In your bio it says that after you wrote your first screenplay you decided not to do another one. What made you decide that screenplays weren’t for you?
I think it was more of a matter of Hollywood rejecting me than me rejecting Hollywood. I wrote a script that was eventually made into a film (Plan B) and it bombed. Then no one would read my screenplays anymore.
From there you started your first novel in 2004. How long did it take to write your first draft?
It took about eighteen months. Then more revisions. I didn't start looking for an agent until the end of 2005.
Who encouraged you along the way?
I was not encouraged. I was repeatedly discouraged and told to get a regular job and a regular life.
Prior to writing your screenplay and this first novel, what other published writing did you have?
I had one essay in Salon "Confessions of a Hollywood Sellout." [link: http://www.salon.com/2005/02/23/plan_b/]
What drew you to writing a mystery? What mystery writer gave you the inspiration that this was something you could do as well?
I never thought I was writing mysteries. I always thought I was writing comedic novels. I've never been a writer with influences. I just write what I need to write. I'm much more inspired by comedians and film than other novelist. Not that I'm not a huge fan of many novelists, but I've never tried to emulate anyone.
What was your process in finding an agent?
I bought a book on how to get an agent and followed the instructions. Many query letters.
From the time you were signed by your agent how long did it take to get the publishing contract?
I was signed in November and we sold the book in January. I don't know if that is a normal timeline.
Will there be more books in this series?
There will be more Spellman books, but I think the series will take a turn (which will seem obvious if you read The Last Word.)
How much time daily do you have for writing?
It just depends on where I am at in terms of my deadline.
You wrote another book, Heads You Lose with David Hayward. How do you jointly write a book? How did that collaboration come about?
I had the idea for a meta mystery novel and I knew Dave was the only person who I could write it with. I'd always been fascinated by how writers collaborate on a book. It seemed impossible that their egos wouldn't get in the way. So I wanted to essentially expose the beams in a collaboration process.
You also have another book called, How to Negotiate Everything which is co-authored by David Spellman and you. Spellman is the family name in your series. Is it a serious guide or more tongue in cheek?
David Spellman is a fictional character. I'm sure there are David Spellmans, but I don't know any. The picture book is a story point in the fifth Spellman novel where we discover that David wrote a book, essentially a business book for children that he tested on his baby sister. The book had some unfortunate side effects on Rae's character. It is most definitely tongue in cheek. There's no one more difficult to negotiate with than a child. It's really intended for adults.
What advice would you give someone who thinks they have the great novel in them just waiting to be told?
What is the best advice you’ve been given from either an editor or your agent?
When you're done with one project, don't waste your time fretting about the publication, reviews, etc. Just start working on the next book.
Are there any other books in the works that you would like to tell my readers about?
You Were Here is my next book after The Last Word. It's a complete departure from anything I've ever written. That's about all I'm comfortable saying now.
If you would like to learn more about Lisa and her books, here’s two links to do just that…