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Interview: Lisa McMann

Lisa McMann dreamed that she was in her husband's dream, watching what he was doing. When she woke up, she knew there was a story there, and she felt like it needed a character that didn't have any control over this ability. About a month later, she started writing that story. It evolved into Wake, her debut novel.

Let's see what Lisa's dreaming about today, which just so happens to be her birthday . . .

There have been various stories in which a character can dreamwalk, such as the Roswell High series by Melinda Metz. How do you describe Janie's ability?

I use the term "dream catching." Somehow, "dream sucking" just didn't have the right ring to it. And now that I live in the southwest, I wanted to give a little tip of the hat to the Arizona natives here with that term (dream catchers), since the book takes place in my original home state of Michigan. Got both homelands covered!

I will have to check out Ms. Metz's books – I haven't heard of them but they sound awesome (of course)!

Every piece of the Wake has a timestamp. Did you create an outline or timeline before writing the first draft?

I didn't create a timeline before writing the first draft. I sort of did it as I went along...though I knew that the story would begin when Janie was eight and fairly quickly bring the reader up to Janie's present day, where Janie is a high school senior. So I knew the beginning year and the ending year.

The timestamps are pretty important though, because time is very important to Janie. Even though it's fairly subtle, she's the one who is noting the time. In my mind, Janie checks her watch often, wondering how long she's been inside someone else's dream. Like most teens, she's worried about looking stupid -- she very much does not want anybody to notice her when she's stuck in a dream because of the weird side effects. So knowing the time is her only way of controlling a very small piece of her life.

Janie's story continues in Fade, which comes out in March 2009. How many books do you plan to have in the series?

So far it's just the two books. I think that once Wake is out, the readers will play a big part in deciding if there should be any more books in the series. So readers, if you like Wake, share the love with a thousand of your closest friends!

Have you ever had a recurring dream or nightmare?

Yes! In fact, the recurring nightmare I had all through my teenage years is in Wake – it's Carrie's nightmare about Carson in the woods with the river. The "Carson" in my dream was someone I love very much, and I always woke up sobbing.

I am so sorry. How to transition out of that . . . Do you keep a dream journal?

Officially, I keep a dream Post-it Note pad. And I have various Post-its stuck to my bedside table, with little illegible words scribbled on them in the darkest night, catching dust as they wait forlornly for the right book to go into. Call me organized! *smile*

Is writing your dream job?

TOTALLY! Though I've loved other jobs in my life, I have wanted to be an author since the 4th grade when I wrote a book called Baby May's Birthday about an elephant who turns four years old and gets to go out into the jungle. Fascinating, I know. I'm bringing it with me on my book tour and I may even be coaxed to read an excerpt at a signing if I'm asked...

I like that you still have that book! Do you still actively write short stories, or are you concentrating on novels now?

I haven't written a short story in a couple of years – I think writing novels is easier, and I salute my friends who stick with the short story – they have to create the same tension, thrill, and characterization with fewer words. Not an easy task!

What are your ten favorite books of all time?

Little Women
Black Beauty
The Count of Monte Cristo
To Kill a Mockingbird
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
The Poisonwood Bible
The Handmaid's Tale
The Giver
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Visit Lisa's blog and website.
Tags: books, interviews
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