Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Award-winning author of nineteen novels and novellas, Lisa Harris lives with her husband and their three children in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries. When she’s not busy writing or home schooling, she loves traveling, cooking different ethnic foods, and photographing animals and birds in the African bush. Visit her website at www.lisaharriswrites.com and her blog at www.myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com

.When did you decide to be a writer?

I remember devouring books while I was in junior high and high school by authors like Carolyn Keene and Victoria Holt and dreaming of one day writing my own. But it wasn’t until many years later, after we adopted our first child, that I decided it was time to try and make that longtime dream come true. It took another few year before I published my first story, but it’s definitly a journey I’m glad I took.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

Hmm… that’s hard, because critiques are so important, but you do have to grow as a writer and learn to trust yourself, especially when you recive conflicting advise. Over the years, I’ve learned to follow my gut both when I think things will work and when I know it won’t work.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

Because of my schedule—I’m a home schooling mom and we’re involved in ministry—I’ve had to become very disciplined. Every day I have a word count, usually about 1000 words, to reach so when I get close to my deadline I won’t panic. (Trust me, I can’t write anything under pressure!)

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

As a family, we usually head to the beach for our day off once a week. We live about twenty minutes from the Indian Ocean which means warm water year round! I find it completely relaxing and and rejuvenating. We also try to spend some time at a game park, usually in South Africa, several times a year which I also find relaxing. I love driving through the bush and photographing the animals.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

Wow, another hard one. :-) I have so many. How about a recent favorite? I loved Susan Meissner’s The Shape of Mercy. She intertwined a moving contemporary with threads from the past to make a very memorable story.

That's one of my favorites, too! Do you think reading the work of others writers like Susan, helps you as a writer?

Yes, because I’m able to see in a concrete way what works, and—in my very humble opinion—what falls short. And in turn, hopefully, I can make my own books stronger.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Blood Ransom is one of those stories from my heart that I loved writing. Deep in the heart of Africa, two American lives are about to change forever. Natalie Sinclair and Dr. Chad Talcott want to make a difference in under-developed African villages … but they didn’t count on risking their lives in the process. Romance and adventure drive this powerful thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it. (To view the video trailer, click here).

Where did you get your inspiration for Blood Ransom?

I’d wanted to write a story set in Africa for years, but editor after editor told me it would never sell. So I kept the story percolating in the back of my mind. One New Year’s Eve, about four years ago, I was challenged by a friend to go ahead and write the book. Feeling that God had finally given me the go-ahead, I did. I pitched the idea to Sue Brower, who’s now my editor at Zondervan, while at a writer’s conference that fall and she told me that the timing was finally right. It still took a while for everything to come together, but this story is definitely the fulfillment of a dream.

Which character is most like you?

I suppose there is a part of me in every story that I write—or so my mother says. :-)Natalie, my heroine,, is adventurous, passionate and strong, but also has a vulnerabilty about her that makes her real. I see myself as adventurous and passionate, but I definitely have that streak of vulnerability as well that makes me cautious at times.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Oh, you’re going to make me choose? :-) If you’ve seen my video trailer that’s now posted on my blog, you were able to “meet” Joseph Komboli, my young hero in the story who loses his family to the horrors of the slave trade. Making that video really made his character come to life for me and reminded me again that I want to be a voice to those who don’t have one.

Did you know how Blood Ransom would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

When I start writing a book, I always know where I’m going, but there are also always plot twits that surprise me as the book takes form. For example, in the book that follows Blood Ransom in the series, I even ended up with a minor character who originally had just a few lines, take on a major role in the story. This is a part of the creative process that I love.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?

Blood Ransom is a story about courage, hope, and in particular, how God can use ordinary people to do extraordinary things for him. I also wanted to combine this idea with the reality of Christ’s victory on the cross.

“And they sang a new song with these words: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” Revelation 5:9 NLT

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I’m just now in the beginning of marketing, so I’ll have to wait and see what ends up working best. :-) My main thrust is to simply continue getting the word out there and trying to connect with my readers since they’re the ones who I’m writing for.

Specific things have been updating my blog and website with information about the book, making a book trailer, doing blog interviews, and having fun giveaways all month on my blog.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Right now, I’m doing the last edits of book two in the series, Blood Covenant that is due in a couple weeks. Then I will be starting a new romantic suspense for Summerside Press called Dark Continent that I’m really excited about. The book will be set both in southern Africa and New York in the early 1920’s.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If you’re a writer with dream of publication, don’t give up! And no matter who you are, go read a good book today! :-)

3 comments :

  1. Great interview, Lisa! And nice to catch up with you here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Susan. Glad you stopped by!

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's good to see you here too, Susan. :-) Thanks so much for having me, Lisa!

    ReplyDelete

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