Then, a couple of years later, I "met" Lisa through a women horror writer's group. And was lucky enough to get a free copy of her latest novella, Sacrifice. It wasn't in exchange for a review, but after I read it, I asked Lisa if I could interview her and review the novella. Mostly because I think writers I enjoy should get more attention. And it's my blog, so there. So, you can head on over to See Spot Read to read a review of the novella, (first in a series) Sacrifice, or you can stay here and read an interview. Or you can do both, because I'm all about free will.
1. How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first poem around the age of five, so I guess that would mean a really long time ago as I am early forties now! By the time I was ten I was writing short stories and wrote my first novella at thirteen – it was an awful angst-ridden teen production where I destroyed the world in a great flood. Thirty years later, and I’m still regularly destroying the world in my books.2. What's the first thing you had published?
I was first published in a school magazine when I must have been nine. It was a poem about autumn. I remember my mum being really proud as the magazine usually only took submissions from girls in the senior school.
3. Do you write full time or do you have a day job?
Until recently I worked a day job, as a carer for elderly people. But I am now lucky enough to be a full time writer.
4. What is your writing routine? Where do you write?
I used to write anywhere in the house where there was a free spot and I could sit down with my laptop. Usually this would be the living room or the dining room depending on where the kids were (I can’t write with noise and distractions!). This summer one of my children moved out and into her own place, and I am now converting her bedroom into my study. It feels like a real luxury having a space in the house that is all mine!
5. Have you always been a fan of the Horror genre?
I discovered Stephen King in 1986 when we moved to NH. I’d already read Dean Koontz and a few other horror writers, but King really hit the horror spot. I was fifteen and discovering a whole new scary world. I’ve been hooked ever since.
6. What scares you? Any silly phobias?
What lurks under the bed scares me most. I was in my late thirties before I got to a point where I wasn’t making long jump leaps onto the bed to avoid any evil creatures swiping at my ankles. I solved the fear by packing the under-the-bed space tight with junk. Anything would do, so long as it meant nothing sinister could fit under there. Now I am in my forties and own a dog. He sleeps under the bed and keeps me safe. Mirrors are also creepy. You never know for sure what will be reflected when you take a look into one.
7. What other writers do you admire, or have influenced you the most?
Stephen King is probably the writer that has influenced me the most, but I have read widely and love sci-fi as well. Early sci-fi writers like Ray Bradbury (his many short stories) and Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) have also left their mark on me, as well as Michael Crichton (Sphere) and Clive Barker (Weaveworld). Richard Matheson (I am Legend) and John Wyndham (The Day of the Triffids) are also hugely influential. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. J
8. I know most writers hate the “where do you get your ideas” question, but as a writer, I ALWAYS want to know. So, where’d you get the idea?
I get a great many of my ideas from the newspapers. An article will spark an idea and I will ask that all important question: but what if…? And then I’m off running with a new story idea. I also get ideas from my conspiratally-minded husband, who often spouts off about something he’s read on one of the odd websites he visits. The idea for my bestselling book, Plague, came after a late night talk about terrorists using viruses and bacterium as a weapon.
I think novellas will become increasingly popular as time-constrained readers look for books they can consume in a few hours or over several nights. This has driven me to write shorter works, and I have seen other authors doing the same. The idea of producing the series with Sacrifice partly came out of the time scale involved, with years separating each installment, but also because the following novellas will focus mainly on individual characters, with their individual problems coming to the fore. To me, it seemed logical to make each as stand-alone as possible, with the running theme of the storyline keeping the novellas as a series.
To be honest the supernatural scares me far more than manmade horrors. I don’t write much supernatural horror, I think partly because it scares me so much even to think about it! I am planning to do a series of books featuring ghosts, but I’m still trying to find the courage to write them. Lately I’ve been reading lots of zombie books, which I find entertaining, but not scary. I’d love to try my hand at one of those, but there are too many authors out there doing a far better job than I would!
No1: If you’ve got an idea, just write. Get it out of your head and onto paper.
No2: Pay for an editor! If you want to produce a professional piece of work, you must hire an editor to point out all those plot holes you can’t see and find the errors you skip over as they are invisible to the writer. If you can’t afford to do that, or you are just beginning as a writer, find a critique site to become a member of. These can be an invaluable (and free!) resource. I spent years as a member at a number of various sites and received advice that got me to where I am now. Here are a few I’ve used over the years (in the order I found them). There are many more out there, find one where you click with some of the other members.
Enjoy what you do. I love to write. It’s not a chore, it is a pleasant release. I love to get my ideas out of my head and if one other person reads my story and likes what they’ve read, then I’m happy. I saw a video of a Stephen King talk a couple of months ago which I found very interesting. He compared ideas to sand. If they trickle through your fingers to be lost, then they weren’t worth pursuing. The big ideas that refuse to fall between your fingers (and be forgotten) are the ones to chase and write. I’m not sure I entirely agree with this, and I certainly didn’t when I first heard him say this. I have notebooks of ideas, lines, single words, links to things that have inspired me waiting to be referred to. Most of these ideas are forgotten, they gather dust in the notebooks on my shelf and in the hard drive of my computer. The ideas that tend to get written are the ones that refuse to leave me alone, so maybe the master of modern fiction does indeed have it right.
Thank you, Lisa, for answering all of my silly questions! If you'd like to connect with Lisa, you can find her here: