Lisa Regan - Writing Page Turners With a Lot of Suspense
Multi-award winning author, Lisa Regan, writes parts of her bestselling crime/suspense novels in a small notebook whenever she finds a spare 10 minutes, with her dog cuddled up on her lap. Her debut novel, Finding Claire Fletcher, won Best Heroine and was runner up in Best Novel in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards for 2013. Today Regan gives us some insights into the creation of Claire Fletcher, what inspired her to write this book and how she decided to be a writer rather than an astronaut.
Please give us a short introduction to Finding Claire Fletcher
Down on his luck, Detective Connor Parks takes solace in the arms of a woman he meets at a local bar, but in the morning, Claire Fletcher is gone, leaving behind clues to a decade-old mystery. Abducted at age fifteen, no one has heard from Claire Fletcher in ten years. Until now. Driven by an unsettling need to see Claire again, Connor sets out to solve the mystery of her disappearance once and for all.
Was there anything in particular, an incident or something you read that made you want to write this book?
When I was eleven years old, Jacob Wetterling was abducted from a small Minnesota town. Jacob was never seen again. I remember the news coverage like it was yesterday. I was the same age as Jacob at the time. It was one of those that-could-have-happened-to-me moments in my very young life. All my life I wondered what happened to Jacob. Every few years a story would appear on the national news, reminding us that he might still be out there somewhere. I would study the age progression photo and wonder if someone, somewhere, had run into him and not even known it! I wondered what happens to these kids who are abducted but never heard from again? Finding Claire Fletcher is my fictional exploration of that.
Your book won an award for the best heroine for Claire Fletcher. What is it about Claire that sets her apart from other heroines?
I think that her grit sets her apart. I think she surprises even herself by her ability to not give up in the face of horrific events. Every time she thinks that what happened to her is too much, too damaging and she is too far gone, she finds a small kernel of strength and keeps going.
Finding Claire Fletcher keeps readers at the edge of their seats right from the get-go. How did you manage to pull that off?
Well I tried to alternate chapters between Claire's point of view and the point of view of Detective Connor Parks, who is looking for her. I also tried to make the chapters short so that the story can move quickly. It took years of work to get the novel to be as concise as it is though!
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? And was there a defining moment when you suddenly realized that you have reached that goal?
When I was eleven years old, I was obsessed with becoming an astronaut. I started writing poems about being an astronaut, and at some point, I realized the writing was more enjoyable than anything else. Then one of my parents bought me one of those old-fashioned typewriters and I was off to the races! I have been writing ever since. Finding Claire Fletcher was the first thing that I wrote that I thought might interest people. When I held that in my hands for the first time, it was the most amazing feeling in the world!
Your book contains quite a couple of twists. Did you plan them all out before you started writing?
No, I did not. When I wrote Finding Claire Fletcher, I was not an outliner. I had to revise the book multiple times to weave in the various twists. Now I am much more of a plotter.
Why doesn't Claire leave her captor and abuser when she has the opportunity to escape?
As you will see in the novel, by the time she is presented with an opportunity to escape, he has terrorized her so badly that psychologically I think it becomes impossible for her to simply pop back up in her loved ones lives and say, "I'm here!" When you hear stories of these kids who are recovered from abductors years after they were taken, you immediately wonder why they didn't just escape--especially if they had the chance. But what people do not understand is that years of consistent and horrific abuse changes these kids and instills a great sense of shame in them. It is similar, I think, to what Prisoners of War or domestic abuse victims go through and yet no one asks why they don't simply escape. Being abused in the way that Claire is for all those years is actually a form of torture. No one recovers instantly from that. In Claire's specific case, she feels as though she is not the same girl who was abducted. She feels ashamed and does not believe that she would be able to return to a normal life. She does not want to share all the horrific things that happened to her and knows that if she returns to her life, it will be necessary. She doesn't trust her family to be able to deal with the sheer horror of it and how it has changed her.
How long did it take you to finish the first chapter?
The first chapter I wrote in about 20 minutes.
What was your greatest challenge when writing Finding Claire Fletcher?
When I first wrote it, it was about twice as long as it is now and didn't know what genre it wanted to be. It took me years of revision to pare it down and make it into a true crime novel. I'd say the greatest challenge was all the cutting I had to do.
Tell us a bit about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
I don't have a typical day or a routine. I work full-time and have a family. I keep a small notebook in my purse and any time that I have 10 or more minutes to write, I pull out my notebook and start. Later, I have to find time in the evenings after work to type up what I've written and revise it. That's the hard part for me because after work, I want to spend time with my family and I have to choose what I am going to do. Sometimes I try to stay up late to work on my books but that too, is difficult. So basically I write whenever I can squeeze it in. Our dog Phillip likes to snuggle or be present whenever I am writing so now he is my writing buddy.
What can we expect to see from you next? What are you working on now?
I just wrapped up the first draft of LOSING LEAH HOLLOWAY which is a sequel to Finding Claire Fletcher. It takes place 5 years after the end of Finding Claire Fletcher. Claire and her sister are fishing on a riverbank when a young mother crashes an SUV full of kids into the river in a murder-suicide attempt. Detective Connor Parks is then drawn into the investigation, and he and Claire try to figure out what drove this mother, Leah Holloway, to such a desperate and despicable act.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lisa-Regan/e/B009YY091I/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1