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Author Interview: Lois W. Stern, Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery

Posted by Sherrie Wilkolaski on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

Welcome to our Author Interview series. 

Today we're featuring an interview with Lois W. Stern, author of Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery. Our author interview series provides an opportunity for our readers to get to know our authors on a deeper level and also learn more about the types of books we're publishing.  Be sure to read through this interview to see how this author ended up on the front page of the NY Times.

After twenty years as an active educator, Lois W. Stern continued to pursue her love for writing, soon becoming co-editor of a popular Long Island web-zine. As she created and authored her column Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives, she solidified her special niche of investigative journalism and put those same talents to work while writing Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery, now in its second printing. She followed up with her second book, Tick, Tock, Stop the Clock. – Getting Pretty on Your Lunch Hour to address the less invasive paths to beauty. Quite recently Lois initiated Tales2Inspire™, an “Authors Helping Authors” project, to culminate in the publication of an anthology of inspiring ‘tales’.

Synopsis:  Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery, 2nd edition:

From the bedroom to the boardroom, over one hundred women share refreshingly candid Sex Lies and Cosmetic Surgery resized 600stories of their diverse motivations and the unexpected impacts cosmetic surgery had on their lives. By building rapport with the over one hundred women she interviewed for this book, often delving into some of the most intimate aspects of their lives, Lois was able to uncover provocative insights into the magnetic lure of cosmetic surgery and the diverse impacts it can have on women’s lives. Through memoir, journalism and research, the author explores provocative themes such as post-surgery sexuality, amorous feelings toward one's plastic surgeon, ambivalences, misperceptions and more. Lois adds much credibility to the text by sharing her personal experience with utter candor - then  supplementing the text with her diary entries and photos. Reaching beyond the typical tell-all book, Lois W. Stern brings the anecdotal into sharp focus by using her finely honed humor, interviews with respected professionals and cutting edge research, to deliver content as rich in entertainment as in authenticity.

Author Interview:

Many plastic surgeons have written books on cosmetic surgery. Why should readers buy your book instead of those written by professionals in the field?

That’s true. It seems like a new book written by a  plastic surgeon is published annually, and some of them are quite good. As a matter of fact, I list a few I recommend at the back of SLCS. They are the experts on the technical aspect relating to their field. SLCS is quite different. It gives a different perspective, covers topics no plastic surgeon wants to discuss. Notice the subtitle of my book is: Things You’ll Never Learn From Your Plastic Surgeon

Why do you feel so confidant that your book offers unique yet quality perspectives?

Well, for one thing, the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) used to have an online bookstore. When I approached them about carrying my book, they requested a copy that had to be read and approved by three plastic surgeon members. It took a it of time, but once they accepted it, they placed it as their first entry. I was very proud of that acceptance and position in their storefront as my book was the only one written by a non plastic surgeon. I was so sorry when they removed that storefront from their website.

Have you gotten feedback from other professionals in the field?

At the time I was completing my manuscript, I needed to interview a plastic surgeon for a magazine article I was writing. The prestigious ASAPS (the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) directed me to Dr. Leo McCafferty. We had a wonderful conversation, very comfortable and informative, and toward the end, I mentioned that I was writing a book on cosmetic surgery. When he heard the title, he became particularly interested, saying: I’ve always  know that cosmetic surgery can be a very emotional experience for women.  I’d really like to read your book. I’d like to understand that better.

I sent him a copy of the manuscript a two week later he called me and said: Lois this is a good book. That’s how I got him to write a blurb for the back cover. Several years later Dr. Leo McCafferty became president of the ASAPS.

What kind of feedback do you get from your readers?

Mostly incredible! I get such a kick out of the e-mail messages I receive! One came from a female banker from Switzerland. She wrote that when she and her “hubby” were in NY during the Christmas season, they went to Barnes and Nobles and bought 12 books on cosmetic surgery in preparation for her own. She also had my book in her hands and almost put it down when her husband said: “What kind of a book could that be with such a funky title?” But she bought it anyway. In her message she wrote: “Here it is day 6 post surgery and I want you to know that with all these book around us, yours is the one we keep returning to because you tell it as it is.” Another women rote that she felt such an uncomfortable physical attraction toward her plastic surgeon that she googled those words and my book title came up. Once she read my chapters, “Utter Humiliation “ and “You Might Fall in Love With Your Plastic Surgeon” she felt such relief. She ordered a second copy and sent it to her plastic surgeon, suggesting that he read Chapters 5 and 6.  Why? When she tried to discuss her feelings with him, all he could say was: “Don’t worry, you’ll get over it.” True, but a totally unhelpful response at that moment.

