Q&A with Lisa Rusczyk
Lisa, welcome to Reading With Monie and thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
1. Please tell us a little about your background and your book, The Blue Pen.
I was mainly raised in Northern Alabama. I moved to Phoenix for seven years and recently moved back to Alabama. I'm thrilled to be out of that desert heat.
My book was written when I was in Phoenix. I wrote it on and off for five years. I don't know why it took so long to write because I had written other books in between. I've started and not finished plenty of stories, but this one kept asking me to write it. It tells the story of a magazine writer, Parker, who interviews Cleo for her life story as to how she became homeless. I started writing it as a short story by hand, but it grew into a novel.
2. How did you come up with the title?
The title is the name Cleo gets as a performer at the improv club she goes to. Because the book is about her, I named it after her improv name.
3. Do you base any of your characters on people you know?
I didn't base any of these characters on people I know, but I had images of certain people when I wrote it, which could have influenced some of the characters' behaviors. For example, I pictured Parker looking like my favorite Philosophy teacher in college. Maybe some of his characteristics came through in Parker.
4. What actors would you choose to play Cleo and Parker if The Blue Pen was made into a movie?
What a fun question! I picture a younger, brunette Glenn Close as Cleo and Edward Norton as Parker.
5. I LOVE ED NORTON!! Do you schedule your writing time daily or do you just write when the ideas come?
I ususally write something every day, but mostly at different times. My favorite time to write is in the morning. Then there are those days when no writing gets done at all. Luckily, there are always ideas, just not always good ones!
6. What's the biggest obstacle you face when writing and how do you overcome it?
I guess that would have to be when I get stuck as to "what happens next." I don't outline, so I write where the story takes me, and I often write myself into a box doing that. To get out of it, I'll read the entire manuscript from beginning to where I'm stuck and usually I find out what do write next and can continue.
7. Do you have someone you share your work with as you go along or do you wait to the end to reveal it?
I have always waited until I was finished to let others read the books I write. Lately, though, I've been sharing portions of a novel I'm working on now with my boyfriend Mikie because we came up for the idea together. It's been pretty fun doing it that way.
8. Who are your favorite authors and is there a book that has most influenced your writing?
I've become a huge John Steinbeck fan of late, but read a ton of Stephen King and Dean Koontz over the years. I also enjoy most of Jonathan Kellerman's novels. My favorite book of all time is Watership Down by Richard Adams, and think that has influenced me.
9. What is your best reader or fan story?
My ex-mother-in-law read all of my books for me and would give me great critical feedback, as well as help check for mistakes. She always pumped my ego up to write more and better.
Also, I offered my book as a freebie on the Amazon Kindle forums in exchange for possible reviews. One of them is now my friend on Facebook, which I thought was just great.
10. What book are you currently reading?
I am reading a few things right now. Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, Blue-Eyed Son by Doyle Sinclair and Darkness Within by Steven Pajak.
11. What books do you have in the pipeline?
I have three I'm picking at recently. Because I have three more books scheduled for release with my publisher, two urban fantasy novels of a series definitely for October (Sam the Night Person) and November (Full Moon in December), I'm working on a sequel to the young adult fantasy called A Dream of the Past. I'm not sure when that one will be released, but I'd like to at least be on the way to having the intended sequel done by that time.
I'm also working on a novel of twins who write journals together and both develop mental illness. Thus reading the above novel about twins.
The main focus lately has been on a middle grade novel about cats. It's pretty much fantasy, too, but I adore cats and I'm using my own cats as the main characters. It's been a blast to write.
Thank you Monie for taking the time to write out such thoughtful questions. I enjoyed answering them and will be happy to answer any reader questions. Also, feel free to stop by my blog anytime!
Parker didn-t expect to find his next great magazine story sleeping off a hangover in the back seat of his car. The homeless woman, Cleo, says she never wakes after dawn, which makes Parker curious. His intuition for finding a unique story is buzzing after meeting Cleo, and he decides to interview her to find out what drove her to live on the streets.
Cleo explains how the early death of her first love set the path for her life. She withdraws from the world after he dies, only to re-enter it by going to a strange club called the Beacon. At the underground club, the patrons channel spirits on the improv stage and share psychic readings in the room behind the beaded curtain. While Cleo describes her spiritual awakening, Parker wonders if she actually fell prey to mental illness.
Because of a first article Parker wrote about Cleo, another reporter is after the story, blackmailing Parker to give it up. Parker must decide how to keep his story and not let Cleo down in the process.
Now for a quick and fun giveaway!! Lisa has graciously offered everyone a chance to win one of five e-book copies of The Blue Pen. Three will go to the first three people who leave me a comment saying "I want to read THE BLUE PEN!!" and the remaining two winners will be selected from anyone who leaves any comment on this post by midnight on September 6th. Easy right? And remember you don't have to have an e-reader to read this book. Your digital copy will be in pdf format to either print or read on your computer or any phone with an e-reader app. Open worldwide.