Q. What made you decide to
go into writing?
8th grade English teacher got me started. Every Friday our assignment was
to write a one-page short story. I loved it. Everybody else in the class
Q. Did you go to college
to study writing?
exactly. I have a degree in psychology. I did take some writing classes
along the way though.
your schedule like?
get up early and start writing before the telephone solicitors begin calling.
I work until 8:30 or so and then I take my dogs for a walk. After that,
I go back to work, take a break for lunch, and usually work until 2:30 or
3 in the afternoon.
you excited when your first book was published?
is too tame a word for it! When I saw my first book in a bookstore, I almost
fainted. And then I thought, "What if nobody buys it?" It turned out that
I worried for nothing. It sold very well.
you have any advice for someone who wants to write a book?
read a lot. Learn how it's done. Decide which style works for you. Then
outline it and write it. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it.
Just sit down and fill those pages. Remember that you're never going to
be published if you don't write your book and submit it to a publisher.
career would you choose if you weren't a writer?
try to open a cookie and coffee shop like Hannah Swensen. I love to bake
almost as much as I love to write.
the cookie recipes in your book original?
Just ask my family. They've been tasting different versions of the cookies
for years now. Some of the recipes started out as handwritten notes
in my grandmother's recipe book. They were revised by my mother and her
2 sisters and passed on to me. Then I made changes. In the winter, in Minnesota,
we did a lot of baking. It warmed up the whole house. A couple of
the recipes in the books are from Hannah fans. You can tell
because they're usually credited to Lisa's cousin
somebody-or-other, or Mother's friend somebody-or-other.
the characters in your books real people?
They're completely fictional. They SEEM real to me though. Several times,
when I've been writing from an outline, I've decided that I just can't let
my character do what the outline says. The characters take on a life of
their own. I feel as if I know everyone in Lake Eden. I'd like to invite them all over for dinner some night and sit around talking
the settings in your book real? Like Lake Eden?
that's not real either. It's a composite of every small town I've ever been
in. Some of the places are real. Hal & Rose's Cafe is. There was a cafe
just like it in the small town where I grew up. It's long gone now, but
it looked just the same as the one in the book.
was it like growing up in small-town Minnesota?
were definite advantages to growing up in a small town. Everyone knew me
and if I got into trouble of any kind, all I had to do was knock on somebody's
door and ask for help. It was great as a kid, but not so great as a teenager.
Then every time my boyfriend brought me home from a date, the neighbors
would time us to see how long I'd sit out in front in his car.
the weather really that cold in Minnesota?
yes. If you want to know what it's like, stick your head in the freezer
compartment of your refrigerator. Then remind yourself that your freezer
is fifty degrees warmer than the air outside during a Minnesota cold snap.
Q. Is your
mother like Delores?
they're just about as different as two people could be.
Q. Is Hannah
going to marry Norman? Or Mike?
A. I really don't
have a clue. I do know that Hannah hasn't made up her mind and
she's not the type to make snap decisions. She's happy with her
life the way it is... for now. I'm sure that when, and if, she
decides to get married, she'll let me know right away.
let's not forget about Ross. Old flames sometimes smolder for
years and then break into a blaze!
Q. Are you like
A. We do have a love of
baking in common. And both of us could stand to shed a few pounds.
But Hannah is a master at the smart retort and I'm not. It isn't
until after a conversation is over that I come up with what I
SHOULD have said.
Are you married?
I'm married and between us we have 5 children. It's a big crowd at holiday
time because we also invite our friends. We've had as many as 36 people and I always make cookies or bar cookies for our guests to take home -- all recipes from the Hannah books.
us about your pets?
A. Sadly, there's only
one now if I don't count my neighbor's four cats who drop in
almost every day to leave me presents. Last week it was half
of a gopher -- I don't want to think about what happened to the
other half! One of these days, some homeless furry friend
will wander in, leave an invisible mark outside on our door, and
soon we'll have a full house again. Until then, Charlie, our
Jack Russell and Yellow Lab cross keeps us hopping. His
picture is up on the Moishe & Friends page.
you model Hannah's cat, Moishe, after your cat?
Billie is a female tabby. I modeled Moishe after Billie's boyfriend who
used to come around to yowl at her through the fence. Billie was crazy about
Q. What comes
A. More Hannah
books . . . for years to come, I hope! And many more cookies
to bake and munch while you're reading them.