Lisa Lane: I’ve known since I was about seven or eight that I was a writer, my early influences being sci-fi, literary, and horror. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized how much I also enjoyed writing romance. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series was a great inspiration, but I have to admit that my main romance influences are actually more erotic; Anne Rice, Olaf Stapeldon, and Anais Nin are my favorites.
Phoebe: Did you know what type of romance you wanted to write about or did you experiment with different genres before you chose the one that you felt was for you?
Lisa: I have experimented a lot with my romance, trying just about everything from sweet and romantic, to exotic and kinky. Anyone who has read any of my work—literary, horror, and romance—knows that I love to mix genres, and I love to test my limits, as a writer. For that reason, I don’t think that I can choose just one genre. I’m still experimenting.
Phoebe: What was the first fiction you ever wrote? And do you still have it with you?
Lisa: My first fiction was a “novel” I wrote when I was eight. It was a heart-wrenching story about a good witch and her cat. I felt the twelve-page behemoth was worthy of a hardbound cover, and so I gave it one, complete with a crayon-drawn picture.
I wrote my first serious work of fiction when I was fourteen or fifteen. My twin sister and I co-authored a romantic horror novel, The Nightcrawlers, and the summer we wrote it was probably one of the best summers of my childhood. Sadly, the manuscript and disks got lost in a move, many years ago.
Phoebe: How much research do you have to do for your novels and does it take you a long time to gather that research?
Lisa: That depends. The longest I have ever spent researching on a subject was eight or nine months, for a screenplay I wrote about a man infected with rabies. This was about fifteen years ago, when I didn’t have the Internet, so I spent a lot of time at my local library. I had no idea that there was so much to learn about the effects of rabies on human beings….
My most recent research has been for a character featured in the third installment of The Darkness and the Night series. He’s a varsity football player, and although I know a decent amount about the mechanics of the game, I needed to know the dynamics of being a player. I interviewed the vice-president of a professional football team for all of the details, and then used a few quick web searches to fill in the blanks. In all, it took me a couple of months, but I think it will make a big difference in the depth and believability of the character.
Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your latest novel Lust in Space?
Lisa: Ravenous Romance had sent out a call for submissions, noting that they were looking for numerous types of stories, one being a “Star-Trek”-inspired romance. I had always wanted to write an episode for my favorite “Star-Trek” series but I hadn’t felt confident enough at the thought of altering, personally, a universe I loved so much, ever to pursue it. When I saw the chance to create my own universe in the genre, I knew I needed to jump on it. I brainstormed over the next day or two, and then sent in my ideas for characters and storylines, ecstatic with what the muses presented. I gave my characters diverse personas, mixing and matching traits of various favorite space-themed characters, while working to make the cast unique, likeable, and real.
Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your novel Blood and Coffee, which is the first book of your The Darkness and the Night series?
Lisa: Blood and Coffee is The Nightcrawlers’ legacy. After having spent a couple of years writing literary science fiction, I decided it was time I wrote a good horror. With my sister’s permission, I scrapped most of the original storyline, keeping only the basic elements, and brought Karen, Billy, and the gang back to life. The Nightcrawlers was reborn as The Darkness and the Night: Book One. Lori Perkins, the lead editor for Ravenous Romance, came up with the fantastic subtitle, Blood and Coffee.
Phoebe: How did you come up with the concept for your upcoming novel Cosmic Orgasm, which is the second book of your The Darkness and the Night series?
Lisa: I knew I couldn’t just leave my readers hanging with Blood and Coffee’s bittersweet ending, but I knew that I didn’t want to follow the typical formula, either. I had a number of characters from Blood and Coffee that I knew needed some attention, and I knew that I wanted to include at least one of them in one of my plot twists. I decided that Karen needed a new love interest, but I needed a way to detach her from Billy. I also knew that I wanted Karen to begin to develop her abilities as a vampire, and move one step closer toward the normalcy she so desperately seeks. The idea of giving John-Michael bounty hunters seemed to fit, and the Astral hell Karen falls into felt like the right solution to all of my other problems.
Phoebe: How many more novels do you have planned to write for your The Darkness and the Night series?
Lisa: I only have one more book planned for the series, but I can’t say for certain that I won’t write any more. I love the characters, and their universe is vast. I have a short story that prequels the series, following a couple of the minor characters and how they came to be, but I don’t have any immediate publication plans for it. I have considered stories for a few other characters; if the demand ever arises, I would be happy to develop more.
Phoebe: Do you have a process of how you start to write your novels?
Lisa: I usually start with the basic premise and the characters. I generally spend a few days creating character profiles, giving them backgrounds, beliefs, and traits. I make sure I have all prerequisite research finished, as well as a basic skeleton of the novel, before I begin writing.
The first page of the first chapter is always the hardest for me. I must have my coffee, and I must have silence. I stare at the screen, sometimes for several minutes (sometimes longer), thinking about the characters as I wait for the first words to come. When they come, I don’t hesitate; I trust the muses.
Phoebe: Which do you like best, writing a series or writing stand alone novels? How is writing each different for you?
