Graduate Feature – Author Lisa Collicutt
I’m a wife and mother and never imagined I could or would write an entire novel one day. My first published novel is a standalone paranormal romance, The Gathering Darkness, which I wrote while taking the Winghill Novel Writing course. Since then, I’ve written and published The Devil’s Flower, the first book in The Eternal Beings Series, and the first and second books in the Serendipitous Curse Reborn and Reviled series. I’m now working on two more novels, the next in both series.
By day, I work for a real estate company, so I’m quite busy. In my spare time I like to tour my homeland of Nova Scotia with my husband on our motorbike. I think up great scenes while riding on back—of course, I don’t remember all of them when I get home!
Name: Lisa Collicutt
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
In all honesty, I always liked the idea of being an author. But I thought the possibility of writing a book was as realistic as becoming a rocket scientist, so I never tried. (What a waste of imagination all those years!) Then, in 2009, I read Twilight. At the time, I was used to reading much more sophisticated fantasy and historical romance novels, so this simply written teen novel struck more than one cord in me. Besides loving the story, I thought: I can do this. So the moment I finished reading Twilight, I went to my computer and wrote my fist novel. (No vampires included). Of course it wasn’t good enough to be published, but my writing improved with each book I wrote, and eventually, I got published. It was that same year, 2009, after starting my third novel that I decided to get serious and take the Winghill Novel Writing Course.
What did you enjoy most about your Novel Writing course?
I actually learned things, I felt important, and the lessons were fast and fun. I loved that I could do it all online at my own convenience. But I was motivated to finish my book, so once I had done all the course lessons, I took an extension on the course until I finished writing The Gathering Darkness. The whole thing, all the lessons plus the extension, took about 7 or 8 months. So the lessons went by pretty fast. I also liked the idea of having a tutor with me along the way to check each chapter as I wrote them. I took every critical comment seriously and worked toward making this book the best that I could—and it got published.
On your blog, you call yourself a “paranormal romance author”. How did you find the genre that works for you?
I didn’t think about genres at first. I just knew I wanted to write about witches and magic. I did loads of research, and that’s how I realized I was actually writing paranormal. Romance also plays a big part in my stories. I have to have both. I describe my stories as being dark and twisted. Lately I’ve been writing a lot about angels and demons, and even Hoodoo.
Where did the inspiration for The Gathering Darkness come from?
I knew I wanted to write a spooky teen novel about witches. Then one day inspiration struck. I walked into the real estate office where I work, and a book of old photos of the town of Chester were opened to a picture of The Hackmatack Inn. This inn no longer stands, but it was large, dark, and menacing enough to draw me into the picture. Immediately my mind started whirling, and the premise of The Gathering Darkness was conceived.
I originally set the story in Chester, Nova Scotia, and used the Inn’s original name. Then, with advice from my tutor, I changed the setting entirely to the fictional town of Deadwich, Massachusetts. That way I could do whatever I wanted with the town and not offend anyone. Also, since I was writing about witches, I wanted the story to be closer to Salem.
I thought up a lot of the story in my head on my daily walks through the village to the post office. The main character, Brooke, was fashioned a little after me. We are both city girls who moved to the country as teens, and neither of us wanted to leave our city life behind. Like Brooke, I too was afraid of the dark growing up, and the country was terrifyingly dark compared to the city. So I put a lot of me in Brooke, for sure.
How do you stay organized and motivated to finish a novel?
I’ve never set deadlines except for the new series I’m co-writing with best-selling Author Aiden James. Because others are involved in this project, I try to give myself a deadline to follow. Motivation comes from my love of my stories. I guess you do have to love your own work to want to write it. Not to sound boastful, but I do love what I write. I’m a loose plotter, which means I rarely plot at all. Therefore, I have no idea what will happen on the next page until I get to that point and start typing—although sometimes I know what will happen 2 or 3 chapters down the road. This method has always worked for me. However, I do know some writers who get a white board and map out their entire story before they begin to type it.
Can you describe your experience with the publishing process?
The day I received the first letter of acceptance and contract was the most exciting moment of my life. I wish there was a more exciting word for exciting. For me it was so unbelievable, that I was more overwhelmed than anything else. But signing publishing contracts comes with a load of responsibility that wasn’t there before. My publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, is good at giving me the acquired time I need. But still, there’s pressure to complete when there wasn’t before. Publishing also comes with doing lots of interviews and self promoting. But I love it all, and wouldn’t go back.
Have you ever received a rejection letter? How have you dealt with this?
I’ve received many rejection emails. Each submission I sent lifted me up, and each rejection brought me down, but never to the point of quitting. I just kept writing, finishing one novel and beginning another, and all the while I researched the business. Living in my created worlds kept me happy as I sent out more submissions. And during that time I learned that rejections aren’t always a frown upon your work. Some publishers and agents reject you because they’ve filled their quota of paranormal for the year. So I kept sending until I found the right publisher who loved my story. I queried for about two years before I got accepted.
What does the future hold for Lisa Collicutt?
I hope I can write forever, however long that may be for me. I have so many more stories to tell, some already started. I even want to write children’s picture books one day and have some ideas for them put away. Right now, I’m in the middle of two new adult paranormal romance series, one about angels and demons, and the other about ghosts, reincarnation, and Hoodoo. I hope to wrap up both by the end of this year. I’ve met so many other writers, people in the business, and fans through social media. They’re who keep the spark glowing inside me.
I’d like to thank Winghill and the late Michael Crawley. I thoroughly enjoyed my Winghill experience.
Are you ready to write your novel?
Take the first step with Winghill Writing School