Michelle: It is lovely to have you with us, Lisa. As a women’s fiction writer, what is it about women’s fiction that inspires you, and what do you think accounts for the popularity of the genre?
Lisa: It’s such a pleasure to be here at Magical Musings—thanks so much for inviting me!
Women’s fiction is such a varied genre with really fuzzy edges, but at the core of every book, I think, is the theme of positive emotional change. The stories revolve around real life—but magnified, intensified. I like being on a journey with women who face conflict, overcome it, and in the process gain wisdom—especially if I experience these travels from the safety of my reading couch. I think the appeal lies in the idea that we can take a piece of that hard-earned wisdom home.
Michelle: Your latest release (congratulations!), is entitled Random Acts of Kindness, and the main characters in the story go on a road trip back to their hometown. Is this a trip you’ve taken yourself?
Lisa: Yes! I’ve driven across the country before (the northern route) but not with two girlfriends and an incontinent dog like in Random Acts of Kindness. I traveled with a hot rugby player, so it was a different kind of voyage. One of the lessons I learned from that real-life road trip is that traveling with someone is one of the best ways to determine if you’re compatible. Nicole, Jenna and Claire of Random Acts of Kindness have a lot of adjusting to do, and their three-week odyssey becomes a boot-camp in how to nurture a successful friendship.
Just as an aside, it was that road trip with the rugby player that convinced me to marry the guy. In a week we’ll be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.
Michelle: In Random Acts of Kindness the plot revolves around the ripple effect of a small act of kindness that your main character does which changes her life and the life of her friends. What inspired you to use this theme of small acts having big consequences?
Lisa: Here’s one of the random acts of kindness that inspired this novel: When my parents were a young couple with kids of their own, they decided to take in foster children. Talk about an adventure! Anyone who has had this experience knows it can be wonderful and it can also be extremely challenging. The kids would stay for a year, sometimes two, and then return to their families. Most never contacted us again–and that was understandable, because their time with us coincided with a tumultuous one in their lives, one they didn’t want to dwell upon.
But once, long after I left home, a young man showed up at my parent’s house. It turns out that he was one of the first foster children my parents had ever taken in over a decade earlier. The young man thrust out his hand, thanked my father, and confessed, “You are the only father I’ve ever known.”
Decades after my stoic-New-England-Yankee father told me that story, I still remember the tears in his eyes.
Michelle: Female friendships are another strong element of most women’s fiction, and certainly Random Acts of Kindness. Do you think that’s an essential ingredient to women’s fiction?
Lisa: Absolutely! My other three novels of women’s fiction—The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship, One Good Friend Deserves Another, and Friendship Makes The Heart Grow Fonder—focus on the importance of friendship in keeping us steady, focused, and strong, especially during the most difficult times of our lives. I know I couldn’t manage long without my girlfriends!
Michelle: What’s up next for you? Are you working on anything at the moment we can look forward to in the future?
Lisa: Yes! In March 2015 my next novel, SENSELESS ACTS OF BEAUTY, will be released. In Senseless Acts of Beauty, outsider Tess Hendrick—who had long kicked the dust of her hometown from her heels—is forced to return to Pine Lake when she discovers that the daughter she placed for adoption as an infant is about to track her down.
As you can imagine, Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty are companion books. Both focus on a group of women who graduated from the same high school in the tiny Adirondack town of Pine Lake—women who’ve scattered and experienced very different lives, but ultimately find a measure of peace in their unusual, and sometimes unlikely, friendships.
Michelle: Thank you for visiting Magical Musings!
Lisa: My pleasure! Thanks for having me.
Sometimes getting lost is the only way to find what you’re looking for.
With the remnants of her past rattling in the trunk of her Chevy, Jenna Elliott abandons her Seattle home determined to start life anew.
Her journey compels her to the door of two friends: Claire, an ex-Buddhist nun and cancer survivor, eager to escape her overbearing family for what may be her last chance to fulfill a dream; and Nicole, a professional Life Coach who can’t even control her own teenage son.
But what starts out as an impulsive road trip soon becomes an inexorable journey to their past, as the women grapple with who they were, who they are, and the strange twists that have now set them on the road to their hometown of Pine Lake. There, Jenna discovers that her random act of kindness has rippled out into the world like a stone dropped into a deep pond, coming back to rock her life—and those of her friends—in ways they never expected.