... from the anthology SEDUCTION BY CHOCOLATE
Chocolate leads the way to love in this anthology of stories by four different authors. In "Eliza's Gateau," a woman traveling alone in Belgium lives out the fantasy of meeting a handsome, foreign stranger, but their encounters are nowhere as smooth as the pralines and truffles for which the country is famous.
THE CHANGELING BRIDE
(Will be reissued in December, 2000)
Modern-day Elle is tired of the dating scene and of being single and poor. When a strange old woman gives her a coupon for a free husband, she half jokingly redeems it, and finds herself swept back in time and into the life of Eleanor Moore, a wealthy heiress engaged to the impoverished Earl of Allsbrook. She quickly learns the truth of the old adage that you should be careful what you wish for ... you just might get it.
BEWITCHING THE BARON
A healer with unnatural gifts, Valerian Bright lives with her aunt and pet raven in a cottage in the woods, shunned by the villagers of nearby Greyfriars. Nathaniel Warrington, the new Baron Ravenall, is a man of dark secrets and strong passions, and when he finds Valerian he believes he finds as well the key to his own redemption.
OF MIDNIGHT BORN
For five hundred years Serena Clerenbold has been haunting the ruins of Maiden Castle, jealous of the living and furious over her own death. When the castle is rebuilt and Alex Woding takes residence, Serena's only thought is to be rid of the man, never suspecting that he may be the key to her own salvation.
"A Midnight Clear"
... from the anthology MISTLETOE AND MAGIC
(Scheduled for release this month)
Catherine Linwood has come home for Christmas, and before
the magic of the season has passed she will have to decide
between two very different men. The handsome Stephen Rose,
wealthy and charming, pursuing her from New York; or Will
Goodman, the quiet hometown shopkeeper whose eyes shine
with secret warmth. Sometimes the eyes need a little help in
seeing what the heart knows to be best.
It is my pleasure to introduce Lisa Cach. She is an outstanding new author who is destined to go far in the world of romantic fiction. She will take you from tears to laughing out loud at the antics of her characters. She writes of strong and courageous women, and of the dreams that dwell inside us all. But mostly she writes of the pain and joy of love that triumphs against impossible odds. So, without further ado, please meet Lisa Cach ...
Donna: Lisa, please tell us a little about yourself - where you live, background, family, work - what you do when you aren't writing romance.
Lisa: I live in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, right on the boundary between town and country. My family - parents, brother and his wife and kids, some cousins - all live on the same street, which makes it all rather cozy. I'm single, almost 32, and still waiting for Mr. Right to show up, but as I've always wanted to be Auntie Mame instead of a mother myself, I'm quite happy having him take his time.
My job history is rather sparse - I taught English for a year in Japan, which was an adventure and a half, and I worked the graveyard shift at a mental health crisis line, which was another type of adventure entirely. I had thought the job would give me great insight into human nature, but discovered that the best information always came from chatting with coworkers and friends about their lives. I almost feel sorry for anyone who tells me anything about themselves - it's likely to end up in a book.
When I'm not writing I'm usually reading, or engrossed in those daily tasksthat somehow manage to suck up all one's time. I still don't understand how an entire day can go by with nothing to show for it, yet I know I've been busy.
Donna: Did you always want to be an author?
Lisa: At the heart of things I always wanted to be a writer, but I thought about a lot of other options as well. A marine biologist sounded good, or an astronaut, or a National Geographic photographer. I wasn't one of those kids who was always writing, other than as schoolwork, probably because I'm lazy and I'd rather be entertained. I spent as much time as possible lying on my bed with a book in my hand.
Donna: What made you choose to write romance?
Lisa: I don't think it was a choice. It just came out.
Donna: How does your family feel about you writing romance - are they supportive?
Lisa: They're tickled to death. My dad, who hates movies where men wear lace cuffs or long hair, nonetheless buys 100 copies of each of my books, has me sign them, then hands them out to all his business contacts, who are usually real estate developers in their 50's or 60's.
Donna: Where do you get the ideas for your books?
Lisa: From traveling, from the personalities and experiences of myself and people I know. From bits of historical information gleaned off the TV or a magazine like the Smithsonian. From folk tales, or common mythologies like fairies or ghosts or mermaids. I take bits and pieces from several sources, and they all come together into the story I want to tell.
Donna: Do you ever use personal experiences when writing your stories?
