Lisa Jackson began her writing career with the Silhouette Special Edition series in 1983 and has contributed over forty books to that line. Her series books always have mature characters and a deeper substance than the average writer of that genre. Her heroes are, most times, portrayed as bad boy, prodigal sons returning home to seek vengeance and cause turmoil in the lives of all who knew him. Lisa's latest book, HOT BLOODED, is an outstanding psychological thriller, but then any book by Lisa Jackson is always a quality read.
Lisa, welcome to NPOB and Reader to Reader, and congratulations on the
success of HOT BLOODED, which debuted as #30 on the USA Today book list and #12 at both B. Dalton and WaldenBooks. Tell us a little about HOT BLOODED and especially how you created such a vile, despicable villain as "Father John".
The idea for HOT BLOODED has been simmering in my head for years. With all the talk radio programs these days, I wondered what would happen if a radio psychologist gave some advice over the airwaves and a tragedy resulted. What would happen to the psychologist? What if someone blamed her for the tragedy?
As for "Father John," he evolved quickly. From the moment he stepped onto the page, I knew exactly what he was about. He came alive for me from the get-go. He was a relatively easy character to write, probably because his motives were so defined.
You made the transition from series books to single title so smoothly. You've written so many books in different genres -- series, historicals, suspense -- and have written for several different publishers. Do you agree that most, if not all of your books, have an underlying theme of suspense/thriller?
The transition easy? Oh, no. I had to change my way of thinking. The idea of writing a "big book" was daunting, but as soon as the characters came to life for me, the book, TREASURES, just flowed. I loved writing from multiple viewpoints and threading suspense through the romance.
This sounds crazy, but almost everything I read or see on television or in the movies interests me and can prompt a story idea. Then it's on to the research, which I truly enjoy. Depending on what I'm writing at the time, I could wind up immersing myself in forensics, medieval religion, psychosis or horseshoeing. As for writing in different sub genres, this keeps my stories
The order in which I write the books is dictated by the publisher and contract. I write the books in the order of pub date, so that mixes up the genres.
Do you agree that most, if not all of your books, have an underlying theme of suspense/thriller?
Yes, I usually have a mystery in the books, even in the category novels. I love suspense novels, always have. And what good suspense novel doesn't have at least a hint of romance? Romance adds heightened emotion. It ups the ante a bit, and because the reader cares about the lovers, the suspense is notched up as well.
I understand you and your editor at Kensington Books have a very special
working relationship. Why don't you tell us about it?
My editor is John Scognamiglio, and he's incredible. When I first come up with an idea, or he suggests one to me, we e-mail furiously for a few days, perhaps even weeks, long enough that the story gels. Some ideas get tossed out, but more than likely we end up with more ideas, characters and plot twists than we know what to do with. We're usually working on several ideas at once. When the story takes a rough shape, I write a synopsis, pulling it all together, reshaping it, molding and sculpting until I'm satisfied with it. I submit it, John tells me what he thinks, makes some suggestions, and I go at it again. Usually by the third try I have a good, strong synopsis of about 40-60 pages. From that point, after he approves the synopsis, I write the book. Again, I change things as new characters or plot twists crop up during the writing, and John, again, has his input. He's very creative, has a wild imagination and understands what makes a story hang together. He pushes me to write what I want to write, no holds barred. It's a great relationship.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a published author,and what advice could you give to someone trying to get published?
Write what you like to read. Trust your instincts, write strong, bold books, whatever sub genre you like. Make the characters interesting but believable and keep the story fresh and moving along. Don't bore the reader!
Have you ever experienced (shudder) writer's block?
Oh, yes, most definitely. I went through a bad period personally a few years back and couldn't write a word . . . no, more precisely I wrote the same words over and over, kind of like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." It's an insidious disease. Fortunately, my life and health straightened out, and I was able to write again.
You're a single mom with a very heavy schedule doing book signings, speaking appearances, and of course, your writing. How do you manage to juggle your private live and your business life? Is there any time for a social life?
Juggling is difficult, but all part of life. I manage, though sometimes I want to tear my hair out. Social life? Oh, I most definitely have a social life. I'm a people person, and writing is pretty lonely. I make time for friends, family and fun.
I am a long time fan of yours and recall that when you were first writing for Silhouette Special Editions, your sister, writing under the name of Natalie Bishop, was also doing Special Editions. In those early days did you critique each other's books? Do you belong to any critique groups now?
Nancy (AKA Natalie Bishop) and I still are very close. We did more critiquing of each other's work way back when, before both of our lives got so crazy. Now I don't belong to any critique groups. I hire readers I trust, and when I get into a real knot with a plot, I still call on Nancy.
HOT BLOODED was especially enjoyable for me, as I had the good fortune to live in New Orleans for three years. Evidently you like the locale since your next book, COLD BLOODED, will also be set in the Crescent City. Give us a hint of what to expect in COLD BLOODED.
COLD BLOODED reintroduces some familiar faces in HOT BLOODED. In that book, there were a few murders left unsolved. Those murders are the basis for the mystery/suspense in COLD BLOODED, and this time Detective Rick Bentz gets his own story. We get a closer glimpse at him and Detective Montoya, how they work to solve the crimes, as well as a look into each man's love life.
COLD BLOODED is intense and personal, and once again we have a deranged serial killer stalking the streets of New Orleans.
What does the future have in store for Lisa Jackson?
Who can say? Currently I'm under contract to write more big romantic suspense novels for Zebra Books. John and I have plotted out the next four or five. I'm also finishing my McCafferty series for Silhouette. THE MCCAFFERTYS: SLADE will be published next July as a Silhouette Special Edition. The last story, THE MCCAFFERTYS: RANDI, will be published in 2003, I think.
I've also got two more medieval romance novels for Signet Books in the works. The first, WILD AND WICKED, will be in the bookstores in February 2002. And then, of course, COLD BLOODED in June of 2002. I'm pretty busy these days.
I want to thank you again for taking the time to chat with us. We wish you the best of luck with COLD BLOODED. Please tell your readers how they can get in touch with you.
Well, thanks for thinking of me! My readers can reach me via my guest book on my website at www.lisajackson.com
One more thing -- I'm certain I speak for all your fans ~ please write faster :-)
And I'm certain I speak for my children, who are college students and broke. They say, "Yeah, Mom, go for it!" If only I could write faster . . . . Thanks!