Friday, October 9, 2009

Zombie Cookbook Writer Lisa Haselton

The Zombie Cookbook from Damnation Books is a fun and satiric romp combining two subjects you wouldn't guess would go together in an appetizing way--zombies and food. I was delighted to see many old friends among the writers, and volunteered to interview them for the ZC Virtual Blog Tour.

My first guest is Lisa Jackson, who writes under the name of Lisa Haselton. She contributed "A Zombie Named Clete" and a unique tale of revenge, "The Secret Ingredient." I've known Lisa for almost three years, from various writing groups at the Muse It Up Club and Long Story Short's My Writing Friend. We belonged to a group called Muse It or Lose It, where we had to critique eight thousand words of each other's novels every month. Not for the faint of heart! Lisa is a professional freelance editor and has worked for several e-publishers. Her short fiction has been published in Mysterical-E, the Fiction Flier, Flashshot and Penpricks, and she has quite a few non-fiction magazine credits as well. And now I get to pick her brain a bit! Welcome, Lisa....

How long have you been writing?

– Since I could hold a pencil! Hee hee, okay, so maybe that’s not entirely true, well, it is, but not what you were asking. I have been writing stories since a young age. I remember ‘winning’ a trip to a local college for a day when I was in fifth grade because of a story I wrote. Really wish I still had that story somewhere, but I remember how it felt to have someone interested in my writing and to be ‘one of a few’ chosen to explore a college. I’d actually been writing since my first journal. The journal recorded thoughts and feelings, but my mind was awhirl with stories. I grew up in a rural area and had few neighbors. I’d spend hours outside exploring and making up stories as I found crevices in hillsides, and funny-looking creatures in streams. I also loved to read (still do), and those stories sparked my curiosity even more. So, to answer your question, over 30 years.

What are you currently working on/have coming out?

– I’m working on several short stories at the moment – I’m now addicted to anthologies and would love to get in several others. I have a paranormal thriller that absolutely has to see the light of day soon or I might burst. I also have a mystery set in a fictionalized version of the city I live in. I’m writing a history book using my real name (Haselton is a pseudonym) based on a town that existed in southern NH from 1746-1770. That book should be out in summer of 2010 if all goes well. It’s my first non-fiction book and I’m very excited about it. And I have another persona who writes hot romances. Second book due out in December, working on a sequel to my first (which released in June).

What drew you to the Zombie Cookbook?

– It was the fact that a friend of mine through The Writer’s Chatroom put out a call for zombie stories, poems, recipes, and what have you, for The Zombie Cookbook. I’d never written a zombie story before and it felt a bit too much for me. I love vamps and weres, but zombies weren’t on my list. I let ‘zombie’ toss around in my gray matter for a bit and I had a slew of poems come to me. All based off of names. I submitted my favorite one "A Zombie Named Clete" and it was accepted. Well, then, that just got me excited and so I wanted to develop a short story around the poem. It took a while. I mentioned it to a couple of friends and one told me that zombies are averse to salt (I had no idea until then), so I let that tidbit mix with my poem and then I went on vacation to a dude ranch and THEN the story finally came together. It took a while. I felt out of my element, but I wanted to craft something to see if I could. And that’s how "Secret Ingredient" came to be.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

– A punster for sure, but with my novels I have to become a plotter in order to make sure I have all the details correct. It’s a challenge for me to make the change.

How do you manage to turn "editing-brain" off?

– Excellent question! That’s my biggest challenge. I’m an editor by profession, so that side of my brain does not like to be silenced. I have found the absolute best way to turn it off is to do timed writings. And I discovered this by doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and participating in "word sprints". It’s where you sign up with others on a chat board to write for a certain number of minutes. For example "starting at :30 of the hour, I’ll write for 30 minutes". You post your name to say you’ll do it, and then at the end of 30 minutes everyone posts their word count. Some times only one other person may be in the sprint, sometimes several people, but I tell ya, after doing it a couple of times, I didn’t care if I was doing it myself, the quantity of words the came from my brain to fingertips blew me away! Giving myself permission to "just write" seems to only work if I set a timer and just do it. Without a timer, my editing side chimes in with "oh, come on, you can choose a better word than that" or "this is crap, just give it up", hee hee. It’s so much fun to have the editor turned off!

