Meet Lisa Brunette, a novelist, game writer, and journalist. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Woman, Crosscut.com, and many others. She’s the award-winning author of the Dreamslippers mystery series and other works and has hundreds of story design credits in digital games. She blogs weekly at www.lisa-brunette.com.
- Where do your characters come from?
One of my protagonists in the Dreamslippers Series was inspired in part by my late mother-in-law, who died five years ago. She was a trailblazing woman who developed programs to help women transition into independence, and she followed a self-directed spiritual path. She had legally changed her name to A. Grace, using the A only because officials told her she couldn’t go by just ‘Grace,’ like Cher. When asked, she’d tell people the A stood for ‘Amazing.’ I had less than a year of knowing her before she died, and I think I created a character in her likeness as a way to sort of keep her with me. But the character isn’t her, of course; they are very different. I like to think they would’ve been friends.
- Who is your favorite character from your book(s)?
Grace is everyone’s favorite, mine included. It’s hard to compete with a 77-year-old yogi who’s mastered a psychic gift for slipping into others’ dreams and uses it to solve crimes. She’s fashionably flamboyant, drives a convertible in rainy Seattle, takes new lovers at whim, and in her own dreams, has visions of the Buddha.
- How do you come up with book titles?
Titling the book is one of the last pieces of the puzzle for me. I believe it’s best to wait till all the revising is done, when the book is in solid shape. In the game-writing work that I do, I’ve titled hundreds of games, coming up with series titles as well as each game title in the series. Though I know it’s common especially in the mystery genre to use familiar phrases as titles, I prefer titles that are unique, that haven’t been used before, and that aren’t sayings or cliches, unless it’s playing on those.
Choosing a title is a real art, and especially now that we’re in the Age of the Algorithm, it’s tough to anticipate what can happen in a live online environment. For example, we had some confusion when we released my first book, Cat in the Flock, as Amazon’s bots assumed the book fit into a category known as ‘pet noir.’ But ‘Cat’ came from the protagonist’s nickname, Cat, short for Cathedral.
- As people learned about your books, what unexpected things happened along the way?
When I gave a reading in DC last year, I got a huge surprise when a limo picked me up for the event. It turned out my old friend Brewster, who’d sponsored the event and counted amongst his eclectic car collection a 90s-era limousine. It had actually been used by the Bill Clinton White House, and since Brewster and I had met when we were both political interns in DC in the 90s, it was hugely appropriate. I was really touched, as he had his driver wear a cap and the whole bit.
- What have people most liked or found most meaningful/funny/creative/ challenging about your books?
The word most often used to describe my characters is ‘quirky.’ I love a good oddball in real life and in fiction, and writing about them is incredibly fun. Readers often comment on how much they love my strong, lively characters. But the books are frequently described as page-turners in terms of the plots as well.
- What does your writing space look like? Do you have a crazy mess of a desk full of notes and post its? Or is it a quaint chair at a coffee shop?
I write at a desk that I can lever upward for a standing desk at times. The wall behind me is painted in whiteboard paint so that I can outline, draft, and make notes in marker directly on the wall.
- What genres do you work in?
My novels are romantic suspense. There’s always some romantic element, but that’s secondary to the suspense, the mystery.
- Where would your dream book signing occur?
That’s an easy one. I’d love to do a St. Louis book tour, with especially signings at Left Bank Books in the Central West End and at St. Louis University, my alma mater. St. Louis is primarily where the first book in the Dreamslippers Series is set, it’s where I spent my formative years, and it’s where my family still lives. I know most writers would say ‘Paris,’ or someplace equally dreamy, but there you have it!
- As a result of publishing your book, what have you learned about yourself and/or the writing process?
I learned that I can write pretty quickly, finishing a novel draft in two months, and that I get so immersed in the project at these times that I can keep working to the point where all that sitting at a computer takes its toll on my body.
- If you didn’t write, what would you do with that time? Do you feel compelled to write or choose to?
“That time” makes me laugh, as there is never enough time. I’ve never been in a position of needing to “fill time” and can’t imagine what that would feel like. But during the hardest periods for me as a writer, I’ve wished the compulsion to write weren’t such a part of me. I sometimes think I’d have been happier—and healthier—as a yoga teacher. But instead, it seems my calling is to write about yogis!
Follow Lisa at the following links: https://www.facebook.com/LisaBrunettePage1/
Author Photo: Regan House Photo
Writing Wall: Lisa Brunette