Monday, May 16, 2011

Author Interview: Lisa McCourt Hollar


The first author interview on this blog will be done with the same irreverent attitude as my other blog. I just changed locations so that those who want to read my nonsense still can and those who are interested in the writing biz can skip it. Or the other way around. Whatever, we're here now so pull up a chair, grab a drink of your choice and welcome Lisa!

I bumped into Lisa through the indie horror site (insert shameless plug). We commented on a few of the same posts and through another author I met on the site (Jason Mckinney, next week's interviewee), my attention was brought to a short story of Lisa's called Sam. Sam is the story of a zombie goldfish. Yes, you heard me right, zombie goldfish. And its intriguing, spooky and humorous. Well, as humorous as a zombie goldfish can be. You can read my review of Sam over at See Spot Read. Go on, we'll wait. And wait. And...oh? You're back? Okay good. Without further ado, the interview:

1.)     How long have you been writing?

I have been writing ever since I was in 4th grade. My teacher (Mrs. Dock) had a creative writing contest on Fridays and the winner would get a prize. It was always something small, but I loved writing. One week I won.  I’ve never forgotten how great that felt. My Grandmother and my mom both enjoyed writing and my Grandmother self –published a book of poetry.  They both encouraged me throughout the years to keep at it.

2.)     What made you choose horror as a genre?

When I first started writing I wrote mysteries. Then when I got older and had children I wrote a lot of stories for them. About 6 years ago I joined an online writing group, writing.com, and that is what I was writing, children’s short stories. I also wrote a lot of poetry.  Occasionally I would write something in the horror genre and I noticed I was getting more response to that than I was to the children’s stories. I also was having a lot of fun with it. Writing horror is a blast. After a while I just started writing horror more than anything else. I have 2 blogs, one for my horror and one for my children’s.  I just look at the number of hits on Jezri’s Nightmares compared to Jezri’s Sandbox and I know I have found my niche.

3.)     What made you decide to go the indie route and what problems have you found?

Going indie was a difficult decision, but I am 41 years old and tired of waiting to be discovered. There are so many writers out there trying to get published and the chances of having your manuscript read is very slim.

       That’s not saying going indie is easy. It’s not. There is a lot of stereotyping with indie publishing.  I think that will eventually change, but it is still there.  I even had it myself. My grandmother self-published. Back then it was different than it is now. I can’t find a copy of my grandmother’s book anywhere. She paid for everything, ordered and distributed her books. Now, most books are e published. I keep reading that is hurting the publishing industry, but I don’t believe it. Times change and the publishing companies need to be willing to change with it.

The hardest thing I have found is promoting my work.  I’m new to the business and have an almost zero budget. When you go indie, it all falls to you. You don’t have an agent or a publishing company to do the work for you, but having those doesn’t guarantee you will succeed. Ultimately it is up to the reader. Word of mouth can be a great asset, or it can ruin you. If your writing is good, word will get out, if it’s not, word will get out.

4.)     How on earth did you come up with the idea for a zombie goldfish?

Sam is a result of a contest on Writing.com called The Joust of Horror. It is run by Nomar Knight and you have to write a short flash piece about a given prompt. Then if you are chosen, you go onto the next round and expand on the story. The prompt one month was to raise something from the dead.  I almost didn’t enter. I have written a lot of zombie stories and at the time I was tired from working odd hours and raising my family. But the word SOMETHING kept whispering to me. I started thinking, what if something was a creature no one would think was scary.  So I stared writing and Sam was born.

Did I win? Well I went onto the next round and expanded, but ultimately someone else won for the month. But that’s ok, because I liked Sam and I did win the next month.  That story I will be publishing in a few months when it gets closer to Christmas. It is a Christmas horror tale.

5.)     Do you have a day job and how do you balance writing with having a large family?

No, I am a stay at home mom and my husband works.  I used to work, but the hours were really interfering with family life and my husband and I decided I was needed at home more. This has been a difficult decision, financially, but it has allowed me more time to write. I have a great husband!  He helps out a lot around the house, even when I tell him, “Don’t do that, you work.”
I do a lot of my writing at night while everyone is asleep or during the day while the kids are at school and my son is sleeping. So far it is working out, even though I am losing a lot of sleep.

6.)     Who are your writing influences?

Stephen King, which is really surprising. I have never been a huge fan, but I’ve read some of his books. I remember reading one of his short stories about a man who had been raped as a boy. The description was very vivid and hard to read. I thought, what kind of a mind writes something like that? Since I have been writing horror I have seen my writing progress and one of the stories I wrote really disturbed my daughter. She wanted to know how I could write something that had a child getting killed. I flashed back to King’s story and realized that I had the kind of mind that could write that.

