Literary Titan Interviews SHARI LANE about TWO OVER EASY ALL DAY LONG

Author Interview - Shari Lane
Two Over Easy All Day Long follows the president of a toy company who is found guilty of negligence and sentenced to a year working for minimum wage in a remote diner in Oregon. What inspired the setup of your story?
My personal history had a significant influence on the story. I practiced bankruptcy law for a year, and employment law for sixteen years, including a stint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries enforcing civil rights laws in the workplaceI was on the board of a Head Start organization serving primarily the children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers; I was part of an organization partnering with the Oregon Food Bank; and served as an arbitrator for court-ordered arbitration (which usually involved debt-collection from a defendant who had little or no ability to pay). In other words, I had a bird's-eye view of both the power and the impotence of our legal system, and some of the consequences of income inequality.   
When I started writing this book, about ten years ago, there was a lot of talk about restorative justice, and alternative sentencing, and I heard that some judges, given any leeway at all, were exploring these ideas in their sentencing.  Interestingly (to me, at least!), there was recently an example of a situation very similar to the story in Two Over Easy All Day LongMaybe you remember the December 2023 sentencing of a woman who threw her food at a server in a Chipotle restaurant—because she was unhappy with the food. The (marvelously named) Judge Gilligan sentenced her to jail but offered to waive some of the time “if she agreed to work at least 20 hours per week at a fast-food restaurant for two months.” When the defendant tried to justify her actions by pointing out the food “was disgusting looking,” the judge said, “I bet you won't be happy with the food you are going to get in the jail.” (Source: “Woman Who Assaulted Chipotle Worker Sentenced to Fast Food Job for Two Months, BBC, December 6, 2023, Accessed April 22, 2024).
The other more "mystical" explanation (for lack of a better word) is that often characters seem to present themselves to me with a stern, "Take this down, scribe," and that is what happened with Tony, Walt, Nancy, Leesa, and Nareen. There are moments when they seem more real to me than the actual humans in my life. I can't decide if that's the workings of a mystical muse or I'm teetering on the edge of sanity. I'll let you know when I figure it out.
Your characters are diverse and well-developed, giving readers someone to relate to. What are some things that you find interesting about the human condition that you think make for great fiction?
I find it fascinating that we have to keep re-learning the same basic life lessons. We learn we shouldn't act in haste, we learn we should seek help when life gets overwhelming . . . and then we screw up, and have to start all over re-discovering basic truths about ourselves. When I think how often I've cried Eureka!, joyously declaring I've escaped my past, my unhealthy patterns, and then realize I've ended up in the same old mess, it's distressing. And it's an endless source of writing material. A related idea is the possibility of redemption. Even after diving off the same cliff repeatedly, it's possible to emerge from the chrysalis of fate or our own mistakes, a beautiful creature.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The most important theme for me is not alternative justice (except tangentially) or income inequality - though both are important to the story - it is the healing power of friendship and community, and the idea that so many of our bitter divisions can be bridged by sharing our lives and our stories with each other. The old maxim instructing us to "walk a mile in another man's shoes" (which I, of course, would change to "another person's shoes") holds deep truth.
What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?
So many works-in-progress!
* I am working on a sequel to Two Over Easy All Day Long, working title: Redemption at Sunnyside Up.
* I am seeking representation for Jaysus, MooMoo, and the Immortal Woos (which was recently longlisted in the 2024 international Stockholm Writers Festival First Five Pages contest).
* In 2022 I self-published an online serialized novel called What the Dogs Know. I took the novel down from the website in anticipation of publication of a physical copy of the entire work, but the first chapter is still available at www.alaughingdog.comI am working on the prequel (Who Laughs Last) and the sequel (What You Need), both loosely based on life in the San Juan Islands in Northwestern Washington (where I live). One or both of those should be out in the next year or so.  
Can you provide links to any of these;
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(You didn't ask but just in case it's useful): instagram @readwritebreathe