Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Interview with author Lissa Bryan

Not too long ago, I reviewed Ghostwriter by Lissa Bryan. Today, Passion for Pages is the 4th stop on her book tour. Not only did I have the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Bryan, but she, along with her publisher The Writer's Coffee Shop, are giving away an ebook copy of Ghostwriter today. Giveaway details will be at the end of the interview.

About the Book
Tell us a bit about your novel. Sara Howell is a young woman who’s just starting to find herself.
She’s lost her boyfriend, her job and has to figure out where to go next with her life. Opportunity knocks in the form of an offer to ghostwrite a politician’s biography and an affordable home on an isolated island. She’s enjoying the solitude, but almost immediately, things start happening which indicate Sara might not be alone there.
The house once belonged to Sara’s favorite writer, Seth Fortner. In 1925, Seth disappeared and no one knows what happened to him, so when Sara uncovers a trunk of Seth’s letters in the attic, she’s immediately caught up in solving the mystery.
Strange and terrifying things start happening, and Sara begins to wonder if Seth still lingers on the island. Slowly, she begins to draw Seth out of his shell as she learns more about his experiences in WWI, the heartbreaking story of what happened to his wife, and his family.

What gave you the idea for Ghostwriter?  Years ago, I read an article about the “Iron Harvest” that emerges from the soil every spring when the farmers at Verdun plow their fields. I’d known the bare facts about the battle, but something in that article resonated with me and I found myself wanting to learn more about it. The horrors of that battle are nearly incomprehensible. I tried to imagine what it would have been like for the soldiers who were there. In my research, I ran across another article which mentioned the American Field Service, and how many famous writers (Hemmingway, e.e. cummings, and Somerset Maugham, just to name a few) served as ambulance drivers during WWI. That’s how Seth was born in my mind.

How long did it take you to write? That’s a difficult question to answer because most of the “writing” has already been done in my head long before I sit down at the keyboard. Since I was a child, I’ve always “written books” in my head. It wasn’t until last October that it occurred to me to actually type some of them out.
I may re-write the whole thing half a dozen times in my mind before I consider it “done.” I may wander from story to story as the mood takes me, going back to it as inspiration strikes. It can take as little as a week or as much as several years. There are a couple I’ve been writing since I was a teenager that I still haven’t “finished.” So, the actual physical process of writing Ghostwriter only took a couple of months, but in reality, it took much longer to create it in my mind and revise until it was a fully actualized story.

Which character was your favourite to create? Why? I’d say it would have to be Seth. Though he’s the ghost, he’s the one who was haunted. He was able to forgive the people in his life that wronged him so terribly, but he was never able to forgive himself for the things he had done. He had a problem that many of us do: avoidance. He tended to shut down instead of deal with his problems, and that’s something that he has to learn to do over the course of the novel.
Seth was also afflicted with an issue that we’re still dealing with today: Post-traumatic stress disorder. We saw it in some of our veterans from Vietnam and it’s becoming a topic of public discourse again as our troops return home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The military has tried to increase awareness and develop new treatments because alcoholism, depression, and suicide among service members are on the rise. In 1916, they didn’t understand PTSD, though many of the recollections written about the Battle of Verdun talk about the haunted eyes of the men who were there.

 If you were asked to make a soundtrack for Ghostwriter, what songs would be on it? I’m not sure. Music is intensely personal and everyone interprets it differently. What evokes a mood in one listener might strike a completely different chord in another.

If your book was turned into a movie, who would you choose to play the leading characters? That’s another thing I’ll have to leave up to the readers. Everyone sees a different “movie” in their heads as they’re reading. Witness the arguments online as to who should be cast to play this role or that from a beloved book series. I also recall Anne Rice’s outrage when Tom Cruise was cast in Interview with the Vampire, but once she actually saw him play the part, she was enthralled.

What is your favourite scene in the book? I thought long and hard about this question because it’s like asking which of your children is your favorite. But the scene that kept coming back to me is the one where Sara is trying to gently introduce Seth of some of the modern world by playing music videos for him on her computer.

