“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.” ~ George Sheehan
Lisa Greer's book Magnolian was published by Siren Book-Strand in e-book form in March 2011 and will be available in print in June 2011.
Tell us about your book. What is it about and where will it be available?
My book is a paranormal/gothic romance. It is set near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in a small town in Alabama. It harkens back to the gothic romances that were so popular in the 60s and 70s, but it is thoroughly contemporary. The heroine, Lillian Mullins, must choose between two men and solve a forty year old mystery at her mother's ancestral home in Alabama. Ghosts, murder, and mayhem meet her there when she goes to spend a few months at Magnolian after her father's death.
What were your inspirations for your book? What sorts of thing inspire you as a writer in general?
My inspirations are those gothic novelists who have gone before. I read gothic romances voraciously as a teenager, and I still do. Barbara Michaels, Phyllis A. Whitney and others like Mary Shelley captured my imagination and took me to the worlds of their novels. I enjoy using the trappings of the gothic romance novel when I write: old diaries, secret rooms, ghosts, inheritances, family secrets, murder, and so on.
I love literature so much that I majored in English in college and went on to earn my M.A. degree in 18th Century British Literature at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Reading almost non-stop since I was five and then writing and blogging about what I have read has offered me a world of inspiration. Further ideas come from things people say; I'm always listening. The idea for my second novel, for example, came from a friend's off hand comment during an every day conversation. I ran with it.
Another invaluable life experience for me has been living in four states in the last ten years and spending two years in Vancouver, British Columbia. These diverse settings are integral to the themes and concerns of my novels; I think a sense of place is so important, and I'm grateful I've gotten to really savor the settings I write about. If I'm using a place as a setting, I have lived there (or in a little town much like the one I have fictionalized).
One of my pet peeves has always been novels that have a setting where the author has obviously never been but that is used just for the sake of being exotic. Such settings are flat and unbelievable. I believe part of taking readers out of their every day lives and transporting them to other places is having settings that are grounded in reality. Of course, now you can see why I would not make a good science fiction writer!
Let's talk about your process. How do you approach a story, do you start with outlines or something else? Where did you work when writing your book? Do you think it was the optimal writing environment for you?
I start with a beginning, middle, and end. A basic concept/idea comes to me, and I'm ready to write. I outline as I go along, but I never know for sure what path my characters will take to get to the end of a novel. They constantly surprise me, usually at 1 a.m, and they often misbehave. I only wish my muse were a morning person, but like me, she's not.
I work on my home computer in the den when I write. It's often quiet during the day, and I like that, but I can write when my family is home as well. I think the environment works beautifully for me because it is comfortable and convenient.
Tell us about your "story of getting published."
In August of last year, my husband asked me, "When are you going to write your novel? You blog all the time about others' writing, and I know you could do it." I knew he was right, and writing a novel has been a life long plan of mine. I am the owner of the Gothicked Blog-- a blog that reviews gothic novels (many of them gothic romance novels of the 1960s and 70s) and has contests.
I took his question to heart and started writing. I wrote the novel quickly, using Stephen King's advice in 'On Writing' to write every day. I committed to myself to write for an hour a day, and I do. I think that has been a key to my success with completing that first novel and now being nearly done with my second. I feel lucky that discipline and schedules come naturally to me as an ISTJ personality type.
I had a beta reader read 'Magnolian' when I was done with it, and I continued to revise. I queried tons of agents and got several requests for full and partial manuscripts. I also got many rejections. After a month or so went by, my list of agents still looking had dwindled, and I decided to go the small romance press route. I queried my top five of such presses, and I got an offer from Siren Book-Strand within two weeks of querying them.
What are the publicity plans you have coming up?
I will continue to post on my Gothicked Blog and also have an author site: www.lisalgreer.com
I am doing a Blog Tour, and this blog is one along the stop. Also, I plan to make local appearances both in my hometown in Alabama when I go back home periodically and here in Brownsville, Texas. I am also an avid user of Facebook and Twitter, and I plan to use those media for promotion as well. I have met such great people through both sources, and I'd love to meet more!
Let's do some promotion right now. If we get 20 comments on this interview then one random commenter will get a FREE copy of my Magnolian ebook!