Monday, July 26, 2010

An Evening with Lisa Gardner

Pamela Tracy here. Last Monday evening, I sat in the audience of a well-known suspense writer and spent a lot of "Aha, Ohhhh, ewwww, hmmmmm" moments. Here's one thing she said that really resonated with me. (Set-up: she was talking about how her suspense novels changed over time. She'd started her career writing romantic suspense, went to serial killer suspense, and then after getting married and having a family, she wrote what she called domestic suspense.)
"If I went to bed worrying about something a mother worries about, then nine
months later, it was a book."
The author who so had my attention was Lisa Gardner. I read her way back when she wrote for Silhouette as Alicia Scott (back then I couldn't wait for either Alicia Scott or Susan Brockmann to have a monthly release).

Wanna hear about the whole talk? Good. Here it is. The Poison Pen is a well-known and most wonderful mystery bookstore that happens to be only ten minutes from my house. It's housed in old-town Scottsdale, which only adds ambiance to the best type of store there is: a bookstore. I don't go there often because of a serious afflication I suffer: Enter books store weighing (You don't think I'm really going to tell!). Leave book store weighing ten pounds heavier (due tothe books I"m carrying.) Due to the fact I had to feed husband and son, I arrived at the author talk at 7:01 instead of 7:00. I am so impressed at myself. I'm always late, but hey, one minute is not bad. Still, there are only four seats left (There were probably fifty people there. Memo to self: Put this type of signing on goal list right after making the New Yorks Times Bestseller List and win a RITA).

Lisa entered wearing a cute little blue dress (It would fit one of my legs and still be tight) and heels (I'd trip) and impressed me with her skill of jumping onto a tall stool in a dress not designed for jumping. She did this while smiling. That's when I knew my evening would be well spent.

"I was seventeen when I started writing. I published my first book."
(The only reason I didn't fall out of my folding chair, while wearing stretch jeans and a comfy shirt, was I'd heard Lisa's story before, years ago, at Nationals.) Lisa spoke about her early years of writing. As Alicia Scott, she wrote romantic suspense. She admitted that from the beginning the suspense part of her writing really took off. Seemed she wasn't the only one noticing. One day her agent said, "Why don't you write a suspense?"

The rest, they say, is history. Lisa has 39 books to her credit. She's had a made-for-television movie (Oh, another thing to put on my goal list. I must stop going to author talks so that my goal list doesn't exceed the word count of my current work in progress.) and she, now, gets to go to really, really, really neat places.

The neatest place I've gone, per research for a WIP, is a high-dollar suite at a hotel/casino. (I was inside drawing it and the maids kept asking me if I was from deportation. Remember, I live in Arizona.) Lisa has been to The Body Farm. When talking about The Body Farm, she made lots of reference to autopies and such. I want to go!!! (And, yes, I probably would faint.)

Lisa gave a few more writer tips: She researches for three months, writes the book in six months, and then the next three months her daughter has summer vacation (not much writing done.) Her newest book Live To Tell sounds fabulous.

A perk to going to Lisa's walk and signing was I got two authors for the price of one. Lisa and author Mike Lawson did the Your Turn; My Turn bit. Mike had some great things to say. He started writing because he read a book by a well-known author, wasn't impressed, and said, "I can write a book that bad." He also talking about trying to find an agent. He actually signed one, and a year later, she dropped him because she thought handling two clients overtaxing. Mike did win me over. I want to read him. Unfortunately, I didn't realize when I perused the book store that all his books were up by him and not on the shelves.

All in all, last Monday, was a great day. Tess Gerritson speaks this Thursday evening. Looks like I'll be batting my eyelashes at my husband and saying, "Guess where I'm going...."


Cara Putman said...

I am so incredibly jealous! I love Lisa's books. Hmmm, domestic suspense...Never heard of that subgenre. But she is an absolute master of suspense!

PamelaTracy said...

I had not thought of it as domestic suspense either! Next post I'll be writing about Tess Gerritson, whose talk I attended Thursday night! I've had quite a week.