How do you balance multiple genres?

- I can’t tell you how many years I struggled with this. I kept hearing "pick a genre and stick with it", and so I tried and tried to pick a favorite one, but I just couldn’t. After my MBA I went to school for a degree in writing and literature, hoping to narrow down my interests – thinking whatever course I did the best in would be the winner. Well, I found I liked every writing course I tried, so I ended up having MORE interests! It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve come to terms with writing in several genres. I don’t think I balance them, I think it’s more that they balance me. I’ve always loved to learn and I have a lot of varied interests. I do my best to write down my dreams when I wake up. And I have so many notebooks and scraps of paper with ideas on them, too. Ideas strike all the time. My lifetime isn’t long enough to get them all down. ;) I write YA and adult; flash, short stories, and novel-length; mystery, horror, romance, sci-fi, historical, humor, time travel, paranormal, futuristic, and anything in between. And that doesn’t even get into my non-fiction writing side!

What is the genre that most speaks to you?

– Mystery speaks the most to me with horror a close second.

What themes do you return to over and over?

– Wow, this is a good question. I haven’t thought about themes before. But in thinking about it, I’d say the general theme is a person discovering that he/she is unique and stronger than he/she ever imagined. I think so many of us go about our lives and get into a routine that we don’t dig deep to find out who we really are or what we can do. We give up too quickly, depend on others to carry us, or decide "I could never do that". And I think this is a theme with me because there was a time when I climbed Mount Washington in NH and got seriously lost. I was dependent on my partner. Eventually I figured out he had no clue what he was doing or saying and I sat down and said "I quit". I was going to figure out how to survive on my own…no joke, the clouds thinned and I discovered I could almost stretch out and touch the corner of the foundation. The building was right there and we had no idea until that moment. I was lucky that day, but it gave me a glimpse of how strong I could be, and I think it’s a theme I use a lot.

Who are your favorite writers?

– I devoured Stephen King for several years in the 80s and love that he finished The Dark Tower series (definitely effects my writing now), I like Walter Mosley, JD Robb, JR Ward, Jessica Andersen, Archer Mayor, and so many others. I’m always reading and discovering new authors and then I have to go and devour all their books.

What's the scariest book you ever read?

- The Fog, I can’t remember the author’s name right now [James Herbert], but I had to read that book in the daylight. Many restless nights with that one.

How do you get it all done?

– One word at a time!

Here's one from the Proust questionnaire: What are your favorite qualities in a zombie?

– That they remain uninterested in me! Hee hee. My folks were excited to learn that zombies have an aversion to salt. Since I’m always on them (and so are their doctors) to cut back on salt, they feel they will never be appealing meals for zombies. Really made their day to know that. ;)


More about Lisa and her work here:

Lisa will be lurking like the undead today...leave a comment or a question for Lisa and she'll get back to you as soon as humanly possible :)

UPDATE: OH GOODIE, PRIZES! Also, if you leave a comment for our Zombie writers, your name will be entered in our drawing. Win a free electronic edition of the The Zombie Cookbook or a special Damnation Books mousepad! Two lucky winners will be drawn and announced October 12th!


Nancy Famolari said...

Excellent interview. Two of my favorite people. I saw that you're getting a copy of Sumerian Moon, Val, good luck with it. Beautiful writing. Lisa, good luck with the Zombie Cookbook~

Lisa Haselton said...

Hi Nancy - thanks for stopping by!

An Evolving Artist @ said...

Read a bit of your interview. I am not a writer but am a creative soul... saw your invitation on CCS! Good luck!

Valerie K said...

Hi, Nancy...old home week :) Glad you stopped by.

Thanks, Lisa, for your wonderful interview and your patience with the Blogger issue...

And thanks for stopping by, Carol. Lin and Carla are up next!

Carla said...

(Oops! I think I posted under the wrong comment box.)

Great interview, Val!

Lisa, I love the way your personality shines through your answers!

Lisa Haselton said...

I had a lot of fun with this interview...and am really enjoying touring with The Zombie Cookbook. My first VBT and it's a blast!