Today’s perfect 10 interview session is with author Lisa Reynolds. The questions in these interviews are designed to gain more insight into the inspiration, background and strategy of the authors that stop by.
Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10 and look for an exciting announcement regarding all of the participating authors for 2018.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing energizes me. I have always been introverted and writing has always being my creative outlet in which to express myself and how I feel about the world. I think writing becomes exhausting for a lot of writers when they overthink what they are writing and are worried what people reading it or publishers will think. Because I have always let my heart flow out what it wants to say without restraint I find the process easy and not a chore. But there’s different ways people work so as well as there being writers who love the process like me there’s many who find it painstaking. As long as the product is created at the end it makes no difference. But I love it and I miss my characters when I’m no longer writing them.
Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?
Not very often. But I did write two of my eight short stories for Woman’s Way in Ireland under the pseudonym of Violet Norval. Mainly because I love Agatha Christie and she wrote her romance stories under Mary Westmacott so I thought it’d be fun to give it a try. But the majority of the time I write under my own name. I’m not sure why. I just do. At the start I did toy with the idea of writing as L J Reynolds as I’m Lisa Jane Reynolds but then I just left it simple. I’m so forgetful I’d probably get mixed up with pseudonyms so it’s probably for the best that I use my own name.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
I think it hurts writers. At the end of the day, though we love what we do, we aren’t saving lives or anything massively worthwhile like that. Sometimes, especially in high-brow writing, some writers really think what they do is super important and that it means more than what writers do in low brow writing. And that can leak into the writing to the detriment of the work. What draws most readers, including myself as a reader, to a story is the plot and the characters. All that is lost when a writer’s main aim is to regurgitate the dictionary.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
My computer and my monthly access to the internet. As a writer I’d be lost without both these things to write my stories up and to do research for my work on the internet. I have also spent money on courses and workshops to improve my writing. I did a course with The Open University in connection with FutureLearn where you pay for the certificate and many years ago I did a Creative Writing course with Kilroy’s College where my tutor was Irish writer Eileen Casey. Recently I also did two workshops that were organised as part of the Bray Literary Festival this year with Irish writers Siobhan Campbell and Breda Wall Ryan. All of these things have been very valuable to my writing and have helped me to grow as a writer.
What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
It can mean a few different things. In the obvious sense it would be nice to be like Agatha Christie and be third in line to The Bible and William Shakespeare in sales. I wouldn’t say no to that obviously. But it is also a sense of being content with what you put out there. I don’t believe in playing it safe as a writer and writing the same story that’s being written before. I try not to do that. I also think a very important part of being a writer is that you write about people from different backgrounds and walks of life. Not consciously. Just simply because a writer is supposed to write about real life and that’s real life. We’re not all the same so characters shouldn’t be all the same. And sometimes a writer needs to be brave to do that because it’s not always appreciated. But it is our job. Doing these things is writing success to me and I do achieve that in my work. The Agatha Christie status not so much but I certainly try to get to that. But if it doesn’t happen I’m fine with that too because I love doing what I do.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
It depends. There is two books I’m putting together at the moment which require a lot of research. One is set in the world of ballroom dancing and outside of Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With The Stars, I didn’t know a lot about the ballroom world prior to starting research for the book so it’s being fun learning how the steps work to put the dances together. I usually only work on one book at one time but the other book I’m writing is about terrorist attacks so it’s very heavy and the ballroom book takes my mind away from it when I need to write something lighter. Obviously for the latter book there is extensive research needed. It’s a very delicate and sensitive topic so I’d never put a book on that topic out without being very sure of what I was writing. I also research extensively when I’m writing characters with very different experiences to my own. For example, when I write characters who are cisgender and pansexual it’s easy and no research is needed because in these regards it’s my own experiences but if a character was transgender or any other sexuality to pansexual I have to research how people experience these aspects of who they are to write the characters authentically. Obviously, my writing operation is very small. It’s me and my spouse the computer but if it was a bigger operation I’d have people from all backgrounds and walks of life working on the piece like Dustin Lance Black does for When We Rise. As I am a small-time writer my resources are YouTube, Google searches for articles and good old-fashioned library books. I try my best with the resources available to me.
How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
To be honest I usually don’t think too much about their names. I think more about their personalities. But occasionally I have picked the names of characters for reasons. There is times I pick names based on the character’s nationality or their parents’ nationalities such as a lot of my Irish characters have surnames like Murphy and Hennessy. But I don’t think very much about names in general.
What is the hardest type of scene to write?
The hardest type of scene to write is very emotional scenes. Very often the story is leading up to the emotional scene so it’s like a singer with a ‘money note’, the story depends on it for the reader to understand this character who often is very complex up to this point. Another very hard scene to write is the reveal in a murder. Again, this is the ‘money note’ in a thriller so you need to very careful of your timing in mystery reveals.
If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
There are about a million people popping into my head but ok, let’s narrow this down to four. I think on the writing side of things I would love Agatha Christie and Oscar Wilde to be there. I love both of their work and I suppose I’d love to know how they managed to be so amazing at their craft. Because I’m female and part of the LGBTQ+ community, I would like to know from Agatha how her journey as a female writer was and from Oscar how his journey as an LGBTQ+ writer was. Outside of writing, it would be amazing if Harvey Milk was there just because he’s Harvey Milk and I’d probably be censored and stopped from writing if he hadn’t been so instrumental in fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ people. I’d love to know about his experiences in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. That’d be very interesting. It would also be great if Andreja Pejic was there. She is very interesting talking about social issues, so we could have a good chat about social issues in the modern age we live in. I also have a huge crush on her, so I would probably ask her out and probably be turned down.
What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?
I have ten books up on Amazon, so I would say Amazon. It’s a difficult market because there’s so much choice available for readers. But it is also a great opportunity for writers to get their work out there too and I’m very grateful for that opportunity. It is a wonderful feeling when a sale happens of one of your books. I also promote my books on my blog on WordPress and on my Facebook writer’s page, my Twitter page and on Google+.
One Step Closer & One Step Closer 2
Rory Murphy Mysteries: The Church Murders:
Connect with Lisa: