Lisa Mason Chats about Writing with Author Ryan Schneider (Blog 2: Influences and Movies)

RS: This is a follow-up interview, but for people who are not already familiar with your work, tell us what kind of books you write and what readers should expect from your stories? What is your latest book about?

LM: I mostly write character-driven science fiction and contemporary or historical fantasy (as opposed to epic fantasy), but I’ve also written more mainstream works, romantic suspense, and a screenplay or two.

My latest release, Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, is a collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories published in top magazines and anthologies worldwide. I’m gratified to see the response so far has been awesome since I cherry-picked them from among my published short fiction. [Update: This book IS IN PRINT as of January, 2018! Click on the link for details. Or, if you'd like an autographed copy, go to Bast Books for further details.]


RS: What was the duration of the writing process for Strange Ladies?

LM: Since this is a collection, the answer is difficult to summarize. Some stories are what I call “a gift from the gods,” landing almost full-blown on the page. They’re a gift because a story seldom happens that way.

But the core idea, the inspiration usually does, and then the hard work of making the story happen proceeds from there. I’ve taken three weeks to finish a story; I’ve taken six months and more.

As for these stories, some go back fifteen years. Yeah, I’ve been around for a long time, building up my career. A few years ago, disgusted with New York Big Publishing and hit with a personal set-back, I dropped out of the business altogether and spent some years studying and writing screenplays.

Now that I’m back, New York Big Publishing is even worse than it was before. Thank God for independent publishing. Viva la revolution! Not that taking your career into your own hands is ever easy.

I re-edited every story in Strange Ladies to the quality standards I hold today after fifteen years of studying fiction.

RS: To shift to a story of yours that’s already sold to the movies, when Tomorrow's Child is adapted to film, and the producers ask for your dream cast, what will you say?


LM: At the beginning, there was talk at Universal Studios of Dennis Quaid as the father, Kirsten Dunst as the daughter. But really, as a full-time professional writer with forthcoming new books and the executive of a growing ebook empire, I don’t have time to follow all the new faces who might be more right. (Though I do receive The Hollywood Reporter every week. Apparently I’ve been comp’d a free subscription for life. I have no idea how that happened.)

Anyway, producers never ask the opinion of print authors or screenwriters about anything like that.

RS: Stephen King often makes a cameo in films adapted from his work. Stan Lee also enjoyed doing that in the Marvel movies. What supporting role would you like to play in the film adaptation of Tomorrow's Child?

LM: In the scene in which Jack Turner confronts his spoiled society wife at a fancy brunch, and she tells him she knows that their daughter Angela is now a freak and that Jack should have let her die, and Jack smacks her on the face, I would definitely make a cameo as one of the society ladies at the brunch table, dripping in gold and diamonds, and dining on a caviar omelet and champagne.

The big studios always serve the real thing during food scenes.

RS: For a writer, word of mouth is everything. What was the last book you read that you enjoyed so much that you wanted to share it with everyone you know?

LM: I’ve got a TBR List as long as my arms and legs laid end-to-end. (Ooh. That’s a creepy image.) Let me rephrase. I’ve got a TBR list a kilometer long. I’ll have to get back to you on this one.

RS: As of this writing, the trend in publishing is toward series novels as opposed to stand-alone books. Do you have a series going?

LM: Yes, The Garden of Abracadabra kicks off the Abracadabra Series and The Labyrinth of Illusions is presently in R&D. Celestial Girl (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is a miniseries of four books, which are done, though potentially Lily could go on. And I’ve got a new High Concept Science Fiction in the works. Update: It's done! Check out CHROME! Definitely a trilogy in the works.

As a reader, I like stand-alone books. I also like series. It depends on the book or the series.

Authors and publishers love series because once the author has created a complex, multi-dimensional world, living and breathing characters, and plot arcs extending beyond what should be a self-contained, complete story in the first book, what’s not to love about creating more? From a marketing standpoint, a successful series will keep the backlist in print and win new readers of the later books. Always a good thing.

RS: Saul Bellow said, “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” Where do ideas for books come from, and where are you and what are you typically doing when inspiration strikes?

LM: Hah! That’s a great Saul Bellow quote. And often, but not entirely, true. Everything needs more work in the morning.

That said, there’s no typical inspiration for me other than paying attention to life, people, what interests me intellectually and emotionally, searching constantly for information, and my own feelings, intuitions, experiences, and observations.

A fine and unusual example of how pure inspiration struck me instantly—after half a dozen years of preparation—is in my 30-day blog The Story Behind The Story That Sold To The Movies, included in the ebook of Tomorrow's Child.

RS: Brett Easton Ellis once said, “Do not write a novel for praise. Write for yourself; work out between you and your pen the things that intrigue you.” Indie publishing phenom Amanda Hocking has said that it messed with her head a bit when she realized so many people were going to read the books she’s now writing. Now that Lisa Mason is rapidly gaining recognition in the publishing world, has an established fan base anticipating her next novel, and is being talked about in the highly-reverent third person, will reader expectations influence how and/or what she writes? Or will she hold to Ellis’ suggestion?

