Monday, January 27, 2014

Lisette Brodey, Mystical High

AUTHOR: Lisette Brodey
BOOK TITLE: Mystical High
GENRE: YA Paranormal
PUBLISHER: Saberlee Books

Please tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania. After high school, I moved to New York City, where I attended Pace University and studied drama. After 10 years in New York, several of them working in the radio industry, I moved to Los Angeles, where I held various positions at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA. Back on the East Coast, I worked for many years as a freelance writer, specializing in PR and the entertainment industry. To make a long story short, in 2010 I returned permanently to the Los Angeles area.

Please tell us your latest news.

My most recent book, Mystical High, was just published in October 2013. It’s the first book in my new YA paranormal trilogy, The Desert Series.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I think I’m somewhere between the two. It all depends on what’s going on at the time. I’m a part-time writer when I’m promoting a new book. It’s pretty much impossible to do that well and write full time. I’m a full-time writer when I’m free of promotional obligations and able to focus on my story. When my story is solid in my head (and in my notes), my writing time seems to organize itself.

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing as soon as I learned how to and I did so because it was the most natural thing in the world for me.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first-written book is a 1970's coming-of-age novel called Squalor, New Mexico. This odd-titled story actually takes place in East Coast suburbia, but the idea for the novel came solely from my reaction to the word “squalor.” Every time I heard someone say something like, “He lives in squalor,” it sounded like the name of a place to me. So I thought I might start a book with the first line “My aunt lived in Squalor.” As it turns out, the first line of the book is “My aunt Rebecca lived in Squalor,” and then I go on to tell a dysfunctional family saga from there.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I’m probably thinking about something I’m going through or something that is happening in the lives of my friends. Sometimes I’m just thinking about what movie to see next.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

My first thought about promotion is that very few people enjoy “overnight success.” Most of us have to work long and hard, and there are no guarantees that success will come.

I believe that it is important to build and maintain relationships within the writing community and to have an account on Twitter, where we have the potential to meet people from the world at large. I also think that the time we spend on promotion should be balanced with other obligations and that social media should help but not consume us.

I’m a big believer in cross-promotion and in helping others. But I’m very against using Twitter (and other venues) as nothing more than free advertising spaces to scream out, “Buy my book!” or send direct messages with links to one’s product to new followers. That is such a huge turnoff. Judicious self-promotion is fine, but you have to show a genuine interest in others if you expect people to care enough to spend money on your work, especially if you’re an indie author.

I’m startled by people who send me a DM (direct message) on Twitter upon meeting and say, “Don’t forget to like and share my FB page with your contacts.” Say what? Really? You expect a total stranger (one whom you have zero interest in) to like and share your Facebook page with others? On what planet? This kind of thing blows my mind and will usually result in an unfollow, depending on my mood when I read it. So promotion is as much about what not to do as it is about what to do.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?

I don’t remember specific comments that I’d classify as “best” and “worst.” I do know that opinions are extraordinarily subjective. I will listen to criticism and change what I was doing if I agree with it—and more than not, coming from my editor, I do. I also believe that if I hear something consistently, then it’s important to consider what people are saying. But I believe that criticism can be all over the map and that a writer should listen but not try to please all of the people all of the time, because we all know: that is impossible. A group of 10 experts in any field can often produce 10 different opinions.

What are your current projects?

Right now, I’m focused on finishing my YA paranormal trilogy. So far, I’m about 27K words into Book 2, and I have notes for Book 3.

What do you plan for the future?

After I finish The Desert Series, I’m going to return to a book I started writing last year. It began as a short story when I was 17. It then became a one-act play, a two-act play, and in a year and change will become a novel. The most interesting thing about writing this novel is that I’ve known the characters most of my life. One of them is so nasty that I found myself shouting expletives at my computer screen as I was writing her.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

What genre do you write in and why?

I’ve published four novels so far and haven’t written in the same genre twice. I haven’t planned it this way. Most of the time, I think about the story I want to tell, and the genre comes second. Even though my books are technically classified as general fiction, women’s fiction (romantic comedy), young adult, and YA paranormal, they’re all written in my particular style: character-driven with multiple story arcs and the revelations of secrets at the end.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

My newest book is Mystical High, Book 1 in a YA paranormal trilogy, The Desert Series. It’s set in the Southern California desert, in a dying town, and focuses on two teen girls, their family issues, and life at school. This novel is about real life first and the paranormal second. I classify it as “realistic paranormal.” The paranormal elements are a big part of the story, but it’s not fantasy, and I’m afraid there’s a distinct absence of vampires and werewolves, too.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?

