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Friday, 19 August 2011

An Interview With Lisa Jackson

I'm very pleased to have Lisa Jackson here during publication week for 'Without Mercy'.

Tell us about your most recent book ‘Without Mercy’. It sounds like a fascinating premise.

The idea for WITHOUT MERCY came to me at a traffic light. I was waiting for the light to turn from red to green and was listening to my favourite radio station when an advertisement for a school for troubled teens was broadcast. In the ad, the mother was worried sick about a child with declining grades, escalating bad attitude and friends who were running with the wrong crowd. She told the announcer that she’d found the answer to her daughter’s problems in a school for troubled kids. She’d shipped her daughter off to a school with little contact with the outside world and when the daughter returned, she’d once again become her “normal” loving self. “Huh,” I thought. I’d raised boys who were far from angels, but what would it have taken me to send the kid off for someone else to raise and turn around? The idea kept growing and I was so caught in it, that the driver behind me had to lay on his horn to snap me out of it as the light had, indeed, turned green.

After nearly jumping out of my skin, I did a quick U turn and called my editor, then mapped out the story. I quit the book I was writing and WITHOUT MERCY was started as my editor loved the idea.

What first attracted you to the idea of writing crime/thrillers?

I’ve always loved puzzles and the human psyche. I grew up reading mysteries—from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie and I loved moody books like Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I started writing romance novels thirty years ago, but always had a bend toward mysteries and crime, so my writing kind of evolved, as did the popularity of the romantic suspense thriller. So here I am today. It all worked out.

Your writing is in more than one genre, was that down to a deliberate decision to explore different types of writing?

I write what I like. I don’t like following rules or prescribed plots. That was difficult for me as I started out in category romance and was told over and over again to tone down the suspense. But over the years, suspense became more popular and so I am lucky enough to write the kind of stories I love to read!

When you sit down to write a new book, do you find inspiration in particular ways or from particular sources?

Inspiration comes from all kinds of sources: an article I’ve read, or an overheard conversation, or a bit on the news, whatever. In the case of WITHOUT MERCY it was a radio ad. (That’s never happened before!) Though I can’t type very well and am a horrible speller, I’m lucky enough to be blessed with a pretty vivid imagination, so story ideas aren’t difficult. It’s the execution, the actual sitting and writing that’s a little more troublesome.

What are you working on now and what do you see yourself writing in the future?

I’m working on a book called YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW and it’s kind of a moody, I like to think Hitchcockian type of book, told primarily from the heroine’s point of view. It’s very psychological and I’m having a lot of fun writing it!

What’s the best advice you could give to someone who is writing a novel and hoping to get it published?

I encourage a first-time novelist to write the whole book. It’s easy to start a book and often times a writer has a great ending in mind, but it’s the pages in between that are the “proof in the pudding.” An idea is not a book. Write it from page one until “the end.”

Many thanks to Lisa for those inspiring answers.

'Without Mercy' by Lisa Jackson is out in paperback now. You can buy it here.

Please also pop over to Bookersatz for my review of 'Lasting Damage' by Sophie Hannah which is one of the best books I've read recently.


Shirley Wells said...

I love how the idea for Without Mercy came. It sounds like a great read.

Oh yes, the 'pages in between'. They're the tricky little devils. :)

Unknown said...

Fascinating account of how the book came about.

Anonymous said...

I love Without Mercy. I hope Lisa writes a sequel to it. I couldn't put the book down, she had me sucked it.