Q&A With Lian Dolan

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Q&A With Lian Dolan 

Today’s Q&A is with bestselling author, podcaster and speaker Lian Dolan. Lian’s novels are The Sweeney Sisters, Helen of Pasadena, Elizabeth The First Wife, & Lost and Found in Paris. Lian has written columns for O, The Oprah Magazine, Pasadena Magazine and Working Mother Magazine. She’s also written for TV, radio and websites. Lian’s podcast is The Satellite Sisters. 

 Q: When in your life did you realize writing was what you wanted to do with your life? What’s your advice to anyone wanting to write great fiction?

 A: I have always loved books, writing and storytelling. Shaping words into a narrative was something I was pretty good at from the start, both in speaking and writing. I think it’s because I come from a big Irish family and telling great stories around the dinner table was always a favorite family activity. It took me a while to figure out how to shape my love of stories into a paying gig, but I’ve done it across a variety of mediums, everything from sports media to podcasting to writing fiction. 


My advice to anyone who wants to write is to read as much as you can, in any genre or medium. Newspapers, magazines, essays, novels, memoirs, satire, romance- whatever it is, read it.  Read and develop your own sensibility about what you like and why you like. Then, once you start writing your own material, have the confidence (and humility) to show it to other writers for critique. You only get better when you learn that not every word you write is precious. 

 Q: What is your advice to anyone struggling with writer’s block?

A: I think writer’s block is a Hollywood construct. It seems to be the plot of so many movies, but most writers I know, including myself, just power through and get stuff down on paper. It may not be genius. But it’s one page. 

 Q: If you’re writing a new novel now, are you allowed to reveal any details?

 A: My next book is called The Marriage Sabbatical. It’s about a Gen X couple who has been married for 25 years and decide to take one year off their relationship, a break from each other, a break from their vows. I’m in revisions now. I hope it’s fun and sexy and shakes things up a bit! It will be out in January 2024 from William Morrow. 

 Q: How do you juggle being an author and podcaster?

A: I have a very compartmentalized work life. I work on the podcast two days a week for the 36 weeks we record the show. I write fiction on the other days of the week. While both are storytelling, they require very different parts of my brain. Podcasting is collaborative and requires creative, marketing and technical skills. For me, fiction writing is the opposite: solo, focused, quiet. I have to separate the two activities. But I love them both. 

 Q: What advice do you give someone on how to start a podcast of their own? How did you come up with the name for your podcast Satellite Sisters

 A: My advice to any would-be podcasters is to go for it. There are a lot of great online resources now for newbies, from the technical aspects to how to shape content. Inform yourself, listen to other podcasts, figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Put in work on the pre-production end and it will enhance your podcast. Then, flip that microphone on and say what you have to say. 


My husband came up with the name Satellite Sisters. It was 1998 and we were looking for some term that implied the concept that to be sisters, you don’t need to be actual sisters. We also wanted to capture some telecommunications terms that sounded edgy!  The second my husband suggested the name, I called my sister Liz and said, “We got it.”  Satellite Sisters went on the air in April 2000 and we have never had to explain what the name meant. People got the concept right away.  

 Q: How do you deal with negative feedback as an author and what advice would you give to new writers on how to deal with negative feedback whether it’s from online trolls, bad reviews and family and friends who aren’t supportive?

 A: I am very selective about what I let into my brain! Satellite Sisters started on talk radio, a format that encourages people to yell at you and say terrible things. Our producer at the time drilled it into us not to listen, not to respond—for our own mental health. With my writing, I don’t read too many reviews. I don’t torture myself by going to Goodreads. I don’t solicit opinions from people who aren’t writers themselves. That kind of bubble keeps 95% of the negative reviews and comments out. I can deal with the rest with long walks with my dog! 

My advice would be the same as I received: Don’t read, don’t respond. 

 Q: It always impresses me that an author can juggle so many things, whether it’s a podcast, journalism etc. What was it like writing for columns like O, The Oprah Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, and Working Mom Magazine? Do you still write for these magazine publications? What’s it like writing for other websites, radio and TV? 

 A: Magazines will always be my first love. And writing for those magazines was a great privilege—fantastic editors, sharp feedback and great creative freedom.  Magazine writing was a great creative training ground for me because every word counts. Truly. These magazines no longer exist in the print format and I miss working with them. 


I’m working on a screenplay right now and am always putting together material for our podcast, newsletter and social media. I think any and all writing makes your work stronger and sharper. All writing is good writing.