Friday, December 31, 2010
Lisa lives in central California with her husband and two very busy daughters. It was her oldest daughter's love of books that first inspired her to write for young adults. There is never a time that she can be found without a book in her hand, and she adores stories that take her to new places, and then take her by surprise.
Growing up all over the country has inspired wanderlust and she loves travel, which works out well because she lectures internationally on a variety of health care topics. She has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and maintains a full-time practice in California
Please to welcome, Lisa Desrochers
Me: Paranormal Romance is a huge and expanding genre. Once the all but exclusive domain of vampires. Angels and demons are taking a large piece of this market. Are there any other directions within this genre you’d like to go?
Lisa: I have a WIP that focuses on magic, which is also well explored in urban fantasy. But this manuscript has a little different take on it.
Me: Sara Barnett and Michael Nathanson are your audio book readers for “Personal Demons”. Talk about a debut novelist’s part in choosing the readers and what is was like to hear your work performed for the first time.
Lisa: One of the funnest (funnily enough, that’s not an actual word in the English language…but I digress) things about this whole publishing process was listening to audition tapes and choosing my readers for the Personal Demons audiobook.
We got three audition tapes for each reader (Frannie and Luc) from Brilliance Audio. They came in on a Friday in July when we were leaving on a camping trip, so my whole family listened to them in the car and our choices for Sara and Michael were unanimous. I have to be honest and say that I laughed out loud several times while listening to the audiobook.
The actors are just that…actors. It’s a dramatic interpretation of my work, with the emphasis on dramatic. My demon, Luc’s voice is very mellow in my head. He’s pretty cocky, being a Creature of Pride, so he really doesn’t stress too much. Michael’s Luc gets a little more worked up over things than mine does, but overall, I think they did a great job.
Me: Paranormal is a hot genre. It’s also highly competitive. How important is having a publisher like Tor Teen /Macmillan in your corner?
Lisa: I joke that my editor helped me make Personal Demons into the book I thought I wrote. It’s really important to have a solid editor behind your work. Professional eyes see things differently. Tor has been fantastic about getting Personal Demons onto shelves in all the major chains as well as several indies.
Me: Give me a two sentence “hook”, describing “Personal Demons”.
Lisa: Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a wicked streak and a unique skill set that has the king of Hell tingling with anticipation. She finds herself in the middle of a battle for her soul between Lucifer Cain, who works in Acquisitions for Hell, and Gabriel, the angel sent to protect her, and it isn’t long before Luc and Gabe find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.
Me: Publishing is going through an evolution at the moment. How has this or will this affect you?
|At Fine Print Literary|
There are a lot of options for e-readers—self published and traditionally published books. I also think that’s great. As long as a reader knows the source, and therefore has realistic expectations, I don’t have a problem with them having choices.
Me: You get to have lunch with any author you which, from throughout history or today, and why?
Lisa: Ooo! There are so many I’d choose. JRR Tolkein, Pasternak, Steinbeck. If you’re going to make me choose one, I’d have to say Emily Bronte, because Heathcliff so deliciously warped, and I’d love to know her inspiration.
We all stared at the gun, leaking smoke, wondering who'd fired it, drumming up all this damned noise. Even though we could see it in his hand no one dared look at his face; then we'd know. Guessing was better and didn't we have bigger things to worry about: The smoke and the blood and the old man cold and immobile before us? The sinking lights around and the haggard rough-edged sound of our breathing spun away, the echoes elastic. It started to seem like we were waiting for him to get up and dance, grinning red and wet at us. I sighed smoke.
He didn't twitch, much less dance, but Eddie did. He jittered back, one hand stapled to his mouth, and skated into the shimmering china closet. His eyes pulled away from his face, trying to break free. The crystal unicorns and stained coffee mugs holding him up clinked hazardously, but nothing broke. Ted slummed over and pulled Eddie up, favoring him with silent, roundhouse slaps and snarling, wordless abuse. I left the job to him and listened to the crackle of dust in the air.
I put a hand on Will's shoulder, stopping him from his careful retreat, and gestured. He grimaced at me with his yellow teeth and tried to explain but I shoved him forward and he shut up.
We each grasped a frilly arm or a slack leg, pulling the old man taut between us. Someone asked me if I wanted that rare and I barked an answer, feeling sweat pop out on my brow as we lifted him and started to shuffle for the door, staggered and clumsy. Steadied, we made our way to the back, our breath in each other's faces, red skin sheened shiny and wet from the rain outside. They all had their mouths open; they suddenly all looked like strangled pigs to me and I couldn't help but smile. That pissed Ted off, so I swallowed it and stopped looking at him.
