Here is part 2 of our 2 part interview with Lisa and Laura Roecker! Enjoy! :)
1) Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Somewhat. I am a teacher and whenever I introduced myself to my students on the first day of school, I always said my dream would be to write books. I’m not sure if I ever really believed it until Lisa and I decided to write together.
2) How did you come up with the idea for “A Kate Lowry Mystery: The Haunting of Pemberly Brown”? Did it just come to you, or was it more of a gradual progression?
The initial idea of a girl getting an email back from someone who was supposed to be dead came to Lisa (which is usually the case—she is an idea-freaking-machine). And then the rest of the story morphed and grew the more we wrote and re-wrote. It is now unrecognizable (in a good way).
3) Where do you draw your inspiration from while you are writing? For example, do you listen to music while you write or sit outside?
I can’t have any distractions and I’ve found that I usually write best late at night when my eyes are burning and I can barely think—don’t ask me how that works. I consider myself a pretty observant person and I love to people watch. Now that we write, I find myself watching people in a whole new way. I watch what they do with their hands when they talk or what their expression looks like. I guess the same goes for nature. I use all of this to build characters and setting. I love to write the details.
4) How do you stay motivated to write? Even though you are almost published, have you ever wanted to give up? And if so, how did you pull yourself back from the “edge”?
I honestly can’t say I’ve ever wanted to give up. But I will say it’s much easier to keep truckin’ because I have a partner. I guess it helps that my partner is also my big sister because she keeps my butt focused. Lisa’s basically a workhorse—I swear she has more hours in the day than anyone else. I grew up basically trying to please her and I guess some things never change. I could never give up because I’d be giving up for her too. But whenever I feel really down in the dumps, I imagine how cool the cover of our book will be. I like to imagine standing in Barnes and Noble holding up our book with a goofy grin on my face.
5) Tell us about your writing habits: where you write, when you write, how much you write, etc.
I write in my family room in the same comfy chair every night and day. My husband likes to give me a hard time about it. I sit here (I’m in the chair now, obviously) so much that the rug beneath my feet pills. I like to write late and night but also squeeze in some lines in the morning when my daughter is contained in her high chair and also during naptime. Writing when she is free is tricky because she likes to throw things on the computer like her baby doll or a stuffed animal to get my attention, poor thing. I write every day, not really sure how many hours. It doesn’t really feel like a job because I enjoy it so much.
6) How do you deal with constructive (or not) criticism? And if it’s negative, how do you deal with it?
I LOVE constructive criticism. I love the idea of other people helping us make our book better. There comes a point where you get way too close to a manuscript and are unable to make the proper changes. But I will say, we usually grieve after getting feedback and let it simmer for a few hours. Then, because we can’t stand having an imperfect manuscript (is a manuscript ever perfect?) we hash it out and try to fix what’s broken.
7) How many stories did you start writing before you found a “winner” and how did you know you’d found a keeper?
We wrote one complete book that we thought was the winner. And we actually got a lot of requests for it, but in the end, it was too broken to fix. The book basically needed to be re-written and at that point we didn’t have the energy to start over. So, we came up with the idea for Kate. I wasn’t thrilled at first (I never really am) but after Lisa sent me the first chapter (she always gets us going) I was hooked. It’s only after I read the first chapter that I can fully get on board. We knew we had something special when we received our first offer for representation. We always think we have something special, but until the offers came in, we didn’t fully know it.
8) Do you have any new writing projects in the works? Can you tell us about them?
Yes! We have a project going called UNCLAIMED BAGGAGE—the title is sure to change because we suck at titles—but it’s about a girl who runs away to Europe to escape some not so pleasant things back home. I freaking love this book. And then obviously sequels for Kate are rolling around in our little brains. And the idea machine is sure to have a few more up her sleeve. She keeps a special notebook.
9) When you started writing "A Kate Lowry Mystery: The Haunting of Pemberly Brown" were you planning on trying to get it published, or did that part come later?
Our main goal as soon as we started writing was to get published. We initially did not write for the joy of it. But now that we are writing, I can’t imagine ever stopping. Ever.
