I’ve written a mystery series, now a
trilogy plus bonus novella. I was first called to the genre in 2008, when I
interviewed leading mystery writers JA Jance, Elizabeth George, and Jayne Ann
Krentz for a cover story for Seattle Woman
magazine. That rekindled a love for the genre that academia had beat out of me!
I’m also a poet, with a published collection called Broom
Tell us about
your latest book.
I’ve just released
the Dreamslippers Series boxed set, available as an ebook everywhere. It
includes all three full-length novels as well as a novella. The series centers
on the question, What if you could slip into the dreams of a killer? This
family of private investigators can, but it isn’t easy.
What marketing methods are you using to promote
Most of my sales come from word-of-mouth. I’ve done author appearances
at Seattle University and the University of Florida, and I have one upcoming
next month at Ferris University. I speak at conferences as well, and I’ve done
book signings at local venues. Other than that, I’m on all of the social media
platforms and post to them regularly. I also post to my blog every week, and I
send out a newsletter once or twice a month to my 500+ followers. Readers get
the first book in the series free for signing up.
What formats is the book available in?
The first two books in the Dreamslippers Series are available in
paperback, audiobook, and of course ebook. Readers can get book three in
paperback or ebook. The boxed set is ebook-only. The poetry collection is ebook
and paperback. All buy links are here.
Who are your favourite authors?
Lately I’m grooving on Gillian Flynn—I’ve read all her books and
actually liked Dark Places more than Gone Girl—as well as Paula Hawkins and Tana French.
But French is my favorite of the three.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Be careful about what feedback you listen to—not everyone has your
vision in mind. Keep plugging along if this is what you really want to do and
you think you have the knack for it. Rejection is a guaranteed part of the
process for every writer.
What’s your favourite quote about writing/for
“Good writers borrow. Great writers steal.” -
Often misunderstood, the quote is about making something your own, not just trying on another author’s style
temporarily. That’s just mimicry. I feel like a lot of writers—especially
men—are jumping on the current ‘girl’ bandwagon as mimics right now instead of
really stealing the show.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Having a talent that can be highly marketable and in demand in some areas—such
as video-games for me—and possessing the “power of the pen.” I’ve used my
writing skill to construct legal arguments and fight for political causes, too.
Where can people find out more about you and
My web site—of course! It’s not static; there’s
new content every week: www.lisa-brunette.com.
From there you’ll find links to my Facebook page, Twitter, etc. Readers
can also follow me through Amazon and connect with
me via Goodreads.
Who is you favorite character in your book and
Everyone’s favorite character from
the Dreamslippers Series is Amazing Grace. It’s easy to see why: She’s what we
all want to be when we grow up! At 77, she dresses in a classic, fashionable
way, takes attractive, interesting lovers, and has as rich a social life as a
spiritual one. She’s that older woman who’s blazed her own path and is fully in
command of her decisions and passions.
Why do you think
readers are going to enjoy your book?
Cat in the Flock is the first book in the series,
and it’s currently trending at 4.5 stars on 65 Amazon reviews. I haven’t had
the marketing budget to get a lot of eyes on the book, so that achievement
happened organically, from mostly readers who don’t know me taking a chance on
the book. From the comments, what surfaces is that they value the strong
character relationships wedded to a page-turning plot.
How long did it
take you to write your book?
That first novel took two years, all
done around a very demanding full-time job. I used most of my weekends and all
of my vacation time for writing.
Who designed the
A very talented pro in Canada, Monika Younger. She has designed covers for the
Harlequin mystery lines for years. She’s a perfect fit for my romantic suspense
Did you learn
anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
The biggest thing I learned writing Cat in the Flock was the difference between a mystery
story that works for a game and what works for a novel. I’d spent five years
teaching developers how to create mystery game stories, and in those, whodunit has
to be a more obvious, and you can’t have too many layers of story, or players
lose track of it while playing all the puzzles and other interactions. But in a
novel, multiple twists and turns are the only play,
they are essentially the puzzle readers come to the book to figure out. So you
have to hide much more, especially in a whodunit. It’s a delicate balance that
I believe I achieved in the second novel, Framed and
Where can a
reader purchase your book?
My books are available through
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, the iBookstore, Smashwords,
CreateSpace, and iTunes, as well as through your local library via Overdrive.
