– Please introduce yourself and your books
I’m Lisa Mason, a longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay area. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and went to school in Ann Abor at the University of Michigan, the College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts, and the University of Michigan Law School. I practiced law for a few years, then became an executive editor at a law book publisher. But I always had my sights on my true calling, writing imaginative fiction.
Inspired by the books my mother gave me when I was a child—fantasies like Charlotte’s Web, the Mary Poppins books, and the stories of Rudyard Kipling—I wrote my first novel when I was seven years old. The book is 1¼ inches by 2 inches, hand-sewn, two chapters, lavishly illustrated by the author, and entitled, “Millie the Caterpillar.” Millie is despondent at being “a fat, green, hairy, little caterpillar.” Then spring comes, she breaks out of her cocoon, and “to her surprize, she found two beautiful red and black wings on her shoulders.” Happiness! The End. I’ve thought ever since that “surprise” should be spelled with a z.
I’ve always been interested in mythology and psychology and history, so writing speculative fiction—science fiction and fantasy—was a natural fit. Not space captains and kings, but primarily women—teenagers, shop keepers, college students, professional mediators, artists, time travelers. Then, too, I’ve written a passionate, historical mini-series starring a suffragist-detective, Celestial Girl (A Lily Modjeska Mystery), presently an ebook which will (I hope) become also a trade paperback.
– What role do emotions play in creativity?
Emotions are central to creativity. For me, I have to feel passionate about an idea, a character, a time period or the work just won’t happen. And my work has to be character-driven.
You’ve heard about “method acting,” when an actor totally inhabits the character. I try to practice “method writing,” when I totally inhabit each character, see the world from her point-of-view, have attitudes and reactions that come from the core of her personality, have emotional reactions that make sense only to her.
Achieving authenticity of character is crucial to me.
– What have you published so far?
As of 2019, I’ve published ten novels, including Summer of Love, a San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book and Philip K. Dick Award Finalist, The Gilded Age, a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book, a collection of previously published short fiction Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, and three dozen stories and novellas in magazines and anthologies worldwide. My Omni story, “Tomorrow’s Child,” sold outright as a feature film to Universal Pictures and is in development. I created an ebook for “Tomorrow’s Child” including a thirty-day blog “The Story Behind the Story That Sold to the Movies,” setting out the twists and turns the project took from first inspiration to movie deal.
Recently, I’ve published several stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, “Teardrop” in the May-June 2015 issue, “Tomorrow Is A Lovely Day,” in the November-December 2015 issue, and “Anything For You,” in the September-October 2016 issue. “Riddle” is in the September-October 2017 68th Anniversary issue, “Aurelia” appears in the January-February 2018 issue, and “The Bicycle Whisperer” appears in the May-June 2018 issue. “Dangerous” appears in Welcome to Dystopia, an anthology edited by Gordon Van Gelder (O/R Books). “Taiga” appears in the April 2019 issue of Not One of Us edited by John Benson, and “Bess” will appear sometime this year in Daily Science Fiction.
So far, seven of my books are in print as beautiful trade paperbacks and ebooks, including Summer of Love, The Gilded Age, Arachne, Cyberweb, The Garden of Abracadabra, One Day in the Life of Alexa, and Strange Ladies: 7 Stories.
– Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I don’t write formula fiction, though I can understand how readers appreciate it. The greatest compliment a reader can give me is that he or she loved one of my characters so much, will I write another continuing that character’s adventures?
That is the balance—if I’ve achieved memorable characters that readers want to follow in a memorable setting, then I’ve achieved personal satisfaction and served readers.
But every red-blooded writer starts a project thinking, “This will please readers.” I don’t think anyone would stare at a blank page and tear out her hair every day without that motivation.
– What are your plans for future books?
I have a speculative novel, CHROME, forthcoming this year, and a second story collection, ODDITIES, forthcoming in 2020. Both books will be trade paperbacks and ebooks.
Future plans include a third novel concluding the Arachne trilogy, two more Abracadabra novels, and a second Chrome novel. In the works is inputting my two Pangaea books, originally published by Bantam, which I just haven’t gotten to yet. There are lots of graphics, so the Pangaea books will be a big project on their own.
I’m always working on more stories and novel ideas.
Please visit me at http://www.lisamason.com for the beautiful covers for my books, ebooks, screenplays, and magazines, reviews of my books and stories, blogs, interviews, round tables with other authors, my husband Tom Robinson’s bespoke jewelry, mobiles, artwork, and artistic statement (he has three art and jewelry degrees), and, most important, cute cat pictures.
Thank you, Tony Eames and NFReads.com, for this interview!