Friday, May 18, 2012

Fangirl Friday: Lisa Nowak

In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron.
Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.


The Fangirl met Lisa as part of The Indelibles. Lisa likes to give her a hard time about aliens, but The Fangirl knows that her aliens can still take her.

The last thing on 16-year-old Jess DeLand’s wish list is a boyfriend. She’d have to be crazy to think any guy would look twice at her. Besides, there are more important things to hope for, like a job working on cars and an end to her mom’s drinking. Foster care is a constant threat, and Jess is willing to sacrifice anything to stay out of the system. When luck hands her the chance to work on a race car, she finds herself rushing full throttle into a world of opportunities—including a boy who doesn’t mind the grease under her fingernails. The question is, can a girl who keeps herself locked up tighter than Richard Petty’s racing secrets open up enough to risk friendship and her first romance?
“The first romance is captured beautifully—just the right combination of natural and awkward, of eager and scared.”
 ~ Bob Martin, writing professor, Pacific Northwest College of Art

Fangirl:  What inspired you to write Driven?

Lisa:  Aliens. They planted this dream in my head and told me if I wrote about it, they’d send me a million dollars. They totally lied.

Fangirl:  What made you decide to go Indie with this book?

Lisa:  I was tired of agents stalking me. It was bad enough, having them peer in my windows and trample my marigolds, but when they started getting into catfights on my front lawn, I had to draw the line. I figured if I published it myself, they’d give up and go back to New York.

Fangirl:  Was there ever a time that you felt like giving up? If so, what did you do about it?

Lisa:  Too many times to count, but who wants to hear me whine about that? All the I-wanna-give-up stories are the same. The only one that’s interesting is when I got this rejection from an agent who I thought was a sure thing. My response was to bake brownies and take them to my critique group. We’ve got this rule where you have to bring chocolate if you get published, so I figured, to heck with this, I’m going to celebrate my defeats, too.

Fangirl:  Do you have critique partners, betas? How do you work with them?

Lisa:  I have two critique groups, countless betas, and one alpha (a reader who I exchange chapters with as soon as I write them, when they’re still in first-draft form). I either send Word files or format my manuscript so it takes up about half the normal pages, print it double-sided, and have it bound. It makes it really easy for people to read and mark up.

Fangirl:   Who would win in a fight, your book's hero or my alien heartthrob?

Lisa:  Jess could kick Ace’s butt, and then he’d have to go crying back to his home planet in disgrace since she’s a girl.  (Fangirl Note:  Caltian women are stronger than Caltian men, so yes Ace would probably loose. He did have to have Alex save him after all.)

Fangirl:  Does your book have a soundtrack? What songs are on it?

Lisa: Jess collects car songs, so those are the soundtrack for this book. The typical ones everyone knows about, like Little Deuce Couple and Hot Rod Lincoln, the obscure but awesome ones like Robert Mitchum’s Thunder Road, and the ones nobody’s heard of, like Queen’s I’m in Love with My Car and King Crimson’s Dig Me. A virtually unknown Beach Boys song, Car Crazy Cutie, was the partial inspiration for this book. When I think of the story being made into a movie, I picture the opening credits rolling as Jess drives to the speedway as this song plays.

Fangirl: What are you coming out with next?

LisaRedline, the sequel to Driven, should be out in December. While Driven is technically book 3 in the Full Throttle series, it’s really a stand-alone. I consider it a companion novel to the first two, rather than a sequel. Running Wide Open and Getting Sideways are from Cody’s point of view, while Driven and Redline are from Jess’s. The fifth and final book, tentatively titled Never Surrender, is told from an alternating viewpoint. Even though the books are part of a series, I’m careful to craft them so each story is complete and there are no cliffhangers. I want my readers to be able to pick up any of the books, in any sequence, and have them make complete sense.

Fangirl:  If you could cast the main characters from your novel in a movie, who would you choose to play them?

Lisa:  When I first wrote this book, I wanted that kid who plays John Conner in Terminator 2 to play Cody, but he grew up. Sigh. I’ve never successfully been able to come up with actors for the other characters.

Fangirl: Favorite book, movie, and food?

Lisa:  Are you serious? Who can pick just one of any of those things? Just some random choices at the top of the list are The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Dogsbody by Dianna Wynne Jones, Stand by Me, pizza and chocolate.

Fangirl:  Words to live by?

Lisa:  Never Surrender.

Thanks Lisa for stopping by!


You should leave me a comment. It would probably make me smile and then I will probably comment back. Unless you are a spambot. Then I will probably just ignore you.