I’d like to welcome Lisa Brunette to talk with me today about her book. Lisa is the author of the Dreamslippers mystery series. Book One, Cat in the Flock, is an indieBRAG honoree title that has been praised by Kirkus Reviews, Midwest Book Review, Readers Lane, and others.
Brunette is a career writer/editor whose work has appeared in major daily newspapers and magazines, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Boston Globe, 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.
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 many honors for her writing, including a major grant from the Tacoma Arts Commission, the William Stafford Award, and the Associated Writing Programs Intro Journals Project Award.
Hello, Lisa! How did you discover indieBRAG?
My husband (and business partner) found it in an online search. It’s been great since winning the award to connect with other indieBRAG mystery writers Karen Nortman and Lynn Kennedy.
Please tell me a little about your book, Cat in the Flock.
Cat in the Flock is the first book in the Dreamslippers series, which is about a family of detectives who have the ability to “slip” into another person’s dreams. This gift has limitations and consequences. In Cat in the Flock, my protagonist is apprenticing with her quirky grandmother, who shares the ability. Following a trail of clues surrounding a mother and daughter on the run, Cat goes undercover in a fundamentalist church in the Midwest. Without plot-spoiling it, what she finds could be ripped from today’s headlines. But with the hypocrisy, she also discovers redemption.
Could you please share an excerpt?
Cat looked around the room. They didn’t have much, but there was a space heater and a cell phone plugged into a plateless wall socket. The builders had wired the building for electricity before the project was halted, though no light fixtures had yet been installed. If they were homeless, they were either really good at scavenging, or someone was helping them. A cell phone would need a billing address. Cat scanned the pairs of shoes lined up on one side of the wall. The woman’s were brand-new, high-end hiking shoes, and their neatly folded clothes looked well-made and new as well. Plus, she knew these were the people she saw on the plane. She needed no confirmation, for the girl’s dark, sad look was burned into her memory, and there was the pink roller bag with R-U-T-H in rainbow lettering across the front.
“I saw you on the plane,” Cat said. “From St. Louis.”
The woman’s eyes widened a moment in fear and then narrowed. “No, you didn’t,” she said. “It must be a mistake. I’m from Seattle. I’m homeless… My husband left us, and I lost my job. I found this building and knew I could stay here for a while. Please… don’t tell anyone we’re here.”
“We need to get you out of here. We need to get you better… accommodations.” Cat couldn’t believe she’d just used the word “accommodations,” as if this were a resort.
“No,” the woman refused. “The shelters are full up. There’s nowhere for us to go. We’re safer here. We have food.” She gestured toward a stack of canned beans and vegetables on a wooden construction spool in the corner, acting as a kitchen table. There was a backpacking stove and several bottles of fuel. The woman was certainly prepared.
Cat sat back on her heels and sighed. “If they find you, I could lose my job,” she said.
“I won’t mention you. You didn’t know we were here.”
There was something earnest in the woman’s face, not to mention desperate, that made Cat decide to help her even though she knew the woman was lying.
“Okay,” Cat agreed. “But I want to try to help you. Maybe a church—”
“No!” the woman cried out violently. “Not a church. I won’t go to a church.”
“Sorry,” Cat apologized, wary. This woman was obviously in some dire emotional situation. Cat would have to tread lightly to not set her off.
The girl spoke up then. “The church people are weird. But I like the singing. I like baby Jesus.”
“Sh…” the mother said, attempting to rock her to sleep. “She needs her rest,” the woman explained to Cat.
“This is no place for a kid,” Cat remarked. “I can’t leave you here.”
“We won’t be here that long,” the woman said. “We’re waiting for my sister. She’s taking us to Canada. Please…”
Her words prickled Cat’s memory banks. The gosling. A mother goose. Canadian geese, heading north. She’d slipped into this woman’s dream. But the angel dreamer—that was someone else, and he was still nearby, possibly still asleep. She needed to find him.
“All right,” Cat said, sighing. “I’ll let you stay here the rest of tonight, but we have to come up with a better solution than this.”
