Lisa Williams Kline was such a daydreamer as a kid that she once stopped to pet a dog while running from third base to home in a neighborhood baseball game. Fortunately, she ended up as a writer, where daydreaming pays off, and is the author of ten books for young people, including Eleanor Hill (Carus), winner of the North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award, Princesses of Atlantis (Carus), Write Before Your Eyes (Delacorte), and the 5-book Sisters in All Seasons series (Zondervan). Her most recent book, from Blue Crow Publishing, is One Week of You, with its companion prequel novella, One Week of the Heart. She lives in North Carolina with her veterinarian husband, Jeff, and numerous spoiled pets. Their two daughters visit frequently with their dogs and as can be imagined they have a howling good time.
What is the best piece of advice that you could give to aspiring writers?
Read. Read the kinds of stories and books that you want to write. And read all kinds of different things, too. You can learn so much about craft and storytelling by studying what other fine writers have done.
And practice your writing. Sometimes a person will write one story, and then be crushed when they can’t get it published. However, they wouldn’t expect to be able to perform in a piano recital the first time they ever sat down at the piano. They wouldn’t expect to win a free throw contest the first time they ever held a basketball. So we shouldn’t expect to get something published the first time we ever try to write a story. Learning to tell a story takes practice, just like music and sports. So, write lots of stories. You’ll improve. I’ve been at this for many years and I still feel like I’m learning every single day, and I still yearn to be a better writer. And the real joy of writing isn’t publication – it’s the amazing process of discovery that writing can be. You can learn so much about yourself and the world through the reflection that writing provides. And writer friends are the best. So embrace the process.
From the birth of an idea to a finished story, what does your writing process look like?
I have to admit that each book seems to require its own process. Even though I’ve published ten novels now, every time I start a new story I feel like I’ve never done this before! For Eleanor Hill, my historical fiction, I started with my grandmother’s letters and photos. Sifting through those over and over, I began to take notes and a story began to emerge. For that book, I alternated between bouts of writing and mad research. For One Week of You, the events in the book were inspired by real events that took place, in slightly different form, at my daughter’s school. The curriculum really did require those taking health to carry flour babies for a week. Also, one year there really were three bomb threats in one week at her school. So I started with real life events, and wove them together, and added Lizzy’s crush, which is kind of based on my own first crush on the “new boy.” After the first draft was finished, I went back and did more research. I interviewed people and worked on the characters and refined aspects of the plot. I do lots of drafts of each story – too many to count. I am in a couple of writers’ groups, and everything goes through them, sometimes more than once. I couldn’t survive without my fabulous writers’ groups. They keep me going and on the right track.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t writing or reading?
I’m a mom to two grown daughters, and my husband and I love spending time with them more than just about anything. I also love to take long walks and try to walk three to four miles every day. Since the stress of the pandemic, I’ve also taken up painting watercolors as a new hobby. I take joy in the fact that I’m a pure beginner and there are no expectations. I’ve painted flowers, butterflies, and, most fun of all, pets. I’ve painted our dog and cat, our daughters’ dogs and cats, and given them as gifts for family and friends. And sometimes when I’m concentrating on getting a dog’s eye just right, an idea for a story will pop into my head. So the painting feeds the writing and vice versa.
Morning person or night owl?
Neither! I would say I write best between noon and six.
If you didn’t write, what would your occupation be?
Honestly? I have no idea. I was a spacey waitress, and a teacher who struggled with stage fright. I’m not very brave, so adventurous jobs are not for me. In fact, I’ve been pretty mediocre at most jobs I’ve tried! I think I’m a good editor, and I enjoy doing research, though. Thank goodness writing has worked out, haha!
Thanks so much for having me, Books, Tea, and Healthy Me! I hope readers are inspired to read One Week of You and One Week of the Heart. At least for a short time, One Week of the Heart is free!