At the back door we heaved the old man out into the pour, following reluctantly with shovels in hand. We dug half-heartedly and conversation dried up, replaced by the clink clink of shovels, and slowly we were surrounded by dark mounds. Deep enough, we pulled the old man in with us; he landed in a jumble and I got mad. Take a fucking care, I snarled, wiping muddy sweat from my face with a worn, calloused hand. He was a fucking corpse and with his watery skin and butcher-paper eyes our good will was all he had left.
After, we sat by the grave and smoked dried-out cigarettes to clear our lungs. The mist started to roll in on its dusty sock feet, making us nervous. Ted got all superstitious about death and it got us all a little creeped out, his slow pleading waver fading into the ground to set root until next time. With chummy slaps on the back we pushed ourselves back into our jackets and ties and headed back to the dim silent house and the gummy blood on the floor.
We could hear Rachel upstairs testing her hangover and I offered my new fellows a drink of whatever she had left behind her. I pulled off my jacket and draped it neatly on one of the chairs, heading up with my hands in my pockets to show no harm intended. My new fellows were all making noise and it was better that way, I suppose; the thick sounds filling the rooms and rising, buoying me up on hot air and soundproofing. It was healthy to have a ruckus behind me.
As I rose her perfume filled the cracks between the noise and I could feel her light steps as they trembled on the floor.
Despite the low warning moans from below, she seemed surprised to see me.
Whirling in a small confusion of skirts she pointed a cigarette at me and smiled; we'd done this all before, in different ways. Her lips were smoky and so was her hair, and as she nuzzled my ear she whispered slow, slow over and over. I always tried to be, but it didn't always work. I tried to tell her what had happened but she kept covering my mouth with hers, my arms with hers, my legs.
We woke up early, all of us, and cooked up great slabs of bacon in the blood-streaked kitchen. We were dried-out and edgy, in loosened, stale clothes and caky faces which cracked in the light. I had her perfume all over me and it made me thickly ill.
Eddie and Ted argued over the money, spitting crumbs at each other and sipping coffee. Rachel watched them tight-lipped and sharp-eyed. It was impolite, wasn't something you argued about. I had left bloody streaks on her pale skin and bruises on her smooth legs and they made her look demonic with her sudden cat eyes.
We all got ready to leave; it wasn't our house, after all.
It took a while to gather everything together, we had scattered ourselves and forgotten most of it. Rachel showered as we searched and came down wet and sweet and rubbed pink by towels. Suddenly, she was too clean for the place, too clean for us. We sat around her with unshaven cheeks and yellowed teeth, dirt and blood on our clothes and hands, pushing through wire-stiff hair. She stayed away from us, now that she was sober. She looked at me like I'd left a film on her, a sneering look. I didn't mind. She'd be drunk again that night and we'd be friends again.
As we left, a guffawing group of new friends, she stood in the doorway and smiled brutally after us. I turned just in time to see her close the door, and briefly wondered if I'd killed the right one of them.
The two naked men nodded hesitantly to each other. They stood in line, not wanting to move. Neither were entirely certain how to hold themselves, but fatigue dulled nervousness, and accumulated fear overshadowed shame. This nakedness was just one more thing. They tended to hold their hands in front of themselves, out of politeness. Their ribs were clearly visible in pale, taut skin, the bones arching toward each other,
meeting in the hollows of concave chests.
“Are you from Budapest?” one man asked.
“Yes,” a second man said. “And you?”
“Yes, I lived on Egyesules Street.”
The second man blinked, a light kindling in his eyes. “Is it so? I, too, lived on Egyesules Street. Out past the park.”
“We were near the boulevard. That’s where my home was. We had a beautiful garden.”
“Yes, yes, I know the area. That’s strange. Do I know you?”
“I don’t think so,” the first man said. “I don’t recall you, though I thought I knew most of the people on the street. Yes? My family was there for many years.”
“Mine, too. Mine, too. How old are you? I cannot tell in here.”
Everyone in this place became indistinct after awhile, features blurring, age creeping over each face regardless of years. Everyone here was centuries old, vast lifetimes washing quickly through their veins.
“I am thirty-five. And you?”