Lisa: Yes, all the time. My novella in the SEDUCTION BY CHOCOLATE anthology was based largely on a trip I took to Bruges, in Belgium, except I didn't have the good fortune to meet a gorgeous foreign man who wanted to romance me. Characters are often based on people I know, and many of my heroes have positive traits stolen from ex-boyfriends. The illness of Aunt Theresa in BEWITCHING THE BARON was my way of dealing with my own mother's MS, and with the death of my critique partner's mother from breast cancer. Interesting personal tidbits and conflicts that people share with me often get thrown in, in ways I don't think out beforehand. Obviously I've never been a ghost or transported through time, but the stories are always expressions of my own experiences, in one way or another, however hidden or altered.
Donna: What type of research do you do for your books?
Lisa: Traveling, whenever I think I can make it tax deductible, and a lot of reading. I probably use one small piece of information for every ten hours of research I do. Or at least it feels that way sometimes. General information on historical periods and events is easy enough to come by, but when I try to pin down the exact fragment of information that I need, that's when the trouble comes. I could find out all sorts of general stuff on carriages with relative ease, for example, but it was a major detective game to find out how the windows in carriages were raised or lowered, or what the door handles looked like and how they worked, and if they were only on the outside.
Donna: How did you go about selling your first book? How long did it take?
Lisa: Groaaannnnnn ... My first book is still in a box under my bed. I actually gave up writing for about five or six years after all the rejection letters, did the Japan and counseling thing, then tried writing again, with a new book. I got THE CHANGELING BRIDE published by submitting it "over the transom," meaning it was in the slush pile. I had already finished writing BEWITCHING THE BARON, and had started work on OF MIDNIGHT BORN by the time I got "the call" from Dorchester. And here I had been expecting to hear good or bad news in the mail, only! All those wasted trips to the mailbox, full of anticipation. Anyway, I was lucky enough to have my book end up on Chris Keeslar's desk, and it's been relatively clear sailing ever since.
Donna: How do you plan your stories? Do your characters ever try to take over and rewrite their scenes?
Lisa: The general outline comes together almost on its own, based on my research and the story ideas. It's in the details, and the spaces between major plot points where the hard work comes. Characters have the freedom to alter the daily events and personal encounters, but they keep themselves in line on the big issues.
Donna: How long does it take you to write a story?
Lisa: That is a matter of a task expanding to fill the time allotted. If I were diligent, I could probably do it in three months. But I'm not diligent, so I get the book done whenever the contract says I have to.
Donna: Do you ever find yourself with a case of "writer's block" while in the middle of a story? If so, how do you handle this - what helps you get beyond this problem?
Lisa: If I'm stuck, it's usually because I haven't thought out the next few scenes. I always know where I need to go, but I may not know quite how to get there, so I have to sit down and just *think* for a few hours. Sometimes a plot point that I'm aiming for turns out not to be feasible, so I alter it.
Donna: Do you let anyone read what you have written before you send it to your editor?
Lisa: I let my critique partner, a prosecuting attorney, read it. And my agent. My critique partner is much more forthright about places that need work than my agent is. As you can imagine. She does like to express her opinion.
Donna: Do you belong to a local writer's group?
Lisa: No. My critique partner is enough to deal with.
Donna: What is the hardest part of writing a story?
Lisa: Applying butt to chair and making myself work, no question.
Donna: What is the funniest thing that has happened related to your writing?
Lisa: I don't know about funny, but there have been plenty of embarrassing moments with aunts, family friends, etc., making comments about "Little Lisa" writing "those scenes," and "where did you get ideas like that?" I tell them it's all from my imagination, yessiree, I'm still pure and innocent.
Donna: Your books are very sensual. Is it difficult to write the sex scenes for your books? Is it made any easier knowing that the majority of romance readers are female?
Lisa: It was difficult at first, but then my critique partner and I started having so much fun discussing the mechanics of the scenes, I forgot to be embarrassed. I'm just grateful that my editor has yet to want to discuss any problems with those scenes with me. I don't think much about the strangers who will be reading the story - I think it would be overwhelming if I did. I'd start censoring myself more than I already do.
Donna: What kind of books do you read for pleasure?
Lisa: I read lots of mystery and suspense. Writing romance has taken some of the fun out of reading it: I'm too aware of the art. I've heard that people who work in movies have the same experience when they go to the theater. I guess it's true of any field, that seeing behind the scenes takes away some of the magic.
Donna: What has been your favorite question or comment from your fans?
Lisa: I'm thrilled whenever someone says they laughed out loud at something I wrote. It's a bit of a mystery to me how I sometimes succeed, and sometimes fail at that.
Donna: Your debut book, THE CHANGELING BRIDE, has been compared to Robin Schone's AWAKEN, MY LOVE. TCB was more magical and much brighter. How do you feel about having your book compared to hers?
