Between the Sky and the Sea is out in a few days! Lisa was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
You can get your copy of this exciting historical fiction HERE!
Did you always know you wanted to be an author? What is the first story you remember writing? How did you get from there to where you are today?
I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was in first or second grade. My first story was called “The Adventures of Little Horse and Little Lamb,” and it was about a horse and lamb who were best friends. I wrote it on that large-lined paper we used to have in elementary school, and I illustrated it, too. They both walked on their hind legs like people. Then, when I was in about fifth grade, I started a novel about a brother and sister who went on a barefoot quest through the mountains to find penicillin for their brother who was sick. I have no idea why they didn’t just go to the drug store. Obviously, my plotting abilities were poorly developed at age ten! Those stories remained in a box in my closet at my parents’ house for many, many years.
I stopped writing in high school and, though I majored in English Literature, didn’t get back to fiction writing until I became a mother. I wanted to pull back on my career and spend more time with my girls. I reminded myself of my childhood desire to write fiction, and decided to go for it. That’s when I started my first historical fiction, Eleanor Hill, which was about my grandmother’s teen years on the coast of North Carolina in the 1910’s. Now, my second historical fiction, Between the Sky and the Sea, is out from Dragonblade, and I’m very excited.
How much research do you do into the time period and places you write about? Do you have any experience dressing in character or participating in living history situations or are you more a fan of libraries and online resources?
I wrote and researched Between the Sky and the Sea for about three years. I started it in 2018, and Covid hit soon after that, and The Georgia Historical Society in Savannah was closed, both for Covid-related reasons and a major renovation, so I had to do most of my research at first online. JSTOR, the online database, Google maps, and other resources, were wonderful troves of information. After my husband and I received our Covid vaccines, I scheduled a trip to Savannah, and it was so exciting to see the places I’d chosen for Lavinia’s home and millinery shop, and to walk down the streets I’d imagined her traveling in her carriage.
Where is your favorite place to write? Does it change depending on where you are in the process?
I have an office in an upstairs room in my house. My desk faces the window, and I spend a fair amount of time looking out of it. Below is a little circular park where people walk their dogs and that’s relaxing to watch as I try to come up with the next scene, or the next line of dialogue. When I get stuck, often I’ll take our own dog, Joni, a little chihuahua, for a walk around that park. Sometimes the best ideas float up when I’m walking Joni.
Which comes first for you: the plot or the characters?
It depends on the book whether plot or characters come first. Normally I come up with characters and an inciting situation, and then, as they develop, the characters seem to create the story based on who they are. For Between the Sky and the Sea, though, the situation came first. While researching the sinking of the Pulaski in 1838, I read an article in the Delaware Gazette about two people from the Pulaski who did not know each other surviving the wreck on two deck settees lashed together. Four days later, when they were rescued, they were engaged. This romantic story grabbed hold of my imagination and wouldn’t let go, even after I learned that the story might have been made up. Four days trying to survive on a raft is like a microcosm for a romance and marriage. Did they really marry? Was their marriage happy? What became of them? Since the situation came first, I then had to start thinking, what kind of people might these two young lovers be? And that’s how I came up with Lavinia Onslow and Daniel Ridge.
From all your books, who is your favorite hero and why?
I believe Daniel Ridge in Between the Sky and the Sea is my favorite. He’s handsome in a studious-looking way, and loves to read, like my husband. But he is also resourceful, and can fix anything, sort of like my dad. At the same time, he’s romantic – and I took that from some of the eloquent love letters I read from my grandfather to my grandmother. So he represents several generations of fine men! Plus, one of his challenges is to overcome Lavinia’s reservations about him. Oh, he does happen to have a bad temper. I won’t say where that comes from.