Today’s post brings us another writer interview, and this one is special to me, as is the writer in question. Objectively speaking, she’s a much better writer than I am — while working on the 47 Echo short story collection, I stumbled with the short-story medium, but she produced (effortlessly, it seemed at the time) some of the most popular stories of that book. She’s also my wife, and quite awesome besides. Please welcome Lisa Kupfer!
Shawn: So you, like me, got your first work published as a Journalist. When did that happen? What kinds of stuff did you write about?
Lisa: Calling what I did “journalism” is a stretch. I did a handful of fluff music writing -—CD and concert reviews– for the youth page of my hometown newspaper as well as an interview or two for the hometown indie rag. As an Omaha girl in the mid 90s, this gave loitering around the Ranch Bowl before concerts a renewed sense of purpose.
S: Seems to me you’ve met a few people who were 90s icons. Tell me a little about your mid-90s rock and roll adventures.
L: Through pure randomness, I got to know a couple of the guys that did the local cable music video show who took myself and my friend under their wings in purely a big brotherly way. (Seriously…they were good guys.) Through that randomness, I met many of the mid 90s alternative rock stars of the time. I met a few more pulling the “teenage aspiring rock n roll journalist card.” Being 17 at the time and blissfully unaware that people generally like 17 year old girls probably helped.
S: 47 Echo fans will recognize your work in such excellent stories as “Eye in the Sky” and “Civil Protection.” How did you come up with the character of Daniel? Was he based on anyone in the real world?
L: If you haven’t noticed from the above two answers, I like music. Now that I’m old, this takes the form of listening to the indie satellite station in the car. Bat for Lashes “Daniel” was on constant rotation at the time and I liked the overall vibe of the song and wanted to capture the mood in short story form. I also stole the name, which is funny because I heard that Bat for Lashes was inspired by the Karate Kid. So thank you Daniel-san.
Daniel himself is loosely based on a few people I’ve known through the years. I tend to admire brash overconfidence from a huge distance away, and he embodies that. That said, he’s definitely his own guy –there is no one out there that can say they’re Daniel other than the character himself.
S: It’s interesting to me just how much of the 47 Echo mythology you created — Daniel, TARP II, the Civil Protection Forces, service tribunals… most people probably don’t know that 47 Echo was going to be an Army unit until you said it was a Marine unit. What’s your take on someone (me, in this case) taking what you’ve written and expanding on it? Amusing? Annoying?
L: I think one of my better qualities is that I’m not particularly territorial and believe in collaboration both within my day job and outside of it. I also don’t identify myself as a “professional” writer, so I tend not to get too territorial over my ideas. I firmly believe in Hugh McLeod’s quote, “beware of turning hobbies into jobs,” so if my little thoughts can wreck havoc outside of my brain, I am perfectly happy with it.
S: Yeah, that was a long question. While I was asking it, the governments of the world collapsed, possibly because of peak oil, possibly because of the Occupy Everywhere thing. Who can tell? Records are spotty, but the world is now an anarchist, inexplicably desert wasteland, much like the one depicted in the Australian documentary “The Road Warrior.” What equipment do you lay your hands on now? Who do you team up with as you deal with the new, post-apocalyptic wasteland?
L: As much as it pains me to say this, I would take over a Walmart SuperCenter with an automotive center inside. This should afford me weapons, food, and hopefully a truck or two. If you are a decent shot and don’t eat much, you’re on my team.
S: For me, getting that first sentence on the page is the hardest part of writing. What’s the toughest part for you?
L: Very similar. Again, it’s sitting down and actually doing it. I like to write, but I don’t brand myself as a “writer-type.” I have one of those day jobs that involves a corporate card and travel, and I’m over 30, which means I think I can call it a “career.” Again, writing is very much a fun mental diversion for me, which competes with other mental diversions. Right now it’s competing with football season.
S: What’s your writing process look like? How do you set up to knock out such great stories?
L: I’m not terribly complicated. A room without any other humans in it (dogs are cool) and my laptop and I’m pretty much good to do. My inner Kerouac likes to have a grown-up beverage in hand, but it’s not a requirement.
S: What’s the best book-to-movie adaptation you’ve ever seen? What’s a book you wish would make the jump to the silver screen?
L: I think “Catch Me if You Can” did a very nice job capturing the “voice” of the author as well as the overall mood of the story. Since it’s essentially based on a memoir, I think this is doubly impressive as you are dealing with three things: what actually happened, the author’s account of it, and the director’s vision of it. Triply impressive when you realize that you are rooting for a con artist every step of the way.
As far as a book making the jump to the silver screen, I’d pick 47 Echo for purely selfish reasons. Not the least of which is I would have a legitimate excuse to go dress shopping at Saks.
S: This one’s one not only I’ve asked, but some folks who read your Echo short stories have, as well. What are you working on now? When can we expect to see more from you?
L: There is always some randomness kicking around my head. However it coming out of my head in word form is very much TBD. Have no expectations of new stuff coming from me. That way if anything does it will be a surprise. Not necessarily a pleasant one, but a surprise.
S: Who or what inspires you when you write, or do anything creative, for that matter?
L: Anything creative is purely selfishly motivated. I spend too much time inside my own head. Writing is a byproduct of that.
S: Anything else you want to add before we close?
L: I think I’ve talked enough… thank you for your time!
Thanks so much to Lisa for a great interview. Also, I should mention I’m also being interviewed today, over at Christopher Gronlund’s blog. Stop in and say Howdy.