A special thanks to everyone who submitted a question. They were incredible and as you will read below Lisa's answers are so much fun. Book winners are announced below.
ConnieJ from Frugal Reader asks: Does music inspire you to write the books that you have written so far? Other authors? If so, who/what?
Lisa: I write with music on, but more because I need noise in the background than because it specifically inspires me. I did, however, frequently use an iTunes playlist of Gregorian chant and songs by Hildegard of Bingen while I was writing both Immortal Warrior and Immortal Outlaw. Plus I have a set of songs called "War and Dark Magic" that get me fired up for writing the scenes with Cwen -- that list includes O fortuna from Carmina Burana and other similar pieces.
I have a list called "General Writing" that's my everyday writing music for whatever genre--a mix of instrumental music--and I've slowly been assembling playlists for future books (Elizabethan, baroque, classical), though I'm not certain whether I'll be able to write to them. Bach just doesn't seem like writing music--it doesn't fade into the background enough, which is what most of my music has to do or else it just distracts me. Chant was very good for that fading effect. So's John Tesh, but really...
I don't read much while I'm writing, other than research books. But overall I'd say Kathleen Woodiwiss and Laura Kinsale have inspired me the most, along with Ursula K. LeGuin and Anne
Cheri2628 asks: When you are writing, do you ever picture in your mind a particular celebrity as the "face" of one of your characters?
Lisa: Absolutely, although they're never exactly right. I go for a type. The closest thing to Steinarr is probably a young Ewan MacGregor, and Marian is Naomi Watts, more or less.
Ari, on the other hand, is Simon Baker -- 100%.
nightdweller20 asks: What is the one thing you wish you’d known about being a writer before you became one?
How hard it is to balance the writing part with the admin/promo part, and both of those with the living life part.
Then again, if I'd known, I might not have started.
Meljprincess asks: What's the book you want to write but haven't written yet?
Lisa: The one that makes me a million dollars and is bought by Hollywood and turned into a movie beloved by all. I'm shallow. ;-)
Pissenlit asks: How do you come up with character names? Do you decide on a name first or do you flesh out a character and then name him/her?
Lisa: I have several traditional baby name books, plus a Reverse Naming Dictionary where you look up what you want the name to mean, and the book tells you what names have that meaning. I have lists of Norse names and lists of names from the tax rolls of England in different eras (for historical accuracy). Sometimes I scan the phonebook. I work very hard to get the perfect name, and I seldom start writing (at least, not more than sketches) before I have it.
Names are terribly important to my process. If I start a character with one name and have to change it for some reason, it changes the whole being. So of course, sometimes I change a name in order to change a character. The change can be subtle, For example, I had a hero that I'd named Reid who kept going prissy and soft on me. Totally a beta male, and not a particularly attractive one at that. Then one day I decided his name was really Reade, and that changed everything. Suddenly, he was exactly the guy I wanted him to be--still a nice guy, but one with some cojones. (He's from Runaway Bay, if you're curious.)
MonieG adds: I've never heard of a Reverse Naming Directory. If I ever have another child I'm definitely getting one of those. I agree that the names are very important. I was totally annoyed that one of the characters in a recent book I read was named Peggy. It totally didn't fit with my mental picture of her.
Mishel asks: If you weren't a writer, what do you think you'd be doing in life right now?
Lisa: Painting my house and pulling weeds. lol. I'd probably be working part time at some kind of office job and doing art on the side. When I have time, I do altered art, including books. Writing books, destroying them for art's sake. It's all part of the same game.
Alexa asks: Are any of the characters in your book based on people you know or yourself?
Lisa: If they were me, they wouldn't be all that interesting. And if they were based on other people, I might get sued. However, there's going to be a character in a future Immortal Brotherhood book named Shanks, after one of my critique partners. He's going to be a grifter and a total rogue.
And I'm seriously considering doing a contest where the winner gets to have a character after them. The thing is, I absolutely can NOT put a modern name in a historical book. It would drive me nuts. So that will have to wait until the series comes up to present time. What do you think? Would you enter a contest to get to be in a book?
MonieG adds: I would enter a contest to get my name in a book. It could be changed to the spelling Mahnikah to fit. LOL
Lyoness2009 asks: Could you give us a rough number of books you currently own? Do you buy, go to the library, or trade?
Lisa: Probably 5-600, not counting the programming books my husband has at his office or the extra copies of my own books I keep around for conferences and promo. I buy a lot of books, but I also use the library heavily and pick up obscure, out of print research books at UBSes and yard sales. When I was a broke college student I frequented a trade UBS, but it's so inconvenient and you never know what's going to be available. Really, I'd rather just buy what I want, when I want it. (I special order a lot.)
Cindy asks: I noticed on your website that you are a fan of Men from U.N.C.L.E. - Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. So am I! I loved that TV series and I too fell in love with those guys! Did you use either one (or both!) of these actors, Robert Vaughn or David McCallum as a model for a character in any of your books?
Lisa: Not really. They're both rather short in real life, and so far, my heroes are tall. It's always a possibility, though. I love watching McCallum as Ducky Mallard on NCIS, and adored Vaughn's judge in the TV version of the Magnificent Seven. M7 was in production when I bumped into him in Dallas -- I assume he was there filming.
I wrote a tiny scrap of 5th grade U.N.C.L.E. fanfic, though. And then I seriously wrote some Star Trek stuff during the following two years. Fangrll crushes are wonderful inspiration.
RachieG asks: What genres/authors do you enjoy reading the most? why?
Lisa: I'm totally a historical romance geek, although I'll read almost any romance that isn't on the two sticky extremes (sticky sweet or sticky sexy). I think hyphenating "-historical" to the term Regency is the best thing since sliced bread, although big juicy medievals are my absolute favorite.
Favorite authors include Eloisa James, Laura Kinsale, Nalini Singh, Alyssa Day/Alesia Holliday among others. And I absolutely love Kristan Higgins. She manages to write books that don't have sex, but are still sexy, which is a real talent. I introduced my 13 yo daughter to adult romance via Kristan and now I have to duke it out with her to get my books back. And I do want them back, do you hear me, child?
Thanks again to Lisa for spending time answering our questions.
Without further delay the winner of Immortal Warrior is... donnas and the winner of both Immortal Warrior and Immortal Outlaw is... ConnieJ. Congratulations to you both!!! Watch for my email later today.