Lisa: There are advantages and disadvantages to both. When writing a stand-alone novel, one doesn’t have to worry about “plot dumps” and other consistencies that might need addressing. All of my literary works are stand-alone, although I do feel the need to tie everything I write, no matter what the genre, into the same “universe.”
Series are great, because they allow for greater exploration into plot twists and character backgrounds, and offer more room for story evolution. For example, in The Darkness and the Night series, each of the books stands alone, but the books also have an interlocking storyline, with some interesting twists that one can enjoy in even greater depth after reading the entire series.
Phoebe: What process did you have to go through to get your first book published and did it take you long?
Lisa: I have been working to sell my fiction for over a decade. I have a stack of rejection letters several inches tall. I began to network online a few years ago, following author and agent blogs, and worked to connect with people who I felt had similar literary taste, passion, and motivation. As the rejection letters continued to pile up, so did the short stories and novels.
When agent and editor Lori Perkins posted on her blog an open call for submissions for Ravenous Romance’s romantic/erotic anthology, Sex and Shoes, I knew I had the perfect story. She accepted it. I sent in a couple more stories, in response to an open call for the Men in Shorts anthology. To my delight, Ravenous Romance requested even more, and we began to negotiate both Lust in Space and the possibility of publishing The Darkness and the Night series.
Phoebe: How did you feel when you finally saw your first published book came out and how do you feel about your other novels being published?
Lisa: I was elated. The cover was fantastic, and I was very pleased with all of the feedback and editorial work Ms. Perkins had contributed. It meant so much to me that finally I was able to share my passion with others. Writing is such a huge part of my life, and to be able to display my efforts in such a way was literally a dream come true. I’m a literary buff at heart; I believe in changing the world, one work at a time, as corny as that sounds, and I believe I have a lot to say. What better way to spread goodwill and provoke thought, than to do so though one’s art?
It is an honor to have one novel published; to have multiple novels published is just amazing. Lust in Space was an opportunity for me to take some chances in my writing, chances that I hadn’t before known I had it in me to take. Cosmic Orgasm was another one; I really raised my own bar when I redrafted it for Ravenous Romance, and am confident that the third The Darkness and the Night book will benefit greatly from all that I have learned and chanced on the others. I hope to have the opportunity to publish many, many more titles.
Phoebe: Do you ever get writers block? What do you do to get rid of it so you can get back to writing your novels?
Lisa: I get writer’s block at least once or twice for every novel I write. It’s inevitable. When the words won’t come, I know I have two choices: push through it and force out the words, or walk away from the computer for a day or two. Usually I know when it’s time to impose upon myself a short break, although often I’ll try to work through it, anyway. Another effective tactic that I’ve found useful is to work on two projects at once, and go back and forth between them.
Phoebe: Which aspects of writing do you enjoy the most and why? And what are your writing pet peeves, if you have any?
Lisa: I enjoy watching the movie play in my mind as my fingers type and the story unfolds in front of me. Writing is as much an escape for me as it is excruciating work, both my best friend and my worst enemy. I look forward to the surprises even I don’t see coming, knowing that, if I work as the muses’ willing slave, they will reward me aptly. Conversely, I feel driven to write for long stretches, my personal deadlines strict. Sometimes the story is so compelling that I can’t bring myself to stop, and I fall into lengthy and exhausting writing binges. Again, the reward is great, but it comes at a cost.
Phoebe: How do you handle your writing schedule and your personal life without going insane?
Lisa: One can handle a writing schedule and a personal life without going insane? My friends and family know that I spend most of my time writing, and so no one takes it personally when I opt out on social events. Writing has become such an integral part of my life that, no matter what else I have going on, I find the time to write.
Phoebe: What do you do to relax after having spent a long while writing?
Lisa: Sometimes I’ll watch television in the evenings, or play board or video games; I’m a sucker for scrabble, survival horror games, and fantasy RPG’s. I also love to spoil my cats…and my very supportive husband.
Phoebe: Do you have any hobbies?
Lisa: Writing and promotion, lol. When I’m not writing and I do have free time, I like to read and draw. I consider myself an activist for more than one cause. I paint one or two moderate sized works a year, almost always gouache on canvas. I used to do a lot of songwriting and singing, and have been in a couple of bands. I also enjoy designing new CD covers for my twin sister’s band, Mad Menagerie.
Phoebe: Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you?
Lisa: Make sure you know the difference between romance and erotica, and make sure you know your market.
Phoebe: Is there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you?
Lisa: Selling a book to a publishing company isn’t nearly as hard as selling a book to the masses. Network, network, network. Your books are not going to sell themselves; if you want them to sell, you absolutely must turn promotion into one of your hobbies.
Phoebe: Now for a question that I have been meaning to ask an author. Do you have a favorite genre you like to read? Who is your favorite author(s)?
Lisa: I don’t have one favorite genre, my tastes being numerous, but I do have a few favorite works. My all-time favorite reads are Ted Chiang’s novelette, Hell is the Absence of God, which I discovered when approached by a director/producer about writing a screen adaptation, Joseph Conrad’s fantastic novella, Heart of Darkness, which was the inspiration for the highly acclaimed Apocalypse Now, Stephen King’s The Shining, H.G. Wells’s “The Star,” and Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men.