Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Interracial Ya Romances, Tips on incorporating Diversity and Genre Hopping- A sit down with Author Lisa T. Cresswell

This author found us via Goodreads in hopes we would review her latest book, Hush Puppy.Her writing, her characters(including a black leading lady) and overall storyline exceeded our expectations that after reviewing it we went on and purchased the physical book! Libertad even gave it a rare 5 stars! We're happy that Lisa can grace our humble blog with her presence for the month of December!

Introduce yourself to the readers of Twinja Book Reviews by telling us about you as a person and what made you want to be a writer?

Thanks so much for having me on your blog! I’m Lisa and I write middle grade and young adult books in a variety of genres. I grew up in North Carolina, but later moved to Idaho, of all places. I read a lot as a kid, especially fairy tales and mythology. I started writing plays in fifth grade, but I never seriously thought of writing as a potential career. Storytelling was always something I loved to do, but it took me a long time to learn how to write a novel. There’s been lots of trial and error, gnashing of teeth and all that. My book Hush Puppy has been a long time coming and I’m so glad it’s finally here.

Tell us about your latest book, Hush Puppy and what inspired you to write it?

Hush Puppy is the story of a black girl who takes the blame for a white boy she loves when he’s involved in some trouble and the consequences of that decision. I’m not sure where the first spark of the idea for Hush Puppy came from, but I can tell you I found reading Twilight to be inspiring. As I read that book, I just kept thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh! If she can get this published, surely I can write a book!”

The initial drafts were focused on the character of Jamie. I decided to base him on a boyfriend I once had, very sweet in some ways, but terribly flawed in other ways. Of course, I made the fictional boyfriend ten times better than the real one! That’s the fun of fiction. As the story started to unfold, I realized, this isn’t Jamie’s story. This is Corrine’s story.

 The secret is out....You're a white author who just wrote a book with a black girl as your main protagonist! What exactly motivated you to feature a black girl named Corinne as your main character. Most authors "write what they know". Did you know "Corinne" was going turn out be a person of color?

I started writing Hush Puppy so long ago; it’s hard to remember what the very first inspiration was. I’ve always loved Romeo and Juliet, that idea of “what happens when you fall in love with what society thinks is the wrong person”. The story is set very firmly in the place where I spent much of my childhood, North Carolina. 

It is based on a lot of the places and people I knew, things I saw and heard. It just felt natural. That’s not to say I didn’t go through a great deal of doubt about whether I should be writing this story or not, because I did. I had huge doubts, but I did it anyway. I took a risk. I thought maybe if I wrote with enough honesty and respect, it would be ok. I’m sure there might be some folks offended by what I wrote, but those are the folks that probably wouldn’t read the book anyway.

What are the challenges of promoting a book with Interracial themes(Corrine's love interest is adorable and *ahem* white)and a protagonist that doesn't fall under the "default" character type?(e.g. white, male, cisgendered etc)

I haven’t found that marketing the book has been challenging due to the content. Marketing any book is hard, especially when the small publisher can’t help you. I would say, if anything, the uniqueness of the book has actually been a boon. It helped me meet the Twinjas!  

Hush Puppy has been very well received so far by everyone I’ve spoken to. I would like to hear from more readers of color about what worked or didn’t work for them. I think reaching a wide variety of readers is the biggest challenge for me.

Do you have any advice to aspiring writers WHO WANT to incorporate diversity into their writing but are afraid to get it wrong?

Here’s my quick guide to "writing multicultural".  I'm sure I'm no expert, but here's what I try to do~

1)      Get out of your comfort zone – don’t tell yourself you can’t do something just because you’ve never tried it. Don’t limit your imagination.

2)      Focus on the same, not the different. Inside, we’re all the same.

3)      Look around you. You already know a lot of people with a variety of experiences you can draw from. If you don’t, go meet some.

4)      Remember respect. Always respect your characters, no matter what their background. Represent them clearly and honestly. Don’t make them into cardboard cutout stereotypes.

5)      Tell a good story. It really doesn’t matter what your characters look like if the story’s no good. No one will care and as writers, we want readers to care more than anything.

We have to compliment you on the cover! It's so gorgeous! Did you have any say into what the cover would look like?

I’m glad you like it. I’m very pleased with it.  I came across the photo on a stock photo web site and I just knew it was Corrine. I had to have it. The advantage of a small press is often they will give you input into the cover. I practically begged them to use the photo. I was thrilled when they did.

What has your journey been like as a writer so far? Was your road to representation a fairly simple one?

No, not simple at all!  I don’t have an agent. I haven’t been able to snag one yet, but it’s not for lack of trying. I just seem to be having more luck with editors than agents, for whatever reason. I wrote and submitted for years before I got any kind of attention.  The last two manuscripts I’ve made deals with small publishers for were both rejected by several agents.

What are some themes or genres you'd like to explore in your writing?

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I’m a big fan of themes. The main themes of Hush Puppy are friendship, betrayal, trust, honesty, and forgiveness. There really aren’t any themes I’m not interested in. I’m pretty much a genre hopper too. I’ve written middle grade fantasy, paranormal romance, scifi, contemporary. I’d like to try steampunk. Or gothic. Or gothic steampunk.

What are you working on as of now in regards to future projects?

My next project coming from Month9Books in early 2015 is one you’re gonna love. It’s another multicultural story with an Asian protagonist. It’s a young adult scifi that feels like a historical novel somehow.  It was a hoot to write and I can’t wait for you to read it. The working title is Vessel.

Where can potential readers learn more about you and your current and future works?

I’d love it if folks followed  My blog . I’m always on there talking about my latest work in progress, posting snippets of my work or flash fiction stories. Let me hear from you!

Website: Lisa's Official Website
Blog: Visit Lisa's Blog
Twitter: Tweet with Lisa!
Facebook Fan page   Lisa on Facebook!
Goodreads  Become Lisa's fan on Goodreads!
Pinterest: Pin with Lisa!


  1. Thanks for having me on the blog, you two :) I appreciate the opportunity! I'll definately be following you~ but not in a creepy, stalkery way :)

  2. thanks for dropping by,Lisa! Hopefully we'll have you on again very soon!


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