RS: How did you get into writing?
LM: My mom bought me lots of great books when I was a kid. I loved reading and decided I wanted to be a writer. Stories and fantasies would pop into my head and I wrote my first book at age five. I’ve got it on my desk right now. It is 1¼ inches by 2 inches, hand-sewn, two chapters, lavishly illustrated by the author, and entitled, “Millie the Caterpillar.” Millie is despondent at being “a fat, green, hairy, little caterpillar.” Then spring comes, she breaks out of her cocoon, and “to her surprize, she found two beautiful red and black wings on her shoulders.” Happiness! The End. I’ve thought ever since that surprise should be spelled with a z.
So you could say I got bit by the writing bug early on. I tell the story at greater length in My Charlotte: Patty's Story. But my life has taken some twists and turns and writing hasn’t been a straight shot for me.
RS: What do you like best (or least) about writing?
LM: I love publishing something and having readers tell me they loved it, were entertained by it, moved by it, couldn’t put it down. I’ll shamelessly admit readers have told me Summer of Love is their all-time favorite book. Readers’ responses make all the blood, sweat, and tears worthwhile. What I hate most is getting stuck, but that’s a blog in and of itself.
RS: What is your writing process? Do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
LM: Oh, I’d love to write 5000 words a day, but that seldom happens. The main thing is to accomplish something seven days a week, if only making notes or working out a plot point you’re not sure of. I usually get a holistic concept of a book or story, sketch the general thrust of it, and break it open with the first scene. Often, I’ll have the first scene and the last, the story goal I want to accomplish. (You know the joke that every book has a beginning, an ending, and a muddle.) I don’t like outlining but the process is so important for keeping your narrative on track. I’ll often micro-outline what I’m working on and the material immediately after. Once I get through that, the next plot twists often reveal themselves. Then I do the same process again, step by step.
When a book gathers momentum and the world-building is set down, I’ll write every day for two weeks at a time, take a one-day break, then start again the next day.
RS: Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
LM: You know, lately I’ve been picking up classic authors. I just read Raymond Chandler’s Lady in the Lake. Marlowe is the original chain-smoking, hard-drinking, lone-wolf, sardonic private eye and Chandler is such a master stylist. I’ve got Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome and Joseph Conrad’s Tales of Unrest on my reading table. And I’ve been enjoying Rex Stout’s Nero Wolf mysteries from the 1940s. Urban fantasy employs the mystery trope, as does romantic suspense, both areas I’m writing within.
RS: Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
LM: Outside, of course, because the question mark punctuates the entire sentence, whereas the quotes indicate the word is, in the author’s opinion, a relative or subjective term.
RS: What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
LM: I’m totally freaked out by the Oxford Comma. What the hell is the Oxford Comma?
RS: What is your book about and how did it come to fruition?
LM: How does any of that happen? Obsession-compulsion. Hard work. Late nights. Giving up a lot of time-consuming activities like television.
RS: What book(s) are you currently reading?
LM: On my To-Read list are The Night Circus and A Discovery of Witches because I’m working on the next book in my urban fantasy, The Abracadabra Series. Research books for a science fiction series I’m launching next year.
RS: Who or what inspires your writing?
LM: Oh, Life! Personal experience. Love, anger, vengeance. Joy. Beauty. A hummingbird landing on my feeder. Historical people I admire, like the women Surrealist artists in the story listed below, or Nikola Tesla, the great inventor and electrical engineer whom I wrote a screenplay about and who reminded me of my inventor-electrical engineer dad. Stage magicians. Real Magic. Being invited to contribute to a themed anthology always kicks me in the butt to dream up something new. I’ve written so many different kinds of books and stories, I’ll be adding blogs to my Goodreads Author Page just to talk about what inspired me, what I researched, and so on.
Quite a few redheaded or russet-haired or strawberry blond men seem to show up in my work, so I’m compelled to add to the list of inspirations my husband, Tom Robinson. But don’t tell him I told you so (his head is swelled enough already).
RS: Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
LM: Readers may not realize it, but traditional publishing is changing daily. Radically. Twenty years ago, there were twenty or thirty publishers. The big fish gobbled up the smaller fish, turned them into imprints, and subsumed everything to a larger corporation. Authors essentially could only submit to the Big Six Publishers. Just last week, the two biggest of the Big Six announced they’re merging. Now there is only a Big Five.
What does that mean for authors? Shrinking opportunities, smaller advances, longer wait times to get published--waiting two, even three years to get published is not uncommon these days—and getting yanked out of print before a book has had a chance to breathe.
What does that mean for you, the reader?
Fewer good books to choose from. More faddish, formulaic, cranked-out books by Big Names. Worthy authors, or entertaining ones, you will never hear of because they can’t get exposure in the Big Media.
That’s why the ebook phenomenon has exploded within two short years and shows no signs of slowing down. That’s why authors who have been published by the Big Six, like me, are rejoicing at the affordable opportunity of publishing worthy works brutally taken out of print and finding new (and former) audiences.
And that’s why I urge everyone to invest in a Kindle or other reader and search around for a great read. Yes, I love print books. Tom and I own 20,000 of them (seriously). But the ereaders are getting better, smaller, more powerful, and more affordable, and people who love print are saying they love ebooks, too.
Print books will never disappear, but ebooks are definitely here to stay.
Visit me on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Visit Ryan and check out his books at http://authorryanschneider.blogspot.com.
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|Keep Fit, Keep Writing: A Roundtable with Kevin J. Anderson, Lisa Mason and Linda Nagata (Part 1: Move It!)||Keep Fit, Keep Writing: A Roundtable with Kevin J. Anderson, Lisa Mason and Linda Nagata (Part 2: Chow Down!)|
|"Teardrop" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction|
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