 About the author
 Lissa Bryan
Tell us about the day you found out Ghostwriter was going to be published. How did you react?  
It still seems like a crazy dream. It all happened in a whirlwind and my head is still spinning. I’m going to tell you a story, one which seems like it should be in a novel of its own.  
Supposedly, Lana Turner was discovered by a Hollywood agent at a soda fountain; I never imagined things like that really happened, or that it would happen to me, of all people.
I just started writing last October. (Ghostwriter will be released one year and one week after I started posting my first story on Fanfiction.net.) That first story had about a dozen regular readers and I was delighted with that. Since the stories had only existed in my mind up to that point, that anyone was reading them at all made me happy.
Then I started Written in the Stars. The first day, it had one hundred fifty readers. I was shocked. At the end of the first week, it had a thousand. I remember staring at the screen, dumbfounded, certain there had to be some sort of glitch in the software. It just didn’t seem possible. Three days later, it was up to three thousand. I started getting scared. I never expected anything like that. Exactly one month after I began, it had six thousand visitors.
One morning, a message appeared in my inbox. A publisher wanted to know if I had ever considered writing original fiction. I read it half a dozen times, and then cynicism kicked in. It couldn’t be real, I told myself. I Googled the name of the sender. Sure enough, there they were, on the publisher’s website. I called my husband at work and told him not to get excited because I still wasn’t sure if it was real. I’d never heard of anything like this happening. I thought the way people got published was through finding an agent and submitting manuscripts and such.
Even now, it still doesn’t seem entirely real. Someone told me that it may finally sink in when I hold the published copy of Ghostwriter in my hands. I’m curious to see if they’re right.

Is there a certain book that has made a lasting impression on you? Every book I’ve ever read has made an impression on me. The good ones taught me how to tell a story. The bad ones taught me what to avoid. Just like a baby learning how to talk, writers learn to write by listening to the voices of other writers.

 If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you want to have with you?   A library, a Starbucks, a Hilton, a restaurant and an airport.
Oh! You meant survival gear? A Bowie knife, flint, a mirror (for signaling planes) a waterproof tarp and a sheet of clear plastic for distilling water.
 Besides the practical? A solar-powered battery charger, a fully-loaded Kindle, a laptop (so I could write), a hammock, and the aforementioned Bowie knife, in case I have a whim to take up whittling.
If I had those little luxuries, I might be perfectly happy on a tropical island. Especially if there were monkeys I could train to be butlers. I’ve always wanted a monkey butler.

I have to ask, considering what the plot is about, do you believe in ghosts? I’ve never met one, but I’m open to possibilities. Truthfully, I think the “ghosts” we’re more likely to be afflicted with are the ones inside, regrets we carry with us, sorrows or thoughts of what might have been if we had taken another path.

What’s next for Lissa Bryan? I’m in the editing process of my second novel. If all goes well, it may come out sometime early next year. I’ve also made a start on my third, but I haven’t had much time for writing lately. The editing process took up far more of my time than I expected.

Bonus Questions
Favourite movie/TV show/food/season?  It’s impossible to narrow it down to just one!
TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Rome, Battlestar Gallactica, Futurama
Movie: Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride, V for Vendetta, Forrest Gump
Season: Spring

Who would you give the award to for best first kiss (in a movie)? The kiss at the end of the movie Slumdog Millionaire always brings tears to my eyes. It’s the first between the hero and heroine, who have both gone through so much before they could be together. Because of that, it’s the most significant kiss I’ve ever seen in a film.

Sweet or salty? Salty. I’m probably the only woman in the world who doesn’t really care for chocolate. My family knows better than to get me a birthday cake or ice cream because I won’t eat it.

Worst fear? You’ll laugh … Clowns. I’ve always been strangely terrified of people in costumes. Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus, sports mascots. But clowns are especially horrifying with their fierce glee and ghastly makeup.

Thank you, Lissa! To enter to win an ebook of Ghostwriter, simply comment with your name and contact info. (I'm not good with those fancy giveaway forms, so yes, simple and boring is best) Your last day to enter will be October 12th and the winner will be announced October 13th. Good luck!

If you'd like to follow the rest of the tour:
October 6th - -www.sherrygomes.com  Interview and Giveaway
October 7th - http://saritadreaming.wordpress.com   Character questions, review and giveaway.
October 8 - http://myfictionnook.com  - Review, Interview and Giveaway
October 10 - Italy brats Obsession - Review, Interview, giveway
October 11 - www.wordedit.com (The Daily News - UK) - guest post, interview
October 12 - http://myreadinglounge.blogspot.it/2012/08/lets-talk-about-ghostwriter-by-lissa.html - character interview, review, and giveaway


  1. I love your answers about the music/actors for the movie version of your book. So true and profound. And the ghosts within us... yes, and Amen. Great interview!!

  2. Great interview! Incredible book!!

  3. I am in awe of Lissa, learning that her next novel is already in the making! I don't own a bowie knife, but I could lend you my Japanese Katana sword, LOL! Great interview. And of course, I want to win a copy... =D

  4. What an awesome interview! To see an author get started is wonderful. To see an author with great talent working on her 3rd book... Amazing! I look forward to all the future publishing of Lissa! Wishing for much continued success!

  5. Great interviews. Would love to have a copy so that I can read this book. Lissa is a great writer and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.


  6. Love this and can´t wait for my chance to read, =)
    Happy Release!!

    best wishes, Linda

    fr_larsson at hotmail dot com

  7. Great interview!

    Love this and can't wait to read more. I've been drooling since the first chapter teaser.


  8. That was a great interview!


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