Lisa Girolami


20 QUESTIONS IN THE HOT SEAT

1. First, the basic question. Why do you write, what is it that compels you?

Wow. Good question. From the time I could pick up a crayon, I was drawing all over everything – napkins, cereal boxes, my mom’s books. In college I majored in Fine Art (emphasis in Drawing and Painting). As life got busier, I had less time to set up my paint/canvas/easel/etc. so I found that writing would also satisfy the creative urges I had spilling out of my head. I have a fairly vivid imagination and creating is what feeds me.

2. What’s the hardest thing for you about writing?

The long stretches of laboring over difficult chapters. I get antsy, get up, walk around, play with the cats and then make myself go back to it. Still, I can’t complain. I love writing.

3. What genre do you feel most comfortable writing in?

I suppose romance, but lately I’ve had some fun with quirky short stories and prose. There is a fun short story on my website that’s called The Road Trip.

4. How do you like to approach your writing when starting a new project? Do you do outlines, and breakdown scenes, or leap straight into writing the narrative?

I mull it over in my mind for a long time. It’s like they grow in the womb of my head, developing, maturing, stocking up experiences, until they begin to kick and scream to get out. At that point, I usually write a very loose outline, more to help me remember all the stuff that has just spilled out of my head, but then the writing really comes together in a sort of stream of consciousness. My characters take me where they want to go. Sometimes I guide them, but most of the time, I’m not sure where they’re taking me until we arrive.

5. Do you have certain writing rituals that you like to perform?

Windows open with happy sunlight streaming in. Lots of mugs of hot tea. No music. Cats asleep on the table, close enough to the fan of the laptop that they’re nice and warm.

6. Do you talk to your characters at all?

I listen to them talking and I hear them thinking. I am definitely the voyeur in their lives but I know they’re aware of my presence and welcome my intrusion.

7. Writers quite often work through issues in their narratives. Do you, and how do you handle that?

Do you mean issues in my own life or the character’s issues? I suppose it’s a little of the former and a lot of the latter. I don’t think you can write without bringing some of yourself into it. However, the only issues (in my own life) that I weave into the stories have been long ago worked through and they serve to add a realistic or human dimensionality to a character. I don’t usually deal with current personal issues in my writing. Those are mine and they stay with me on a very deep, personal level.

8. Do you have people read your work as you write, or do you wait till a project is complete? What would you say were the benefits to either approach?

I usually wait until I have completed the first “drafty, draft” before anyone reads it. I imagine having someone reads bits and chunks would work as well; I just don’t prefer to do it that way. I will, however, tell someone about the story and have a dialogue with them to help me see the bigger picture of the story. Having a free flowing conversation (with Q and A) is no different from you and someone else talking about a real couple you know that’s going through something. It makes the characters come alive and gives me my friend’s perspective.

9. How do you create your characters? Do you start with a basic outline of a personality type, or work them up as you go along?

More than the emergence of a basic personality type, what usually happens is the protagonist and her challenge becomes the basis of all personality and character development. As I mentioned in question #4, she has been speaking to me for a while and then she gets further developed as we go. The antagonist comes along, either at the same time or shortly after, which propels the development of both personalities in tandem. Names, occupations, hometowns may change along the way, but it all slowly cooks into a nice, juicy pie.

10. Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?

My life, which includes my own personal experiences, and the world around me, things that interest me, stimulate me, intrigue me. I think the most frequent motivation comes from my curiosity. I am constantly asking, “what if?” That ALWAYS leads to a story.

11. Do you like to write to music, and if so, what kind?

I don’t listen to music while I’m actually writing. It distracts me. So does the television, which is rarely on in my house, anyway. But what does help me is listening to music in my car, which inspires me. Ideas roll around in my head for a while, and then I can sit down at the computer to write. Certain songs have been the sole impetus for a part of a story. One hot and heavy scene in my upcoming novel, Run to Me, came as a completely developed story moment when I was listening to the Rolling Stone’s Sympathy for the Devil. I worked the scene into the novel because the musical inspiration helped me conceive it.

12. If you didn’t write, what would you do?

Paint, design, and direct film. All the things I’m already lucky enough to do.

13. What’s your favorite story that you’ve written?

That’s a difficult one to say. At the risk of sounding like I’m avoiding the question, I can tell you that my favorite story was a comic book I wrote and illustrated when I was six years old. It was called “Waterman”. He was a superhero that could form into a puddle and creep under the crack in the bottom of a door. He was cool and he saved the world. It was innocent and full promise for a better world! I still have that comic…somewhere.

14. What are some of the things you do to improve on your craft? Do you attend conferences? Take workshops? What works best for you to improve how and what you write?

I go to conferences and workshops when I can. There’s always something I can take away from them. I was fortunate enough to sit in on a writer’s workshop given by prolific author, Jennifer Fulton. It was like getting a super-charged head full of amazing and incredible insight from an amazing and incredible author. Also, I would say that reading as many novels as possible, especially in the genre in which one writes, is another way to hone the craft – to study what works and what doesn’t work for you as you read other’s writing.

15. As a writer what do you look for in a prospective publisher?

Most importantly, I look for a publisher who publishes the kind of books I write. I want to know that they “get” what I’m trying to do. I want a publisher that will work with me, challenge me, support me, and especially desire to invest in my writing future. For those reasons, Bold Strokes Books is the perfect publisher for me.

16. What, from your perspective, are some of the most common mistakes authors starting out in the business make with regard to approaching a prospective publisher?

Not understanding the publisher’s body of work. And, when the rejection letters come, a mistake is not listening to the advice (if the publisher gives any).

17. What are some of the things you do to build up audiences for your work? What do you think are some of the most effective things an author can do to advertise him or herself?

Setting up a personal website, joining Yahoo Groups that are interested in what you’re interested in (for me, examples include: BSBAuthorsConnect, Radclyffe, and LesFic_Unbound), setting up a MySpace page, organizing local readings, sending out postcards advertising your novels, and especially, selecting a publisher that knows how to get the word out.

18. How do you feel about e-publishing and e-books? Would you go that route?

I haven’t gone that route, though my publisher, BSB, is starting to sell E-book versions of their novels.

19. What were your best and worst experiences with an editor?

So far, with the wonderful editors I have been blessed with, there has been no “worst.” The best of it is being constantly challenged to be better. The debates about certain parts of my writing are respectful and constructive. I liken the editors to professional tennis players – I’d rather play with them than rudimentary players because they kick my ass (in a nice way!) and force me to improve my game. A lesser player would not be able to push me and raise my ability.

20. And finally, what’s your favorite thing about being a writer? And what, for you, totally sucks about it?

My favorite thing: reaching out to others with the stories I love to tell. Connecting with readers, especially in person, and knowing that I can hopefully make them feel as good as I do when I read other author’s novels.

What sucks: Not being able to write full time! At least…not yet! :)

Our thanks to Lisa for participating and for sharing her insight with us.


Author Profile:

Lisa Girolami has been in the entertainment industry since 1979. She holds a BA in Fine Art and an MS in Psychology. Previous jobs included ten years as production executive in the motion picture industry and another two decade producing and designing theme parks for Disney and Universal Studios. After six years as the Director of Creative Development for a firm in Los Angeles, she has returned to Disney as a Senior Show Producer on the renovation of Disney’s California Adventure theme park. She’s also a counselor at a mental health facility in Garden Grove. She currently lives in Long Beach, California.

You can visit Lisa at her web site: LISA GIROLAMI.

For more information about Lisa’s up and coming releases, LOVE ON LOCATION (May 2008) and RUN TO ME (October 2008) visit:
Bold Strokes Books
Star Crossed Productions

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