Monday, September 10, 2012

Scene of the Crime with Author Lisa Brackmann!

When I read Lisa Brackmann's Getaway earlier this year, I was so impressed by her story of a woman trying to survive while being so completely out of her depth, that I knew I had to ask her for an interview. (I also knew that I'd be getting my hands on her other novel Rock Paper Tiger, too.) If you like stories with a lot of character growth amidst dangerous situations, I hope you give Getaway a try!

Lisa Brackman
As usual, I've rounded up a few links for you just in case you'd like more information on this talented writer and her books:

Now let's get to the fun part of this whole business: the interview!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

I’ll go with the first book I ever read-- My Little Red Story Book. It was the first in a series of basic readers used in elementary schools from the forties to the late sixties, about brother Tom and sister Betty. By the time I got to it, it was the sixties, and I’d started to wonder about things like, “Why does Tom get to ride his scooter and have all the fun while Betty spends all her time helping Mom in the kitchen?” But I still found it miraculous, because from the moment I opened up the book, I could read the words, and understand them, and these words told a story—it felt like magic!

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

Travel, take walks, hang out with friends and drink wine and eat cheese. Yeah, we actually do that. And, of course, read!

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

Japanese Friendship Garden, Balboa Park
This is a little tough, because my hometown is San Diego, and it is a genuine tourist town, because a lot of the attractions that draw people there are really worth visiting. So, I’d still say, go to Balboa Park, visit the Zoo, the Botanic Garden, see a Shakespeare play. There’s a lot of good live theater in San Diego in general. Then go to the beach—San Diego has great beaches. Interesting art scene, and you can visit the outdoor sculpture and architecture at UC San Diego and the Salk Center. Downtown is fun to wander. Take the trolley to the ballpark. And if you like microbrew beer, San Diego has some of the best in the country. Beer-vana.

I also really do think Tijuana and Baja are great. I haven’t been since the recent surge of violence but things seem to be back to normal, and I hope to visit there soon. Rosarito Beach Hotel is really neat. Lobster and rice and tortillas at Puerto Nuevo. I used to love driving out in east county in my pickup and looking at all those hills with the crazy boulders, and a couple of times I’d go across the border into Tecate. Growing up in San Diego, I felt like there was almost a sense of collective denial that the city is on the border of another country, except as Mexico being this sort of transgressive “fun zone” where sailors and college kids go to get drunk and see the donkey show, or what have you. It fascinated me that I could drive a half hour and be in a completely different country.

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Linda Hamilton
No idea. I think I’d rather cast a movie based on someone else’s life. Friends told me that I look a little like Linda Hamilton back in the day. I don’t know about that, but I would certainly like her Terminator-era arms!

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

That’s a tough call! But I have a weird fondness for Miss Marple.

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

I haven’t read this in years, but Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook is one. It’s such an amazing blend of character study, issues about women’s creativity and the social barriers to that, what was going on in the larger society, and a relationship story to boot—and how this one woman tried to integrate these disparate parts of her life. I’d love to do something that manages to combine the personal, the political and the creative the way that Lessing did, and that makes an important statement about all of this.

How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published? What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore?

It’s funny, I didn’t really react very much. For one thing, I’d been on submission for a relatively long time. For another, I didn’t really have a lot of expectations that publishing this book was going to have a major impact on my life. It was like, “Oh, cool, I’ve sold a book! I guess I should write another one now?” I did meet a friend and have a glass of champagne though.

The first time I saw my book on the shelf…I think it was in Small World Books in Venice.

On both occasions, what I mostly felt was a quiet sense of well-being and satisfaction.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

I’ve mostly had great experiences, but I have had my share of “Is anyone going to show up?” occasions and a couple of downright oddities. Most recently, during one of the book events that author Dana Fredsti and I did together, just as she opened her book to read, a man wandered in off the street and sat down in the back. He wore tattered, rainbow-colored clothes, a towel for a cape, and a turban with various Tarot cards stuck in it. And he thought that everything Dana said was hilarious—he howled with laughter after every single line she read. He also told her she deserved a diamond-studded genie bottle, which he would be happy to provide, because his mother was Barbara Eden.

What's the best thing about eBooks? What's the worst?

I like the opportunity to discover different authors. I really like the portability when I travel. But I greatly prefer reading paper books. I just don’t find ebooks as immersive an experience. I hope there are a lot of people who feel the way I do, because I also love bookstores, and I want to see them survive and thrive in an ebook age.

On Sale Now!

Thank you so very much for spending this time with us, Lisa. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to get to know you a little better.

May your book sales do nothing but increase!


  1. What a funny story about the book signing! I can just see the man. After reading her remarks about the Doris Lessing book, maybe I should give her another try.

    1. I had much the same thing happen to me during a training session I was conducting. Someone came into the classroom, sat in the back, and then started laughing at everything I said. Rather disconcerting, to say the least. Two other people finally showed up and took him away. Ha ha....

  2. Oh, I feel exactly that way about ebooks. Long live bookstores!

  3. Cathy, thanks so much for having me!

    Re: the signing, I should add that Dana was reading a passage from a zombie book. So she's reading lines like, "its rotting flesh ripped away with a sound like a chicken wing popping," and Barbara Eden's son responded with hysterical laughter. Flesh-eating corpses = laugh riot! (though there is some humor in the book, to be fair)

    Lisa Brackmann

  4. Love your travel suggestions, Lisa, and LOVE your books! And wow, do I feel sorry for Dana!


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