Q&A with Liza Jackson
Q&A with bestselling crime author, Lisa Jackson
Posted on March 8, 2018 in Author Q&A
What drew you to writing thrillers specifically? Was that always a genre you loved?
Yes. I’ve always loved suspense and thrillers, so I was over the moon to start writing them about twenty-five years ago after cutting my teeth on romance fiction. When my editor said I could do what I wanted to the book, there were little restrictions, I jumped into suspense. I’d spent about ten years writing category romance with very precise rules, so I felt like a horse that’s seen the sun for the first time upon bolting from the barn. It was and still is very exciting!
How did the idea for YOU WILL PAY come about? I think everyone has secrets we’re afraid will come to haunt us, but in real life, perhaps, they tend to stay hidden…
Hmmm. I just kind of started with the idea of women reuniting after a tragic incident in the past. I thought a summer camp would be a good place for the tragedy to occur as the teenagers would scatter after the tragedy, then have to deal with what happened later in life. I wanted to show how their relationships, lies and confessions had haunted them throughout life and that they had to come back to the camp where it all started to find out what happened as well as find themselves in the process.
YOU WILL PAY involves an incident that happens when a group of teenagers are away at a summer camp – and how that incident haunts them decades later. Summer camp experiences are somewhat of a subgenre in horror movies, and it’s interesting to see the way you play with that trope in your book. What is it about summer camps that lend themselves so well to creepy, scary stories?
At a summer camp, teenagers are away from their parents’ watchful eyes, and they don’t have the comfort or security of home. They’re “out” maybe for the first time in their lives and they’re bound to get into trouble, so if something goes wrong, they’re alone and have to deal with the incident themselves, usually in the woods where it’s creepy, dark and dangerous. What’s not to love about that?
Would you say you have a kind of signature twist, or a “move” in suspense writing that you particularly love to read or to write?
Oh, I don’t think so. I do love something unexpected and usually that happens to me when I’m actually writing the book. Before I actually sit down to write the pages, I’ve submitted a synopsis to my editor and I write from that skeleton of the book. The really interesting twists come in the actual writing and sometimes they surprise me. I love that. What I try to do is fool the reader. I think of it as a game, leading them to the wrong conclusion before the true culprit is unmasked. Sometimes I pull it off, but often the reader is a step ahead of me. But it’s fun!
Can you say a bit about your writing process and what your days look like?
I’m all over the map. I don’t write so many pages a day; that freaks me out. I’ve tried: No go. I do write from a synopsis that is between 35-70 pages depending. It’s pretty complete. Then, when I sit down to actually start writing the pages, I work in the mornings, as early as 5 or 6 am. Afterwards, I’m drained and tackle my errands, social meetings, appointments into the afternoon. As I’m a morning person and I do try to add in a walk with my dogs and maybe a crossword puzzle before noon. I write on a laptop with a cup of coffee by my side and unfortunately I draw the shades so that I can really submerge into the book. That routine isn’t set in stone until I’m near the end of the book with a deadline looming. Then it’s “Look out! Katie bar the door!” and I barely sleep. It’s not a method I would advise anyone using as it’s a little crazy-making but it’s how it works for me.
Can you talk a bit about your dogs, especially Jackie O No, who I understand has become a bit of an online celeb? And can you say a bit about your animal rescue work?
I currently have three dogs, Jackie O No, with her elongated tongue and spunky personality. My son and I got her about ten years ago and yes, she’s a character. She’s getting older now and it’s sad. My second dog is a beagle and she’s really my older son and his family’s dog. She’s blond, no black markings and a sweet soul. She’s very loving but likes to escape and follow her nose. When I walk all three, her nose never leaves the ground unless she catches scene of some creature and starts to bay. Jazzy my third dog was re-homed with me as her family had to give her up due to allergies. We still see them as they love her and visit. She’s a pug, too, a “big girl” so she and I diet together. (I don’t know who hates the diet more!) She’s fit into the pack pretty well but Jazzy, like Jackie O No, is the boss and the two of them can get into it. At least they did at first. Now we’re all a happy family.
I’m big into animal rescue. My involvement is limited to visiting rescues, donating books and donating money. I’ve got several groups, including a horse rescue to which I make monthly donations. There is a big need for rescue and seeing that stray dogs are given homes. I do what I can.
Find out more about Lisa’s latest book You Will Pay
Follow Lisa on Twitter: @readlisajackson