Welcome to Part One of our interview with bestselling author Lisa Jackson!
In a nutshell, who is Lisa Jackson? Before she became a nationally bestselling author, she was a woman struggling to keep food on the table by writing novels, hoping against hope that someone would pay her for them. Today, neck deep in murder, her books appear on The New York Times, the USA Today, and the Publishers Weekly national bestseller lists. As those who know her can attest, this funny, smart woman who enjoys making the hair stand up on the back of her readers’ necks is a mom, a daughter, a workaholic and an amazing writer.
Julie: You’ve made serial killing your business or at least the writing of it your profession. We’re going to assume you’re not actually a serial killer in real life, so how do you capture the twisted mindset of murderers and plot your fictional murders so well?
Lisa: Good assumption!!! You know, it’s hard to describe, but I feel it necessary to “get into the head” of the character who is telling a particular part of the story. So, I have to jump genders, races, religions and really know my character. It takes me a while to really understand a character, especially a villain, but until I really get a killer’s motivation, I can’t write the story. I imagine a lot, and some of what I’m imagining isn’t that nice.
Julie: Writing in your genre must require extensive planning and plotting. I’m picturing your writing space/office looking like a police station crime lab with white boards and photos of suspects and timelines. How do you plot?
Lisa: Oh, you’d be disappointed. I plot 24/7, from the time when I’m taking a shower or driving to get coffee, or watching television. I’m always thinking about a book. Sometimes it’s right on the surface, other times deeper down and masked, but I plot in my head, with scratch paper, on my computer, when I’m trying to fall asleep. It’s writing it down that’s difficult. I can dream up lots of interesting scenarios, but creating a plot with a beginning, middle and end . . . now, THAT takes some doing.
Julie: Do you have consultants you turn to for research purposes such as police, forensics, etc.?
Lisa: You bet; usually friends who are professionals in the field, lots of doctors/nurses and a couple of cops. One of my favorite characters is Officer Larry Sparks of the Oregon State Police in my books DEEP FREEZE and FATAL BURN. Guess what? That guy just happened to marry one of my best friends in real life. He’s retired from the OSP now, but he’s still my “go to” guy.
Julie: Do you work on writing more than one book at a time?
Lisa: I write one book at a time (in order to keep all the characters straight and make certain I finish). However, during the course of writing that book I might take a break and sketch out an idea for a new book, even stop completely to flesh out the idea, but mostly one at a time.
Julie: There have been a lot of changes in the publishing world in the past few years. What are your feelings about the world of publishing today as compared to when you began writing?
Lisa: Oh, man. I began writing 31 years ago and LIFE has changed so of course so has publishing. It’s harder to get away with anything now. The explosion in electronic devices is incredible and the advances in medicine, technology, and telecommunications make the world very different. Think cell phones-which are essentially computers that connect you to the rest of the world. Think DNA, the Internet. As for publishing, I send in my books via email. I read my edited manuscripts on an e-reader. E-publishing, barely an idea when I started, is taking a larger and larger bite out of the market. When I started writing there was no Amazon.com, nor Google.com. Come to think of it, I must’ve begun my career in the Dark Ages!
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Ms. Jackson next week!
Books by Lisa Jackson
Filed Under: Behind the Books