I’ve had a lifelong interest in the paranormal and have heard many amazing stories from people over the years. I’ve also experienced some interesting things myself. I wanted to write a story about how real people react when the unexplained happens. We all have our own beliefs about what is possible and what is not, but in the end, no one of us really knows.

Also, every time I would visit a desert area outside Los Angeles, where I live, something nagged at me to write about it. And that’s how I came to set the story in a desert town.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

Absolutely. It’s pretty difficult to write the kind of book I write, where characters come together in unexpected ways and secrets are revealed at the end, if I have no clue where I’m going when I begin. I write an overall outline, but I don’t micro-plot from the beginning. As I go along, my original idea always evolves and develops into more. I count on that happening, too. As I move through the story, I tend to plot the next few chapters that lie ahead.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

The answer to that is not set in stone. What comes first is always the spark of an idea that just won’t go away.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?

That’s a tough question to answer because it is the distractions and responsibilities of everyday life usually prolong how long it takes me to write a book. The actual time spent writing a book could be anywhere from two to eight months.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

I often have a lot of trouble reading books written as if they’re happening in the present: “She lays the book on the table and hurries to the door.” I know some authors don’t want to write in a passive voice, but it is sometimes jarring to me when it sounds as if the story is happening as I read it. I get especially nervous if a character is drinking red wine and worry that she might spill it all over my lap.

I also have trouble with books that are overwritten. I don’t enjoy reading a book where the author describes in detail how every line is spoken. For the most part, I think well-written dialogue explains what the character is trying to say. Judicious use of adverbs always makes for a more pleasant read.

What was your most embarrassing moment as an author?

Back east, a small book club (four women) read my novel, Crooked Moon, which is set in a blue-collar neighborhood in Philadelphia. I met with these women at a local Barnes & Noble. The woman who had set it up began the get-together by saying, “I’m going to open with a criticism.”

First, that’s not the way you host a get-together with the author. It’s just not. Second, she mentioned something that bothered her. It was not a criticism that I’d ever heard before or since about the novel.

Okay, she was entitled to her opinion. But then, she turned to her three friends and said, “Don’t you all agree?” Her friends looked positively mortified. I don’t believe they had a clue what she was talking about, and if they did know and happened to agree with her, it would have felt like a public stoning of me to say so. I was not only embarrassed not only for myself but for these three women. It was really an awful moment.

As I hate to end an interview talking about an unpleasant experience, I’d like to end by thanking you for having me as a guest on your blog again, Penny. I’ve really enjoyed it. Hope to see you at my writers’ chateau one of these days.


  1. When we put the book out there, we pretty much open ourselves up to criticism of all kinds, don't we? It takes gumption to be a writer!

  2. Lisette is so open and honest and interesting. I loved this interview!

  3. Ever read or hear about Shirley MacLaine's book, 'Out On A Limb?' Your openness in answering these questions, Lisette, conjured up for me the phrase: 'being out on a limb.' Really enjoyed the gutsiness of your responses.

  4. Thank you, Cheryl. Yes, it does take a lot of gumption to be writer. Or should I say a published one! It's extraordinarily difficult having our work judged. My skin does get thicker with each book!

    Thank you, Beth! I really appreciate your kind words. You're the BEST!

    Dody, yes, I have read Out on a Limb! Many years ago, but much of it has stayed with me. It's funny because I'm very shy about answering some questions, yet am more open about other things. I think we're all like that, don't you?

  5. Great interview! Lisette, you are always so honest and open and never sugar-coat anything. You tell it as it is and honestly is always the best policy. Thanks for your honesty and maintaining your integrity!! Talk soon, my dear friend. Louise

  6. Great interview Lisette! I love the original questions, I read so many interviews but Penny I have to admit your brought up some good questions, and of course Lisette, love your answers and your honesty as well. I am looking forward to book two in the Dessert Series. I love all of your books!

  7. Thank you, Louise. Thank you, Sheri. So nice of you both to stop by and let me know you were here! Sheri, I can't wait to get out Book 2 of The Desert Series. At the time of this interview, I believe I said I was 27K along. Now I'm hitting the 50K mark.

    <3 to you both!

  8. Hi Penny. Lisette, I love the way you promote yourself and others, and I agree, it's important to not let social media consume us. It has to be fun. My daughter's reading Mystic High now.

  9. Thanks so much for stopping by, Simon. Great to see you here.

    Hope your daughter enjoys Mystical High! :-)