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Archive for November 17th, 2010

 

 

Entrusted with the guardianship of his orphaned niece Holly, Mark Nolan plans to marry his longtime girlfriend Shelby. But an unwelcome and tantalizing distraction appears in the form of Maggie Conroy, a young widow who has recently opened a toy shop at Friday Harbor. Mark is a cynic and a realist, but Maggie is a dreamer who hopes to make him believe in magic . . .

 

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NT: Hi Lisa! Thank you for being my guest today. I’ve been a huge fan for years. 🙂

LK: Thank you, I’m so glad to visit with you!

NT: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How long did it take for you to make your first sale?

LK: I was always an obsessive reader and writer. When I was sixteen, I started a romance novel at summer camp, and the process was so intriguing and enjoyable that I kept writing for the rest of the summer until it was done. I submitted the finished manuscript to several publishers, and of course it was turned down by all of them. But at that point, I was hooked. Every summer after that, I wrote another novel, sent it out and was rejected. Finally when I was twenty-one and graduating from college, I made my first sale to NAL. It was a historical romance titled “Where Passion Leads.”

NT: You have a new release this month, can you tell us about CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR?

LK: Yes, it’s a novella-length book that introduces the Nolan brothers—Mark, Sam and Alex, who all live on San Juan Island, which is part of Washington State. I thought of this novel as a sort of appetizer for the Friday Harbor series, and as a warm, sentimental holiday read. It’s about Mark and Sam, both of whom are single bachelors, who agree to share the responsibility for raising their orphaned niece Holly.

NT: What inspired the idea for this story?

LK: I loved the idea of showing men in a caretaking role for a child, but I hadn’t yet found a particular story to express that. And then I thought, what if the Nolans were a “broken” family, all leading their separate lives, and then were forced to come together for the sake of a child? It’s remarkable how much children change you,  your habits, your opinions and priorities  . . . so I wanted to force all this on the brothers without warning, and see how they reacted.

NT: Which do you find easiest to write — your contemporaries or your historicals?

LK: Although I love to write both, historicals are still the easiest. The historical voice, with all the embellishments and elaborate phrasing, feels natural for me—probably because I’m a person who loves embellishment of all kinds. (My favorite pair of sneakers is covered in black sequins.) My contemporaries turned out to be far more issue-oriented, which was never a deliberate plan, I just found myself connecting with the modern stories that way. But that makes contemporary writing a little more challenging for me, because I have to ponder and wrestle with the issues that are part of the character arcs. It even affects the sex scenes at times. I love it, though, because the more I have to think about difficult subjects, the more I learn about other people. And about myself too.

NT: Do you have a writing routine? What is your average writing day like?

LK: I try to have a very disciplined routine, which is hard when you have two children. Also hard when, if you’re like me, you’re not an innately disciplined person. I wake up around 4AM, which is perfect because the house is quiet and the phone isn’t ringing, and I write until it’s time to get the kids up and get them ready for school. I work while they’re gone, and I stop when they get back home, so I can hear how their day was, help with homework projects, etc.
My goal each day is to have 1000 words, as polished as I can make them. I always start by going over the previous day’s work and editing it, and that gets me on track to keep pushing forward.  And some days it’s frustrating because even though I’m working hard, I don’t like what I’m putting down on the page. The important thing is to keep at it, because that’s the only way to get to the breakthrough moments. Sometimes, very rarely, a book will practically flow from my fingertips. But ninety-nine percent of the time it’s like being in stop and start traffic . . . you have to keep telling yourself you’ll get there eventually.

NT: Is there anyone you use as a sounding board when you’re stuck on a scene?

LK: I have some wonderful author friends who always give me terrific advice.( Sometimes I’m even smart enough to take it. ) And when I’m not certain how a male character would react to something, I consult my husband Greg. Often he’ll tell me in an appalled tone, “No, no, a man would never say that!” But he has instructed me not to begin one of my questions in this manner: “If you were a guy . . .”

