be be the most likely way to make a living.

Carlsbad Patch: Tell us more about your books?

"Trashy Chic" is my debut novel; the sequel to it, "Snarky Park," is due out this December. They say write about what you know, so the heroine of both books is reporter Bertie Mallowan, who has a severe problem with authority, especially her bosses. In "Trashy," she's drifted into fluff journalism - features about fashion, new products, pets - and interviews a rich entrepreneur who's made his money by luring the rich and jaded into buying luxury items like fur coats pre-streaked with red paint to foil PETA kamikazes, stationery made from the recycled cereal boxes of Tibetan lamas, and monogrammed airbags for cars for "The Crash with Panache." Two days after her interview, he's murdered, and Bertie is thrust back into "hard" news. She discovers how much she's missed it and pursues the story of who killed the entrepreneur into danger, various neuroses, and unexpected humor.

Carlsbad Patch: What's your advice to people who are currently unemployed and looking for work?

First, good luck. I don't have another job, although I've been looking for three years. 

Carlsbad Patch: What would you tell people that want to write a published book?

Again, good luck. Just write it and then keep plugging away. Read books about how to get published;  join groups, like Publishers and Writers of San Diego where there are a lot of people who have already done it; and immerse yourself in the "how to" aspect.

Carlsbad Patch: Anything else you want to tell Carlsbad Patch readers? In Ellen DeGeneres' old show, "Ellen," she worked at a bookstore called Buy the Book. That pretty much says it all - BUY THE BOOK! You can find out more about "Trashy" and me at trashychicbook.com.

Smokestack34 May 15, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Cathy: What a clever title. Journalists make good novelists. They've learned how to cut through the crap and dump the adjectives, adverbs and pretentious nouns and verbs. Jim Grant, who writes under the name Lee Child, got canned from a communications job too because of corporate restructuring. That forced him into writing a detective novel that led to a whole serious with the protagonist Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise plays him in a film coming out in Dec. So who knows what a great future you may have. I will look forward to reading your novel. Sounds delightful.

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