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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Writing Wherever You Are: Author Interview with Lisa Harris

You’ve now written over 40 books, which is a great achievement. However, your bio says you’ve done that writing while your family works as missionaries in Africa. From discussions with family and friends who’ve worked as missionaries in Africa, I understand it’s common to have electric blackouts. Has that been your experience?
Yes, we have a lot of power outages and view them as the norm now. J We have some solar power for our house, that we use to supplement the city power.

Do you write long hand or use a computer?
I use a computer to write my stories, though when brainstorming, I write long hand. For some reason, that helps the process.

Since life is Africa is so different from the plot locations of your books, where do you find the inspiration for your storylines?
I’ve actually written over a dozen books set in Africa, and love using that setting. We’ve been able to travel a lot as well, so every place I visit is a potential setting for a new story. J Outside the US and Africa, I’ve set books in Italy, France, Brazil, and Istanbul and more. I love bringing in other cultures and interesting places.

How long does it take to write your “messy” first draft?
Usually about two to three months, and yes, they are messy!

How did you go about finding an agent / publisher? Did you go to conferences? Send out queries?
I’ve been with my agent for about twenty years. I did both, going to conferences early on and sending out many, many queries. She first read a query I wrote and eventually agreed to be my agent.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Action scenes. I have to block them out in my head, step by step, like a movie scene. It takes a lot of time for me to get it right, unlike dialogue that comes much easier for me.

What does your editor remind you to do most often?
I’m very repetitive! Which is why I’m so thankful for my editors. I am so close to the story that I don’t see a lot of the issues.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
Winning awards is always encouraging, and I’ve won several, but I really love the personal feedback from readers.

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it? 
When I first started writing, I went to a critique group. I was so nervous the first time I went, even though I was convinced I had a stellar story. I was wrong. Everyone was nice and encouraging, they but told me to go home and rewrite my chapter. 

The characters were cardboard characters that needed some life infused in them. That was hard for me to take, but I embraced the criticism, something I’ve always tried to do. Learning from the rejections and criticism will in the end, help you grow in your craft!

What has surprised or frustrated you the most in writing/publishing? 
It’s a long journey with ups and downs. It’s a learning process and one you have to keep writing and growing in. I always imagined myself sitting in some cabin somewhere, churning out bestsellers. It’s not that way. It’s hard work that you have to stick to and never stop learning, no matter how many books you’ve written.

You’re involved with “The Echo Project” in Africa. Tell my readers about it and how they might be able to help.
While we are primarily involved in church planting, we have a small non-profit, The ECHO Project, where we help with people’s physical needs. This includes monthly food packets to those in need, paying for school fees and uniforms, small business loans, healthcare needs, and more.

It’s been a blessing to be involved in making a small difference in this way, and we are so grateful to those who help fund this ministry.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
Don’t give up! It’s a long and sometimes lonely road, but the people you meet along the way are such a blessing!

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
The Escape, book one in my US Marshal series just released! Here’s the short blurb.

US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn are thrust into a high-profile case when they are called on to transport two prisoners across the country on a private plane. But when the plane experiences engine trouble en route from the Pacific Northwest to Colorado, the pilots crash-land the aircraft deep in the heart of the sprawling Salmon-Challis National Forest.

When Madison and Jonas regain consciousness, they find both pilots and one prisoner dead--and one fugitive on the run. They'll have to negotiate the rugged and remote backcountry through Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado while tracking a murderer who is desperate to disappear--and will do anything to stop them.

That’s all for today’s interview. If you’d like to learn more about Lisa’s writing, here are a couple of links to get you started.

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