“I am thirty-six,” the second man said. “It’s so strange. I don’t recall you. And yet we must have seen each other, yes?”
“So many years on the street. Playing as a boy. Playing football at the park. Many boys were there. Did you play?”
“Yes, I played. I wasn’t very good. If I looked up I tripped over the ball. If I looked down, everyone yelled at me for not passing.”
“I was pretty good, though not as good as my friend Bodo. He was a very good player. Very good.”
“I remember him!” the second man said. “Yes, he was very good. I remember that. I remember playing with him. What has happened to him, do you know?”
The first man looked away and said nothing. They were both silent for a time.
“You had a garden, you say?” the second man said. “I must have seen it. Walking on the street, I must have passed it by.”
“It was beautiful. I worked very hard on it. The garden was already very nice when we bought the house. I was struck by it. That is why I picked that house, I think. I had always liked the garden. Even as a boy, walking to play football. Isn’t it strange? You were there, too. Playing football. Walking past the garden. I think I improved it, though. The garden. I read a lot of books, taught myself. Every spring I would go out planting.”
“Yes, I think I saw that garden. A beautiful garden. Was there a little stone wall? Yes, a little stone wall. And beautiful flowers.”
A guard walked by and the men stopped speaking. Their eyes followed the guard. The whole line of naked men quieted at the passing of the booted feet. The bare feet of the naked men stopped their weary shuffling, still as mortuary statues.
The second man nodded slightly once the guard had passed. “I think I remember you. I didn’t recognize you at first, but I do now. Did you have an older sister? A sister named Myrta?”
“Yes, that is me.”
The second man opened his mouth to speak, but closed it, fearing the silence that would follow his question. He nodded, thinking of the street, the garden, the games boys played, the girls they admired. He could smell the roses, the blossoms on the little tree. “There was a tree,” he said. “You had a little tree, with blossoms. They smelled lovely.”
“Yes, that’s the place,” the first man said.
The second man wanted to ask what kind of tree had blossoms that smelled so sweetly. He knew little of horticulture. But the guard was returning and the whispered voices were silenced.
“Juden!” the guard yelled. “Jetzt, jetzt! Schnell, schnell!”
The line started moving, the naked men shuffling forward.
“It is good to see you again,” the first man said, his lips barely moving.
The second man nodded. “Sholem.”
“Schnell, schnell!” the guard yelled.
The naked men walked into the chamber. The second man was still thinking about the blossoms. What were they? He would have to ask. The memory of the blossoms struck him so sweetly, so keenly, the fragrant taste of them hanging in the air. They would fall in graceful arcs, spinning slowly down to new resting places, gathering in pale drifts amidst the insubstantial ghosts of old petals. Petals, a spring snow atop the green, green grass.
In the deep, unknown reaches of a land far to the North there is... Ok, there's a lot.
But here, on The Novel Road, I bring you a glimpse of the heretofore unseen. You'll experience, first hand, a genius so vast it tickles the edge of madness. (just kidding about the madness part)
This interview begins with a town. Actually it starts with a building... Well, if you want to be picky, it starts with what was in the building - A Bookstore
On any given day, there was a line of intellectually gifted people, standing in the cold, holding Moosebucks coffee cups. They all wore glasses, occluded by chill fog, and many struggled to keep their pipes lit. The leather patches on the sleeves of Tweed coats, well worn. All carried umbrellas, mostly because they all thought it was cloudy when they left their homes, that personal fog there from the start of the day. They share tales of skinned knees from missing curbs. A scattered oath or two after a head bounces off the glass (from the general lack of depth perception) as each took their turn looking in the window of their ice bound Mecca... And for the person within.
Ladies and gentlemen, Bryan Russell is here today, saving
He is here, his store now a memory. Yet in his mind, his precious store will always be. Like many tales similarly told, a malevolent economy swept the spirit of 500 Ouellete Avenue, in Winsor, Ontario away.
As far as The Novel Road is concerned, that day starts here. Why here and now?
If you look at my guest lists, you will find authors with combined sales of over 100 million books. You will also find a select group of debut authors that, for one reason or other, I have come to believe will be successful due to the qualities found in their work. Everyone has an opinion on what makes for a great book.
Do I have a knack for seeing those that will step ahead of the pack? Maybe. Anyone want to argue the quality of Sean Ferrell’s work? I tell you now he is an author to watch as well as read.
I have access to hundreds of unpublished writers. I picked only one to be here. He has no agent, no contract of any kind, and I tell you now. This is an author you will hear about one day.
