Interview With Author Lisa Emme
What is your favorite writing and reading genre?
I read anything that piques my interest, although I generally steer clear of non-fiction. I prefer to practice escapism with my reading choices so I guess I lean more towards fantasy and romance which is also where my writing falls.
Where and how did you get your idea for your books? Ideas can come at any time, usually when I am doing something that lets my mind wander - housework, yard work, etc. As to how I get the ideas, I really have no clue. My mind can be a weird and wonderful place. Even I’m surprised at the stuff I come up with sometimes. To begin, it’s usually a character or a scene that pops into my head and then it builds from there. For Dead and Kicking it was the opening scene when Harry is arguing with her grandmother that first came to me. From there I started asking myself “and then what?” so I finally ended up writing it out just so I could see what happened next.
If a movie or TV show would be created for your books, which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead roles for your books? This is an easy one because I’ve already picked my dream cast for a story before I start writing it. I like to have visual cues when I’m writing so the first thing I do is find pictures to represent all the main characters. I also collect pictures of objects that I need to describe – outfits, vehicles, weapons, etc. (you can see these prop galleries on my Pinterest page). For my Harry Russo Diaries series, I visualized Harry as the actress Kristen Bell and Nash as actor Alex O’Loughlin.
When did you decide to become a writer? I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to become a writer (as a kid I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian and then a marine biologist and now I work as a computer system analyst, so go figure lol), but I have always had an active imagination and a creative side. More importantly, I have always been a reader, voraciously devouring books from a young age. It was when these two traits combined that I ended up a writer. I have always had ideas that I think would make great stories and over the years I have collected them, but I never did anything with them. Finally, after reading a particularly popular book (and wondering what all the hype was about) I thought to myself “I can do better than that”. So the next time I had an idea instead of just writing it down, I decided to run with it, to see if I could take that idea and grow it into something more. The next thing I knew, I had written my first book, Home Again, a romantic suspense novel (although the first book I wrote, I didn’t publish Home Again until after I published the first two books of the Harry Russo Diaries).
How did you get your book published? How long did it take for you to get it published? I’m self-published. There are many reasons why I chose that route, but mainly it was so that I could keep my autonomy and be fairly compensated for my work. I want to be able to decide what I write and publish. I want to be able to have a say in how my books are presented to readers. Once I made the decision to self-publish, the process went relatively quickly. The path to publishing a self-published book is pretty much the same as a traditionally published one. Once the manuscript is ready it goes to an editor and I work with a professional designer to come up with a cover that will grab the reader’s attention. In my case, because I have a computer background, I was able to format my own books for epub, mobi and print, but if you aren’t computer savvy or don’t care to do it, there are formatters out there that will do the work for you.
Do you ever get writer's Block? If so, which book did you get the worst while writing?
I’m pretty much a “seat of your pants” writer. When I go into a project, I have a general idea of what I want to be the end game and I’ll have half a dozen different scenes planned that I know will help me get there. The hard part is figuring out how they all fit together. I find the transitions between scenes to be the hardest part to write. I know what happened at point A and I know what I want to happen at point B, but how do I get there? This is where I sometimes find myself blocked. The best cure for this (for me anyway) is to just step away for a few days and let things percolate. I’ll catch up on TV or read (from a completely different genre than what I’m currently writing) anything to give myself a break so I’m not stressing over my writing. This is another reason why I like being self-published – no deadlines other than the ones I impose on myself (and those usually can be moved).
What is the average time for you to write a book? I have a full time job and I’m a full time, single parent. I write in my “spare” (laughing at that) time. I’d say on average, it takes me about two months to get the first draft on paper, but that’s not counting all the time I’ve already spent plotting the scenes in my head and just coming up with all the ideas for what I want in the book. Once the first draft is finished I’ll spend another month polishing it up and reworking it so that everything fits together smoothly. It’s generally draft three or four that is finally sent to the editor.
For your own reading, do you prefer kindle or paperback books? I like my e-reader (I have a kobo and a kindle), but I have to say I still love holding a real book in my hand, especially hardcovers. I have all my favourite series in print (I’m a bit of a book hoarder as well).
How are the covers made for your books?
The covers for my Harry Russo series were all designed by the talented Scarlett Rugers. I really enjoy working with her as she is very creative and professional. Usually she comes up with a couple of strong concepts that I can choose from and then we work together to fine tune the final concept. For my romance covers, I designed them myself and then enlisted the help of a designer to put the final cover files together.
What advice would you give writer wannabes and future/young authors?
First of all, read, read, read. You have to be a reader to be a writer. Read so you know what works and what doesn’t, what you like and what you don’t. Second, write, write, write. Set pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and just get your words down. If you don’t start you’ll never finish and finishing is what matters most. Don’t quit on a project, see it to the end even if it’s crap, you’ll benefit from the practice. Remember that the first draft almost always sucks, don’t be afraid to just get it all out on paper first. You can go back and fix it later. Don’t get stuck on perfection with the first draft. If you spend too much time trying to get it perfect, you’ll never finish. Finally, your process is your own. You need to find what works best for you (which ties back to the second point because you need to write to figure your process out). I know some authors that plot out their entire book to the point that they can even estimate the final page count, while others are more like me and write on the fly with minimal outlines. Your process could be anything in between and will evolve over time. Be as flexible as you can and as structured as you need.
What do you do during your free time, how do you relax?
I read, write, and spend time with my family. I also enjoy going to the movies. My favorite place to relax is at the cottage. It’s my happy place.
Lisa Emme is a Canadian who proudly ends her ABC’s with ‘zed’. A self-professed book-a-holic, she has spent the last few years trying to stem her book hoarding tendencies by writing her own stories including the best-selling Harry Russo Diaries and by avoiding the bargain table at the bookstore like the plague. She loves to hear from readers. You can contact her on her website www.lisaemme.com and find her on social media:
Dead and Kicking By Lisa Emme
What’s a girl to do when her date is D.O.A?
Angharad ‘Harry’ Russo is just your ordinary twenty-something, with one exception - she’s a witch with an out of the ordinary gift. When her blind date goes sideways and she ends up face to face with a dead body, her life starts to go sideways too.
Harry soon finds herself right in the middle of the mayhem, dealing with Cian Nash, a homicide detective that is as aggravating as he is sexy; the biggest, baddest vampire in town; and a parcel of pesky zombies that keep popping up everywhere. It’s all connected to her date’s unfortunate demise, or is there more to it than meets the eye?