10) What did you do to celebrate when you found out that you were getting signed by your agent?
This is so sad, but I’m not sure we ever properly celebrated. I was visiting Baltimore at the time so we had to congratulate each other over the phone. But we didn’t stop smiling for days.
11) What are the best and worse things about being sister writing partners?
Best: Lisa never gets offended if I change something (she usually just changes it back unknowingly). I can be totally honest with her and I’m not sure I could do that if she weren’t my sister. Worst: I’m always questioning if I’m bringing enough to the table. I’m sure I’d do this if Lisa wasn’t my sister, but I think it’s a bit worse because she is. I always want to make sure I’m meeting my end of the bargain.
12) Now that you’re almost a published author and a more experienced writer, what advice would you give to your unpublished self?
Use beta readers or join a critique group. Fellow writers have SO much to offer and they have the ability to read your manuscript with a writer’s eye. Plus, you’ll read some amazing unpublished books before they hit the shelves. How cool is that?
13) What were the most difficult and best parts of writing your second (because your first, as you say, is “collecting dust on a very, very high shelf”) novel? How long did it take you to write from concept to outlining to completion to sending if off to agents?
The most difficult part for me was building a whole new set of characters. It’s like starting a new book after you’ve just read an amazing one. You almost don’t want to have to get to know a whole new set of characters. It’s totally daunting. The best part was having a clean slate and knowing we had the opportunity to apply what we learned from the last book to the current book. It was easier for us to start over than to fix. Kate was written very quickly. We talked about the idea over Christmas, wrote our first chapter before the New Year and sent our first query on February 23. We are quick, but there are two of us, so I guess the work goes double fast.
14) Can you briefly detail your journey to publication after finishing your second book? (Finding an agent, an editor, promoting the book, etc.)
We received three offers of representation and talked to all three agents on the phone and over email. We really struggled to make the decision, but in the end felt Catherine Drayton’s vision for Kate most closely resembled our own. We accepted representation and couldn’t wait to get started on revisions. At the end of March, we traveled to New York to meet Catherine and were able to get her editorial thoughts in person, which was amazing. After hearing Catherine’s feedback we sat at a bookstore coffee shop in New York and hashed out our plan for revisions. We then spent about a month revising and waited patiently to hear what Catherine thought of our changes. When she told us she loved them and wanted to submit to editors the following week, we could barely contain our excitement. But sending her our author photo had to be one of the most exciting parts. We felt like true authors! We went on our first round of submission in late Spring and are still treading water! Right now, we mainly use the blog and our website to promote the book. That and tell anyone who will listen about Kate and all her cohorts.
15) What is your writing process like?
First we start with characters. We come up with a character map—who they look like (we often compare to celebrities), what there quirks are, basically who they are. Then we create an outline of bullet pointed thoughts for each chapter, basically where we want the book to go. We try to work out major plot issues at this stage. Then Lisa writes the first chapter, sends to me, I edit her chapter, write the next one and send back to her. This process continues until we have an entire book. Then we edit like crazy, adding scenes, characters and details, details, details.
16) What kind of atmosphere do you prefer to write in, calm or chaos?
Calm, calm, calm. When Lydia is complaining or crying or touching me, my mind gets all blocked up.
17) Do you have any odd and unusual habits which help you in regards to writing?
I always where my sparkly tiara when I write. Lisa doesn’t lie. Kidding, kidding. Um…I usually read everything out loud. I’ve learned since becoming a writer that I am really auditory. I can hear mistakes better than I can see them. Plus, I LOVE reading aloud. This was my favorite part about being a teacher. You should hear me read aloud Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry—I do a mad Cassie. If we ever get published and if anyone ever wants to record our books, I would love to read them aloud. Not sure if that’s allowed, but I’ll be the first in line.
To find out more about Lisa and Laura Roecker and "The Haunting of Pemberley Brown", go to: http://www.lisaandlauraroecker.com/
Or to read thier hilarious blog, go to: http://www.lisa-laura.blogspot.com/