C: Hi, Lois, I’m so glad I’m able to talk with you! I read your story A Trick of The Light and enjoyed it very much. Now I had the honor to read your new book Change Places With Me, which was an all-nighter for me!
So, as we know, your story Change Places with Me isn’t the kind most people picking it up are thinking it is, so tell us a little why you decided to have kind of an undercover fantasy/dystopian novel?
L: My favorite kind of story has an eerie, unsettled quality that “things aren’t what they seem.” For me, a science-fiction element, inventing a psychological procedure called “memory enhancement,” allowed me to tell the story I wanted to tell, about what a person goes through when suffering from profound grief.
C: Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
L: Not really. The girl in the book realizes she has to face things she doesn’t want to face, but I’m not sure I’d call that a lesson or moral. It’s just what happens.
C: What is your favorite part of the book?
L: There’s a scene where the girl, Clara, has a friend who is putting stage make-up on her, turning her into an old, scarred woman. Clara sees her reflection in the mirror and realizes, to her horror, “That’s who I am, on the inside.”
C: What is your writing style, and what tactics do you have when writing? (For example, outline or just write when you get bursts of inspiration)
L: I don’t count on bursts of inspiration. Years ago someone told me, about writing—“don’t hate it, don’t love it, just do it.” I keep lots of notes nearby, things I don’t want to forget to include, not really an outline but a series of reminders.
C: When you write, do you have goals of certain # of words a week?
L: I like to write three pages a day. Sometimes that means rewriting the same three pages many, many, many times.
C: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
L: How many rewrites are necessary! Every book needs to be rewritten completely, beginning to end, about 20 times.
C: Do you think the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
L: Yes. I think the cover for Change Places with Me is perfect and beautiful and eye-catching (two large roses surrounded by creeping tendrils), and doesn’t “give away” too much.
C: How do you get connected with so many people for your interviews?
L: In most cases, people get in touch with me—as you did. Also sometimes I write to book bloggers and ask if they’d like a review copy.
C: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
L: I’ve gotten plenty of both. It’s wonderful to get good reviews, to know that what you set out to do hit the mark and reached somebody. But that doesn’t always happen. I’ve gotten some really bad reviews clearly written by smart, thoughtful people. Someone once told me, as consolation, when you get a bad review, you have a reader. If you get two bad reviews from the same person, you have a fan!
C: Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?
L: My son, Jacob Hiss, a videographer, shot and edited these trailers for Change Places with Me and A Trick of the Light:
C: Are your characters based off of real people or do they all come entirely from your imagination?
L: Real people—but not all at once. Pieces of people show up in different characters, and in the process of rewriting, characters take off and become their own creations (which is where the “imagination” part comes in).
C: Do you write full-time or part-time?
L: Part-time. I also teach creative writing at a local library and do some editing on nonfiction books.
C: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
L: The book begins at a certain point, then goes back in time to previous weeks and past years, and finally catches up to itself. I had to keep checking each part to make sure the girl only knew what she was supposed to know at each point. It would’ve been easier to write the whole thing chronologically but it didn’t suit the material.
C: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
L: Many years, from 5 to 15. Sometimes books overlap because there is “wait time” in publishing, from when you hand in a book, to working on editorial changes, and then waiting for publication.
C: What are your thoughts on writing a series?
L: I’d love to do one but haven’t had the right idea… yet.
C: Have you considered writing in another genre?
L: There is such a range in young adult (realistic, science fiction) that I will never leave that genre. And my brain seems well-suited to ages 14 and up.
C: What do you think Rose would have to say about you?
L: Rose is overly polite and would only say nice things; she’d be pleased someone’s writing about her. Clara, on the other hand, would just like to be left alone.
C: For your own reading, do you prefer e-books or traditional paper/hardback books?
L: I don’t own a Kindle. I only read hardbacks and paperbacks.
C: What book are you reading at present?
L: This is going to sound so over-the-top, but I’m a member of a book club and we’re reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. Even though I was an English major in college, I never read it. I have many such gaps.
C: What book has most influenced your life?
L: Probably The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. The way Holden Caulfield tells his story really caught me. Then I read Salinger’s Nine Stories. My first short stories were blatant imitations of his story, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut.”
C: Who is your favorite author, and why?
L: Well, Salinger, and also William Faulkner. I absolutely loved The Sound and the Fury in terms of structure, narrators (four different voices), and plot (the same events are told again and again, from different points of view).
C:What is your favorite book, and why?
L: This is my favorite YA—I am the cheese by Robert Cormier. It’s almost unbearably sad but so well done, so full of mystery and suspense; at different points, you can’t imagine how it will all come together but it does, beautifully.
C:What advice would you give your younger self?
L: The same advice I’d give my older self: don’t worry so much. (I don’t listen.)
C: Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
L: I’d like to meet Anne Frank and tell her that her book has been read by millions of people. I think she deserves to know.(Note by Charlie: I agree with this statement 100%)
C: Where can we find you online?
C: Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
L: I am extremely grateful to you for reading my books and I send you a big hug! Please feel free to write me on my website.
C: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
L: Charlie, you’ve been very thorough. Thanks for the wonderful questions.