Southern Creatives Welcomes Lisa Olsen, author
Today’s interview is with a writer of the supernatural and a prolific writer at that!
Lisa has published eight novels (did I mention prolific?!). If you love the supernatural, she’s got it.
So, what’s a supernatural writer doing on Southern Creatives? I’m glad you asked…
The supernatural has long been my favorite to write and read. Werewolves, vampires, witchcraft, ghosts, things that go bump in the night; these are a few of my favorite things to write about. Not sparkly beings with phenomenal cosmic power that are always the smartest, bravest, prettiest Mary Sue to walk the planet, but real people who just happen to have this little quirk…
My books tend to be set in the Pacific Northwest , because that’s where I’m from, but I couldn’t resist taking a stab at southern fiction by writing a fan fiction based on Sookie Stackhouse and the Southern Vampire Mysteries/True Blood. What started out as a quick trip into what I thought should happen in the long hiatus between seasons/books turned into an epic 40 chapter story. Gray Skies Are Gonna Clear Up was the result.
1) What was your creative process in developing a southern character?
I’m cheating here, because I haven’t developed my own southern character, I’m piggybacking on an existing character, crafted by the divine Charlaine Harris. My process would be summed up by reading every single Sookie book she’s got out, coupled with watching the TV show as a true fanatic.
2) How did you ensure that your character’s accent would be authentic?
This is a really good question. In the beginning, I tended to go waaay overboard with Sookie’s accent, until some wonderful readers slapped my hands gently. They reminded me that when you take an accent too far, it’s really easy to slip into a caricature. Instead of going crazy with the dropping “g’s” or too many “ain’t’s”, I try to be more creative in my word choices to give the flavor of the south without sounding over the top. It’s been a great lesson to learn, and this little fic has truly made me a better writer. I apply this concept to all of my novels now. Less is more. Say it with me now…
3) How does your southern character fit into the novel? Would it have made a difference if the character had not been southern?
Since those books could be titled “Everybody Loves Sookie”, I think it’d be a tremendous change if she wasn’t from the south. Everything about who she is has been flavored by her upbringing in the rural Renard Parish , LA and her Gran’s guidance. It’d be an entirely different story if it was set in New York or LA. I think something about the south makes it entirely plausible for vampires to be running nightclubs or a shifter to own the local bar. There’s that romanticism around the supernatural that’s long associated with Louisiana , so the blending of the two works especially well.
4) Who is your favorite southern author or what is your favorite southern novel?
Given my love of the supernatural, you’d think I’d say Anne Rice or Ms. Harris, and no disrespect to either, but my all time favorite has got to be Gone With the Wind. Such a strong heroine and such epic times! I still find myself coming back to it time and again like an old friend. Even when Scarlet is scheming and plotting godawful things that make you cringe, you still root for her in the end. I try to take a lesson from that; my characters are flawed, but hopefully likeable. Plus, we’ve got Rhett, which was my first exposure to the idea of a “bad boy” as the romantic hero. We couldn’t have Damon Salvatore without Rhett Butler!
My latest book Nine Steps to Sara is a ghost thriller set in the remote English countryside and I applied the same principles I learned in writing southern fiction to capturing the British voice.
Thanks, Lisa, for being a guest on Southern Creatives today!