Hopefully you all stopped by yesterday to check out the awesome guest post by the fabulous Lisa McKay. If you didn’t, well, why not? Go on then, go check it out. I’ll wait. Have you read it then? Okay, good. Because now comes the fabulous interview! (Is it okay that I’ve used the word fabulous twice in one paragraph now? Yes? Okay, good. :))
Your first book was a novel. What were some of the challenges you faced in switching from fiction to creative nonfiction?
When I was writing my first novel (My Hands Came Away Red), I found myself getting surprised by what was happening. As I figured out the “what” of plot, however, an understanding of my characters’ actions and reactions followed fairly naturally.
Writing a memoir reversed this process. I already knew what happened – I’d lived it – but I had to work much harder to figure out what it all meant to me, then and now.
The plotting process was different, too. With the novel, I wrote my way into the story blind, without an outline. As I wrote, the story gained momentum as events unfolded.
In contrast, I had a clear vision for the start and end of the memoir, bu little idea of how I was going to get from one place to the other. Despite repeated outlines, I continued to flounder in the middle until the very final drafts of the manuscript.
Tell us about your new book. What inspired you to write memoir?
Love at the Speed of Email is the story of an old-fashioned courtship made possible by modern technology.
Lisa looks as if she has it made. She has turned her nomadic childhood and forensic psychology training into a successful career as a stress management trainer for humanitarian aid workers. She lives in Los Angeles, travels the world, and her first novel has just been published to some acclaim. But as she turns 31, Lisa realizes that she is still single, constantly on airplanes, and increasingly wondering where home is and what it really means to commit to a person, place, place, or career. When an intriguing stranger living on the other side of the world emails her out of the blue, she must decide whether she will risk trying to answer those questions. Her decision will change her life.
I didn’t intend for this second book to be a memoir. In fact, I was working on a novel on human trafficking when my husband, Mike, and I became engaged. But as we began to plan our wedding I found it increasingly difficult to flip in and out of such vastly different worlds – the happiness of the one I was living in and the harshness of the one I was trying to write about.
I’d spent my childhood living in countries as diverse as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. I carried Australian and Canadian passports. I was living in Los Angeles working for a nonprofit organization that provided psychological support to humanitarian workers worldwide. I was hopelessly confused as to where home was. Perhaps, I thought, I could write my way towards clarity. That’s when I started working on the memoir.
Do you enjoy writing in any other genres? What genres do you enjoy reading?