How did you hear about Anaiah Press? I first heard of Anaiah through #MSWL on Twitter. GRIT sounded a lot like what they were looking for, but at the time, I was still debating between Christian and mainstream publication. Two months later, when I tweeted GRIT’s pitch, two or three Anaiah Press editors expressed enthusiastic interest.
What was your first encounter with the writing world? I started writing GRIT with no idea how the publishing process worked. As I researched what to do next, I learned all about agents, editors, small to large press publication, self publication… There’s an ocean of options out there, and you really have to dive in to learn how to swim. For me, Twitter was a great resource, but you have to be careful because bad advice and bad people do exist, as do well-intentioned people who have no idea what they’re talking about. On a brighter note, there are far more helpful, knowledgable people than the other kind.
How did you get the idea for your book? Our Sunday School class discussed the influence of the Christ on culture, going back to Old and New Testament times, when God said through Abraham’s aborted sacrifice of Isaac, “I will provide a lamb,” to Jesus’s interest in and respect for women and the poor, to more modern Christian ministries of schools, orphanages, and hospitals. I came home with the question, “What would a world without God’s intervening love look like?” To simplify and broaden the question – because I wanted this to be a story in which Christian faith is not prerequisite to enjoyment… “What would humankind be without love?” and “What would happen if love crashed into that world?” The village of Thresh rose from the first question, and then this rough-and-tumble girl named Grit sauntered up, pulled out her dagger, and challenged love to a sparring match.
Tell us why we’ll love your book. Because it’s awesome… No, really, readers seem to fall in love with Grit for her strength and vulnerability – and maybe for the fact that she doesn’t fully recognize either how strong or how vulnerable she is. She’s in tough spot after tough spot, sometimes by her own doing, and I think that resonates with readers. No one is a foreigner to trying to figure out what to do when everything comes undone, when nothing makes sense, when everything one knows is stripped away.
What does your writing process look like? I do a lot of plotting as I go though busy days of homeschooling four children. The actual writing happens after I tuck the kids into bed, when I curl up on the couch with our Great Dane, Opal.
Do you have any strange writing habits? I almost always wrap myself up in a fleece blanket to write.
What book do you wish you could have written? I’m in awe of Pierce Brown’s work. I’m not sure where he’s going thematically with his RED RISING series, and I wouldn’t recommended it to the squeamish, but wow… He can write like nobody’s business!
What authors have inspired you to write? Oh, Lloyd Alexander, for sure. I fell in love with his Prydain Chronicles, and then his Westmark Series. He writes beautifully, the sort of stuff that makes your heart ache a little. There’s certainly a touch of C.S. Lewis, too, but I think that applies to a vast number of fantasy writers.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors? Don’t fear criticism. Learn from it. Some of your critics will be wrong, but some will be right. It might hurt, but every well-reasoned revision makes your story that much stronger. Above all, remember there’s a world beyond your laptop. Live in it.
Are you a plotter or a pantster? A planster. I have a general outline, but I tend to write by the seat of my pants. If a scene or conversation is clear, I write it. Then — and this was especially in the writing of GRIT — I go back and figure out how to connect scenes.
What is your best marketing tip? Sign with a press that has a good marketing department and do whatever they tell you to do? Honestly, marketing is one area I hate thinking about because while I can write up a storm and could discuss GRIT endlessly, I feel a little awkward promoting myself. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon. I also blog. I want to connect with readers, but more importantly, I want to be real, and peppy promotion doesn’t come naturally. So, I guess that’s my real marketing advice: Be present, and be real. We’ll see how it works!
What’s more important: characters or plot? Hmm… I really want to ask my editor to answer this one, just to see if I’m as transparent as I think I am. I’d say, “Character all the way.” I like interesting plot twists, but mainly because they force a character to show herself. GRIT is all about character, how individuals grow and change and meet the challenges set before them. Plot is important, but it’s really a tool by which I guide my characters where I want them to go.
What do you do when you’re not writing? A lot of pretty mundane things. On the potentially interesting side, I homeshool our four kids, and I coach a Bible Quiz team. We’re pretty nerdy in these parts.
What do you do when you experience writer’s block? I ask my Wise and Wonderful Sister what needs to happen next. With one question, that amazing creature can set off an entire subplot. She’s pretty indispensable to my writing process.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences? There’s a scene where the horse Grit’s riding takes off at a gallop. Dagger shouts to her, “Ride with it!” My oldest sister once shouted the same at me when my horse took off. I ended up bucked to the ground with a broken shoulder. I’ll let you read the book to discover how Grit fares.
How did you come up with the title of your book? It wasn’t hard. My main character is Grit of Berth and Stone. It had a ring to it.
Provide us with a two-sentence description of your book. Banished for a foolish mistake, sixteen-year-old Grit scorns the loss of her home, her honor, and her only ally. When faced with a horrible truth about herself, Grit must either fight her way back to Thresh or live with the blood of the innocent on her hands.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers? Thank you in advance for giving this book a chance. I hope you fall in love with Grit, and I hope her story stays with you long after the last page.
Where can readers find you online?
Facebook: Author Lisa Dunn (https://www.facebook.com/authorlisadunn?ref=hl);
Twitter: @ScouterWife (https://twitter.com/ScouterWife);