Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on author Lisa Shea, the editor of Massachusetts Calling, who will be at our 65 James Street store with several of the contributing authors, this Sunday, July 9, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM. Massachusetts Calling is an anthology of local authors sharing stories and more from around Central Massachusetts.
Besides editing this anthology, Lisa Shea has over 300 works published in a wide range of genres. Her fiction includes mysteries, romances, historical adventures, time travel, science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, and mythology. Her nonfiction includes cookbooks, pet care, meditation, yoga, getting published, journaling, and stress relief.
Welcome Lisa! For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect fromyou?
All of my work is gently written with no explicit violence or sexuality – it is suitable for teens and up. Whether I’m writing mystery or romance, scifi or dystopian, I tend to focus on the way the characters interact with and learn from those around them. I like to explore how characters grow and strengthen from the challenges they face. I rarely have a “bad guy” in a story – if anything, I am more likely to have the heroine discover that there are reasons which caused an antagonist to become trapped in a certain negative mindset. Most of my proceeds benefit battered women’s shelters, and I tend to have endings where the heroine finds a path out of her troubles due to her perseverance and determination.
What kind of research went into writing your works? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
The 14-book medieval series is probably the area I did the most research on. It’s a time period I’ve loved since childhood. I belonged to the Society for Creative Anachronisms for many years and had a medieval personae there. I participated in a dance group, took several years of medieval swordfighting lessons, and explored medieval cooking. I especially enjoyed my visits to England, Ireland, Scotland, and Europe to wander around castles and breathe in their atmosphere.
What was the inspiration for your writing? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
I have over twenty different fiction series out. A fellow writer informed me it was absolutely critical that a series be on one and only one genre. I of course took this as a challenge. My next series is going to be a genre-hopper where every single book is a wholly different genre.
What was the biggest challenge in writing and putting out [newest release/spotlighted release]? How did you overcome that challenge?
I love polishing my stories. I read and re-read them, tweaking a verb here, an adjective there. I could keep doing that forever. It’s always hard to release one of my stories. The beauty of self-publishing is, if I re-read it later on and decide I want to tweak something, I can. I just make the change, reload, and the new one is now live.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
I’m not sure I ever hate any character. I strive to always consider each character a product of the way they were brought up and the life forces which bear on them. I try to make sure even my “villains” have understandable reasons for being the way they are, much as in real life. I think it behooves us as travelers on this planet Earth to look at each fellow person as a human with the same faults and strengths we have. So in that sense I try to love each character for who they are and the stage of their journey they’re in.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
I love pretty much all genres and styles. I strive to write my books to be teen-and-up friendly, as I want to be able to reach women in most stages of development. I generally strive to write uplifting stories which encourage the readers to find their own strength within them and to move past whatever hurdles impede them in their own lives.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
I’ve worked from home since 1998 and love the flexibility that schedule provides to me. I can sleep in if I’m not feeling well. I can work late through the night if I’m enthused about a project. I can take a break to do yoga. I love being able to share my stories with the world and to help a cause at the same time.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Write about something you’re passionate about. There is example after example of an author who wrote in a totally oddball genre and did extremely well with it, because it’s an area they adored. Don’t write in a genre just because others say it’s popular or you think it’s the hot genre. Write in the area you are thrilled about. This makes the writing go more quickly, it brings the characters to life, and your fan base can feel that energy.
Write about something you know well. If you’ve lived in Kansas all your life and you try to write a NYC thriller, you’re going to be hard-pressed to compete with the thousands of NYC-living authors who infuse their stories with a wealth of authentic details. If you instead write about Kansas and bring that world to life, it’s something the rest of the world will crave learning about.
How important has the New England setting been to your writing?
A number of my series are set in New England. My four-book Sutton Massachusetts Mystery series are set in the Sutton – Millbury – Worcester area. My 31-book Salem mysteries are all set in Salem. I have a seven-book art theft series primarily set in museums around New England. My seven-book zoo mystery series is set in zoos around the area. This ties into the above question – write what you know. I can breathe specific details into my local stories because I live here. I know the trees. The flowers. The landscapes. I can bring those to life far better, in general, than someone who lives in France and is trying to insert details based on Wikipedia articles.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
My world is wholly integrated with my writing. I love kayaking – and those trips get worked into the Sutton Mass mysteries. I love photography, cyanotypes, monoprints, and monotypes. I have books out on all of those topics. I enjoy wine and food – there are books on those as well. I love to travel, and my trips become the basis for my stories.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
I adore writing and can do it nearly anywhere. Curled up in bed with the laptop. Lounging on the futon. Sitting at my desk. Writing is my escape and immersion. I’ll put off everything else to write. I don’t feel any draw to go out to a noisy café or to go to a group location to write – for me that would be incredibly distracting, along with a waste of the time driving to and from the location. I could write far more simply by staying put and typing.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
Absolutely I prefer silence in my own cozy nook. I wholly immerse in my story. I don’t want any distractions bothering me from that immersion. It’d be like watching a serious drama movie and having someone wandering around or talking or playing music. It would take me out of that immersion.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
The majority of my works are available free through the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program. A selection of thirty-three of my books are on all major platforms – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and so on.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
I have a variety of social media locations:
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/LisaSheaAuthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/lisasheaAuthor
GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/lisashea
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/lisasheama/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/lisashealowcarb/
Thank you, again, for joining us on our Spotlight Blog, Lisa! We look forward to hosting you and some of the Massachusetts Calling authors this Sunday, July 9, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM