Monday, September 19, 2016

Authors To Watch: Lise McClendon, author of 'The Things We Said Today' #authorstowatch

Lise McClendon writes fiction in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She has been a film reviewer, a film maker, a journalism professor, and a PR flack. Since her first novel, The Bluejay Shaman, was published in 1994, she has served on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers/North America, as well as on the faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference where each year she critiques, speaks, and learns from writers new and old.

Lise McClendon also writes as Rory Tate.

Her latest book is the women’s fiction, The Things We Said Today.

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About the Book:

Title: The Things We Said Today - A Bennett Sisters Novel
Author: Lise McClendon
Publisher: Thalia Press
Pages: 274
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Five sisters, all lawyers, well-trained in the art of demanding what’s necessary.It’s enough to drive a wedding planner to tears. Then add in a European venue, a Scottish hunting lodge, and a reluctant bride, and things get dicey. Can the middle sister, Merle, rally the troops, deal with the in-laws, and stop a powerful storm from ruining everything? Merle has powers of persuasion, especially when it comes to her French beau, Pascal, but in Scotland she has no clue how to corral her out-of-control sisters who are hellbent on wringing every bit of drama from a bad situation.
Annie Bennett is getting married…. At the ripe old age of 55. She’s turned down a few proposals over the years and stayed true to her motto: Stay single, stay happy. When she met handsome Scot Callum Logan she had no intentions beyond her own personal Highland fling. Then it happened: she fell in love. Annie’s doubts about marrying a much-younger man continue to plague her. Callum wants to get married in the bluebells of his native Highlands. But does Annie want to get married at all?
Join the Bennett Sisters in their third rollicking novel, after Blackbird Fly and The Girl in the Empty Dress, in another summer adventure with romance, intrigue, men in kilts, plus wine and whisky, as they navigate the treacherous waters of middle-age, self-discovery, and understanding your fears.

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  • The Things We Said Today is available at Amazon.

Tell us a little about yourself.

First, thanks for hosting me here! I’ve been writing fiction for a long time but I started out in journalism and film. My dream job in my twenties was writing film reviews which I did freelance at a newspaper in California for awhile at $15 a pop! I moved on to novels in my thirties when my kids were small. Writing fiction is a great outlet for keeping the brain alive during the thrilling days of diaper changing! I sold my first novel, a mystery called The Bluejay Shaman, after meeting an Indian man who had lots of stories to tell. I live in Montana – now deep in the countryside along a river near Yellowstone National Park. It’s beautiful and wild here. The winters are a little… chilly. J Excellent time for hunkering down with a manuscript.

When did you begin writing?

I still have a little comic book story I wrote and illustrated when I was nine. Never looked back. For awhile I wanted to be an interior decorator! But writing came back to me, and I’m always grateful for the talent or whatever it is that makes you want to write.

Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

I have done both, outlining and writing by the seat of my pants. While being a pantser is easier upfront, just believe in the power of your imagination and GO, outlining has become my mojo for awhile now. I hate to have to rewrite an entire novel because I forgot something, or didn’t provide the right motivation, or it just sucked. All those things have happened to me, and it’s hair-pulling. I write wherever I can, whenever I can. Mostly mornings at my desk, where I try to turn off the internet and focus. Distractions are the biggest issue with writing these days.

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

The new novel, The Things We Said Today, is number four in the Bennett Sisters series, about five sisters, all lawyers. The first book, Blackbird Fly, introduced them and centers around the middle sister, Merle, who inherits a house in France and goes there for the summer to fix it up. The new novel follows the family as everyone travels to Scotland for the oldest sister’s marriage at the ripe old age of 55. It’s got a little gothic suspense in it, with a big storm at an isolated hunting lodge that disrupts the wedding plans. 

How did you get the idea for the book?

I had set up the wedding of Annie and Callum in a previous novella, Give Him the Ooh-la-la. Since Callum is Scottish it made sense to have the wedding in his homeland. I went to the Highlands with my son recently, and stayed in an old Victorian hotel called a ‘hydro,’ where the English came to take the waters. It looks like a mental hospital! But it was very nice, and atmospheric, and all the bluebells in Scotland were blooming. I was enchanted and decided to set my next book there.

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

The middle Bennett sister, Merle, is close to my heart. I too am a middle sister (I only have two sisters though.) There is something about the middle child who is subject to benign neglect and often feels both pressure to help everyone and like the odd man out. Being a writer is like that too, using that feeling of the outsider looking in, being an observer to life.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?

I did something a bit different this time, finishing the first (or third) draft and setting it aside for a couple months. In doing this I had to confront certain issues that seemed niggling early on. A few dangling subplots, an unlikely conclusion, things that end too easily. I like a certain amount of entanglement in my plots, which means everything isn’t completely resolved sometimes. But I had to admit to myself that a little more work needed to be done, a few more chapters added. That’s always a hard sell to oneself!

Which authors have inspired your writing?

I have many favorite authors. In the mystery world I adore Tony Hillerman and Sue Grafton and Michael Connelly; their works will always inspire me. I am a big fan of Alice Hoffman who makes magic believable. My current crush is Liane Moriarty, the Australian author, who writes women’s fiction with a twinge of crime, similar to what I try to do.

What projects are you currently working on?

Summer is my current project! It’s almost gone…

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?

Work hard but enjoy your real life. It goes by quickly. Don’t stay in your room banging out stories when you could be laughing with your family and friends. A day without a good laugh is a lost one!

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