NT: What was the most interesting thing you had to research and what was the hardest thing to research?

LK: For the Friday Harbor series, I’m having to research viticulture and winemaking, because Sam, the middle brother, owns a vineyard. It is really interesting but also challenging—so much to learn! But I’ve always wanted to know more about winemaking, so this is the perfect opportunity. This also gives me a good excuse to drink more wine, doesn’t it? 😉

NT: When not busy writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? (If there is such a thing *G*)

LK: You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I love to read in my spare time! I read a wide variety of books, but my favorites are biographies and history, and of course novels of every genre. I also love to cook, so my daughter and I are always trying out new recipes together. And at least twice a week, I make time to exercise with one of my dearest friends, Christina Dodd. We like to suffer together.

NT: What are the latest additions to your TBR? What are you most eager to read?

LK: In the past year I’ve become obsessed with the genre of magical realism—I’ve read things like Laura Esquivel’s “Like Water For Chocolate,” and several books by Alice Hoffman, my favorite being “Practical Magic.” So I’m really looking forward to Sarah Addison Allen’s “The Peach Keeper.” I also have Nora Roberts on the TBR—the Irish trilogy, which looks terrific. And in non-fiction, I’ve preordered Nora Ephron’s “I Remember Nothing,” and I’ve bought the Mark Twain autobiography.

NT: Any advice to aspiring authors? What craft books helped you that you would recommend to aspiring writers?

LK: The most wonderful craft book I’ve ever read is STORY by Robert McKee . . . I consult it frequently, because whenever you run into a plotting or characterization glitch, the answer is always there. It’s a screenwriting book, but usually the rules apply perfectly to novel writing.
I hope that aspiring writers will reassure themselves that persistence and passion for what you’re doing is what will make your dreams come true. It’s a difficult job, but not an impossible one . . . you really can make it happen! It’s very important to write the kind of story that excites you, rather than trying to write something you think will appeal to the market. I think now more than ever, readers crave intensity in their reading experiences, so don’t try to hold back. Write boldly, make the emotions and sensations as full-blown as you can. Romance writing is not for the timid!

NT: What can your fans look forward to from you in the near future? What are you working on now? Will you write stories for Alex and Sam, Mark’s brothers in CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR? What about Holly? Too soon to ask for a book about her? 🙂

LK: Right now I’m working on Rainshadow Road, which features Sam Nolan, and then Alex’s story will be next. Although I’m not planning to feature Holly as a protagonist in any of the Friday Harbor books, she will definitely make appearances in all of them.

NT: I recently read The Hathaways series — which I adored and have recommended to anyone who will listen to me. Will we see more historicals in the coming year?

LK: Thank you, I’m so glad to hear that! I have another historical novel on my current contract with St. Martins, so I’ll definitely continue writing historical romance in the future . . . but right now I’m going to focus on writing the Friday Harbor series and making it as fun, sexy and romantic as I possibly can.

NT: If someone has not read any of your books, either your contemporaries or historicals, which would be the one you’d recommend they try first?

LK: It would depend on the reader—there is such a variety of tastes—I’d say if someone liked humor and unconventional characters, the Hathaway series might be a good fit. But if someone wanted more issue-oriented stories, any of my Texas books (Sugar Daddy, Blue Eyed Devil, Smooth Talking Stranger) would be a better choice.

NT: How can readers contact you?

LK: I am so hopeless at answering email—I always have to push it to the back burner, and I must have about a hundred back burners by now! But my publisher St. Martins has helped me to start a Facebook page, and they moderate it . . . http://www.facebook.com/LisaKleypas . I stop by to visit just about every day, and I’ll be able to answer questions there.

NT: Thank you so much for blogging with us here at Novel Thoughts!

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To learn more about Lisa and her books, please visit her website here.

And for a chance to win CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOR, just leave a comment below. Good luck! 😀

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