Jen: Today we welcome Lisa Henry to the blog as her blog tour makes a stop with us. Lisa, will you share a short bio with us?
Lisa: I like to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters. I live in tropical North Queensland, Australia. I doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but I suspect I’m too lazy to move. I spend half my time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting my escape.
I attended university at sixteen, not because I was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. I studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Lisa: Rachel Haimowitz from Riptide asked me if I could write her a western. My answer was, of course, yes! Luckily I answered before I could have second thoughts, because Sweetwater was a real challenge in terms of research. I didn’t know much about the time period, or the geography, so I learned a lot while writing this. Here’s the blurb:
Wyoming Territory, 1870.
Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not what shames him the most. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden.
Harlan Crane, owner of the Empire saloon, knows Elijah for what he is—and for all the ungodly things he wants. And Crane isn’t the only one. Grady Mullins desires Elijah too, but unlike Crane, he refuses to push or mistreat the young man.
When violence shatters Elijah’s world, he is caught between two very different men and two devastating urges: revenge and despair. In a boomtown teetering on the edge of a bust, Elijah must face what it means to be a man in control of his own destiny, and choose a course that might end his life . . . or truly begin it for the very first time.
Jen: What age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Lisa: I’ve written as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I lived in Papua New Guinea, and we had no TV. So books were a massive part of my childhood. I can remember, even before I could read and write properly, dictating stories to my mother who would write them down for me. It was also my mother who told me that if I didn’t like the way a story ended, I could always tell it the way I wanted instead. So I’ve always written. It just took me a while to actually make the jump from writing to being published.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Lisa: I sleep with a notebook beside my bed. I also carry a notebook with me, or use my phone to record ideas. I think every writer in the world is familiar with waking up at 3 a.m. with the Greatest Idea Ever, and thinking, “Oh, I’ll remember it in the morning.” Famous last words. Every writing teacher I’ve ever had has told me to carry a notebook so I don’t forget ideas. Of course, being the most disorganized person in the world, I tend to find bits of paper with random things written on them months later, and can’t remember what they relate to.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Lisa: The research was probably the most time-consuming thing when it came to writing Sweetwater. First I had choose the elements I wanted—in this case, a mining town somewhere along the Oregon Trail—and find a place and a year that matched. Once I chose South Pass City, Wyoming, in 1870, the research got even more focused. Luckily there are some great resources available online, and I also found some primary sources – great accounts written by people who visited South Pass City at the time. All in all, Sweetwater took a little over a year to write, but I’m incredibly proud of it because it was such a challenge.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Lisa: I had someone who read an ARC of Sweetwater ask if my main character, Elijah, was autistic. Until she said that, it hadn’t occurred to me that it was possible to read him that way. Elijah is partially deaf, which is incredibly socially isolating for him, and he has difficulties communicating. So at times he does present like he could be on the autism spectrum. And I love getting questions like that from readers, because it lets me see my own book in a way I might not have considered before, and reminds me that every reader interprets the story in a new way and makes it their own.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Lisa: I don’t think I did anything to celebrate my first book. Thanks to the international time zone, I was on nightshift when it came out! But I’m sure I had a glass of wine on my days off. With Sweetwater, I actually bought myself a present from eBay: an 1870 three cent coin! I had this brilliant idea that I could get a coin to commemorate every release, before I remembered that I’d written a book set in a fantasy kingdom. And one set in the future in space. So much for that.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Lisa: Coming out next, I have the Playing the Fool series, written with J.A. Rock. The first book, The Two Gentlemen of Altona, is out December 29 and can be pre-ordered from Riptide. Playing the Fool is a total change of pace from Sweetwater.
Mac and Henry aren’t just an odd couple—they’re completely improbable: a tough-as-nails, by-the-book FBI agent who picked the wrong week to give up caffeine and donuts, and a young con man who’s as handsome as he is difficult to pin down. But when they’re stuck on the run together, the snark and heat reach Shakespearean proportions. Or maybe that’s just Henry’s flairfor the dramatic.
Rural Indiana has never seen an accidental crime-fighting duo quite like this. But when the danger’s over and the play’s done, Mac and Henry may have to write their own script to find a happy ending.