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Interview with Lisa Jackson, Bestselling Author of Left to Die

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Touring the blogosphere this month of August is New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson, whose latest romantic suspense novel, Left to Die, was just released by Zebra Books. Jackson's bestselling titles include the most recent Lost Souls as well as others such as Absolute FearHot Blooded, Cold Blooded, The Night Before, The Morning After, Deep Freeze, Fatal Burn, and Almost Dead. In this interview, Jackson talks about herself, her latest novel, how she came to be a novelist, and her writing.

It's an honor having you here, Lisa. Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I grew up in a small timber town in Oregon, went to college for a while, got married, spent a few years working in banks, had a couple of sons and then my sister said, "Hey, let's write a romance novel." I thought she was kidding or out of her mind or both, but I was babysitting at the time and thought it wasn't the greatest career move. So I took her up on the offer and now we both write novels. She writes as Nancy Bush and she and I have a book, Wicked Game, coming out next year, February. (The first we've written together since Stormy Surrender, our first attempt that was rejected all over New York.)

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I was an English major in college and always thought it would be fun. I loved writing in school, but never really wrote a book until my sister suggested it.

Do you have another job besides writing?

No — writing's enough.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

I was an "outdoorsy" kid, but loved to read and since it rains a lot in Oregon, yes, I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I loved Nancy Drew, The Black Stallion series, that sort of thing. Always fiction.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

My latest book, Left to Die, was an idea that evolved over the years. A couple of years ago my editor suggested I write a story with two women cops as the protagonists and I thought — WHAT??? Like Cagney and Lacey? Or the female Odd Couple? I kinda blew off his idea until Left to Die came to me. And then the character of Regan Pescoli appeared. A little later her partner, Selena Alvarez came to mind and then the story started taking shape. However, the first story is really neither of "their" stories. They're the cops solving the crime in which the heroine, Jillian Rivers, is entangled.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

I always write a synopsis before I actually write any book. Left to Die had a fifty plus synopsis (approved by my editor) from which I wrote the novel.

What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?

Oh, geez. DEFINITELY, I daydream and fantasize. If I experienced my writing, I'd be dead!

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?

Really? Well, the truth is, I don't let the really negative or really positive reviews bother or bolster me. I write the best book I can, the way I want to.

When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?

I'm a morning person. If I could I'd write, read, exercise, do the crossword puzzle, meet my friends for coffee all before ten in the morning. But afternoons are deadly, I'm just not as focused. So I spend my mornings writing, take a break and depending upon the nearness of my deadline, work again in the afternoon and evening.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Of course I have. For me, when I have writer's block (assuming I'm not going through something traumatic personally) it's because I've made a mistake in the book earlier on. If I'm having trouble on page 256, I can bet that the reason is hidden in the previous 255 pages. My job is to find it, fix it, and fix all of the subsequent pages so they make sense. Also, I write in the third person, and I find that if a scene isn't working, it might be because the scene is being told from the wrong person's viewpoint. If I switch it around, try the scene from another character's point of view, sometimes the block is broken.

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

I just finished Wicked Game, romantic suspense novel written with my sister. It's got a bit of woo-woo in it and it was fun to write so closely with her. I also have Malice, the sequel to Lost Souls out in April 2008. This is Rick Bentz's story and he's a favorite of my readers (and me.)

Thanks for stopping by, Lisa! It was a pleasure to have you here!

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.
  • http://www.theretherekid.com Kevin Eagan

    Good to see you back at BC, Mayra!