Beneath the Covers Past

Lisa Hendrix's Interview
Review: Runaway Bay
Mastering Writing By Adding Humor 
An Interview with Lisa Hendrix
By Suzie Housley
February 2002

After years of daydreaming complex stories for familiar characters from film, TV, and books -- nearly always involving a romance that hadn't been included by the original writer -- Lisa Hendrix borrowed a page from motivational speaker and author Barbara Sher and decided that it was time to start doing what she loved, in the hope that the money would follow. She began writing the medieval romance from hell, a manuscript that taught her a lot, but which is now safely locked away where it can do no harm.

In April 1992, she carried a dot-matrix printed synopsis into an appointment with a genuine New York City Editor and pitched an idea for a historical romance set in the American West. The editor was interested and requested a partial manuscript, along with assurances that Lisa would buy a better printer. Credit card in hand, Lisa set out to comply. She mailed the proposal a month later, and five months after that, received The Call. She was soon in possession of a publishing contract for Hostage Heart, which hit the shelves in January 1994 as part of the Diamond Wildflower line. Drifter's Moon followed a year later, and Lisa thought she was set.

And then life struck: Wildflower vanished along with her editor, and the stork decided to pay a visit. With that delightful medical term "elderly multigravida" scrawled across her chart, Lisa signed up for an extended hiatus as SuperMom. Now, with her littlest bundle of joy in Kindergarten, Lisa's back in the saddle. Her first contemporary romance, Razzle Dazzle, came out in October 1999 to rave reviews. To Marry an Irish Rogue, one of the three launch books for Jove's "Irish Eyes" line hit the shelves in April 2000--also to rave reviews (are there any other kind when you're writing a puff piece like this?). Her first single title lead, RUNAWAY BAY, is scheduled to hit the shelves in March 2002.

The stork has been permanently disabled.

Suzie Housley: What events led you to selecting a career as a writer?  Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?

Lisa Hendrix: I told my mother that I wanted to write a book when I was in third grade. She found that terribly amusing, since I hated writing letters (and still do, although e-mail suits me just fine). I bought into her doubt so far as career plans, but still found myself in creative writing and technical writing courses both times I went to college (yes, I did eventually graduate!). One day, years later, I read one of those truly awful romances that turn up every now and again. Disgusted, I tossed it aside, and then, as many other writers have done under similar circumstances, said to myself, "THAT got published? I can do better than THAT." And I set out to prove it. 

Suzie Housley: I admire you for modeling your main character Jackie after a real life sized proportional woman.  Do you think your fans will be readily accepting of her character?

Lisa Hendrix: Of course. She's the typical romance heroine, just a bit larger--size 16/18 for those who are curious, and with an overdeveloped bustline, too boot. No undernourished Calista Flockharts here.

Suzie Housley: St. Sebastian was the perfect setting for RUNAWAY BAY.  Have you ever visited it or was it just a figment of your imagination?

Lisa Hendrix: I wish I'd visited, but I'd have to be a fictional character to manage it. I'm afraid St. Sebastian doesn't exist outside my imagination--but you're not the first person to think it might be real. Even my publicist asked, just to be sure.

Suzie Housley: The humor that was contained in RUNAWAY BAY was some of the best I have ever read.  Where did you come up with so many different humorous situations?

Lisa Hendrix: Thank you. As a writer, sitting there all alone in front of the computer screen, you never know if you're actually funny or just nuts.

Whatever comedy is in RUNAWAY BAY arose naturally out of the situation and the characters. I mean really, put a compulsive list maker and a daredevil together on a tropical island, make them compete for the same million dollar grant and what can you get beside a romantic comedy...or an episode of SURVIVOR?

The bizarre thing is, my hero's name was a big handicap. He started out being named Reid. But I had SO much trouble with him; he was way too straight-laced and not at all funny. However once I changed the spelling of his name to Reade, I was able to get a handle on an entirely different personality. Reid felt like a dishwater-blonde, boring accountant. Reade, however, turned out dark and adventurous and much more the romantic hero. Two vowels. Go figure. 

Suzie Housley: How much of your own personality goes into your writing?

Lisa Hendrix: Far too much. The cynical bits are all me, as are the smart-mouthed parts. And in this book, I'm also the worry-wart, knows-every-possible-thing-that-can-go-wrong part of Jackie. But I do try to develop individual personalities for each character and let them shine through without getting in the way personally.

Suzie Housley: Do you ever base your writing on real life situations that you have encountered?

Lisa Hendrix: Occasionally and loosely. But the whole point of writing is getting to use my imagination, so I go off in all directions.

Suzie Housley: You have written several different novels.  Which one was the easiest/hardest to create? Why?

Lisa Hendrix: This one, because there were really only the four main characters. The whole story spun around them, with only "cameo" appearances by anyone else, and no other characters that carried through the whole book. There was no where else to go, no way to take a break or get an outside perspective on the action. My previous books have all been ensemble pieces, with several other characters to fall back on. Or a whole village worth, like I had in TO MARRY AN IRISH ROGUE. In fact, when I finished RUNAWAY BAY, I resolved I'd "do villages" from now on, so I'm planning for the next two books will be set in a mountain town, with a ton of interesting characters around the hero and heroine.

Suzie Housley: You indicated in a farewell letter at the end of RUNAWAY BAY you had ran up the frozen food bill, abandoned your kids, and gained twelve pounds.  Do you find this situation happening often whenever you write?

Lisa Hendrix:  Ooh, let's not call it a farewell letter -- that makes it sound like I'm fading off like Greta Garbo. It was my Dear Reader letter. And before anyone calls CPS, no, I didn't really abandon my kids. I just checked into a hotel and left them with Daddy.

