I’d like to welcome back Lisa Brunette to talk with me today about her writing. 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.
Lisa, why do you write?
That’s like asking, “Why do you drink water?” or “Why do you find it necessary to walk to things?” I write because I have to in order to keep living. I’ve tried to stop, but the stopping never takes.
But fiction, specifically: I write that because it’s really hard to get it right. It’s a fool’s game, this thinking you can recreate a world through the use of mere symbols on page or screen. And I’ve always enjoyed the challenge, the quest to get something unattainable. It appeals to the overachiever in me.
How has writing impacted your life?
It’s mostly made it more difficult, in an age that either hates writers or thinks everyone’s a writer because they’ve been taught to spell (and not very well, unfortunately). I’ve often wished I could crush that part of me and do something less fraught with disappointment and envy. I imagine it would be sublime to be a gardener, or a florist. Or a holy woman.
But I should own up to the fact that because of my facility with language, I have never been homeless, unemployed, or truly poor. Sure, I’ve struggled, sometimes enormously. But being able to write as well as I do has always earned me a livelihood, and sometimes a very good one.
What advice would you give to beginner writers?
Read as much as you can – read even more than you think you have time to read. I realize you’ve been given this advice before and you likely just sort of took it in stride, but it bears repeating. Read, read, and read. The world needs you to be a reader more than it needs you to write. I’m sorry that is true, but it is. We don’t need a National Novel Writing Month. We need a National Novel Reading Month.
When do your best ideas come to you for a story?
In the act of writing them. I start writing to find out what I need to write. I recently had an incredible epiphany about where I needed to go in Dreamslippers Book 2 when I was in the middle of writing dialogue for a character who said that an event had nothing to do with the case she was investigating, and as soon as I wrote that, I realized the event had everything to do with the case. This didn’t come till I was half-way done with the draft, which meant I needed to go back and rewrite the whole first half to accommodate this new true direction the book needed to take.
How do you respond to positive and negative reviews?
Ignore the negative. Don’t get too attached to the positive. Either way, it’s just subjective opinion. The only thing that matters is the aggregate: Will the book find its readers? Are there enough of them to support the book’s existence?