Lisa: I never read AWAKEN, MY LOVE, so I don't know.
Donna: Whereever did you get the idea for the "COUPON GOOD FOR: ONE FREE HUSBAND. REDEEM AT WILL."? Wouldn't we all want one of those? (Especially if we got one like Henry!)
Lisa: I don't know where that idea came from. Really.
Donna: Here at RBL, we love clinch covers (the sexier the better)! The covers on BTB and OMB are wonderful. Often the cover of a book will affect its sales. Being a debut cover, how did you feel about the cover for THE CHANGELING BRIDE?
Lisa: I actually really liked the cover. It was my first cover ever, so I think I would have loved it whatever it was. I knew almost nothing about the business side of publishing, so whatever I was given seemed like a good thing to me. I've since gotten pickier about how well the cover reflects the characters, but then I slap myself and tell myself to quit my whining and remember how lucky I am to see my books in print.
Donna: In your second book, BEWITCHING THE BARON, you have a talking raven named Oscar who flies around calling the hero an "Eee-diot!" Where did you get the idea to use a talking raven?
Lisa: When I was a toddler, we had a pet crow. I have only the dimmest of memories of it, but Dad once in a while would talk about how crows could be trained to talk, although ours couldn't. The poor thing got blown away in a windstorm.
Donna: Both Valerian and Nathaniel had to overcome huge obstacles in order to be together. While we accept that they will have a happy-ever-after, we still worry about how people will treat Valerian. Did you consider writing an epilogue at the end?
Lisa: I didn't think one was necessary in this case, given that the villagers had already shown their changed attitude.
Donna: Will you ever write sequels to your stories?
Lisa: I think my attention span may be too short to return to previously covered territories, but perhaps someday I might write a story about the offspring of my protagonists.
Donna: It was refreshing to have heroines who aren't all tiny and perfect. What made you differ from the expected character?
Lisa: Some of it was the realization that men really *do* like women with some meat on their bones. My ex-boyfriend was always saying how he'd rather have a woman who was a little overweight than one who was a little too thin. We're still good friends, not surprisingly. How could you not like a guy like that? But anyway, it seemed to me that the perfect romantic fantasy was to have a guy think you were hot stuff exactly as you were, softly padded curves and all.
Donna: Your heroines are also all strong in character. Is there some of yourself in each of them?
Lisa: Err ... do I have to answer this? I may have gotten a few complaints from exes about being bossy and too independent.
Donna: You use a lot of humor in your books. How do you bring in the humor but keep the seriousness of each scene?
Lisa: Humor and seriousness seem to be two sides of the same coin - they're both extreme reactions to a situation. It's like the impulse to crack jokes at a funeral: somehow it maintains the balance. You may be snickering, but it doesn't change the seriousness of the event for you. It just makes it easier to bear.
Donna: Another common thread in your books is the use of magic and fantasy. Will you continue to write stories with a paranormal or magical theme?
Lisa: Probably so. It just seems to be what I end up doing. My April 2001 release, THE MERMAID OF PENPERRO, is a straight historical, though, despite the title - the mermaid is fake. Still, the inspiration was magical, so I suppose I can't really get away from the paranormal.
Donna: Can you give us any hints about future stories?
Lisa: After THE MERMAID OF PENPERRO, there is an adventure/quest story, set in the Indian Ocean and on an island near Indonesia. After that, I'll likely write a rather peculiar time-travel I have in mind. And I do mean peculiar.
Donna: How does the internet affect you as an author?
Lisa: I waste lots and lots of time rechecking my ranking at Amazon. I love the Internet. I especially love that I get to be close to readers in a way that would be impossible otherwise. I like to hear what they're thinking, whether it is about my own books or someone else's, or romance novels in general.
Donna: What are some of your favorite web sites and discussion boards?
Lisa: I really like the paranormal romance list at egroups.
Donna: How can we as readers help to promote new authors such as yourself?
Lisa: Talk about us! Word of mouth is best magic out there.
Donna: Do you have any advice for the aspiring authors here at RBL?
Lisa: Don't give up! Don't let the rejection
letters get you down! Believe a
criticism might have merit ONLY if you get the exact same one from more
than one or two sources (and this counts for coming from editors, too).
And last but not least, Apply Butt to Chair and Write!
Lisa, on behalf of everyone at RBL Romantica we thank you for taking time from your very busy schedule to do this interview with us. You have a bright future ahead of you, and we hope that you will let us share it with you. We welcome you to RBL and hope that you will stay around and join us.
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