Lisa L. Walsh, author of Hope Anyway
Excerpt of Interview with Lisa L. Walsh:
ZHP: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
LLW: I spent most of my early years in East Central Illinois. Ours is a slow-paced, simple lifestyle, and I am sure that this kind of upbringing has shaped who I am to the core. Family, for good or for bad, is the center and the rock of our lives.
ZHP: Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
LLW: I enjoyed reading Dr. Seuss early on, and was enthralled with the way his words made me think about important issues, and also made me laugh. I didn’t really enjoy or take time for much reading as a child, but when I was finished with college, I couldn’t get enough. I remember reading one Stephen King book after another and thinking that I just couldn’t wait to get back into that word-spun world that he created.
ZHP: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
LLW: I couldn’t pin my inspiration on a single thing, but in general, feel like I have so many ways, every day, that I want to make a difference. I’m a school social worker, and love seeing and working with “my kids” to help them deal with their challenges. Being a mom is one of the greatest, and the hardest, things that has ever happened to me. Even though I don’t see my oldest daughter daily (she is off to college), we talk often. My youngest can’t get away from me. I work at the school that she attends.
ZHP: When did you first start writing?
LLW: My writing for fun began after I finished grad school. When I was about 25, I saw an ad in the local paper for a writing contest, 1000 words or less, and said “Hey, I’m going to try that!” I wrote a story about a wandering family who went from farmhouse to farmhouse pretending to be long-lost relatives and mooching free meals. I thought it was hysterical and had a great time writing it. I didn’t win. But I discovered joy in telling a story through writing.
ZHP: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
LLW: When I can make someone see something absurd through a character’s viewpoint, I love it. Life is so rich in “moment-in-time” experiences, and I really love to share mine, both through my stories and in my everyday conversations. It is like finding art out in everyday life. The more absurd and awkward, the better. In addition, I’ve found that writing about difficult and painful experience, along with being cathartic for the writer, can be helpful to others in that, because of that pain, we are not alone.
ZHP: Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
LLW: The first story that I remember writing, just for fun, was the story about a family who pretended to be long lost relatives to mooch meals off of others. It was supposed to be humorous, but I remember being surprised at how the characters developed, almost in a way that I didn’t expect, when the story progressed. I wanted the dad to be a buffoon, but I discovered through my writing about him that he was somewhat lovable at the same time.
ZHP: What advice would you give a new writer?
LLW: I write about things that I know about, things I care about, and things that I just have to share. When I decided to write Hope Anyway, I just wrote every day, some days a whole lot, and other days a whole little. At first, I didn’t even write in order. I just wrote pieces and worried about putting it together later.
ZHP: Do you use Social Media?
LLW: I use Facebook and have a blog called “Joystory Lane” where I share my stories about everyday life.
ZHP: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
LLW: First of all, I’m a mom. That’s a job that is time consuming, and for which I am all-in. As a school social worker, my “other kids” get a whole lot of both my time and my energy. Also, I am a distance runner, and so I train a lot, and during a year when I’m feeling particularly fast (and this is certainly relative), I run a lot of races.
ZHP: What do you read for pleasure?
LLW: Anything I can get my hands on. I always have at least two books that I am reading: one fiction and one non-fiction. I like both kinds for different reasons. I like fiction because I love to enter the world created by a good author; and non-fiction because I want to learn about new things.
ZHP: Who are your favorite authors?
LLW: Jodi Picoult and Alice Hoffman are my favorite fictional authors. I have read every one of each of their books, and am always waiting for their latest. I adore David Sedaris because he is so absurd, and can laugh at himself so easily. I greatly admire that. I also read Marianne Williamson’s books over and over.
ZHP: What are your five favorite books, and why?
LLW: Sneetches – Dr. Seuss/ I believe this book brilliantly looks at how we judge one another, how we pressure one another to be a certain way, and how silly all of that is.
A Woman’s Worth – Marianne Williamson / This book helps me get in touch with my and my fellow women’s power. Not only have I read it numerous times, it is a common gift I give to some of the women I most love.
Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult/ I love most of Picoult’s books, but this one had both a challenging and inspirational message through the two main characters relationship.
Dreams of My Father – Barack Obama/ As a human that I admire tremendously, I was so interested in his path to adulthood. I kept thinking, as I read his memoir, I wonder if the people who knew him then had any idea that he would break barriers and become our first African American president. Would they have expected it, or would they have been surprised?
The Green Mile – Steven King/ I loved the evolution of the relationship between John Coffey and the staff members on the Green Mile, especially Paul Edgecomb. Of course, some of the men awaiting their death sentences were despicable. But characters such as John Coffey and even eccentric little Delacroix, with his pet circus mouse, point to how very complex people can be.
ZHP: What is your e-reading device of choice?
LLW: I have a kindle, but I prefer holding a book and turning those paper pages. I often go back to early passages; sometimes to clarify, and sometimes to see what the author was setting up. I love that! Also, I’ve got a pretty great collection of book marks, and I like to use those.
Excerpt of Interview with Lisa L. Walsh about her process:
ZHP: Describe your desk or writing space.
LLW: My times of inspiration are more of a state of mind (I know when I am going to be able to write) rather than a space, though my favorite place has been on a laptop on my back porch.
ZHP: What is your writing process?
LLW: I get excited about a chance to sit down and write. I always have a place to write down ideas for a project or a new story. If I am working on a longer project, I write outlines and diagrams, so when I write, I always have something to write about.
ZHP: How do you connect with your muse?
LLW: My creativity seems to come and go. What I have discovered is that the only way to know if I’ve got it today is to try it today. It is very common for me to sit down and prepare to write, thinking that it will be a waste of time, only to find that a story is bubbling and brewing inside of me, waiting for a chance to be told. I’ve just got to give it a chance to come out.
ZHP: Is procrastination an issue for you?
LLW: Procrastination is not an issue, but finding time to write can be a challenge. I have never understood the last minute rush to get things done.
ZHP: What motivated you to become an indie author?
LLW: One of the reasons that I wanted to share my current story is because I find that the need for inspiration to keep going is so needed. My story is all about how to keep going when it feels near impossible.
ZHP: What advice would you give about writer’s block?
LLW: Don’t give it power. Just write. You will surprise yourself more than you might expect.
ZHP: What’s the story behind your latest book?
LLW: I am working on some children’s books that address the power of positive thinking and good sportsmanship. I am also working on a book of short stories.
ZHP: What are you working on next?
LLW: My latest project is a compilation of short stories; observations about life that are both funny and meaningful.
ZHP: Do your fans impact your process?
LLW: To be super honest, I don’t have any fans. Yet? What I do love, however, is feedback on my stories that includes a good laugh. That makes me happy.