Lisa Lutz is an American author, well known for her successful Spellman series, six novels about a family of private detectives. She is also author of the thriller The Passenger.
Lisa originally wrote screenplays, she talks about how they differ from novels and how difficult it was to make the switch. “It was incredibly challenging. When I decided to write a novel, I decided that there were no rules. With screenplays there are so many rules and so many limitations and I had to admit that I was tired of them. The way that I approached the novel was that as long as I could keep people reading it didn’t matter how I did it.”
Pitching to agents
Lisa turned her idea for what was supposed to be a screenplay into her Spellman series, but faced many instances of rejection. But she kept faith in her idea. “I had been reading a lot of blogs. There was an agent who wrote an anonymous blog. Her name was Miss Snark and so she gave you advice on how to do these things and how to navigate the world of books. And one of the things was until you get 100 rejections, don’t worry about it.
“Obviously you have to think about what you are doing. When you query an agent it needs to be specific to the agent. You can’t just send the same letter to 30 people. You need to do it slowly. I respected that process very much and knew that I only had one shot with each agent so I was cautious.”
Lisa talks about how her belief in her novel and faith in the idea kept her writing. “But I did really feel like I had something there. So the one problem that I had was that it didn’t fit specifically into any genre so I knew that I was going to have a bit of a problem with that. Because it isn’t a traditional detective novel. There’s no dead body. The mysteries are secondary to the struggles that go on within the family.”
Lisa's tip: Keep the reader reading
“Firstly, I would suggest that people keep in mind that someone is going to be reading it and you have to give them a reason to keep reading. Secondly, I’d say don’t emulate other writers. Figure out what you do best and do that.”
Listen to the Australian Writers’ Centre’s spine-tingling Murder and Mayhem podcast here.