Lisa Preston debuted in fiction with the bestselling psychological thriller/book club pick, Orchids and Stone, followed by the acclaimed psychological suspense The Measure of the Moon. She now writes the horseshoer mystery series and teaches the writing craft, including an intensive on revision. Connect with her at www.lisapreston.com.
Jann: We’re chatting with the amazing Lisa Preston today. I’m so intrigued to hear about her Horseshoer Mystery series. Let’s get started!!
Jann: Which came first in your Horseshoer Mystery series—plot or character?
Lisa: Character! Having a solid grasp of the social, psychological and, of course, the physical make-up of your character makes for a fully imagined participant in the story.
Jann: The Clincher, the first book in the Horseshoer Mystery series debuted with great reviews in 2018. It introduced your leading lady, Rainy Dale. Tell us about Rainy Dale and why you chose horseshoer as her profession.
Lisa: So many interesting jobs are shown in amateur sleuth series, but there are also quite a few repeats, and I wanted a protagonist whose job was different from every other series. We want our ammy sleuths to have an odd skill set that contributes to solving the mystery and catching the killer, and I can pull that off with this young woman who knows unusual things such as how to weld, or what horse would have made that track, and quite a few other . . . spoilers.
Jann: On November 5th, Dead Blow, the second book in the series will be available. How exciting. What is the incorrigible Rainy Dale up to in this book?
Lisa: The germ of Dead Blow’s mystery—an “accidental” death that occurred on a ranch— was planted in The Clincher, and I repeat that tease towards the end of Dead Blow with hints about how book 3 will begin. Some mystery readers are really sharp and will start looking for the next mystery in the current one, plus they get to enjoy chapter one of the next book with every new release.
Jann: How many books do you plan for this series?
Lisa: It was sold as a three-book deal, but the editor has already said the publisher wants to continue the series. It was released in audio form as well hardcover and ebook (with soft cover following a year after the hardback release), and the actress Megan Tusing doing a wonderful job as the reader for the audio edition. Jumping on the audio sales, they’ve already had me supply the gist of book 4.
Jann: Your bio is amazing. What an interesting and amazing life you have led. Do you have ideas for other books or series incorporating any of your other careers or experiences?
Lisa: Aw, thanks for that. Life has taken me to some interesting places and I’ve always been willing to dive in head-first. I do have several other series in the planning, all very distinct.
Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?
Lisa: What a great question. I think the long view explorations of different authors’ work is a fascinating area of study. Character change, hopefully (but not always) in the form of genuine growth is an area I consider with great care when establishing the individuals under the entire story arc.
I remember working with Caroline Leavitt on an early novel when she asked how a particular character was changed by the story’s end. At the time, I gave the honest reply that I wasn’t sure he did change; her response was: well, he should!
Maybe we’re like plants, either growing or dying, and inertia doesn’t exist in living things. It’s certainly worth understanding a story well enough to apply this question.
Jann: What are you currently working on and when can we read it?
Lisa: The third book in the horseshoer mystery series, FORGING FIRE, will be out in 2020. And of course, I have early work going on in other series that is still hush-hush!
Jann: What’s on your To-Be-Read pile?
Lisa: The venerable Western Writers of America asked me to serve as a judge for this year’s Spur award in the contemporary novel category. Mystery Writers of America had asked before, and International Thriller Writers came calling, but this year I committed to WWA, which means my TBR pile is staggering and growing fast. All sorts of ARCs and new releases from literary to mystery to mainstream to coming-of-age are beckoning for my reading time, and it’s what I do with every spare chunk.
Jann: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Lisa: The great outdoors is my go-to place for spiritual replenishment. In addition to the endless wilderness trails with vistas of snowy peaks, forests and farms at the end of my road, my corner of the world lets me access lakes, rivers, and the Salish Sea. Most days, I get a few hours under the sky. Plot points resolve, characters come forward, and the creative well refills.
Jann: Thank you Lisa for your time, it was a real pleasure getting to know you. You have a great start on your Horseshoer Mystery series. Can’t wait to read Dead Blow available November 5th.
About the Class:
Most folks today have limited experience as mounted riders, even less for side saddle, or driving a carriage, or training a horse for the movements once used by knights. This workshop provides some basic horse sense through the ages so your horses act more like characters who enrich your story and less like cars or other inanimate transportation objects.
We will cover:
About the Instructor:
Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”
Her Regency romances can be found as ebooks on all formats, and with Cool Gus Publishing, and include a series of four novellas.
She also has out the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the Urban Fantasy, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes Paths of Desire, a Historical Regency romance.
She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and computer games. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and only one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.
This is a 4-week online course that uses email and Yahoo Groups. If you do not have a Yahoo ID you will be prompted to create one when you join the class, but the process is not difficult. The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $30.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $20.00 per person.
|My grand dog Tucker|
As an author and a reader I had to ask myself: Why is a book that includes animals richer, more entertaining, and more engaging than one without? The answer was simple: Animals bring out the best and the worst in a human character. This makes for great drama and provides an emotional touch point that is critical for an exciting read.
Max-the-Dog (his legal name) was originally created as a reflection of Josie, his mistress. Both had been abandoned, both had to fight for their lives, both were protective of others. But Max became so much more than Josieâ€™s mirror as the series unfolded.
Here are four ways Max made a difference in the witness series:
HE ENHANCED HUMAN CHARACTERIZATION: Those who attack him were inherently more evil than a bad guy who ignored him. Those who love Max were more admirable because they cared for and protect him.
HE WAS AN ANIMATED SOUNDING BOARD: Internal dialogue can be tedious. Allow a character to speculate to an animal and the rhetorical questions or monologues sound natural.
HIS PRESENCE SET A TONE: A scene tone can be set by the way a human character speaks to or interacts with an animal counterpart. A whispered warning creates a much different tone than a screaming command; a languid pet conjures up different visions than a playful ruffling of fur.
HE HELPED MOVE THE PLOT FORWARD: An animal’s needs can put a human in a place they might not have been in. For instance, in Privileged Witness, Josie took Max out for his evening constitutional and ran into her fugitive client who was hiding outside. Without Max, Josie would have no reason to go outside and never would have discovered her client. An animalâ€™s heightened senses can also assist a human to warn of danger or alert a human to a change in their surroundings.
From The Hound of the Baskervilles to Lassie and Blue Dog, My Friend Flicka and The Black Stallion, The Cheshire Cat and Puss-in-Boots, animals have frolicked as humans, served to reflect human frailties and strengths, and just plain worked their way into readerâ€™s hearts because of who they are.
So, to the kind lady who was concerned about Max, have no fear. He will never come to a violent end. No matter what happens to him, his presence or lack thereof, will be a decision motivated by story and plot and, of course, love, because Max is as real to me as if he sat at my feet while I wrote my stories.
*Hostile Witness is free for all e-readers and is also available in print.
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