May I introduce you to Bryan Russell…
Me: What was the first thing you ever wrote that told you “I can do this?”
Anyhow, my teacher selected my story to be read to the class. But the important part wasn’t that selection, but the response of my fellow students – they loved it. They were so excited, so interested in waiting to see who would die next, and how… there was something incredible about that response. That I hooked them into the story and they needed to know what happened. They believed in the story.
Me: Favorite writing junk food?
Bryan: I don’t really tend to eat much when I’m writing… too lost in the world, I think, and food takes me out of that. I’m one of those tunnel vision people. I will drink, though. Straight whiskey. Oops, I mean coffee. Oh, wait, I can’t have that, either. Milk. Milk… wait, I can’t have dairy. Water. A cold drink of water. Yes, that’s what I have when writing. Preferably thawed from an iceberg.
Bryan: After killing his father in an argument, Japheth Tagori is sentenced to a life of service as a soldier in the Legion – yet he cannot escape his past, as the brigands who worked with his father (a smuggler) want Japheth dead because of something he’s forgotten he knows – the destination of a cartload of gold set to fuel a rebellion. The rebellion, though, is merely a diversion, as a war between empires looms on the horizon and Japheth finds himself a pawn in a dangerous game, manipulated by the mysterious Ghost King even as his enemies seek his head – and as Japheth seeks to understand his own identity as a soldier.
Me: How strict are you when it comes to staying true to your outline?
Bryan: An outline is an outline – it’s the book, in the end, that’s important. I always try to do what’s best for the story, and if that means diverging from the outline, then that’s what I do. And stuff always changes, for me, with all the subsequent drafts – sometimes drastically.
I usually have some main events and an ending that I hold strongly to – but even there, well, there are no sacred cows. Sometimes the red pen is hungry and will devour even the finest of original ideas.
Bryan: I’d probably pick David Foster Wallace, though Tolkien would have to be in the running. I think they are the two writers who have influenced me most, and in different ways. Tolkien started it all – as a child, he got me into reading, and then writing. I consumed his books in endless loops.
Wallace was a little different – I read Infinite Jest when I was eighteen or so, and was blown away. “You mean, you can do that in a novel? Why didn’t anyone tell me?” A million new doors were opened by that book. I ended up studying a lot of postmodern writers, and used them as a springboard to all sorts of different things. And that sudden breadth of vision and understanding has been hugely important to me, and really helped shape me as a writer.
He died too young, sadly, and even though I never had an opportunity to speak with him, I did read David Lipsky’s Athough Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, which is a memoir of a road trip the author took with David Foster Wallace – and reading it is sort of like overhearing a long rambling conversation with Wallace. It’s as close as I’m ever going to get, anyway.
Me: I have been offering a piece of advice lately regarding the… Gulp!... Query Letters. I've told a new author to avoid even learning about a query letter till his manuscript is complete. Do you agree or not?
Bryan: I think both paths can work, though I lean toward not worrying about querying until the manuscript is ready. For some writers, doing it before can help – it can push you to clarify and focus your story, and keep that central conflict and drive of the story at the forefront. So, there are advantages. But there’s also a lot of risk. It’s very easy to get sidetracked and have all your energy flowing into writing a query, into endless angst and worry, resulting in a compulsion to dive headlong into the publishing world’s social media storm – sort of an online Bermuda Triangle for many writers.
Me: My favorite subject – Editing. Talk about editing your first book. Also, how did you know when to stop?
Bryan: Ha! The problem with my first book attempt (many long years ago) was that I didn’t edit it. Oh, I copyedited it, and smoothed sentences, and adjusted a few scenes here and there. But, really, I didn’t know how to edit, at least not for story, for structure and pacing and balance. Plot was a meandering construction, loosely understood.
Me: This question, courtesy of Jeff Hall : I'm a shortstory-ist. Writing a novel is like a crazy long marathon, only harder. How do you maintain a clear sense of that first passion that inspired you throughout a 200K word journey?
Bryan: 200K is too long! Sadly. My revisions would be much easier if that weren’t so. But, for me, I usually don’t start writing a novel unless I have a story idea that I know will carry me a long way. It takes a certain momentum to pull through a novel, page after page – the story needs a certain weight, a specific gravity. When that pull is strong enough, I simply can’t avoid writing the story. When it fills up my entire head, I know the story is ready to be written.