Please help me in welcoming Lisa Cresswell to the blog today. She's talking about writing and her newest release, Hush Puppy.
Hi, Lisa! Welcome. Please, tell us, where did you grow up and what do you love most about your hometown?
I grew up in North Carolina until I was about 15 years old. I love certain things about the state. It has a subtle beauty that maybe isn’t that apparent to visitors and it has the most wonderful coastline. I love North Carolina beaches and the rich history there. It’s the setting for a couple of my stories.
What is your background with writing?
My experiences writing go way back to grade school, but aside from a disastrous creative writing class in college, I’ve had no formal education in writing. I have taken correspondence courses in writing for kids and teens and I’ve attended every Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators workshop I can manage, which helped a lot. There’s been a lot of trial and error, but I think I just might be getting the hang of it now.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Finding time! I have two kids and a day job, plus extracurricular activities, so finding time to write is my biggest challenge. I take a notebook everywhere I go and write long hand any time I get a spare moment. I am often found grumbling about having to transfer everything to my computer later. J
What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?
I am a total outline convert. I have to know where I’m going or I’ll hit a brick wall/dead end for sure. When I first started writing longer works of fiction, I would just take off writing some interesting scene. I’d get to the end of it and not know what to do next. I could never finish anything! It wasn’t until I started writing screenplays and reading a lot about plotting and structure that the light went off. It’s sooo much easier for me with a plan in place before I start.
Study your craft. Invest in your education. Give yourself time to find your voice. A lot of time if necessary. They say you have to write 100,000 words of garbage before you’ll get good, so better get started now!
What is the worst piece of writing advice you've ever received?
Write what you know. That’s boring. Who wants to read that?? I think in a sense, it is good advice, but taken literally, it’s awful.
If your publisher offered to fly you anywhere to research your next book, where would you go?
That’s a hard one because there are a lot of places I’d love to travel. I can make up a story in just about any setting. Just give me a week there and I’m guaranteed to get inspired. If it was for the next book that I have contracted, it would have to be Eastern Europe, which isn't that high on my personal list of places to see, but I bet it's fascinating.
What is one thing readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
Probably that I do archaeology for a living.
Archaeology...how cool! Okay, so tell us a bit about your new book, Hush Puppy.
Hush Puppy is about two poor teens in rural North Carolina that find solace in each other’s company, but they just happen to be of different races. I wrote it to explore themes of forgiveness and hope for something better. It really didn’t start out to be a story about interracial relationships. In fact, to me, that’s not the focus at all. It just kind of happened that way.