This edition of Authors Dish features my friend, Lisa Lawmaster Hess, as she promotes her debut novel, Casting the First Stone. Lisa is special to me because years ago, we discovered through our mutual agent at the time that we live in the same county! And Lisa was wonderfully sweet and supportive when my first novel debuted, so now I’m trying to return the favor. Read on to get to know her better!
About Casting the First Stone:
Angel wants only one thing – the very thing Marita has already given Jim. Worst of all, Angel fears that Jim’s sudden desire to be a full-time father to Charli means he’s given up hope of starting a family with her.
Marita has no intention of losing custody to Jim, the man who initially abandoned them. But in the battle for Charli, Marita is almost certain she will lose. Limited resources and a questionable reputation threaten her standing as the best parent to raise her daughter.
Both women are determined to keep their families together…but at what cost?
Quick Bites: Lisa Lawmaster Hess
Which do you prefer?
- Angel’s food or Devil’s food? Devil’s food – though that’s probably bad form for a writer of Christian fiction! Maybe that’s why I like creating flawed characters :-)
- Coffee or tea? Tea. Particularly Starbucks iced chai tea latte.
- Savory or sweet? Depends on my mood. Usually sweet.
- Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Always.
- Cake or pie? Again, depends on my mood. Usually cake, but I love apple pie a la mode from time to time. If there’s no ice cream or cream topping involved, probably cake.
What was the key “ingredient” in your decision to become a writer?
It wasn’t key to my desire to write, but a key ingredient to my becoming a writer was going from working full time to working part time. In 1993, I changed districts, and my new district wanted to hire me to work four days a week instead of five. I took the new job, took the pay cut and followed my sister’s suggestion to write on my day off (Fridays.) I started freelancing, joined a critique group and had my writing habit well-established by the time my daughter was born. The job eventually went full time, and parenthood is not a part-time endeavor, so I don’t know if I’d ever have made the leap if I hadn’t done it when I did.
I’ve been retired for a year and a half, and I got the contract for this book six months into my (early) retirement. I really do believe God has a timetable for us and I’m grateful that this was mine.
What sort of utensils and setting do you need in order to write? (A coffeeshop atmosphere, complete silence, your kitchen table, music, etc.)
I typically write best in a quiet atmosphere, but I can be easily distracted, especially when the writing gets difficult. There’s a Starbucks about two minutes from my house where I go when I can’t concentrate at home (or just need a change of scenery), and for some reason, the ambient noise there doesn’t bother me. In fact, a good chunk of Casting the First Stone was written at Starbucks! If I write with music at home, it typically has to be instrumental (I think I’ve worn grooves in my copy of Billy Joel’s Fantasies & Delusions), but I sometimes listen to my iPod when I’m writing away from home.
My favorite place in the entire world to write is on the screened-in patio of the condo we rent in Bethany Beach each summer. I typically get a lot of short pieces (blogs, mostly) done there, and I cooked up the characters and general plot for my next novel while we were there a few summers ago.
What is the best thing you ever ate?
Beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Maybe it’s because I was on my honeymoon. :-)
Where did you “cook up” the idea for this book?
As an elementary school counselor, I worked a lot with children of divorce. I wrote a series of short stories to use with these kids in small group, which became my second book, Diverse Divorce.
In the process of writing that book, I cut a couple of the stories that the editor wasn’t particularly fond of. One of those became a middle grade novel that I’m continuing to work on. The mother in that story (who never appeared in the original story) was the inspiration for Marita, one of the protagonists in Casting the First Stone. Although that was my jumping off point, both the character and the story diverged greatly from there.
Are there any foods or drinks you like to munch on or sip while writing?
I typically have either a glass of Turkey Hill iced tea or an iced chai from Starbucks in front of me when I’m writing. I try to remember to drink water instead…but typically fail miserably.
Is your writing more like an entrée of satisfying and savory ingredients or a deliciously indulgent dessert?
Hmm….the subject matter is definitely substantial, but the treatment is down-to-earth. Can I go with a casserole? It’s not fancy, but it fills you up, and if I season it right, you might want to come back for seconds.
Do you have any food traditions?
Just the usual – turkey at Thanksgiving, ham for Easter and lots of cookies at Christmas. I’m from New Jersey, so the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s is not a taste I’ve acquired….but as long as my husband cooks the sauerkraut, that’s what we have on New Year’s Day.
What’s your favorite food?
Dark chocolate. Oh, wait, real food? Hmm…pasta in pretty much any incarnation.
What are your comfort foods?
Homemade macaroni and cheese, Turkey Hill chocolate marshmallow ice cream and dark chocolate. Not necessarily in that order, and definitely not all at once.
If you were a cookie (or cupcake), what kind of cookie (or cupcake) would you be?
Hmm….I’m tempted to say something nutty, but that seems too obvious. Let’s go with a cupcake. Something plain and sweet, with a dash of something unexpected – maybe cinnamon — in a fancy little cupcake paper — something bright and colorful. Nothing savory, and none of those crazy ingredients like on Cupcake Wars. Probably plain vanilla or chocolate with a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.
The frosting would be fluffy and it would look like a five-year-old frosted it — nothing that ends in a perfect swirl, and definitely not fondant — too tidy and fancy and perfect. Maybe a cream cheese frosting? And definitely sprinkles. Chocolate sprinkles.
Do you enjoy cooking? If so, are you a “follow the recipe” kind of cook or a “pinch here, pinch there” style of cook? Is the same true in your writing? Do you plot meticulously or make up the story, adding ingredients as you go?
I do NOT enjoy cooking — I would much rather be planning, creating, teaching or writing. I love to use the Crock Pot and make casseroles because then I can keep working while dinner is doing its thing.
As for preparation, it’s definitely a pinch here and a dash there — both in cooking and writing. I am meticulous about creating my characters, but more free flowing when it comes to plot. Hmm….maybe that’s why my cooking turns out the way it does. Never a good idea to let the ingredients take the lead when there’s heat involved!
Lisa Lawmaster Hess is a transplanted Jersey girl who spends most of her time writing, teaching and ignoring the clutter these pursuits create. A former elementary school counselor, Lisa is the author of Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce, along with many blogs and magazine articles. Lisa lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and her daughter. Casting the First Stone is her first novel.