Friday, 8 April 2011

Author Interview: Lisa Shearin

Magic Lost, Trouble Found
Armed & Magical
The Trouble With Demons
Bewitched & Betrayed
Con & Conjure

You can also buy t-shirts with nifty sayings from her books here.

> What's the premise behind the Raine Benares books?

Raine Benares is an elf and a seeker, a finder of things lost and people missing, kind of like a gumshoe/private detective with daggers—lots of daggers.  Raine’s occupation is at odds with being a member of the notorious Benares crime family.  Some of the things Raine’s hired to find are better off staying lost, and one of those is the Saghred, an ancient, soul-stealing stone of cataclysmic power.  When the Saghred bonds with Raine and she can’t get rid of it, she suddenly finds herself with the kind of attention a girl can do without: the sadistic leader of a goblin secret society, the sexy but secretive commander of the Conclave Guardians, and a renegade goblin prince.  And when attacks in back alleys fail to capture Raine, the goblins take the legal road.  As Raine said, “I couldn’t be bonded to just any old stone of cataclysmic power. Mine had lawyers.”  Oh, and by the way, at least once in every book something big gets blown up—warehouses, embassies, gates to Hell—just your fun, garden-variety pyromaniac targets.

> How long have you been fencing and has the skill helped you write fight scenes?

I’ve always loved fencing and swashbuckling movies and books ever since I was a kid.  I fenced for about six years.  I think my fencing experience has helped me make any sword fighting scenes more realistic, because I know what can and can’t be done with a blade.  And I took private rapier & dagger lessons for almost a year (in addition to my five years of fencing experience) specifically to prepare me to choreograph fight scenes in my books and make them as realistic as possible.   

> What made you want to be a writer?

When I read Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment) I was blown away.  I said to myself: “I have got to do this.”

> When and where do you write?

I write anywhere and everywhere and any time I can.  Though I’m writing my next book (All Spell Breaks Loose) in an unusual place—a pair of 130-year-old mahogany chairs. I was antiquing with a friend and when I saw these chairs I knew I had to have them. I’m not an impulsive buyer, but I bought these on the spot. It was like my muse knew she could be seriously productive in those chairs. I later found out they belonged to a university professor.

> What’s the best/worst thing about writing?

The most challenging aspect (and the most rewarding when I do it right) is to write a scene exactly as I see it in my head.  When I write, it’s like a movie running in my head.  My job is to capture what’s on that movie screen and get it onto my computer screen.  When it’s really flowing, I feel like I’m eavesdropping on my characters and taking dictation.  But the problem is that the scenes in my head don’t run in an endless loop until I can write it down.  It might run a time or two and that’s it.  There’s a window of opportunity, and if I miss it, I’ll still be able to see and hear the scene, but it won’t be as vivid.    

> Do you have any advice for hopeful authors?

Everyone says it, it’s simple, and best of all, it’s fun—read, read, read.  And write—something, anything—every day.   Don’t write only when inspiration hits; inspiration comes as the result of writing perspiration.  No daily writing session stands alone, each hour of work, each day of work ties to the one before—and connects to the one to come after. Writing builds on itself.

> Any tips against writers block?

For me, writer’s block is my muse’s way of telling me I’ve taken a wrong turn.  I can’t move forward until I’ve found the problem and fixed it.  I write myself out of plot holes the old fashioned way—pen and paper.  Though in my case, it’s the really old fashioned way—I’m a huge fan (and collector) of vintage fountain pens. Writing longhand also keeps me focused on the scene I'm writing, which helps immerse me into the scene, so I can get honest, genuine dialogue, and dig deeper into the story rather than skimming the surface.  It makes me shut up and listen. And when I truly listen, I find myself in the writer's "sweet spot"—where I'm not writing dialogue, I'm taking dictation.

> How do you discipline yourself to write?

I have a full-time job (editor/proofreader/quality control manager at an advertising agency), so carving out time to write wasn't (and still isn't) easy, but I really wanted to be published, so I found the time. I started writing on a more regular schedule, and I could see the improvement. And when I saw the improvement, I wanted to write more. With that came confidence and a determination to reach my goal. I'd still be writing even if I wasn't published, because writing isn't just what I do—writing is who I am. It's like an addiction, you can't stop, and you don't want to. When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. When I'm writing, I'm happy. When I'm between projects, I can get a little cranky. Writing for publication is like any other goal worth working and fighting for—you have to put your nose to the proverbial grindstone and just do the work. Believe me, after struggling for it for over 20 years, it is so worth it.

1 comment:

Lisa Shearin said...

Thank you so much for the interview, Jessica!