LM: Oh, Ellis has it absolutely right for any serious writer—and by serious I mean if you write because you must, because your talent drives you to, because you always have something to say.

Edith Wharton, for example, wrote about women exiled to the wilds of snowy Massachusetts, women in the thick richness of New York high society, and women in some pretty good ghost stories. But in all the variety of her writing, the story was always an Edith Wharton story, the writing was always her vigorous Edith Wharton style, and the underlying theme was always a woman in an unhappy marriage. Always.

My writerly obsession is with self-realization, how life and circumstances may try to thwart you from what must be your true destiny, how you must overcome all the odds to realize your true self and find your personal power. My new book, Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, is a good example. The stories are wildly different but in each, the heroine empowers herself against the odds.

As a writer, you can only hope readers will share your obsessions. But if you chase after popularity and you’re not true to yourself, the readers will sense this, too. So what’s the point?

RS: The world of indie authors is the new slush pile. What are you going to say/do when a traditional New York publisher and/or agent contacts you and asks for a meeting?

LM: Well, I’m not quite an indie author, Ryan, I’ve been published by Bantam, Random House, Avon, William Morrow, Eos, Omni Magazine, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and more.

I’ve got three blogs starting in February, 2013 on titled “Crunching the Publishing Numbers,” which will provide you with a summary of the state of Big Publishing. But I'm not worried about anyone asking me for a meeting.

RS: Someone once said, and it may have been my dad, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Where do you want your writing career to be in five years’ time?

LM: The Abracadabra Series is a happening thing and The Garden of Abracadabra is IN PRINT; I can definitely see two or three more books in the next ten years, and more books in the years to come. My new Top Secret High Concept Science Fiction will definitely go on for two more books. I have a dystopian fantasy concept on the drawing board. Plus short stories set in all those worlds.

I have four backlist books, my early Avon cyberpunks and my later Bantam science fiction epic, Pangaea, both of which will take time to develop as ebooks. 2016 Note: Arachne, the first of the cyberpunks is up and running as an ebook and BACK IN PRINT! 2017 Note: Cyberweb is also up and running as an ebook and BACK IN PRINT.

I may return to Big New York Publishing; I really don’t know. No one knows what Big Publishing will look like in five years. [2016 Update: I'm back! In magazines, anyway.] [2019 Update: Penguin, after 50 years, is dead in the water.] I’d sure like to see Tomorrow's Child as a movie but, knowing Universal, their product will bear almost no resemblance to my very personal story and might make me look bad. So I don’t know if I want that as much as anyone may think. Exciting 2018 update: I spoke recently with one of the original independent producers who brought "Tomorrow's Child" to Universal. Apparently Universal has been working on a new script, but the producer doesn't like it. He re-read my Omni story and wants the project to return to a vision closer to mine. So this development is still in the works!

Finally, I sincerely hope we do not find ourselves in World War Three within the next ten years.

And there you have it, Ryan my friend! Thank you for this follow-up interview!

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Lisa Mason, the Fantasy and Science Fiction Author

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Books by Lisa Mason

ODDITIES: 22 Stories
Summer of Love The Gilded Age
The Garden of Abracadabra
One Day in the Life of Alexa
Arachne Cyberweb Spyder

Celestial Girl, A Lily Modjeska Mystery

Bast Collectible Books
Eon's Kiss (Book 1 of the Eon Trilogy) by Suzanna Moore

Stories, Novelettes, Screenplays by Lisa Mason

Shaken Tomorrow's Child Hummers The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria
Every Mystery Unexplained Daughter of the Tao
Tesla, A Screenplay U F uh-O
My Charlotte: Patty's Story
"Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
"Illyria, My Love"
"The Bicycle Whisperer" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
"Taiga" in Not One of Us Digest and Interview about "Taiga"

Interviews, Reviews, Storybundles, Blogs, Next Thing

Interview for "Riddle" in the September-October 2017 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Review of Summer of Love in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
The Story Collection Storybundle
The Artificial Intelligence Storybundle
Time Travel Blogs with Laura Vosika 4 to 5
Chats About Writing with Ryan Schneider (1) Chats About Writing with Ryan Schneider (2)

Ryan Schneider Chats with Lisa Mason About The Garden of Abracadabra

Keep Fit, Keep Writing: A Roundtable with Kevin J. Anderson, Lisa Mason and Linda Nagata (Part 2: Chow Down!)
Festivale Interview
"Aurelia" Interview with F and SF Magazine "The Bicycle Whisperer" Interview with F and SF Magazine
The Next Thing Interview

Art, Jewelry, and Mobiles by Tom Robinson

Art by Tom Robinson
"Aether", The New Painting by Tom Robinson
Tom Robinson's Bio

Cats, Past and Present


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