Can you tell us about yourself?
Well, you already know I’m a writer. J I’m an attorney as well. A few years ago, after my parents were killed by a drunk driver, I got involved with the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. Through AAIM, I’ve met some amazing and inspiring people who survived tragedies and do their best to create something positive from their experiences; specifically, to prevent other deaths and injuries due to DUIs and help others who are victims of intoxicated drivers. I live in and work in Chicago, and I have seven nieces and nephews who are the most wonderful, caring and smart people in the world. (I am not biased at all.)
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer and published author?
I started writing when I was 7 or so. My first piece was a terrible poem about a cow where I rhymed “field” with “kneeled.” (Yes, the cow kneeled in the field.) One of my friends wrote too, and pretty soon we were trading novels we scribbled in our spiral notebooks. I wrote quite a bit of fiction and poetry during the 8 years between college and law school, and had some short pieces published. After law school, I wrote two novels, writing mostly Friday nights and Sundays. The second of those novels was The Awakening. The first is on a shelf, at least metaphorically speaking, as it’s actually saved in Word.
As far as publishing goes, I was inspired by my experience in law. Three years ago I opened my own law firm because I decided rather than working so hard for the large firm I practiced at and pitching myself to the partners to convince them to promote me, I ought to work hard for myself and pitch directly to clients. I’ve been very happy with that decision. I like being my own boss, and I’m better able to balance my writing and law practice. A year ago I started reading articles in the Wall Street Journal about independent authors publishing their work directly through Amazon and it got me thinking. Why not eliminate the middleman in my writing, too? So instead of pitching THE AWAKENING to agents to try to convince them to invest their time and effort in it, I decided to bet on myself and publish the book independently through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Do you write in any other genre? Or plan on it in the future?
I love mysteries, especially female private eye novels. My favorites are the V.I. Warshawski books by Sara Paretsky. When I finish THE AWAKENING series, I’m planning a novel about a Chicago lawyer who investigates after her lover – who worked for a former client – appears to have committed suicide because he supposedly got involved in a fraud ring.
What is your writing routine like? Do you like to listen to music? Work in complete silence?
I like silence. If there’s music, I tend to listen to it rather than focus on my writing. Plus, I work in a noisy office all day with phones ringing and people shouting — the attorneys I share a suite with don’t believe in actually using the intercoms, they’d rather yell to one another and to our receptionist. So when I’m writing, I like quiet. I also use the study where I write as a mediation place in the morning. When I mediate, I burn a scented candle, usually some type of chocolate scent. I sometimes do the same when I write. It calls back that peaceful feeling of the mediation and helps me let go of whatever else went on during the day. And occasionally it makes me take a break for hot chocolate, which is always a good thing!
The Awakening is about a young woman, Tara Spencer, who plans to go to medical school and is not taking any chances on getting pregnant before she finishes college. She abstains from sex, but nonetheless finds herself pregnant. Her fiancé breaks up with her, and her family starts to think she’s lost her mind when she insists she’s still a virgin. The only person who believes her is a stranger, Cyril Woods, whose religious order thinks she may be the mother of the next messiah. But when Tara learns her baby will be female, the order turns against her, fearing she’s the mother of the anti-Christ and will trigger the Apocalypse. The Awakening follows Tara as she fights for her life and struggles to find the answer to what she and her child mean for the fate of the world.
One thing I have to ask after reading the blurb for The Awakening is this. Where did the inspiration come from? It’s quite unusual to read about a virgin having a child, other than when Mary conceived Jesus in the Bible.
I grew up Catholic and from the time I could understand what a virgin was had a lot of questions about the story of the Virgin Mary. Why should the ideal women, at least in Christianity, be a both a virgin and a mother? What does that say about sex, women, and motherhood? Also, Mary’s story is so ingrained in most of Western culture that many people accept it as truth even though it’s fantastical. I started to wonder what would happen if a real young woman today found herself in Mary’s situation. How would she would handle this sudden change in her life, what would other people think, and how would she deal with their reactions? The question of whether people who were traditionally religious would be more or less apt to believe her also intrigued me. And I’ve always loved books and movies like THE STAND, ROSEMARY’S BABY, and THE TERMINATOR that focus on people whose actions and beliefs will change the fate of humanity. Writing teachers always say write what you love, and that’s what I tried to do.
If you had to pick a theme song for your book, what would it be?
Lightning Rod by Guster. Both for the song’s mood and because the lyrics express how Tara feels through most of the book. Everyone reacts strongly and in radically different ways to Tara when she tells them she’s pregnant. She definitely feels like a lightning rod for issues and emotions that her family, friends and even strangers can’t handle.
Which character in The Awakening do you most relate with?
Sophia, a professor who becomes a mentor to Tara. Sophia doesn’t automatically believe Tara when she first meets her and hears her story, but she keeps an open mind and does her best to help Tara figure out what’s happening. Sophia continues to support Tara even when that puts her own life in danger. Also, she is one of the few characters who doesn’t try to impose her own agenda on Tara. I try to be as good a friend to those around me as Sophia is to Tara, and to be as open minded when faced with an idea or viewpoint that is contrary to my own. Now my friends can comment and tell me if I’ve succeeded!
THE AWAKENING is available for the Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005CDXXY0 and for the Nook at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-awakening-lisa-lilly/1104252756?ean=2940012849618
THE AWAKENING is also a proud participant in the WoMen’s Literary Café December Mystery Book Launch: http://www.womensliterarycafe.com/content/december-2011-book-launches
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