Hi, Cheryl! Thanks for hosting me on your blog, and hello to your readers! It’s an honor to be chosen as your Author of the Month. I also want to thank you for all you do for writers. So many of us depend on the time and talent of book bloggers like you, and we know you do this out of a love for the written word.
Here’s my official bio, by way of formal introduction to your readers:
Lisa Brunette is a novelist, game writer, and journalist. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from University of Miami, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in Bellingham Review, The Comstock Review, Icarus International, and elsewhere. She’s also received a major grant from the Tacoma Arts Commission, the William Stafford Award, and the Associated Writing Programs Intro Journals Project Award. Her Dreamslippers Series has been praised by Kirkus Reviews, Midwest Book Review, Readers Lane, BestThrillers.com, and others, and the first two books won the indieBRAG medallion. Framed and Burning was also a finalist for the Nancy Pearl Book Award and a nominee for the RONE Award.
Brunette’s journalistic work has appeared in major daily newspapers and magazines, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Woman, and Poets & Writers. She’s interviewed a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, a sex expert, homeless women, and the designer of the Batmobile, among others.
She also has story design credits in hundreds of bestselling mystery-themed video games. A seasoned educator and public speaker, she’s won several teaching excellence awards, and her 2012 headlining talk at the Game Developers Conference was covered by Gamasutra.com. Brunette is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Lewis County Writers Guild.
Now on to your excellent questions.
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Yes, all of the above. But I wouldn’t call my books autobiographical. It’s surprising to me that I have to explain this, but I don’t actually have the ability to psychically pick up other people’s dreams. Still, this question comes up often when I read my work publicly!
What was the inspiration for this book?
This book was inspired in part by my rekindled love of genre fiction. Back in 2008, I interviewed top mystery writers for a Seattle Woman cover story. Reading their work reminded me of when I first fell in love with reading as a child, and that was genre fiction like Nancy Drew. Academia had beat this out of me, unfortunately, so it was wonderful to be drawn back to it as an adult. After all, being an adult means you’re allowed to read whatever you want! After the Seattle Woman cover story, by 2009, I’d joined the game industry as a writer full-time, and by 2011, I was working on the story design for primarily mystery games. That led to a pent-up need to create my own plot and characters, since a lot of game writing happens by committee.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I plot the entire novel out in a very rough format, with questions and multiple possibilities noted, writing this in marker directly on my wall, which I’ve painted in whiteboard paint. Then I begin to write, and I give myself permission to explore questions, try different paths, and deviate when necessary. So I guess I’m a hybrid writer. Several times I didn’t know a character would appear and act that way in a scene until I was in the midst of writing it.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I don’t have a routine. I probably should, but I have to flex my novel-writing time around game-writing projects, and those have harder deadlines. The only thing I really need besides uninterrupted time and quiet is to make use of my laptop’s “wifi off” function, which is a lifesaver.
If you could co-author a book, who would that writer be?
Since so much of my game-writing work is collaborative, I don’t know that I’d co-author a novel. Perhaps something non-fiction, especially in the area of health and wellness. I’m a great generalist and a writing craft expert, so it would be wonderful to team up with a subject matter expert in a wellness field.
Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
The character Amazing Grace is named after and inspired by my late mother-in-law. She wanted to legally change her name to just “Grace,” like Cher is known as Cher alone. But the authorities said she had to at least have another initial, so she picked “A.” When asked what the A stood for, she would answer, “Amazing.”
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Meryl Streep as Amazing Grace. Jennifer Lawrence as Cat. Jeff Bridges as Mick. There’s also a character I love in book three, Bound to the Truth, who would be perfect for my friend Cammie Middleton-Helmsing to play. She’s an actress for whom there aren’t enough roles as an African-American woman, and she’d be a perfect Cecily Johnson.
Are you working on your next novel?
Right now I’m on deadline for a text-based game I’m both designing and writing for a Russian woman I’ve worked with before. She’s owner of a studio called Daily Magic and smart as a whip. I’m also writing and designing for another game studio, Magic Tavern, and collaborating with the creative director on that game, which will be really fun and casual.
Around those projects, I’m working on a standalone novel that really excites me, but I’m still in the beginning stages, working on the first third.
Can you tell us a bit about it? Title?
I don’t have a title yet; it’s too early. But it’s based on an actual news report for an alleged murder committed in a neighboring town. A woman called 911 to report that she shot her husband in self-defense. At first, it looked like the evidence supported her claim, since both spouses’ guns were out. But then things began to look fishy. The husband was shot in the back, and someone cleaned the crime scene, even going so far as to spackle over a bullet hole in the wall. I’m riveted by this. How does a woman with no priors or history of mental illness get to this point? That’s the question I’m attempting to answer in the novel.
When can we look for it? Approximate publication date?
It’s in the beginning stages, so this hasn’t been set yet. Since self-publishing the Dreamslippers Series over the last two years, I’ve had interest in my work from both Hollywood producers and literary agents. So rather than set a self-publishing date on this new manuscript, I’ll be exploring traditional options. But first I have to finish it!
Tell us why we should read this book.
My goal with the entire Dreamslippers Series was to marry rich character development and an emphasis on human relationships to a brisk plot. I think on the whole I’ve accomplished that. Once the foundation for the psychic ability and the family tree is established in Cat in the Flock, readers say the books are real page-turners that keep them rapt and wondering whodunit to the very end.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
The best book I read in 2016 was Tana French’s Faithful Place. I liked it better than Girl on the Train, which I also enjoyed. I’ve read all of Gillian Flynn’s work and actually liked Dark Places the best, over Gone Girl. I’ve been influenced by cozy writer Mary Daheim and paranormal queen Jayne Ann Krentz, too, and I like my Jack Reacher novels. But having a BA in English and coming up through the MFA degree, I’ve been shaped by the academy, so a lot of my favorites tend to be literary writers like Elizabeth Strout and Colm Toibin. Then there are the classic writers I’ve both studied and taught, such as Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, the Harlem greats and those who arrived out of that tradition, like Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor.
What are you reading now?
Oddly enough, I’m slowly making my way through The 48 Laws of Power, because it was referenced in the Luke Cage Marvel series. And I’m about to raid my local library for more Tana French.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
I practice a holistic barefoot dance called Nia. It’s the perfect antidote to a vocation that involves way too much sitting and typing at a keyboard.
I’m on a diet of what one friend of mine who’s a chef calls “meat and leaves.” So my favorite meal these days is a good grass-fed, organic steak with loads of vegetables not as the side but taking up most of the plate. I haven’t met a vegetable I can’t love, but broccoli is my favorite. I eat it like it’s candy!
Thank you for stopping by and visiting us!
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AUTHOR OF THE MONTH ~ GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA
THE DREAMSLIPPERS SERIES
Lisa will be returning to CMash Reads March 15th….Mark your calendar. Hope to see you then!!!