Lisa Nowak-Interview with the Author
Lisa Nowak-Interview with the Author
The Reading Cafe would like to introduce YA Indie author Lisa Nowak.
You can find Lisa at the following:
TRC: Hi Lisa and welcome to The Reading Café. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Lisa: I’m a YA author who 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. I’m a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass.
TRC: You have posted (on your website) quite a bit of personal information about yourself and your love of racecars. How did your love of cars evolve?
Lisa: When I bought my first car (a ’72 Gremlin) my sense of independence led me to want to know how to work on it myself. Once I started learning the basics, I fell in love with cars and driving.
TRC: You are part of the INDELIBLES indie publishing website. How has your experience with the indie publishing affected your love of writing?
Lisa: Going indie empowered me as an author. When I was pursuing the traditional route, I was always scared, always waiting for someone else to tell me I was good enough. I’d put my dreams and goals into the hands of other people, so I had no control over them. Now I’m in charge of my own destiny and make my own decisions about every aspect of my publishing career. I love it.
TRC: What have been the challenges you have faced as an indie author?
Lisa: Mostly finding time to do everything I want and need to do. Marketing is the biggest issue. Like most indies, I have plenty of ideas about how to promote my book, but not enough time to implement them.
TRC: RUNNING WIDE OPEN, GETTING SIDEWAYS and now DRIVEN are all books you have released that focus on Cody Everett and the people in his life. Would you please tell us about the inspiration behind the series?
Lisa: My experience racing at Eugene Speedway introduced me to the stock car racing community, a group of loyal, passionate, family-oriented people, and I wanted to show the world what they were all about.
TRC: The references to the car makes and models, as well the movies and television shows of the late 80s and early 90s is very nostalgic, but can be somewhat confusing to those who have never experienced the history. Why have you focused the series timelines in 1989-1990?
Lisa: Three reasons. The first is that the landscape of Eugene, Oregon, the setting of the book, has changed quite a bit since I was racing there. The track doesn’t even exist anymore. I wanted to preserve a snapshot of that time and place. The second is that driving laws for teens are much more restrictive now than they were in 1990, and driving is a big part of my books. The third is that today’s technology, with cell phones and the internet, has open up all kinds of possibilities that teens didn’t have in the past. I wrote the original drafts of both Running Wide Open and Driven in the early ’90s, and rather than change the story to include all that new technology, I decided to keep it set in that time. Because these books work as crossover novels, and much of my audience is adult stock car racing fans, I haven’t found it to be an issue for most of them.
TRC: Would you please tell us about the premise behind your new release DRIVEN?(see our review below)
Lisa: Sixteen-year-old Jess wants to be a mechanic, but no one will take her seriously because she’s a girl. She’s never even considered having a boyfriend because she thinks no guy would look twice at her. When she lucks into the opportunity to work on a race car, she’s befriended by a boy who doesn’t mind the grease under her fingernails and drawn into the family-oriented speedway community. These new friendships make it increasingly difficult for her to keep her mom’s alcoholism and neglect a secret—something she must do at all costs to avoid getting stuck in a foster home.
TRC: The storyline POV (Point of view) in DRIVEN is now the female lead Jess Deland. Is there a reason you are now focusing on this particular point of view? Will the next installment in the series continue to focus on Jess?
Lisa: I never intended the whole series to be about Cody, and in fact, I liked the idea of showing him from an outside point of view. As a woman who loves cars, I wanted to write about a young girl who shares that trait. The next book Redline, continues with Jess as the protagonist. The last book in the series, tentatively titled Never Surrender, alternates between Jess’ and Cody’s viewpoints.
TRC: Would you please tell us something about the next book in the series? Do you have a working title or premise?
Lisa: Redline is already written and off with my editor. I expect to release it around Thanksgiving. It’s hard to say too much about it without giving spoilers for Driven, but it takes up where Driven leaves off, following Jess as she attempts to enjoy life as a normal teenager for the first time. And then her past catches up with her, leading to a devastating event.
TRC: Are the characters or experiences based on anyone you know or the events in your life?
Lisa: Not so much. A few of the minor characters share traits with people I used to race with, but the main characters are all straight out of my imagination. That said, there’s a little bit of myself in all of them. Like Jess, I’m stubborn and driven, and like Cody, my emotional nature makes life more difficult than I’d like it to be. I also poke fun at my own quirks, such as my extreme Christmas spirit and my habit of listening to the same CD over and over again in the car because I’m too lazy to change it.
TRC: You offer classes and guidelines (about writing) to new authors. What would you consider the most important thing to remember when writing a book or series?
Lisa: These days, most of my writing advice is geared toward indie publishing, rather than actual craft, but if I had to come up with a single piece of advice for new authors, it would be what one of my racing mentors once told me: you just gotta keep on keepin’ on.
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information between friends, family and each other. With whom do you bounce your ideas?
Lisa: My husband, my critique group partners, my writing friends, sometimes even my landscaping customers (landscaping is my day job).
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Lisa: Now that Driven is out, I’m taking a little break to promote it and keep my landscaping customers happy. Later in summer, when my business slows down, I’ll either tackle revisions to Redline or I’ll make some changes to another book I’m working on, Dead Heat, and run it by my editor. Dead Heat is shorter and has a paranormal aspect, plus I have a unique marketing opportunity for it, so I’m considering publishing it next. It’s a gritty story about this kid, Alex, who’s a machine whisperer (he can figure out what’s wrong with any broken machine just by touching it). His meth addict dad beats him and exploits his ability. When his mentor, Cole, dies he gets a glimpse of just how bad things are for Alex, and what his future holds, so he hangs around as a ghost, risking his own chance at eternal peace to protect him.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Lisa: Perhaps an animated gif of a dancing hamster.
TRC: *snort*..I bet you didn’t think we would post the pic of the animated hamster
I hate having to choose only one. It makes all the other foods feel bad. But probably Mexican or pizza.
Anything with chocolate
Favorite TV Show
Seriously? Just one again? Can I cheat? Leverage, House, Grey’s Anatomy
What if I throw you for a loop and say something obscure like Regarding Henry or Stand by Me?
Last Movie you Saw
Dark or Milk Chocolate
Ugh. My brain just doesn’t work this way. It depends what mood I’m in. How about if I just tell you the song that was one of the inspirations for Driven? Car Crazy Cutie by the Beach Boys.
Thank you Lisa for taking the time to answer our questions. The Reading Café wishes you all the best with your writing career.