Welcome to part five of my series of posts on Lisa Orchard. Today I finally manage to pin her down and ask her about her writing – no mean feat, as Lisa is a very busy woman. There’s a warmth of character coming through in her answers. It’s this kindness and caring nature that make her such an amazing author, and such a perfect fit for the young adult audience.
Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then. “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” is the second book in the “Super Spies” series. Her first book was published in March of 2012 and it has received rave reviews.
After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side. The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the third novel that stars the same quirky teens. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.
I have read and reviewed the first two books in the Super Spies series. Book three was released last week. Click on the relevant links below to read more.
And now, on with the interview.
Lisa, you’ve mentioned being hooked on mysteries from an early age. A lot of authors begin their careers gradually. Was it the same in your case? Or was there a definite point when you said ‘that’s it, I’m going to be a writer now’?
Well, I’ve been writing on and off since fifth grade. But I didn’t pursue publication until I was home with my kids and could devote some time to my writing.
How did you work out in what genre and what audience you wanted to write for? Did you try other genres?
The mystery/thriller genre was a natural one for me because that’s what I love reading. I chose the Middle Grade/Young Adult age group because I had some of my best memories during those years. You see, I wanted to be a detective like Nancy Drew when I was growing up and my friends and I even formed our own detective squad. J For one whole summer we were investigating an act of vandalism that occurred in our neighborhood. We had a blast even though we didn’t solve the crime. And that summer is one of my best memories of my childhood. I wanted to bring that kind of joy and anticipation to other teens through my stories.
Right now I’m working on a Coming of Age Young Adult Novel and I’m really enjoying how the story is coming together. I can’t wait to get it done. 🙂
Tell me about your audience, because they are the most important element in your writing life. How did you research their wants, their needs? Do your fans get in contact? Do they ask for specific things from you?
My audience is young boys and girls between the ages of 9-16. During my research I found that this age group is looking for role models to emulate. I wanted to provide realistic role models which means they sometimes make mistakes. I did this on purpose to illustrate to this age group that a mistake is actually a valuable learning experience. And I wanted them to learn that it’s okay to make mistakes because we survive them. They need to learn this so they’ll have confidence in their decision making abilities.
I do interact with my fans usually during writing workshops that I organize or speaking engagements. They’re a lot of fun! I love the enthusiasm these young people have and it’s quite contagious. They don’t really ask for anything specific…usually just when my next book is coming out…that type of thing.
So, let’s take it from the beginning. How would one of your writing days go? You wake up… and then what?
I wake up and get the kids off to school. After that I do some promoting via social media. From there I write until I get so hungry that I have to eat. After I’m done with lunch I’ll either write some more or go for a run or a walk (depends on my mood). When I’m done with that I’ll clean up and do some more writing. Then pick the kids up at the bus stop. After that I get them something to eat and race around the house like a mad woman trying to get some housework done so I can write some more. (I hate housework.)
Do you work from a well-defined plan? Do you outline? I suppose mysteries can’t be just left to chance, can they?
I am a pantser so I don’t work from an outline. That being said though, I usually know the beginning of a story and its ending. But the middle is where I let the characters take the wheel. I put them in situations and see how they get themselves out. It’s a lot of fun to write this way and it leads to interesting twists and turns in my stories.
I could tell from the quality of your writing that you absolutely love your characters. How do you make your characters so real? Do you model them on real people?
My characters appear so real because I do model them after real people to a certain degree. During my teen years, I had some great friends and I have very fond memories of them. So, I used those memories and created characters based on some of those friends. 🙂 And that’s why Sarah and Jackie’s friendship seems so natural and effortless because back in those days friendships were like that.
Writing for a young audience carries a whole lot of responsibility, and you’ve certainly shown them great understanding and respect. What are the most important things to bear in mind when writing for young adults?
I think the most important thing to bear in mind is that you don’t want to condone negative behavior such as bullying. Remember, this age group is looking for someone to emulate and that’s another reason I chose a strong female lead that fights for victims who can’t fight for themselves.
How do you get the ideas for your books? What inspires you?
The inspiration behind my books is usually a certain message that I want to communicate. To communicate that message I create a story that’s compelling so that the reader will continue reading and will learn the life lesson right along with the characters. That’s what inspires me.
I recently had a mother tell me that she read my first book right along with her daughter, and it sparked a conversation on “What would you do if you were in a similar situation.” That really made my day because my book helped strengthen the mother/ daughter bond.
All writers face challenges in their careers. Would you mind telling us what was the one obstacle you’ve really had to work hard to overcome, so you could follow your dream?
I would have to say dealing with the rejection that is inevitable in this business. What I did when I received a rejection from an agent or a publisher is that I would respond back and ask them why they didn’t like the story. Most of them ignored my question but one agent did respond back and she gave me that “golden nugget” I needed to change my story and make it better. I followed her advice and was offered a contract by the first publisher that read the story.
You’ve recently released the third in the Super Spies series. Is this the end of the line for them? If no, what are you planning for them next? If yes, what are you planning to write next?
No, this is not the end of the line for the Super Spies. I’ve got an idea for a fourth story that I’m going to start fleshing out soon and I’m also working on a coming of age young adult story.
10 Quick-fire Questions with Lisa Orchard
1) Bikini – stripes or polka dot?
2) Holiday – mountain or seaside?
3) Time off – solitude or a houseful?
4) Children – individuals or carbon copies of yourself?
5) Fears – shark or spider?
6) Entertainment – book or movie?
It depends on my mood. I love to read, but I also love a great movie.
7) Food – steak or salad?
8) Best day – relaxed or busy?
9) Best feature – speed or wisdom?
Well I’d love to say I have wisdom…but I’m not sure everyone would agree! LOL
10) Best pick-me-up – chocolate or ice-cream?
Again I’d have to say it depends on my mood. I love chocolate and I love ice cream…maybe the best answer is chocolate ice cream! 🙂
Get in contact with Lisa Orchard by clicking on the links below: