Hello Readers and Writers!
Today we want to introduce you to an author who USES tropes. This quick-witted writer turns tropes on their head by moving them from genre to genre and outsmarting them. Feeling connected to Sci-Fi through her upbringing, she also finds inspiration in her everyday life and has an impressive range that covers flash fiction and novel-length works.
Introducing Lisa Stapleton!
RL: When did you start writing as a career?
LS: This is a tough question because part of me feels like until I’m writing full time, then I’m not doing it as a career! I’ve always written but I guess I started to take the idea of wanting to get something published more seriously around 2017? Mostly because I decided I wanted to get Soul Echo out before I turned 30 (in 2018).
RL: What's your current work in progress?
LS: At the moment I am actively working on the second draft of the sequel to my debut novel, which is called Soul Echo: Divide but I’m also kind of working on the first draft of a standalone sci-fi m/m time travel romance. By kind of, I mean it was my project for NaNoWriMo in November just gone and I haven’t opened it since…
RL: You write Sci-Fi. What led you to that genre?
LS: In my family, growing up, we watched a lot of sci-fi. Whether it was Star Trek, or SeaQuest DSV or Tron. Because of this it’s definitely a genre I feel a connection with, although when it comes to reading, I’m more into YA books than sci-fi. Though I’ve read some, like Ender’s Game and Ready Player One. When I got the idea for Soul Echo, it was never going to be anything other than a sci-fi story. It could easily have been a romance-centric book given the whole ‘soulmate’ aspect, but that’s not how it formed. Since then I’ve had other ideas for things to work on, and sci-fi is an ever-present influence in all of them. So, blame my parents I guess?
RL: Does anything in your life influence your work?
LS: All the time! I try to keep my creative side open at all times, which usually just ends up with me crouched on the floor taking a picture of a ladybird, or a shadow I found particularly interesting while my husband sighs and waits for me to continue our walk.
The idea for Soul Echo came about way back in 2007 when I saw a newspaper article about overpopulation and how we were going to out-populate the planet before too long. This stewed in my head for a while until I found myself asking ‘how would science stop overpopulation?’
Most recently, I was inspired to write a haiku by the way the wind blew through some curled, dry leaves. The shaking sounded like whispers. I wouldn’t normally write a haiku, but it was that day’s VSS challenge.
RL: How do your books rebel against the status quo in your genre?
LS: By taking tropes from outside my genre and using sci-fi to take them to the next level. For example, in Soul Echo, I’ve taken the soulmate trope and twisted it into something science can explain. I’ve also taken away the all-consuming element it usually carries with it and turned into a side-effect instead.
RL: Do you have any plans to write outside of your current genre?
LS: Currently, no. The next few ideas I have are all sci-fi related stories but if the right story ever popped into my mind at the right time I’d happily follow it into whatever genre it led me.
RL: How do you beat writer's block?
LS: This is something I struggle with, but I’m learning how to write outside of NaNoWriMo challenges. It also involves a lot of yelling at myself on twitter.
RL: You also write flash fiction. Do you prefer that to novel work?
LS: I like both for different reasons. Flash fiction is great because it’s just off the cuff writing. I see the prompt, I'll think about it for a little while and then I’ll write a tweet and that’s it. It doesn’t have to go anywhere else or be anywhere else. There aren't as many expectations on it.
RL: Your debut novel released in 2018. How has your writing grown since then?
LS: Since releasing Soul Echo: Discovery, I’ve tried to write every day. It doesn’t always happen, but finding the vss365 hashtag on twitter has really helped. It really makes you focus on the words you can use since you have a limited amount of room to write them and get your message across. I hope readers will be able to see the improvement when I release the sequel!
RL: Who has inspired your work the most?
LS: Growing up I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. Then came JK Rowling, James Hebert, and L.J.Smith, but really I think you absorb a little bit of inspiration from every book you read, whether consciously or not. With Soul Echo, when I was first drafting it, I struggled with the decision of whether to make it from one perspective or multiple. I’d read a lot of single POV books but not many multi-POV and definitely none to the extent that I was going to be pushing Soul Echo too. One of my friends recommended I read a Dean Koontz novel, which had a lot of POVs and that helped me a lot and gave me the - courage might not be the right word - to write Soul Echo the way I wanted.
RL: Talk to me about the path you choose in publishing.
LS: For the longest time, I wanted to go down the traditional route of getting an agent and finding a publisher. Somewhere between finishing my millionth draft and stumbling into writing twitter I realized that I could go down the indie route if I wanted. It meant I could keep the title, choose my own book cover, and keep a lot of the control over the book itself. I also realized I was afraid of being rejected a million times, so indie was the best way forward for me at the time. I still might try traditional publishing in the future, but for now I’ll stick with indie.
RL: Where do you see your writing career going in the future?
LS: At the moment I work full time and write in my spare time, but the goal is to be able to give up work and write full time instead!
RL: What are you reading now?
LS: At the moment I’m reading Reverie by Ryan La Sala and because I keep flitting between books lately, I’m also reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the hundredth time.
RL: What are your hobbies?
LS: I love taking pictures on my phone. Whenever my husband and I go for a walk he has to stop a million times so I can snap a picture of something. I’m currently learning Korean on Duolingo, partially for the fun of learning the language and mostly because I’m a big fan of BTS and it’d be nice to understand them better. I also like to play games/chat online with my friends, which has been helping us stay connected during this lockdown.
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
LS: Readers can expect the next book in the Soul Echo Trilogy, which I am currently drafting. I also have a few side projects in the works, so readers can also look forward to a few more cliffhangers, some heartache, and maybe even a little romance.