The end of August is upon us, and Utah Book Month is almost over. But that won’t stop all of us book lovers from reading. Today I am happy and honored to spotlight another great author, Lisa Mangum.
By day, Lisa is an Assistant Editor for Deseret Book/Shadow Mountain, but at night she writes YA novels. She has published four books: The Hourglass Door, The Golden Spiral, The Forgotten Locket, and After Hello. The first three are an exciting time travel fantasy series, and After Hello is a beautiful contemporary YA romance which happens to be one of my favorite books. (See my review.) Her books have won numerous awards.
Lisa’s love for books began at an early age. She volunteered in the elementary school library, went on to work at the Sandy Library, and then worked at Waldenbooks during college. She graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in English and has worked in the publishing department of Deseret Book since 1997. She lives in Taylorsville, Utah, with her husband, Tracy. And no, she is not related to Kay Lynn Mangum, but she is honored to be “shelf-sisters” with her. I really enjoyed getting to know Lisa.
1. You’ve written three YA Fantasies and one YA contemporary romance. What’s next on your list? Next up is either another YA contemporary romance or another fantasy novel. I’m excited about both of them—and working a little on both of them—so we’ll see which one I finish first. One of the nice things about being a writer is that there is always another idea on the list.
2. Who is your favorite author? Oh, man, I have to pick one? For sheer volume, I might have to pick Stephen King. I own a lot of his books.
3. What are your top five favorite books? I’m not sure I could pull together a list of only five all-time favorites so I just make a new list every year. So far this year, my top five books are 1. World War Z by Max Brooks, 2. Iced by Karen Marie Moning, 3. Just One Day by Gayle Forman, 4. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, 5. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.
4. What are you currently reading? Right now, I’m reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Two very different books, but when it comes down it, I’m loving them for the same reason: outstanding writing and style. And yes, I often have bookmarks in more than one book at the same time.
5. Which fictional character would you want to be? Why? Maybe Cinderella? She had a good work ethic, could talk to cute animals, and had a fairy godmother to help her with her fashion sense. Plus, she got to marry her prince and live happily ever after.
6. If you were back in high school, which fictional character would you want to date? Why? I read a lot of epic fantasy when I was growing up, and I kinda had a crush on Simon from Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. He was awkward, but kind, with a strong sense of honor and integrity. He was brave. He had a good heart. I think I would have dated him if given the chance.
7. What do you do for fun? I like to go to the movies. (One that I saw recently and loved was The Way, Way Back.) I still love to read just for pleasure. And my husband and I seem to find the time to vacation in Disneyland at least once a year.
8. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer? Sometimes it’s just managing the time. I’ve had days where the inspiration was flowing and I couldn’t string two minutes together to write so much as a sentence. Other days, I clear my schedule and stare at a blank screen all day. The trick is not just write when the inspiration strikes, but to write all the time. When you make it a priority, somehow you’ll find the time you need.
9. What kind of music do you listen to when you write? When I first started writing, I listened to music all the time—rock, Top 40, mellow ballads—depending on the scene I was trying to write. Scars on 45 and Matt Nathanson were on my iPod nonstop while I was writing After Hello. These days, I don’t listen to music as much while I write.
10. Where do you get your inspiration from? I think inspiration is all around us, you just have to keep your eyes and ears open and ask yourself, “What if?” I get a lot of inspiration from art and nature. I’m inspired by beautiful and powerful storytelling.
10. What time of day do you write, and where? Because I still work full-time as an editor, my writing time is usually after dinner and on the weekends. I write snuggled up on the couch with my laptop (and often my cat asleep on my legs). I’ve also been known to write at the library, at the train station, on the train, and in my dentist’s waiting room.
11. What advice would you give to aspiring writers? This is actually advice I heard my fellow author Rick Walton give to some aspiring writers, and I loved it so much I stole it for my own. Rick said, “Quit. But if you can’t—do the work.” For me, that’s what it’s all about. Writing is hard work. It’s blood, sweat, and tears. It will make you want to quit more than once. But if there is something inside of you that won’t let you quit—if there is a story inside of you that you just have to tell—then there’s nothing to do but to do the work. And I believe that success always follows hard work.
12. What superpower would you give yourself, and why? I’d like to have the power to always have clean clothes without having to do laundry. I love the feel of clean sheets and the look of perfectly pressed clothes, but I hate the process of laundry: wash, dry, iron, fold, put away. It’s time I’d rather use to write.
13. What are the three most important events in your life so far? 1. The day I married the best man in the world—my husband, Tracy. 2. The day I decided to be a writer. 3. The day I almost died from a blood clot in my lungs.
14. What is your favorite food? Chocolate. Hands down.
Lisa, thanks for the great interview. It’s been fun to get to know you. I look forward to reading your next book.
See Utah Books for more great spotlights, guest posts, and interviews from Utah authors and bloggers.