You can also get any bookstore to order paperback copies. My local bookstore
here in Chehalis, WA, keeps all of my books on stock in paperback, too.
What are you
doing to market the book?
To me, marketing and promotion are
the same thing, but in addition to what I mentioned above, I’ve also run a few
blog tours like this one through Partners in Crime. I tried blog tours with my
second and third books, and I liked the interaction with bloggers and readers
even if the sales boost was modest if anything, so I decided to backtrack and
do one for Cat in the Flock. Selling books is
hands-down the hardest, most frustrating part of this process, and it’s only
become more difficult in the three years since I released the first book.
Right now, Shonda Rhimes, the
creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal,
among other screenwriting projects. I love the way she gives you a villain and
then turns him or her into a victim before your very eyes. She’s a great model
for me in how to grow beyond straight villains, to learn to be sympathetic to
them as a writer without letting them off the hook for their transgressions.
How do you
research your books?
First off, I don’t write about a
place I’ve never been. Place is important to me, and I feel the need to inhabit
it before attempting to render it on the page. Even though I love Grey’s Anatomy, for example, it bugged me to no end
that they kept showing heavy rain and lightning in Seattle. Seattle’s rain is a
subtle drizzle most of the time, and there’s almost never thunder or lightning.
This is such a bad problem on TV that I routinely refer to these depictions as
“TV Seattle rain.” I had the same problem with The Missing.
I wish someone would tell Hollywood to get a clue!
OK, that was a bit of a tangent.
There are limits. I haven’t been undercover in a fundamentalist church or a
cult, both of which I’ve written about, but I interviewed someone who has (my
husband, so lots and lots of ‘interviews’ over many years!). I recently
presented at a conference alongside a group of women writers, all of us sharing
examples of journalistic interviews and research we’ve done that supported our
book projects in this way.
What is your
work in progress? Tell us about it.
in the early stages of a stand-alone novel based on an actual news report for
an alleged murder committed in a neighboring town. A woman called 911 to report
that she shot her husband in self-defense. At first, it looked like the
evidence supported her claim, since both spouses’ guns were out. But then
things began to look fishy. The husband was shot in the back, and someone
cleaned the crime scene, even going so far as to spackle over a bullet hole in
the wall. I’m riveted by this. How does a woman with no priors or history of
mental illness get to this point? That’s the question I’m attempting to answer
in the novel.
What are your
thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
My understanding is that the
self-publishing bubble has now officially burst. This is something I’ve heard
from industry insiders, both in self-publishing and the traditional world. It’s
exceptionally hard either way for writers to make a living solely on their
fiction, though. Very few do; it’s kind of the 80/20 rule. So just think about
that: Maybe eighty percent of the writers you’ve read have to rely on a source
of income outside their novels. Mine is the writing I do in games and
journalism. This means committing to a life of working far more than 40 hours
per week, which takes a toll on a person’s health, which explains my side
obsessions with yoga and dance!
Who or what
inspired you to become a writer?
As a child, as soon as I clued in to
the fact that the stories I read had been written by authors, and that being an
author was a vocation one could pick in life, I felt inspired to do that. It
wasn’t one particular author but just the concept that a person could devote herself
to creating worlds with words.
Does your family
support you in your writing career? How?
Writers often say the people closest
to them don’t read their work, and that’s been the case with me as well, with
the exception of my husband, who’s my cheerleader. I don’t really expect a lot
from family and friends, though, because I get it. I think what happens is that
you can’t separate the person you know so well from the writing. As my sister
said, “It’s like I can hear your voice in my head as I’m reading.” This is why
our best readers are probably perfect strangers.
What are you
Up next is Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me and then Sophie Hannah’s Kind of Cruel.
What books or
authors have most influenced your life?
I have a BA in English and an MFA in
writing, so my early adult influences come from academia, a sort of eclectic
list: Toni Morrison, Jamaica Kincaid, Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Raymond
Carver, Lorrie Moore, Junot Diaz, Anthony Burgess, Edwidge Danticat, Djuna Barnes,
Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare, Coleridge, Keats, Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald.
I’m influenced by genre fiction as well, from writers like Jayne Ann Krentz and
JA Jance to the literary suspense writers I favor now.
When you’re not writing,
how do you spend your time?
With my husband and stepson. This
weekend, we’re visiting family and taking the kid to tour a college he’s
thinking of attending in the fall.