Tell us a little of the background of Casting the First Stone.
There are a couple, so I’m going to tell the one I don’t usually tell.
I go to a large church, and so impatience in the parking lot when it’s time to go home is a common occurrence. One Sunday, as I sat waiting for a break in the traffic and several drivers passed by without even making eye contact, let alone allowing anyone to merge, I wondered aloud at the incongruity of spending more than an hour in church, then forgetting everything in the parking lot.
That started a stream-of-consciousness series of thoughts on the drive home, including speculation as to whether or not going to church made someone a better person, all of which sparked the creation of a character who talks the talk but doesn’t necessarily feel he needs to walk the walk.
By the way, my church has since changed the parking lot patterns -- LOL! -- no connection, though.
How did you begin your writing journey?
My middle school English teacher, Miss Lee. She taught me to love words and the importance of choosing just the right word to convey exactly the message you want to send.
Are you easily distracted when writing?
Noise! And the older I get, the less noise it takes! Running water, clinking dishes...I’m terrible! Any sort of conversation is the worst.
Oddly enough, I’ve learned to work in ambient noise that doesn’t call to me to do things. When I’m having trouble focusing at home, I often go to my local Starbucks to write. The same noises there don’t bother me as much because they blend into the background instead of reminding me of what I need to do around the house. If it gets too loud at Starbucks, I put in my earbuds and listen to music...which, oddly enough, I can’t work with at home. I’m a study in contradictions when it comes to distractibility!
Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
I love all of my characters! I love Marita’s feistiness, and I admire Angel’s unwavering devotion to her family and her faith. The best friends (Bets and Gina) were fun to write, but for different reasons. Bets softened Marita and showed how much she’d grown from the girl who got pregnant at 16 to the responsible mom who still wanted to have fun. Gina’s a counterpoint to Angel, so the contrast was fun to write.
Even the baddies are fun to put on the page. Carmella is such a villain, and while Jim is not someone I’d want to hang out with, I know why he is the way he is...and that made it easier to tolerate him.
What are the spiritual threads you present in your work?
I like to write about how real people face challenges to their faith. In Casting the First Stone, Marita rejected not just the church and the people who let her down, but God as well. Angel, on the other hand, is determined to hold on to her faith and let it guide her through a very discouraging period, but is also finding that that’s not as easy as it sounds. When people go through rough patches, they often go to one extreme when it comes to faith -- embrace it, like Angel, or reject it, like Marita. The really interesting part is what comes next -- after that decision.
Do you have a special place to retreat to, to escape everyday life?
Because I don't work outside the home every day, there are lots of days that I have the house to myself when my husband is at work and my daughter is at school. I’m very spoiled by the amount of quiet time I have -- my challenge is making sure I use my time wisely and well.
What scripture verse is special to you?
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
When I was making the very difficult decision to dive off the deep end and take an early retirement, I hung onto this verse. Now, when I catch myself worrying about what’s going to happen (or not happen), I go back to it so I can let go and let God. As a friend of mine says, “He hasn’t brought me this far to abandon me now.”
Do you have another book due out soon?
No due dates for the next books, but I’m working on several things: a non-fiction book on the topic of organization, revisions on a second novel in the same genre as Casting the First Stone, a possible sequel to Casting the First Stone and a collection of blogs. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on self-publishing and am thinking I might give it a shot with the organization book, though I’m not sure I want to go that route with the rest of the projects. Most are fiction, and significantly longer, and I’m not sure that’s a battle I want to take on. We’ll see.
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Lisa is a transplanted Jersey girl who has lived in Pennsylvania most of her adult life. A graduate of Bucknell University, Lisa worked as an elementary school counselor for 27 years before deciding to plan her work life around her family life. Now, she works as a writer, community education instructor and adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania.
Lisa is the author of two books inspired by her interactions with her students, Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce, along with numerous blogs and articles. Her latest book, Casting the First Stone is her first novel.
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