Today I am so excited to share my blog with my writer friend Lisa Ann to talk about her new book deal. Here's a bit about Essence, being released in June of 2014 by Strange Chemistry:
Neutrality is the key to longevity.
This motto has governed 17-year-old Autumn’s life in the mid-21st-century Centrist cult, which believes that expressing emotions leads to Essence drain and premature death.
But Autumn’s younger brother’s death casts her faith into question. While sprinting through a park in violation of Centrist teachings, she encounters Ryder Stone, an Outsider who claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic. She agrees to join his Community, a utopia of adrenaline junkies living in the abandoned remains of Yosemite National Park.
Autumn learns about sex, drugs, and living life to the fullest. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realises that this illusion of paradise could be shattered…
Cool, yes? So stoked for it to come out! And without further ado, here's the interview:
AC: I understand that camping out in Yosemite
for the summer was part of your inspiration for Essence. What would you say inspired the unique rules and concepts
of the Centrist cult in your book (the concept of Essence, etc.)?
LO: I have always been intrigued by the
psychology of cults, so I jumped at the chance to create a main character whose
entire upbringing was shaped by one. I picked San Francisco as the hub for my
Centrist cult because I remember the public outcry that ensued in the aftermath
of the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. Some groups actually believed the
earthquake was a manifestation of God’s anger, and they said San Francisco was
targeted because it was a haven for perversity.
I wondered what would happen if a
group of San Franciscans actually took this message to heart. I drew from Theravada
Buddhism and the concepts of the Four Noble Truths, and I created the Centrist
cult and its Essence theory—which advocates living a life of neutrality and
warns that your emotions have a finite limit. Once you use yours up, they’re
gone. You’re gone.
Imagine how scary it would be to believe
you might run out of Essence and drop dead at any moment. That’s what my main
character Autumn faces when she finally decides to break free from her Centrist
AC: Super cool! Love the tie to Buddhism. Okay, so who is your favorite character in Essence, and why?
LO: It’s hard to choose, but I’m pretty
partial to Ryder Stone, the Outsider who first convinces Autumn to leave the
Centrists and join his community of free spirits and adrenaline junkies in Yosemite.
He’s a very complex character, and he fought me every time I tried to
pigeonhole him. (I literally had no idea how the story was going to end until I
finally gave up and let him lead the way!)
AC: He sounds fun! I love it when characters are bossy like that :) Next: what has surprised you most about your
publishing journey so far?
I am finally beginning to see the
publishing industry for what it is: an industry. When I first started this
journey, I pinned all my self-worth on the success of my novel. If an agent or
editor liked it, that meant I was a good writer. If they didn’t, I questioned
my entire identity.
Nowadays (thanks to time, experience,
and many, many rejections), I understand that agents and editors can like my
work—sometimes even love my work—and still reject it. Maybe it isn’t a good fit
for their list, or maybe they already have a similar novel. Maybe the market is
saturated, or maybe it isn’t saturated enough. Maybe they love my novel but
realize it doesn’t have mass appeal, or maybe they just don’t love it enough to
stake their reputation on it.
Regardless, rejections are often far
less personal—and far more subjective—than I would have ever imagined. This is
good news, and it’s bad news. When agents and editors say, “It’s not you, it’s
me,” they usually really mean it.
AC: Excellent point! Now, tell us something fun and/or random about
yourself that has nothing to do with writing.
In the past thirteen years, I have
lived in sixteen different houses in ten different cities in five different
states in two different countries in two different hemispheres. I have
accidentally surfed with great white sharks in Australia, and I have been
stranded on a cliff in Death Valley and marooned in northern British Columbia
when my truck hit a patch of black ice and flipped six times. Despite this, my
three biggest fears continue to be Ferris wheels, odd numbers and wooden
utensils. (Sad, but true…)
Thank you so much for taking the time
to interview me, Alexia, and thanks to everyone for stopping by to visit. I had
such a blast writing Essence, and I
still can’t believe I get to share it with you!
AC: I have mega wanderlust, so that sounds amazing! Thanks so much for stopping by today! So, to learn more about Lisa Ann and Essence, check out the links below. Her Pinterest board for Essence is super fun, so don't miss that!