We have Lisa's McManus' opinions on a range of topics, from writing to automobiles... Keep reading for her exclusive thoughts and an excerpt from her brand-new book That Night.
Q. What do you write?
A. I started writing slice-of-life stories that have been featured in magazines and anthologies, mainly Chicken Soup for the Soul books, but in the last few years I have steered my writing towards fiction, primarily for young adults.
Q. Why do you write what you do?
A. I love reading young adult fiction – writing means reading A LOT. But given I was ONCE a teen myself along with the fact that I have two teen boys, the memories of those tumultuous years is still fresh in my mind and I relive those years through my kids. I have always written with a purpose – to entertain, inspire and help someone – and I can only hope that my writing will do the same for my young readers.
Q. What is your writing process?
A. I don’t have a set-in-stone process, but I write in the mornings and jot notes all day, wherever I am, wherever I go. I carry a notebook with me wherever I go, and my house is littered with sticky notes. I write at the kitchen table, and I try – despite the sticky notes – to stay as organized as I can.
Q. Do you have a favorite snack you have while writing?
A. Hands down, I love Mike and Ike candies. Not sure why – not sure how/when it started, but I love them. When I can get a full writing day to myself (no day job, no one in the house, I hunker down with Mike and Ike’s and some tea, and write write write – and eat, eat, eat!
Q. What are you working on?
A. Right now I’m working on a young adult contemporary fantasy – also considered magical realism. A teen is blessed – or ‘cursed,’ as he considers it– with a very-jaded genie, but they both realize getting what you wish is not always what you need.
Q. Do you have a new release?
A. My book, THAT NIGHT, is a stand-alone novella published by Evernight Teen/Evernight Publishing.
"It can take a whole day to figure out what happened…that night.
On what was to be just another Monday morning at school, Luke’s girlfriend Jessica is nowhere to be found. Names like ‘psycho lover’ follow Luke to his locker – has his best friend turned against him, too? Luke soon learns Jessica tried to seriously harm herself at a party on the previous Saturday night and she’s blaming Luke for her actions! With posts on Facebook feeding the rumours of what happened that night, Luke is at risk of losing everything – his friends, his so-called girlfriend, and his academic future – and his sense loyalty which he values. Luke knows he’s not to blame, but will he be able to find out what truly happened, despite everything – and everyone – against him?"
On Her Life:
Q. What is one thing you would love to learn ‘one day’?
A. I would love to learn how to curl. I’m a poor-excuse of a Canadian as given that Canadians are ‘known’ for curling, I sadly don’t know the first thing about it. So, I do archery instead.
Q. What is your least favorite ‘adult’ task, and why?
A. Least favorite ‘adult’ task - going to bed early AND on time. I could get so much more reading done if I didn’t have to get up in the morning and be an ‘adult’ all day!
Q. Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?
A. I took-up archery two years ago and have loved it since the first arrow shot. My son started a few years ago, and finally after watching him from the sidelines, I decided to give it a try. So glad I did! It’s something completely different from anything I have ever done. It’s very ‘meditative’ and you are only competing against yourself. If I can do it – says 40-something me – anyone can.
Q. Have you travelled – even if in your own province or state – and what was your most memorable/favorite destination?
I went to Boston, Massachusetts with my family when I was 14 – my grandmother and father were both born there – and then I went again on my own when I was 18. I love it there, the history, the family ties, and the New England flavour of the area. I would love to go back. And where else would I love to go? Ireland is on my bucket list. ‘One day’…..
Q. Do you have a ‘keeper shelf’ of books? What is your most re-read book?
A. I have quite a few ‘keeper shelves.’ I have to be brave every so often and purge stuff – donating to libraries, etc – but I hoard books. It’s an illness. I have read Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) countless times. I love Marian Keyes, and have read her book ‘Watermelon’ too many times to count. Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ is a fave and I’m actually re-reading it right now.
Q. Do you have any pets, currently or in the past? Did you have a favorite?
A. I have a cat right now – Samantha, or Sam, is her name. We have two tarantulas and three fish – not in the same aquarium, of course. We did have two scorpions for a while. And then there are all the crickets we keep as ‘pets’ to feed them all! My favorite was my English Springer Spaniel called Princess when I was in my teens. I miss her, still, to this day.
Q. Do you have a dream car?
A. A dream car would be something that doesn’t need gas, repairs, or my worrying if it won’t start. That would be the perfect car for me.
Read an excerpt of That Night below:
"“Hey, man.” I nodded to Jeremy Waters as I started the long trek up the front lawn of the school. He nodded back but gave me a questioning stare as I walked past. Again, weird. What is with everyone today? I wondered.
I scanned the busy school grounds. Where was Jessica? I knew our break-up was inevitable, but I dreaded it. I still cared about her very much, but things were changing: me, her, and ‘us’––and I didn’t know what to do about it. Neither did she.
At first I didn’t notice anything off, but as I passed group after group of unusually silent guys and girls from all grades, I got that weird feeling, like I was being watched, like the whole school was focused on me or something.
Some of the guys pulled their buds out of their ears as I approached, their banter from moments before silencing as I passed. One guy shook his head as if in disgust. Another guy awkwardly picked at something on the ground with the toe of his shoe, as if he were avoiding something.
I kept going, trying to walk as normally as I could. Hard to do when you know you’re being watched.
Where was Jess? I checked my phone to see if there was anything from her: nothing.
I shifted my backpack and made my way up the path to the front steps of the school. With every footstep, uncertainty and foreboding gnawed at my gut.
A group of girls from Jessica’s drama club huddled on the front steps like a bunch of hens. They all gave me the once-over. One of them was crying and another gave me the finger.
That stopped me in my tracks. “What the hell?” I stared them down. “What was that for?”
“Screw you, Luke!” The one with the ornery finger spat. “Stay away from Jessica!”
What the...? Whatever. Bunch of gossips––they seriously need to get a life.
Jessica and I had been drifting apart for a while. Where she was involved in her drama club, her social life, I preferred being under the hood of a car, alone. But it wasn’t that I chose cars over her or anything. I cared about her very, very much. At one time I even contemplated the L-word thing with her. But lately, something had changed, and I couldn’t figure out what. I mean, I knew I wanted to be with her but it was like we were drifting towards each other, then away, then back towards each other again. Only to then again drift further away.
But I would never do anything to her, to earn me the middle finger from her friends."