The author that I am featuring this month is Lisa Wooten. Lisa lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Ted, and their Persian cat, Clara Rose. Since she was a child, she wanted to be a writer, but took the safe route and got a “real job” in the healthcare industry. Now that she is settled in her personal and professional life, she decided to take a stab at writing and much to her disbelief, she was published on her first try! Lisa’s suspense/thriller novel, Unforgivable, was released in December, 2011. Check out my interview with her!
Sierra: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Lisa: When I sat down to write Unforgivable, it was August 2008. The entire story from beginning, middle and end was already in my mind, but I just needed to get out so it took a full year to write. It took another six months to get it edited and then another year to get it published. At the time, I had just received a promotion at work and was working crazy hours and I was planning my wedding. In hindsight, it wasn’t the best time to start a novel, but it all worked out in the end.
Sierra: Tell us a little bit about your book, Unforgivable:
Lisa: Unforgivable takes place in an insane asylum where the main character, Joan, is serving a life sentence for murdering her best friend at their senior prom. Joan tells everyone she is innocent, but no one will listen to her, except for her psychiatrist. This is where the story unfolds itself because it is the doctor and the patient sorting through what really happened that night through a series of therapy sessions. The book is dark, but it also has some touching scenes where our humanity is exposed and it definitely has some interesting characters and lots of humor.
Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?
Lisa: I’ve always loved reading thriller/horror books and with Unforgivable, I wanted to add in a psychological twist and disorient reality for the readers. It was really fun to write.
Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?
Lisa: I know what wasn’t fun; the fantasy scenes! Joan has an imaginary world in her mind that she escapes to when reality is too difficult to deal with so in the book I dedicated specific chapters to show you what she thinks her reality is and what kind of person she is in her own mind, or what kind of person she could be if she weren’t mentally ill. I’m glad I wrote them because people always tell me how much they love the fantasy trips to her world, but it was a pain to write.
My favorite parts to write were the therapy sessions with the doctor because I love the relationship that they have and the ease of their conversation even though they’re dealing with difficult situations and topics. I also love putting in all the musical references because I’m a huge music fan and I absolutely adore ’60s music and I think that shows throughout the book.
Sierra: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Lisa: I think everyone can relate to having an imaginary world. I’m sure everyone has been at work and fantasized that they were somewhere else, like on a beach in Mexico, drinking strawberry daiquiris. That’s what Joan does, but takes it a bit too far. In my line of work, I have encountered patients with mental health issues, but they were not this extreme so most of it was just my imagination.
Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Lisa: I love, love, love Dean Koontz. When reading Dean, I never think to myself, “wow, I wish I could write like that” because when I read him, it’s like I’m not even reading a book; I am living the story that he’s telling. He pulls you in so intensely that you go on a little journey in your mind and you completely forget this is an author who created a story. He’s amazing and I adore him!
Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?
Lisa: I’m going through it right now! I’m currently working on my second novel, While I Cry, and I don’t think I’ve hit a block; I’ve hit the whole brick wall! I’m trying to work through it but it’s very frustrating and I’m starting to panic because now I have a deadline, which I did not have with Unforgivable. I also don’t help my self confidence at all because Unforgivable has sold well and the majority of people have had such wonderful things to say about it that I am applying pressure on myself to do even better with While I Cry. I need a chill pill.
Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
Lisa: I would love to meet Dean Koontz, but I feel like I would freeze up and not enjoy the experience.
Sierra: Can you tell us about your new book?
Lisa: While I Cry is going to be an old fashioned ghost story, but it’s going to have a modern twist. It focuses on a 14 year old girl, Grace, who is just starting high school and the hardships that come with being the new girl and trying to adjust to this new chapter in her life. Along the way, she meets Edie, who helps her through some difficult times, such as being bullied, but things aren’t what they seem with Edie and Grace starts to travel down a dark path.
Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?
Lisa: I definitely would have believed in myself more and wrote Unforgivable sooner. It’s the big f-word that held me back; no, not that f-word, Failure. I was so afraid at failing that it made me turn away from something that I truly love. Now that I know that I have talent and I’m still enjoying it, writer’s block aside, I’m moving forward with my writing career.
Sierra: Do you have any advise to give to aspiring writers?
Lisa: Never give up. Not everyone who writes is going to be a published author, or make lots of money, or have a gazillion fans and that’s okay. If it makes you happy, then do it. If a certain type of genre or category of writing is not working for you, try something different. If you can’t write that horror novel that knocks everyone’s socks off, try a series of short stories or perhaps writing online articles. There are so many ways that you can express yourself that you shouldn’t get tied up on one option. Try things out and see how it goes. Also, research, research, research. If you are at the stage where your work is completed and you want to get published, do your research and learn how to do this before starting. With more and more people self publishing and being really successful at it, like Amanda Hocking, getting your writing out there for the world to see is much easier than in the past so don’t give up.
Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Lisa: I do want to thank everyone who has read Unforgivable and I’m grateful for all the kind words and reviews. I truly appreciate the time that these people have taken out of their lives to read something that I’ve created. It’s a really cool feeling. I also want to thank you, Sierra, for giving my novel a try and I hope that you enjoy it and that your subscribers do as well.
Check out my review of Lisa’s book “Unforgivable” here:https://simpletasteforreading.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/unforgivable-by-lisa-wooten-2/
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