Last week, I posted a link to my review for Lisa Williams Kline’s book, The Summer of the Wolves. After reading the book and writing up my review, I wrote the author and asked if she would be willing to do an interview with me.
Long-story-short, she was. Though Lisa’s books are meant for a different audience than thirty-year-old guys like me, I enjoyed her portrayal of family, and the research that she conducted to prepare for her writing really comes through. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview and I hope you’ll go out and buy her books (at your local Christian bookstore, of course) and enjoy them as well.
1. YA Fiction writer, Melissa Kantor, once said, “Writing about teenagers (for me), means not just remembering but being willing to dwell in that place where life felt like walking a tightrope without a net.” How do you get into the mindset of modern teenage girls?
That is a great quote! When people have asked me about writing for young people, I have jokingly told them that I am emotionally stuck at age thirteen. That’s just a joke, of course (I hope) but I will admit to being overly self-conscious and sensitive to criticism, which can be part of the teen mindset. There is a heightened awareness as a teen about being excluded socially and I still feel that, even as an adult. I also have two daughters – grown now – and raising them helped me reenter that space. I also taught a creative writing workshop for teens for several years, and so I got to be around them for a couple of hours a week. Teens can be vulnerable and carry their pain outside themselves and I can feel it and so deeply empathize with them.
2. Your book, Summer of the Wolves, includes a lot of descriptive information about animals. How did you do your research?
I have tried to find an expert to interview or meet with for each of my books. For example, for Wild Horse Spring I spent a day with the herd manager for the wild horses on the Outer Banks. And for Winter’s Tide, I did several telephone interviews with two professors from UNC Wilmington who are experts on whale strandings. For my current book, I have visited a wildlife rehabilitator. And of course I do research online.
3. Describe your writing space.
Wow, no one has ever asked me that! It’s such a mess. I have turned one of the bedrooms of our house into an office and I have an L-shaped desk against the window and one wall. Bookcases line the other two walls. On top of the bookcases are pictures of my family. All along the floor are piles of notes from classes, manuscripts, and so on. I keep research materials from each novel stacked in plastic bins beside my desk. And then there are two severely neglected hanging plants that have managed to survive for many years. Oh, and our Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, Calvin Kline, perpetually snores on the floor behind me.
4. After listing your many academic achievements, you mention in the biography on your website (http://lisawilliamskline.com) that you learned to drive a forklift for a recent job. What is the story there?
I had an administrative job several years ago working for a company that sold cleaning powder for printing presses. The powder came in gigantic bins that had to be moved by forklift, so I had to learn to drive one. I was pretty tentative about it, but my boss said at least I didn’t poke a hole in the wall, which some of the previous employees had done.
5. Though your books are available at all the major book chains and Amazon, you ask readers to support the independent booksellers. First, as an employee at one of those Indie bookstores, thank you. Second, why is it important to you to support the Indies?
Most writers I know love independent bookstores. Every independent bookstore has its own personality. The employees give customers personal attention, and they go out of their way to work with authors. Right now an independent bookstore near me has put up a display of my books since I’m a local author. I was so touched!
6. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Never underestimate the benefit of practice. People would never dream of trying to play basketball or a musical instrument without practicing, but they often think that writing doesn’t require practice. But it’s just like anything else, the more you practice, the better you get. Also, be persistent. I have been in workshops and critique groups with so many people who were more talented than I am, but I was just more persistent. I kept at it after others gave up.
7. What book is on your nightstand?
Oh, gosh, I’m so flattered, this is the kind of question all those famous writers get asked and I am always intimidated by what they say. I have about twenty books on my nightstand! It drives my husband crazy because every week or so one of our cats walks on the stack and knocks them over. Okay, I just went and looked. State of Wonder and Run by Ann Patchett, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler, Traveling Mercies by Ann Lamott, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann. B. Ross, Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, The Beginner’s Goodbye by Ann Tyler, Ask the Passengers by A. S. King, Georgie’s Moon by my friend Chris Woodworth and Madhattan Mystery by my friend John J. Bonk.
8. What do you want people to know aside from your writing?
Hmmm. When I was young I made a silent movie with some of the other kids in the neighborhood that was called “A Railroad Tie” or “Marriage on the Tracks.” The movie was about a penniless young woman who couldn’t pay her rent and a mean landlord and a handsome hero who leaped on camera to say, “I’ll pay the rent!” and then married her. I didn’t write the screenplay – a very talented young man who lived down the street did that – but I did write the subtitles on cards. I held them up and instructed my dad, the photographer, only to shoot the cards and absolutely not to get me in the picture. Of course, like any doting dad, he did not follow my instructions, so we had these home movies of plump me, wearing my cat-eye glasses, holding the cards. I was mortified.
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Thanks Lisa! I wish you many successful books ahead!