Lisa Scottoline: “I Don’t Kill People, My Characters Kill People”

By Julie Kramer

Lisa Scottoline has just one rule when it comes to telling stories: tell them from the perspective of a real-life woman. That tenet has served her well in her author career as she’s enthralled us with tales of women up against danger. She weaves wit with suspense to create award-winning and best-selling thrillers.

Scottoline, Lisa.jpgWith 17 novels in print, you’re a most prolific author. Any idea how many characters you’ve killed?

Ha!  I don’t kill people, my characters kill people. But the bottom line is that human life matters to me so death does, too, and the murder of even one person is far too many.

Have you ever killed a character and later regretted it?

Yes, I regret a character dying in my first book, EVERYWHERE THAT MARY WENT. That character made me smile every time he came on a page. Now I know better and learned from my rookie mistake. Of course, I could have had him come back from the dead like Snow White.

Every time we think you’re through with Bennie and the gang, you surprise us with a new book, like THINK TWICE, featuring Bennie’s extremely evil twin, Alice. How do you decide whether your next project will be a stand-alone or part of your Rosato and Associates series?

I try to alternate, but ultimately, I write the book that is within me, whether it is a Rosato book or a stand-alone.  The flexibility keeps it fresh for me, and hopefully, above all, for the reader.

Already, THINK TWICE is netting big raves. Kirkus warns readers “You won’t put it down.”  And the Connecticut Post calls it “a thriller that feels like an instant classic.” When you sit down to write a new book, how much do you know ahead of time? And how much do you make up as you go along?

I start a book with an idea, and that is all.  I don’t write with an outline, that would require me to be organized.  I don’t know how the book will finish when I begin, I just write what would naturally happen next and the story unfolds as I’m writing it, much the same way it unfolds for the reader.

Because you draw on some of your own experiences as an attorney for character and plot, does this ever make people uneasy around you?

No.  I was a lawyer so long ago and I never really thought of myself as writing as an attorney, but rather, a woman.  I like to write books where women get to be the stars of the books and not just the girlfriend or a secondary character.

Do you ever miss practicing law?

No. I enjoyed my time as an attorney, but I love books and the writing life.  It allows me to connect with people in a positive and really fun way.

You’ve been called “the female John Grisham.” Yet in LOOKING AGAIN, about a mother who thinks a missing child resembles her adopted son, your heroine is a reporter, not a lawyer. How did you agent, editor, even fans react to that switch up?

Thank you. In my mind it was never a switch up. Like everybody who writes, it is essential to have an original voice and mine is that of a real-life woman. I have never been job-identified and I’ve had so many jobs in my life.  If I identify with anything specific it is being a mother. I write about women: ordinary, extraordinary women like those I see around me in my life–my mother, daughter, friends.  My main character will always be a woman because I think it is important to show women as the star, just as we are the stars in our own lives.

How has the Internet–email, Facebook and such–changed fan mail?

I think it is all terrific and has created even more, very accessible ways for readers and writers to connect. That is a wonderful thing and I love hearing from readers through email, Facebook, or even Twitter. I can be reached at lisa@scottoline.com,  or you can sign up to be my Facebook friend.

LISA SCOTTOLINE BIBLIOGRAPHY

THINK TWICE (2010)
WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman (2009)
LOOK AGAIN (2009)
LADY KILLER (2008)
DADDY’S GIRL (2007)
THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT (2007)
DIRTY BLONDE (2006)
DEVIL’S CORNER (2005)
KILLER SMILE (2004)
DEAD RINGER (2003)
COURTING TROUBLE (2002)
THE VENDETTA DEFENSE (2001)
MOMENT OF TRUTH (2000)
MISTAKEN IDENTITY (1999)
ROUGH JUSTICE (1997)
LEGAL TENDER (1996)
RUNNING FROM THE LAW (1995)
FINAL APPEAL (1994)
EVERYWHERE THAT MARY WENT (1993)
ABOUT THE PROFILE’S AUTHOR

kramer-julie.jpg

Julie Kramer’s third book, SILENCING SAM, will be released June 22, 2010. Booklist raved, “This brisk mystery, in which homicide is leavened with deadpan humor, makes a worthy entry in a winning series.” Kramer has won Best First Mystery from RT Book Reviews and the Minnesota Book Award. She’s also been a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark, Anthony, Barry, and Shamus awards. Visit her at www.juliekramerbooks.com

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