I also am influenced by John Saul and Dean Koontz as well as Lee Child, even though he doesn’t write horror.  Lee Child has developed a character with Jack Reacher that I can only hope to achieve someday.

Also, Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker.  These are two Christian authors that write spiritual horror. I am a Christian and have a lot of faith in God, but people seem to think if you write horror that conflicts with your faith. I don’t agree.

7.)     What scares you? Any silly phobias?

Something happening to my kids. That is really the only thing that scares me.

8.)     Do you ever scare yourself while writing?

When I write horror that involves a child being hurt, it disturbs me. My series, Behind Closed Doors, is really hard to write because it is based on real life happenings. I’m behind on my next installment because it is leading up to something really bad and I don’t want to write it. I will though because I think it can help bring awareness to real life child abuse.

9.)     How do you go about finding cover art?

My covers for The Wall and The Carnival I purchased from a royalty free site. I don’t think I am going to do that again. There’s a lot of good art on the web, but one picture I was thinking about for my Vampyre story I have seen on another book on kindle. I don’t want my books to be associated with someone else's work.

Sam was drawn by Rebecca Treadway in exchange for a free copy of The Wall and Sam. She is a really great artist and I may approach her sometime in the future for some more art.  I recommend her to everyone that asks me about cover art.
My daughter Sarah is also an artist and the cover for my dark poetry book, Hidden Secrets, Whispered Lies was her creation.

10)     What advice would you give newbie writers?

Don’t give up.  Writing is a very personal thing and sometimes criticism can seem like a direct attack. A writer needs to develop thick skin and learn to deal with it, sort through what is helpful and dispose of what is not.

Also find a support group. This is one of the things I love about the indie community. I have met so many great, supportive writers.  Yes, every writer wants to succeed, but indie writers are all about helping each other out. I would suggest any horror writer join sites, like indiehorror like indiehorror.org, darkmediacity.com and the Masters Of Horror group on facebook.  A lot of great people on all those sites.

Lisa's Bio:
I was born and raised in Lima, Ohio, (pronounced Lima with a long I, not Leema).  I have been married, divorced and am remarried to a wonderful man. He writes too, though not as often as I do. I have four children, 3 girls, 1 boy, Rebecca, Sarah, Rylie and Caleb and a step son Aleks.
I do girl scouts with my youngest daughter. That is always fun and inspiring. Kids can be so much fun.
I am a trekkie. I don’t write sci fi, I’m no good at it, but I love Star Trek and other sci fi shows.  But Star Trek has my heart and my husband and I enjoy embarrassing the kids with it.
My blog is Jezri's Nightmares.
All of my e books can be found on Amazon.com.
Or on Smashwords, (except for The Carnival) at Smashwords.

I'd like to thank Lisa for being here and sharing with us! And I encourage you to check out her blog and her work. Buy one of her works and let people know if you like it. I'd also like to thank all of you for stopping by! Please feel free to become a follower and stay a spell. I don't bite. Well...unless you ask nicely or the moon is full.

♥Spot (also known as Stacey Turner)

7 comments:

Blaze McRob said...

This is an absolutely delightful interview! It is so nice to find out about the personal side of writers. Lisa and I have joked back and forth on Masters Of Horror about Sam versus my zombies, but it's all in good fun. A zombie goldfish is a great idea!

Also, it's nice when writers are willing to give of themselves to help fellow writers. I love seeing that happen.

Wonderful job on both your ladies' parts.

Blaze

Jezri said...

I still say my goldfish will kick your zombies butt and eat them for breakfast, lol.

Thank you Stacey for the wonderful review and interview!

Lisa

jasonmckinney said...

With Sam getting bigger with each meal I bet he'd scare the hell out of Jaws! Excellent interview, Lisa and Stacey!

Blaze McRob said...

I have a story with zombie cows in it! You inspired me, Lisa. They're not contented cows either. Ha, ha!

Jezri said...

Hmmm, zombie cows. Inspired by Farmville? Now that is scary. Farmville is in the zombie making business for real, lol

Blaze McRob said...

I don't play games, Lisa. Farmville is for frustrated people who don't know about the terrors that walk. The dead terrors!

Spot said...

Jezri~ You are very welcome! It was a great story and you were a fantastic interviewee!

Blaze~ nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by, commenting and following! My daughter has this irrational fear of cows. Zombie cows are going to send her into hysterics!

Jason~ Thank you! And I do think Jaws might have met his match. Wait! What about zombie sharks...hmmm...I may never swim in the ocean again.

♥Spot