The woman narrowed her eyes at her. “You don’t understand. This is the best solution for us. We’re so close.”
What is a challenge that Cat faces and how does she deal with it?
Cat’s biggest challenge is learning how to hone her wild dreamslipping skills. She goes off on her own in this first big assignment, and that comes with gains and losses.
Tell me about Granny Grace. She sounds like an interesting character.
Granny Grace is a 77-year-old accomplished yogi and practitioner of numerous New Age beliefs. She’s a tremendous influence on Cat, who grew up somewhat sheltered within her Catholicism. Granny Grace gets her to try meditation and yoga in addition to schooling her on ethical dreamslipping techniques.
Why did you choose Seattle and St. Louis as the setting for your story?
That’s a great question. Seattle serves as a frame, but the bulk of the book takes place in St. Louis. Like me, Cat was a Midwest transplant, but ironically, her first big case takes her right back where she came from. She has unfinished business there in more ways than one.
How did you get into writing mystery ?
I read every Nancy Drew novel when I was a kid, but academia took me away from genre fiction in my adulthood. About ten years ago, I wrote a story on local mystery authors for Seattle Woman magazine, and it sparked a reading binge on mystery fiction. Then serendipity struck five years ago when I was recruited to work as a game writer for Big Fish. I’ve been instrumental in shaping their game storytelling practices across numerous mystery brands. But my work there is sort of story-by-committee. I had an idea for a story that needed to be entirely my own, and I sat down and wrote it. The Dreamslippers series was born.
Where can readers buy your book ?
It’s available in both print and as an ebook pretty much everywhere, but here’s a list of links
Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?
As of February of this year, I now have a home office. I work remotely for my day job, which is two to three hours away. The office is part of an attic room and connected to my bedroom. I write on the walls, which I’ve covered in whiteboard paint, to sketch out the novel. See here
Who designed your book cover?
Monika Younger of Younger Book Designs .She’s so fantastic, I’ve hired her for my next book cover as well.
What are you working on next?
I’ve received a hefty round of BETA reader feedback on a draft of Book 2 in the Dreamslippers Series and am finishing revisions while continuing to get line feedback from a group of writers I meet with several times a month. I’m also getting ready to publish a book of poetry called Broom of Anger that is the culmination of 25 years’ work. And there’s another book, very close to the vest, that is an outgrowth of the short story collection I began as an MFA student. Many of the individual stories have been published and won awards, but whatever the book-length version is supposed to be hasn’t fully materialized yet.
That is fantastic and I’m glad to hear you use Beta Readers. I would like to talk with you more about that sometime. Do you stick with just one genre?
Definitely not! I was trained in literary fiction through my MFA program, and even then I wrote both poetry and short stories. Now, after nine years as a writer in the video-game industry, I’m somewhat of an expert in the mystery genre. I also had a career as a journalist, with plenty of byline credits from that. And I blog, but who doesn’t these days?
Could you share one of your poems with us?
Thanks so much—I’m flattered to be asked. Here’s one that’s very autobiographical, from my brief moment as a drummer in fifth grade.
Girls weren’t supposed to make noise,
but I wanted to join the grade-school band.
At Second-Hand Blues,
my parents turned over price tags,
steered me toward a pair
of two-dollar drumsticks.
I laid my hand on a snare’s taut skin,
pedal-beat a bass.
I came home with a practice pad—
slant wooden board sheathed in rubber.
I tapped the table instead,
to hear the noise, feel
the rhythm in my head.
Go to your room, Mom said,
but out I went, flam-tapping
on mailboxes, drumrolling
the porch railing.
Mr. Silva told the boys
to mark time like me.
They had drum kits at home
and wanted to be Tommy Lee.
They’d switch grips on their sticks
when Mr. Silva wasn’t looking,
rush to solos,
miss a beat. I felt
the note they didn’t hit
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Lisa Brunette who is the author of, Cat in the Flock, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Cat in the Flock, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.