20 October 2008

Interview- Lisa McMann, author of Wake

Lisa McMann's website. I'm going to reread Wake soon and review it. Until then...

1. Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, how long ago did you decide to pursue it and what made you come to that decision?

I first wanted to be a writer in about 4th grade. I tried to get some things published right out of college, but had to give that up to get a real job. I really started to pursue writing again in 2002 and now I write full time.

2. Anything specific you need to do before you can write? Like listen to music?

Nope. Some days it’s hard to click on that Word doc, and that usually means I have more thinking and processing to do before I can continue writing the story. But most days I just sit down and write. I am inspired by music, but I don’t listen to it when I write.

3. Have any authors influenced your writing style?

That’s a really interesting question and I’d say yes, they have, but I write in a variety of styles – it’s just that the only style the public has really seen is the style in WAKE, which is a little different from most YA today. And actually, the style in WAKE was probably most influenced by Markus Zusak. The subject matter is completely different, but the structure of the sentences and paragraphs in The Book Thief really appealed to me, and I think you can see traces of that influence in WAKE – it fit the dream-like subject matter.

4. Do you have to outline or do you just write what comes to you as it comes?

Usually I just write what comes to me. For the first time, in writing book three (GONE) of the WAKE series, I have a one-page outline. So that’s different and a little strange, but luckily my editor rocks and was totally fine with me not giving her a huge, detailed outline – she understands the way I write, so that’s really cool.

5. Who is your favorite character from Wake to write?

Hmm. Well, I really enjoy writing Cabel, and Janie, too, though she’s the most difficult, but the character I have the most fun with is Captain. She’s so tough and quick-witted and stern but kind when she needs to be...I really love writing her.

6. What was the inspiration for Wake?

I had a dream that I was watching what my husband was dreaming about. I thought it was a cool idea so I wrote it down in the middle of the night. In the morning, it still sounded cool, so I started to develop a character in my mind that would have the ability to be in others dreams. And then I complicated it by making it an ability that Janie can’t control. It was a great month of brainstorming.

7. Were any of your characters inspired by real people?

No, they are all fictional, though some of the personalities or quirks about the characters come from people I know.

8. When you first got the idea for Wake did you plan for it to be a series?

Not at all. But when I wrote “The End,” I felt like Janie’s story wasn’t over. I wrote FADE immediately after finishing WAKE, even though I knew it wasn’t wise to write a sequel to a book I hadn’t sold yet.

9. How many books are planned in all?

Three. I think that GONE will be the last book. But in this business, you never know!

10. What’s the name of the series?

Ummm.... *sheepish grin* It doesn’t really have a name. Sometimes I call it the WAKE series but there’s nothing official. That’s probably because at the beginning, we only planned two books.

11. Anything you’d like to say about Fade?

Sure! It comes out Feb 10, 2009. It’s 40 pages longer than WAKE but the same reasonable price, woo hoo! And from early reports, the consensus is that it’s even better than WAKE – so I hope you and your readers check it out and decide for yourselves if that’s true.

There will be a short summary of FADE posted on my (about to be newly updated) website soon so you can see what it’s about – just go to lisamcmann.com and click on “The Books.”

12. What do you do to get rid of writer’s block?

It depends. Sometimes it’s just my procrastination kicking in, and I need to give myself a kick in the pants and get to work. Other times it’s caused by me just not having a clear picture of what I’m supposed to write next, so I spend some time just thinking, maybe sitting outside, taking a long walk by myself, and mulling over the problem. I remember watching a short video clip of an interview with the late author Meindert de Jong, who wrote The Wheel on the School and The House of Sixty Fathers. He was asked this question and he said that whenever he had writer’s block, he went fishing for the day to work out the problem in his head. I think he was wise.

13. What is the first book you remember reading?

Gosh...I remember being read to before I knew how to read. I Am A Bunny was a Little Golden Book that I totally loved. My dad read it to me all the time. But some of the early chapter books I read on my own were the Little House on the Prairie series, Black Beauty, Bambi (not the “made from the Disney movie” version, but the real original unabridged story, which is wonderful), and Little Women. There was a book that my 5th grade teacher read to us, called STAR EYE, which is now out of print, and we never made it to the ending because summer break started. It was a fantastic book and I loved it and have always wanted to read the end. Anybody happen to have a copy? ☺

14. What were you favorite books as teen and now? Favorite authors? Do you have any books you’d like to recommend?

My teens and twenties sort of run together when it comes to books because I started working at a children’s bookstore when I was 17, and I read everything in the YA section even after I had kidlets of my own – I still pretty much read only YA because it’s the best stuff out there, especially for someone with a short attention span like me. I would recommend any of the following.

Then: I loved Robert Cormier’s THE CHOCOLATE WAR and I AM THE CHEESE,
WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams, Cynthia Voigt’s HOMECOMING series, Jean
Craighead George, Katherine Patterson, Lois Lowry, Judy Blume, Madeleine
L’Engle, Chris Crutcher’s early stuff (and I love his recent stuff too!) and GOODNIGHT, MR. TOM by Michelle Magorian.

Recently: Sara Zarr’s STORY OF A GIRL and SWEETHEARTS, Chris Crutcher’s
DEADLINE, Melissa Walker’s VIOLET series, LITTLE BROTHER by Cory
Doctorow, TEACH ME and BREATHE MY NAME by R. A. Nelson, an upcoming book called THE DUST OF 100 DOGS by A.S. King (Feb 2009), and authors Markus
Zusak, Ellen Hopkins, Lisa Schroeder, Elizabeth Scott, Maureen Johnson...so many more.

15. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Yes! WAKE comes out in paperback December 23 and makes a GREAT gift, or a great book to buy with your holiday gift cards. Also, please do check out my website, http://lisamcmann.com, where you can find out about contests (I’ll be having two seriously cool contests in the upcoming months), news, and my touring schedule for FADE. Hope to see you!

Thanks so much for the interview. It was a blast!