I always get a little intense and frantic as deadline approaches, but I've never been so discombobulated as I was on this one, and it happened because of that problem with Reade and having so few characters. I got so far behind schedule that I literally could not afford to do anything except write for over three months. That's a recipe for a fat ass and a nervous breakdown. I just missed on the breakdown, but the behind definitely got broader. I've lost nearly all of that, though.

Suzie Housley: Do you find that you require solitude when you are writing?  If so, how do you achieve it?

Lisa Hendrix: Yes. I have to be absolutely immersed in my story world, and that does require solitude. But solitude only in the sense that I want no one around who wants anything from me. I can write in the middle of a crowded library or coffee shop if everyone will just go about their business and leave me alone. But I can't write at home with just my husband around -- unless he's completely absorbed with what he's doing and isn't thinking about me or us at all. And if my kids are in the vicinity, forget it.

Unless I'm right up against deadline and in the flow. Then I can write, carry on conversations, give directions, and plan a vacation, all at once. Which I ended up doing last year. We literally left for vacation an hour and fifteen minutes after I typed THE END. And I had to print, proofread, FedEx, get travelers checks and pack. Not to mention shower. But let me tell you, that was the BEST vacation I've ever had. I totally relaxed, with no worries at all because I was done. Done. Amazing

Suzie Housley: How many hours per day do you devote to your writing? 

Lisa Hendrix: In my fantasy life, four, day in and day out. In real life, zero to two much of the time, and 20 during the crunch. My New Year's resolution is to shift reality more toward that fantasy figure.

Suzie Housley: What future writing pleasures do we have to look forward to in the coming months?

Lisa Hendrix: Nothing scheduled right now, but I'm preparing books about Reade's brothers, Ash and Kit, who are mentioned very, very briefly in RUNAWAY BAY. I also have a funny romantic suspense that I'll be shopping around soon. I should have a book finished already, but I had to take a break after the craziness of RUNAWAY BAY. And then just as I was getting back into the swing of things, 9/11 happened. It took me a while to give a hoot about writing again--especially about writing comedy. I felt like I should be writing big, significant literary books that will be classics in 100 years. I can't tell you how much I admire people like Leno and Letterman for having the guts to stand up and be funny again so soon. I can't even imagine.

Suzie Housley: Did you find it difficult publishing your first book?  What advice would you give aspiring authors such as myself?

Lisa Hendrix: I found it incredibly easy: I sold the book on a partial, which itself was requested from a rough outline that I pitched at a local conference. It was a matter of having the right book at the right time, and following through on a request for a manuscript, even though I didn't have a manuscript done, or even started, at the time of the pitch. Frankly, it was the third book that was hard to sell--until I came up with the right idea again!

My best advice -- if someone asks for your manuscript, for God's sake, send it to them. Most people never take the leap. Which, I suppose, is good for the rest of us.

Suzie Housley: Is there anything you would like to share with our readers that we havenít covered?

Lisa Hendrix: I always bury a string of pop culture references and/or running jokes in my books. They're my way of keeping myself entertained while I write. Look for them and imagine me chuckling away like some wacked-out Stephen King character.

On a more business-like note: I'm doing a special promotion for readers groups. Any organized readers group that makes RUNAWAY BAY their March, April or May 2002 selection can sign up for Lisa's Fabulous Telephone Beach Party. I will personally phone the group during a meeting for up to one hour of conversation about the book, writing, my warped sense of humor, Jackie's bra size, or whatever they want to talk about. All they have to do is have their group leader (or the bookstore owner) sign up via my web site,, find themselves a speaker phone, and wait for my call. I'll drop the dime and we'll sit down and schmooze. I'll also have a trivia quiz based on the book, and the winner in each group will receive a special prize. What a deal!

Suzie Housley: How can fans get in contact with you?

Lisa Hendrix: They will find a browser link or on-line forms at my web site, above, or they can e-mail me directly, And I do answer personally.


RUNAWAY BAY by Lisa Hendrix
Jove - March 2002 - Paperback

ISBN:  0-515-13264-0 - $6.50 US

Reviewed by  Suzie Housley, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy

Jackie Barnett is devastated over the sudden unexpected breakup with her boyfriend. He carelessly leaves a message on her answering machine stating he doesn't wish to see her again or go on their planned trip to St. Sebastian. Jackie has two choices - to ask for a refund or to go on the trip alone. Her decision is quickly made for her when she discovers Farley Phelps and Reade Hunter are both scheduled to be at the same resort that she has pre-made reservations. Farley is the one who will make the final decision as to who is awarded the one million dollar Phelps Grant. Reade is her number one competition; he will stop at nothing to ensure he is given a winning slot. Throwing caution to the wind, she embarks on a journey that will lead her on an unexpected adventure.

Reade Hunter plans to go to St. Sebastian on the pretense of finding a suitable mate for his mother. As an added bonus, he plans to seek out Farley Phelps and convince him why he is the best candidate for the Phelps Grant. He was unprepared for the arrival of his quick-witted, razor-tongued, sexy competitor, Jackie Barnett. Jackie is not what he had anticipated. He imaged her to be an uptight, straight-laced, by-the-book researcher. The goddess's body standing before him was crying out to explore her uncharted territory.

Lisa Hendrix's RUNAWAY BAY is a light, fun read that will have you laughing out loud. Her delightful fresh approach is laced with memorable characters, witty dialogue, and tons of humor. I predict that with all these highly entertaining elements contained in this book, it will be the best romantic comedy that I will read in 2002.

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