Interview with Lisa E. Pugh

What's the story behind your latest book?
Decades ago, I developed a fascination with World War One, the older views of Post-Traumatic Stress (what they called "shell shock") and the Interwar years. It comes from reading Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries and Biggles stories I guess. I decided to try to update the Beauty-and-the-Beast motif to that period, and give it a twist.
The story was originally much shorter and much more beholden to the style of writing of a fairy tale. It also sounded a lot more mannered in narration and conversation. As I worked on it, it expanded into something more realistic, with a longer time-frame and more explanation for the decisions of the characters involved.
What is your writing process?
I don't think I have a specific way to start. I mean my inspiration changes with each story, and that affects how the writing develops. I've had stories inspired by music, lyrics, phrases and images. I've had lines come to me, or something on TV that triggers it. So starting a story is different every time.

I can say once I get writing, I can go for hours. I stay up all night sometimes, because a character or scene wouldn't leave me alone. Especially if it's a particularly busy, important or dramatic scene. I don't want to lose the thread, because I know it will never be the same if I try to restructure it again. And I often don't sleep well when my mind is racing like that.

If I really can't stay up, I write a few quick notes and jot down important quotes and conversations so I don't forget. Then I start again later. Sometimes I leave gaps when a later scene is demanding attention or I want to write something down before I forget.

I'm generally what's called a "pantser", meaning I don't do a lot of plotting beforehand. I get in a flow and just ride the wave. The characters take over, pushing me one way or another. Eventually, I have to go back and build the structure around the form, adding actions around conversations, for instance. I can nudge things one way or another, and if I have something critical to say, I'll insist on putting it there. However, when I don't let the thing develop organically, it tends to sound stilted and conventional.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first one I remember was a Doctor Who fanfic, written long-hand. I can't remember what it was about. However,
I remember writing one when I was about twelve that was inspired by a trick of light that happens when a sunset has certain atmospherics. It gives the world a sepia tone. It reminded me of an old photograph.

One reason I remember this story is it fell afoul of the Appleworks 55KB restriction. My usual way of handling that obstacle was remove all but the last paragraph and then continue writing and saving under a different file name. This one I forgot to change the file name, and lost the first half of my story. When I went back, I couldn't recapture the original tone or feel. The characters took me in a totally different direction. I guess it was my version of Coledridge's "Kubla Khan" scenario.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The character interaction. Definitely. You can tell by how much my characters talk. *grins*
My characters never have a dull day with me as their author. I love to throw them into situations and see how the scene develops. They tend to take me into new, unexpected and exciting places emotionally or physically. Often without my express permission. *chuckles*
Language is a big part of my attraction to writing too. Writing allows me to unleash my love of words in a safe environment, to fully explore what can be created by finding the right tone and inflection. Dorothy L. Sayers wrote about getting drunk on words, and I find it's true.
Who are your favorite authors?
Favorite authors of all time are Dorothy L. Sayers, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Louis Stevenson. I dabble in Jules Verne and Alexander Pushkin. I like Captain W. E. Johns because he writes fun adventures, even if his works are aimed at a much younger demographic. I've recently done a full-on cannonball into Romance writers, especially Christine Feehan, Marjorie M. Liu, Susan E. Smith, Laurie A. Green and Thea Harrison. My friend, Caryn Moya Block is another romance author I can recommend. She's the one who turned me on to indie publishing.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I always wanted to be published, but I never saw books similar to what I write on the shelves. I worried that a large publishing house, which is so dependent on instant success, wouldn't like the fact I'm not always easy to pigeonhole and I tend to like unusual time periods. I don't write in the time periods most seen in fiction, particularly the romance genre.
When eBooks and indie writing became such a big thing, I decided to give it a shot. A friend of mine started to publish that way, and I got interested in the idea. It's been an eye-opening education and a wild ride.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Most of my recent dips into new series came from reading an author in an anthology that one of my tried-and-true favorites appeared in. I discovered Christine Feehan and M.K. Eidem that way.
I discovered Susan E. Smith through a "Recommended for You" on Amazon (yes, those occasionally work!). Also, if one series links to others, I often ride the tide that way.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
My parents read to me and my sisters regularly. I learned "Goodnight Moon" by heart, and loved to track the mouse through the book's room. When I was younger than seven, my dad read us "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach". He read a little each night, always starting with the phrase, "To recapitulate..." So even early on, I was introduced to complex words and stories, the power of tales to fire the imagination. It had an effect on what I read for the rest of my life too. I didn't tend to read my age-group.

My first real love, literary-wise, was Sherlock Holmes. I had the biggest geek-crush on him. I read that when most girls my age were reading "Nancy Drew" and "Sweet Valley High". Though it separated me a bit from my peers, I fell in love with adventure stories and the Victorian era. It gave me an appreciation of mysteries, and I really decided I wanted to write as a result of reading them.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, surfing the Internet, drawing and occasionally cross stitching. I can create some neat things with a needle, thread and cloth. I even won ribbons. I like to swim as well, but I don't get to do that much. When we go to the pool, I'm baby-wrangling my five year-old. He's such a silly guy!
What are you working on next?
I have several irons in various fires. I have a sequel to "Unexpected Danger", exploring new threats to my characters. I have an adventure romance in Switzerland, another set in New Jersey and Italy, and a Victorian pastiche. I'm also developing a romantic series with a harder edge, stretching my wings a bit. I have a Polynesian romance with paranormal and mythological influences. A lot of things going on. *laughs*
Published 2017-11-11.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Unexpected Danger
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 61,000. Language: English. Published: December 7, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical, Fiction » Romance » Suspense
Margaret Taylor arrives in a small Oxfordshire village, looking for peace and quiet to write her book. When she receives an invitation to dinner from a mysterious nobleman, she's intrigued and accepts. Christopher Tobias lives on his estate in lonely seclusion. One day he takes a risk, inviting a stranger into his home. Will his last bid for a future survive when his past comes back to haunt him?