Dark and Complex: Lisa Alber’s Lyrical Irish Mysteries

Like Chris Knopf, Lisa Alber is one of the Mysterious Eight, a contributor to Eight Mystery Writers You Should Be Reading Now. She lives in Portland, Oregon, but  she sets her mysteries in Ireland, a country she’s come to love. Although Kilmoon, her debut novel and the first of her County Clare mystery series, was nominated for the Rosebud Award of Best First Novel, Alber insists she’s no overnight success.

Lisa Alber, Author of the County Clare Mysteries“I’m one of those writers who took years to get my first novel published,” she says, when asked about her writing journey. “I started writing my first novel in 1999, and got my debut novel published (which was actually my second written novel) in 2o14. That’s almost tragic–but perseverance paid off in the end.”

This extended timeline was partially due to hard knocks and setbacks, including the 2008 recession and a literary agent who quit the business to become a stay-at-home mom, and partly due to distraction (“Wait! What would it be like to write women’s fiction instead of crime fiction?”).

Her second novel, Whispers in the Mist, has been called “rich, dark, and complex,” “ingenious,” and “a first-rate crime novel,” while her writing in general has been described as lyrical and atmospheric. There’s a poetry to Alber’s language that enriches her story lines.
This extended timeline was partially due to hard knocks and setbacks, including the 2008 recession and a literary agent who quit the business to become a stay-at-home mom, and partly due to distraction (“Wait! What would it be like to write women’s fiction instead of crime fiction?”).Whispers in the Mist, Lisa Alber's County Clare Mystery #2

Her second novel, Whispers in the Mist, has been called “rich, dark, and complex,” “ingenious,” and “a first-rate crime novel,” while her writing in general has been described as lyrical and atmospheric. There’s a poetry to Alber’s language that enriches her story lines.

Asked how she achieves this effect, she says, “Aaaah…Good question. I don’t know. My brain works the way it  works, you know? I’m a moody kind of person and I’m pragmatic by nature, rather than the optimistic sort. In fact, I’m prone to depression. I suspect there’s something in my neurological wiring that tends toward the writing style that folks have described as lyrical and atmospheric. My first writing endeavors a zillion years ago were poetry–so that might say something too.”

It helps that Alber does plenty of on-site research, which leads to the occasional interesting encounter. Asked to share one such adventure, she says, “One of the main subplot characters in the series is a matchmaker named Liam. His daughter, Merrit, is the series star along with Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern. The matchmaking world that Merrit inhabits is always part of her story. Anyhow, so the idea to include a matchmaker came from a real matchmaker named Willie Daly. This past spring I traveled to Ireland for the fourth time for fiction research. One day, I was lucky enough to happen on a horse fair (you would have loved it, Jaden!) I stopped to pet a Connemara pony and got to talking to its owner. He introduced himself–Willie Daly! It was the craziest thing. I pulled out Kilmoon and showed it to him–See, see, your fictional counterpart lives in this book! He was surprised to say the least, and maybe a little wary. I assured him that my rendition of the matchmaker, matchmaking, and the annual matchmaking festival was 100% fictionalized. He was touched when I signed my copy and gave it to him. We ended up meeting for coffee the next week, after he’d read the book. (I’m not sure what he thought about it–he said that ‘at least’ I knew how to write. Hah!)”

Lisa Alber with Horse_5942We all have our writing bugaboos, though. For some, it’s character. For others, it’s description. For Alber, it’s plot. “I struggle with keeping my plots straight, especially through the muddled middle,” she says. “They tend to get complicated, and since I write in multiple third person point of view, AND I love my characters to all have their issues and problems…well, let’s say I sometimes lose track of things. Complicating that is the fact that I’m not an outliner either…”
As a “pantser,” someone who writes by seat of her pants, it’s easy to write herself into corners, but the beauty of writing is that by the time it goes to print, everything comes together, including complex, carefully crafted plots.

I left Lisa with a final question: What’s something few people know about you as a writer? Her answer?

“Few people know that sometimes I need red wine to write. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? But it’s not, not really at least. It goes like this: I prefer revision to first-draft writing, so there comes a point towards the end of the first draft (that has no doubt taken too long to write) when I’m desperate to get it done. But after months of being rigid with my schedule, by this point I’m also restless and itchy. The only remedy is taking myself out of the house to my friendly neighborhood bistro to write. Red wine helps in those moments–maybe because it mellows out the restlessness so I can focus. Now I’m finally in revisions for County Clare #3(title coming soon!), so I haven’t been to the bistro in about a month. :o)”

That novel is scheduled for release by Midnight Ink in August 2017. She tried to balance writing it with gardening, dog-walking, and goofing off. Because everyone needs a little goofing off time, right?

You can find Lisa at: website | Facebook | Twitter | blog.
And if you’d like to learn more and order your own copy of Whispers in the Mist, go here.

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements

About Jaden Terrell

Jaden Terrell is the Shamus Award-nominated author of the Jared McKean novels (RACING THE DEVIL, A CUP FULL OF MIDNIGHT, RIVER OF GLASS, and A TASTE OF BLOOD AND ASHES) and is a contributor to NOW WRITE! MYSTERIES, a collection of crime fiction writing exercises published by Tarcher/Penguin. Terrell is a recipient of the Magnolia Award for service to the Southeastern Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and the Killer Nashville Builder Award. A former special education teacher, Terrell conducts writing workshops and is available for private coaching and developmental editing. Check out her website: http://www.jadenterrell.com
This entry was posted in Literary, Mysteries/Thrillers, Profiles, Spotlight. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dark and Complex: Lisa Alber’s Lyrical Irish Mysteries

  1. Pingback: Larissa Reinhart on Crimereaders.com | Jaden Terrell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s