Monday, September 5, 2016

A Bookish Conversation with 'The Things We Said Today' Lise McClendon

Lise McClendon writes fiction in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She has been a film reviewer, a film maker, a journalism professor, and a PR flack. Since her first novel, The Bluejay Shaman, was published in 1994, she has served on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers/North America, as well as on the faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference where each year she critiques, speaks, and learns from writers new and old.

Lise McClendon also writes as Rory Tate.

Her latest book is the women’s fiction, The Things We Said Today.

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Five sisters, all lawyers, well-trained in the art of demanding what’s necessary.It’s enough to drive a wedding planner to tears. Then add in a European venue, a Scottish hunting lodge, and a reluctant bride, and things get dicey. Can the middle sister, Merle, rally the troops, deal with the in-laws, and stop a powerful storm from ruining everything? Merle has powers of persuasion, especially when it comes to her French beau, Pascal, but in Scotland she has no clue how to corral her out-of-control sisters who are hellbent on wringing every bit of drama from a bad situation.
Annie Bennett is getting married…. At the ripe old age of 55. She’s turned down a few proposals over the years and stayed true to her motto: Stay single, stay happy. When she met handsome Scot Callum Logan she had no intentions beyond her own personal Highland fling. Then it happened: she fell in love. Annie’s doubts about marrying a much-younger man continue to plague her. Callum wants to get married in the bluebells of his native Highlands. But does Annie want to get married at all?
Join the Bennett Sisters in their third rollicking novel, after Blackbird Fly and The Girl in the Empty Dress, in another summer adventure with romance, intrigue, men in kilts, plus wine and whisky, as they navigate the treacherous waters of middle-age, self-discovery, and understanding your fears.

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  • The Things We Said Today is available at Amazon.

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I live in Montana, so lots of outdoor activities. In the summer I hike and flyfish, in the winter I cross country ski and build a lot of fires in the woodstove. Hey, it’s a hobby!

When did you start writing?

I was a journalism major so I started writing nonfiction and news in high school and college. I started writing fiction when I was about 30 but it took awhile before I sold my first book, The Bluejay Shaman, way back in the dark ages (1994).

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

Most exciting moment was definitely finding out I sold my first book. I walked on air for months. I tried to stay positive during the long months of trying to sell the book, but there were inevitably setbacks. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s a crazy business, and after awhile you develop a thick skin or quit. You really have to believe in yourself.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I would go to France. I adore France, especially the rural southwest which remains fairly untouched. The Brits discovered it awhile ago but it still isn’t terribly touristy. My first book in the Bennett Sisters series (Blackbird Fly) is set in the Dordogne, in southwest France, and I live there a bit in my mind every day. (Yes, writers live in their heads A LOT.)

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Probably clean the house. It needs it! We had a huge family and friend gathering at our house in Montana last week and I still haven’t gotten things back to normal. Plus the washing machine broke. Argh.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

Setting books in exotic locales is THE BEST! You get to travel there and write it off your taxes. But I would like to write more about Montana. I set one thriller (PLAN X) partially in Bozeman, near where I live, and I would like to write more. It’s easier for me to imagine faraway places for books though. Something about the immediacy of the setting right outside your door that makes things too literal in my mind.

Back to your present book, The Things We Said Today, how did you publish it?

I have a small publishing venture, Thalia Press, and publish most of my books that way.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

I went on a trip with my son to Scotland, where he was giving a talk at a software conference. We stayed in an old Victorian “hydro,” where they used to come to take the waters in the pools in the basement, a spa of the old sort. I have been to Scotland several times but this was my first time really staying in the Highlands. Plus it was May and all the flowers were blooming, bluebells everywhere. It was gorgeous. I decided to set the next book in the series there after that visit. So research came way before writing this book.

Why was writing The Things We Said Today so important to you?

I love writing about these five sisters, all lawyers. This is the third full-length novel about them, after a novella that set up the wedding that anchors the story. Each sister is different and although they are sort of named for the five sisters in Pride and Prejudice – the Bennett Sisters – they have different first names and personalities. The Jane Austen novel is a favorite of mine (and I even wrote a pastiche of it, All Your Pretty Dreams) but these women, going through the trials of middle life, deaths, divorce, marriage, love affairs, and careers, continue to enchant me.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

In the shower… J Actually I muse a lot while I’m hiking and walking. I try not to take along music or audiobooks and just enjoy the quiet and the scenery and the workings of my imagination. It’s very meditative.

Any final words?

Thank you so much!

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