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Saturday, September 3, 2011
Author Interview: Lisa Dale
The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Lisa Dale who writes romantic stories for the head and heart. Her newest book, Slow Dancing on Price's Pier, was named a Top Pick by Barnes & Noble and the Romance of the Month for Bookpage. You can see what we thought about it here. I asked her to tell us a bit about it.
"I wanted to explore the parallels and differences between what it means to fall in love for the first time (you know—teenage, head-over-heels kind of love) and what it means to fall as an adult (a more cautious kind of love, love that knows the pain of heartbreak).
With Garret and Thea, we get to see how their young love story is different than when they get a 'do over' when they’re adults. But we also get to see how it’s the same. There are two stories in one in this book—it was challenging to write, but I think it led to an interesting overall, single story! Hopefully, it will keep readers turning pages.
Love is fascinating—I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of writing about it."
Her next book is due out in January and is titled The Promise of Safekeeping. This story explores themes of protecting, saving, keeping, and letting go. The main character is a woman who “successfully” prosecuted an innocent man and sent him to prison for a decade. The hero is an antiques dealer in Richmond, Virginia, who is a friend of the ex-con.
Lisa never wanted to be a writer when she was a kid. She used to get asked, "Do you want to be a writer when you grow up?" She admitted it was a good question, because she was always writing.
"Instead of going to recess, I would often hide away in a dark corner of the school with my journal to write poems. Or I would read," she confessed. "I often snuck my notebooks into class to make it look like I was taking notes—but really I was writing stories.
"Still, I didn’t want to BE a writer. I just wanted to write—whatever that meant. I knew I would always write.
"In college, a very lovely professor once told me, 'I think you should seriously consider being a writer.' And I remember shaking my head and saying, 'nope.' I figured that being a writer was a dream that was far too big and amazing for the likes of me! I figured I would try to work in the publishing biz (and after college, I did work in the industry for a couple brief years). But I couldn’t shake the writing bug. And now, here I am! Trying to make a go of it and giving it my all—so I don’t have to look back one day and wonder, what if?."
Lisa likes books that are romantic, thoughtful, and intelligent, but she also loves books that teach her things. She described it as "a little bit of trivia tucked inside an intensely emotional story." That's why all her books always have a research element. Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier is set in a coffee shop because she became fascinated by the history of coffee. The more she learned, the more she knew she had to do a book set in a coffee shop. With It Happened One Night, she had become fascinated with wildflowers and decided to set it at a wildflower farm in Vermont.
"That book explores themes of fertility…flowers seemed to fit the bill for that!," she said. "I knew I wanted to write about sisters whose relationship was challenged by…well…pregnancy issues. So I thought—what kind of women would go into business at a wildflower farm? Lana and Karin were born! Eli (the hero) grew out of a fascination with meteorite hunters. His character grew from what he loved (namely, meteorites and the heroine!)."
"What do you like to do when you're not writing?" I asked.
"I’d love to say that I winter in Florida and summer in Vermont—or perhaps that I am an amateur mountain climber! But when I’m not writing—I’m usually a) reading, b) doing publicity stuff, c) sneaking in a few rows of knitting, d) hanging out with family and friends (usually there’s food and wine involved!)."
For some fun, I asked Lisa some random questions, like "do you really, really want a dog?"
"How on earth did you know that? Yes, I want a little Frenchie. I love their snorty little faces. But alas—no dogs in my building. We won’t be able to get a dog until we move."
She did say that she was going to tell her husband, Matt, (then fiancé…she was married early in July) about that question as proof that the Universe wants them to get a dog.
She also told me that she might, without exaggeration, have the world's worst handwriting.
"I’ve been scolded for it (seriously, scolded by strangers) even as an adult," she said. "But you know they say opposites attract? Matt has absolutely perfect penmanship. His handwriting should be a downloadable font."
"Do you like thunderstorms?" I wondered.
"Like is not the word. ADORE. In the summer, I live for them. When my siblings and I were kids we used to do rain dances in the backyard to make the storms come…it never worked, but it made our mom laugh!"
"Have you ever eaten a crayon?"
"No. But I do have vague memories of the nuns yelling at me for eating Play-Doh in pre-school. Gross—but you asked!"
Unlike a lot of people I've asked, Lisa doesn't hate how she looks in pictures.
"For a long time when I was growing up, I was a really ugly kid. I’m not exaggerating—I mean, ugly. Bad teeth, bad hair, bad glasses, no confidence, too tall and awkward.
"I recently heard someone who used to know me as a kid say something to me along the lines of, How strange that you grew up to be so pretty!
"It took a long damn time to shuck the image of myself as an ugly person! Now I think I do a better job of seeing myself as I really am—not perfect, but just as God made me."
Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Read. Read good books. Read bad books. Read books that smack you in the face; read books that make you fall asleep; read books that keep you up all night and give you a literary hangover. Read books that you wish you wrote—then read them again. No one can teach you how to write but you.
"My theory is that if you want to be a good writer, you’ve got to read some books that you would never in a million years want to read. Actually, there’s an audio download about just this subject on the secret VIP page on my Website. It’s just a funny little ten minute essay about playing library roulette. If you’re a booknerd, it’s worth a listen!"
You can keep up with Lisa's on her blog, http://lisadalebooks.com/blog/,