Today I am featuring an interview with author Lisa Mangum here at Bookscoops. Lisa has written my top favorite time travel series, the Hourglass Door Trilogy. Please join us in celebrating her most recent novel, After Hello. Be sure to check out the links at the end of the interview for some fun opportunities!
I had the great pleasure of attending a lecture given by Lisa at the WIFYR conference this summer in Utah. I also met Lisa at the book signing and she is one awesome lady. If you ever need a hug- she’s a great hugger! Please join me in welcoming Lisa and getting a glimpse into how talented she is.Holly: Where did you get the idea for your book, After Hello?
Lisa: It sounds cliché, but it came from a dream. I dreamed what eventually became the first scene in the book—the part where Sara sees Sam for the first time, takes his picture, and decides to follow him. The dream wandered into strange territory after that, as dreams often do, but when I woke up, I still remembered that moment of a first meeting, and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was about who these two people were and what they were doing and what their relationship would be like.Holly: You are so creative to be able to take a moment from a dream and turn it into a whole novel! After Hello is a contemporary novel whereas your trilogy was not. What were the main differences between writing a contemporary novel and writing your previous Time Travel Series? (Which I loved by the way!)
Lisa: The biggest difference was that I couldn’t rely on a magical or paranormal solution to a problem! While I loved writing my time travel series (I have always loved the fantasy and sci-fi genres), I found writing contemporary fiction to be both refreshing and challenging. With a contemporary novel, I needed to make sure I kept my characters grounded in reality, facing real problems, and finding real solutions. I also found there was a certain immediacy I liked about writing contemporary fiction that wasn’t always present in the Hourglass Door series.Holly: Will there be a sequel to After Hello?
Lisa: I don’t have any plans right now to revisit the story of Sam and Sara. Without giving too much away, I wanted to leave the story a little open-ended so the reader could decide what happened next. After all, people often come in our lives only to stay for varying amounts of time, and that’s okay.Holly: I think you are very good at sequels. There should be a sequel. I hereby call for a vote. All in favor say yes! Ahem. Oh yes, back to the interview… In After Hello, there is a lot of trading going on. What is the coolest trade you’ve ever made?
Lisa: I actually traded a copy of After Hello—plus a sugar packet—for a framed movie poster of the Avengers. I then traded the poster to my friend Heidi for a stack of fashion books and coloring books, which I then traded to my nieces in exchange for a bucket of Mr. Potato Head parts that I needed for a writing conference class I was teaching. Whew! If you want to join in the fun, visit TrackthePacket.com and I’ll send you an official After Hello sugar packet that you can trade.Holly: Sure…we totally believe you about the Mr. Potato Head :). Although, I must say I never saw any Mr. Potatoe Head parts during your presentation. You just wanted to have your own set, right? j/k. When you aren’t busy with Mr. Potato Head, what project are you working on now?
Lisa: I actually have another contemporary YA novel in mind: Just June. My elevator pitch goes something like this: “May and June are as close as identical twin sisters can be. So when May commits suicide, June is left with one question: Why hadn’t she known her sister was in trouble?” I want to explore the issue of sisterhood and identity, secrets and trust. It’s kind of a scary topic for me, but exciting as well.That does sound like a scary topic to address. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Speaking of scary and exciting things, tell us a little about your path to publication—how long did you work at becoming published before it actually happened?
Lisa: My path to publication took a decade-long detour through the editing world. Growing up, I wanted to be a writer. I loved everything about books, but somewhere in my teen years, that horrible voice of self-doubt convinced me that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say, that writing was a dream that other people had. So, I’m sad to say, I shelved that dream for a number of years. But I still loved books, so I looked into the possibility of becoming an editor. I graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in English and almost immediately was able to start work as an Editorial Assistant in a publishing house. I loved it! And it wasn’t until 2007 or 2008 before I turned my attention back to writing. When I got the idea for The Hourglass Door, it was like the floodgates opened, and all those dreams I had as a child came rushing back. I finished the draft in about 8 months and submitted it to Shadow Mountain. They said yes, and about a year later, the book was on the shelf, ready to be read. It was a whirlwind process. I haven’t looked back since.Holly: Well, you are quite a few steps ahead of me, that’s for sure. When I got that little voice of self-doubt I went and got a degree in Business. At least you stayed in the same general field! I always kept the love of books alive though. At Bookscoops we talk a lot about memories with books. What are some memories you have of reading as a young child?
Lisa: My first book-related memory is of me—maybe only 3 or 4—taking a copy of The Secret Garden to my mom and asking her to read it to me. We curled up in the big green rocking chair and she read the entire book to me. It’s still one of my favorites. I remember discovering Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen and crying my eyes out at the end of book two. (I also wrote her a letter, which she answered! And which I still have to this day.) I remember scouring the libraries for the sequel to The Three Musketeers. I remember one birthday where I wished to spend the whole day in the bookstore; Mom and Dad bought me ten books that day. (Happy birthday, indeed!)Holly: I love the Secret Garden too! The Three Musketeers I didn’t read until I was in 9th grade French. I wasn’t super fluent (I’m still not) so my appreciation and understanding of that great piece of writing was spotty at best. On another note, I love your birthday memory! I’ve never heard of celebrating a birthday at the bookstore. Wouldn’t it be great if they had party rooms at bookstores? Maybe that’s what I’ll ask for on my next birthday. (Not the party room- the whole day at the bookstore, and ten books. Minimum.) Thanks for the interview Lisa! It was great to hear more about you. Now, dear readers, please go check out Lisa Mangum’s new book, After Hello. And check out the sugar packet trading site trackthepacket.com. We all have some serious trading to do!