Is this book only of interest to women?

Interestingly one very talented male author contacted me several years after SLCS was published. (I only knew his name because he was on the review committee when SLCS was being considered for an award with the Infinite Writer.) In his e-mail, he told me his wife, a nurse, had recently undergone some cosmetic surgery and he wanted me to know how much my book had helped both of them in understanding the emotional undercurrents she was experiencing.

Have you gotten any negative feedback?

Yes, and negative feedback hurts no matter the source. One Amazon reviewer wrote about the sex part. I realize that not everyone is comfortable with sexuality and this topic obviously made her very uncomfortable. But what bothered me was that she called it “fluff” and SLCS is hardly that. It digs deep.

Which chapter was the most difficult for you to write?

By far, Chapter 2: Sexuality on the Home Front. At the time I was working with an agent in NYC. I was lucky in that she had an editor on staff, so I had the advantage of her free content editing services. When she read my manuscript, she said that since this book is being described as part memoir, it was important that I address that topic from a personal aspect as well as sharing interview anecdotes. At first I said: Oh, no way, I can’t do that, but in my heart I knew she was right. So I really struggled with that chapter, to get my point across honestly yet not too graphically. Then I made my husband read it to be sure it didn’t exceed his comfort level.

You have had some excellent press on your book - even in the NY Times. How did you manage that?

NY Times Logo resized 600Some luck. Some hard work. The NY Times part was sheer luck. This journalist was writing an article for titled: Hey, It’s Still Me in There. She found my book while doing an Amazon search and called me. That one fell right into my lap. Her article appeared on the front page of the Sunday Edition of the NY Times with three paragraphs about me and my book. That was a gift! Another surprise was a blogger I had never heard of who wrote a terrific article about SLCS. Her article sure resonated with many readers. I couldn’t believe how much conversation it generated. It's all posted at: http://www.coastdocuments.com/Articles/SLCS_reviews.html

List three adjectives that describe Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery

Honest,  candid, and entertaining.

How did you manage to get such a highly respected professor of psychology to write the forward for your book?

I did quite a bit of research for SLCS at the medical library at Stonybrook University. One name came popping up during my research: Dr. David Sarwer, Department of Psychiatry and Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. So eventually I contacted him and asked if he would be willing to review my research. He asked for my entire manuscript and reviewed it with a fine tooth comb. I was so glad he did because he picked up on a couple of errors and also guided me to some just published research that was perfect for my needs. Eventually I asked him if he would be willing to write the foreword for my book. I’ve learned that it never hurts to ask. If you have confidence in yourself and what you are doing, that comes across and people are more likely to say yes.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Four and a half years! Doing all those interviews took a lot of time. and so did the research. Then I had to put it all together in some meaningful way. That really challenged my organizational skills. I had never written anything so ambitious before and it took me time to make it work.

Who designed the cover?

It was a partnership between me and Chris Masters, Creative Director at Infinity Publishing. He directed me to a number of sites to which Infinity Publishing has access and usage rights. I had already chosen purple and red as my color scheme. Then I spent hours each evening searching for an image that met that criteria and shouted BINGO to me. Chris worked hard to get the skin tones and lettering just write. He has great design sense and patience!

Why did you decide to publish with Infinity Publishing?

I already knew about Infinity Publishing through a friend who had published with them. She  raved about Infinity, so I was predisposed to like them. I compiled  a list of  questions before I called them and I liked the responses I got. I just went with my gut and never regretted that move.

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Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery, 2nd edition is also available with an interactive CD tucked within its back cover. This interactive CD includes:

  • Direct links to thirteen invaluable aids to the prospective cosmetic surgery patient, including printable self-assessment tools, checklists, helpful guidance forms and more.

  • A Quick-Find Index to topic-related pages in the book, categorized by broad themes

  • An Exclusive At-Home-With-the-Author video only available on this CD

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