Lisa Tuttle wrote her first novel Windhaven in 1981 with George R Martin, and has the distinction of being the first and only person in history not to accept for a Nebula in 1982.  She has releasing books ever since.  I have been fortunate to read a lost of Lisa’s stuff (except possibly her non-fiction) and love her style and atmosphere that she creates.

Her most recent novel is The Silver Bough published July 2012 by Jo Fletcher Books in the U.K.   ISBN 978-1-78087-439-5  available from all good bookshops (I hope!) and also available as an e-book.  I will need to look out for this one myself.

Let’s have a look at the interview.

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?


Where do your ideas come from?

I’d have to go with Harlan Ellison’s famous reply to that ever-popular question and say Schenectady – although in my case it might be the Poughkeepsie branch of  Ideas ‘R’ Us

Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

Neither!  I certainly don’t work to a standard formula, and stories rarely (if ever) turn up fully-formed.  For me, writing feels more like an organic process of growth and discovery.

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it? Does that trigger the story?

Occasionally the title comes first and triggers the story, but more usually it comes later…and if the title does not come to me along the way it can be a struggle to find the right one.   I have to admit that not all my titles are that great, and some are a bit bland and forgettable, the result of compromise.  A recent story title I feel proud of is “Objects in Dreams May be Closer than they Appear.”  That was written for an original anthology, House of Fear edited by Jonathan Oliver, and has just been reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2012 edited by Paula Guran.

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

I like to read good books, whoever they are by.  I have many long-time favourite authors, but still remain interested in making new discoveries, even if there seems less time to read them every year, especially as, in addition to all the new, up-and-coming writers out there I am aware of how many classic authors I have yet to read.  Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by all the possibilities!  I can remember as a teenager always hunting restlessly for something really good to read – and in those days, in my favourite genres of SF, fantasy and horror, there never seemed to be enough.  Although it seems incomprehensible now, back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s it seemed possible to keep up with the entire field of SF, and most horror and fantasy titles had to be hunted down like rare exotic creatures.  That was before the explosion of the fantasy genre, when the new imprint “Ballantine Adult Fantasy” mainly published old out-of-print titles by people like William Morris, James Branch Cabell and only a few contemporary writers like Peter Beagle or Katherine Kurtz;  it was also before the horror boom, before Stephen King’s first novel.  But these days I have the opposite problem – not enough time to read all the interesting-looking books that are coming out, and absolutely no chance of keeping up with even just one genre, whether fantasy, SF, or horror.  Take a look at the piles of  books yet unread in my office; I’ll list just the few, all recently published,  I am most excited about reading:

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (one of my favourite authors)

Last Days by Adam Nevill (his previous book, The Ritual, was one of the scariest I’ve read in ages)

Empty Space by M. John Harrison (one of the very best writers in the field)

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch (third in a series I’m hooked on)

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente (a writer new to me whom I’ve heard wonderful thinigs about)

The Possessed by Elif Batuman (non-fiction; the first few pages had me hooked)

Distrust that particular flavour by William Gibson (an essay collection by a major writer)

Runaway by Alice Munro (a collection of short stories)

How to chose what to read next?  Depends on what I am in the mood for. Maybe I do favour established writers, but a thoughtful, intelligent review or a recommendation from a friend or even an intriguing premise plus attractive cover will make me pick up a debut and read a couple of pages – if they hook me, I’ll probably read on; if not, I won’t.

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?

When I was younger, and when I lived in a city, I did attend (and even organize) workshops and writers’ circles, informal or otherwise, but not for a long time now.  These days I mostly get feedback from my husband (who is also a writer and has worked as a professional editor for many years), from my agent, and sometimes from editors or a friend.  I did find those group sessions helpful in the past – but it very much depends on who is in the group!  Individual comments can have an impact, especially from intelligent readers I feel are on my wave-length and really understand what I am trying to do, but ultimately the responsibility for the story is mine.  Occasionally I do still miss that old workshop/critical group experience, but it is much harder to organize living in a remote rural region as I do.

Do you have a target each day?

I’ve tried targets but sometimes they can be counter-productive.  A regular writing routine is best, I think, rather than setting a quota – at least for me.

You can find Lisa on the web here: