10 Questions With… Lisa McMann + Signed Giveaway

The UnwantedsToday at All The Write Notes we have “10 Questions With…” New York Times bestseller, author Lisa McMann. With the third book in THE UNWANTED series, ISLAND OF FIRE, set for release on September 3rd, we sat down with Lisa to talk writing, music, and inspiration. Plus we have a giveaway that fans new and old will love!

Lisa, our first question has to be, where did the inspiration for the amazing world of Artimé come from?

I’ll tell you a story.

There once was a place called Lakewood Farm on the shore of Lake Michigan in the city of Holland. In the early 1900s it was the home of Getz Farm, which was actually a mansion with a zoo. It was owned by a wealthy man from Chicago who gathered the animals for the zoo himself from far off places. In the 1920s he opened the zoo up on weekends to the townspeople and held parties there.

In the 1950s, many years after the zoo closed and Mr. Getz was gone, my mother, as a teenager, lived in one of the servant houses on the property. I was deeply intrigued by this. A few years ago I was studying the land there and the zoo’s layout for research for a completely different project, when I realized what a lovely setting it was – sandy beach, the beautiful lake that looks like the sea, lots of trees and ornate water fountains, exotic animals all around, and a giant mansion where Mr. Getz lived and let people in to explore this exotic place right in sight of a normal working town…and I realized it was the perfect setting for a magical world. All it needed was the magic, and my kids helped me with that part. So the land and setting of Artimé was inspired by a real place.

The need for a magical world where art is celebrated rather than banned was inspired by my kids, who came home from school one day when they were 12 and nine with a letter that said the arts programs were going to be cut from their school. It felt like something only magic could fix. So that’s how Artimé came to be.

Staying with Artime, but switching focus to ‘Island of Fire’, are there any hints you can offer the fans of the series to tide them over until September 3rd?

Yes, everyone starves to death. The end. Book three is really short.

I kid, I kid. What I can tell you is that book three is probably the best book I’ve ever written…or at least it was until I finished the manuscript for book 4 the other day (the title will be revealed for book 4 within the month, by the way, and that book will come out in Sept 2014). Some other fun news that I think will make fans happy—we are increasing the publication speed for the final 3 books in the series so you won’t have to wait as long for books 5-7. Hooray!

Also, there may or may not be a kiss.

Photo Credit: Def Leppard

Photo Credit: Def Leppard

With a promise not to judge, what was the first concert you ever attended?
Haha! I remember it well. Def Leppard at the Allegan County Fair. It was the hottest day of the summer. And the best.

Staying with concerts, with your busy schedule, do you get the chance to attend many?

My daughter is an aspiring actor so the past few years we’ve been going to more musicals and plays than concerts. But there is the occasional musical that feels like a concert, like ONCE, where the musicians are all on stage and part of the show. If you ever have a chance to see it (I think the national tour starts soon or is already in motion), it’s a delight.

All of us here have a passion for music, whether writing about it, listening to it while we write, or finding inspiration from it. What role does music take in your day-to-day writing life?

I find a lot of inspiration in music, though I’m sadly unable to write while listening to it. I listen while doing other things, though, and will often play specific songs before I start writing to build the intensity and mood and tone I need for certain passages. Music can create that ache in your heart that you must have in order to properly write a particularly painful scene—which is so important when writing about teens and adolescents.

Cover Credit: Tim Federle

Cover Credit: Tim Federle

I have yet to meet a writer that wasn’t a passionate reader. Is there a character that you have read recently that you really fell in love with?

There’s a great newish book called Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle. It’s about a kid named Nate who runs away to New York to audition for E.T. The Musical. Nate is hilarious, and I’m a sucker for any character who can bring the funny. There’s a sequel coming—I’m so excited.

Are there any fall releases you’re excited for?

I’m always excited for the next teen book by A.S. King. Her new one this fall is called Reality Boy and I was lucky enough to get an early copy. Her writing is such a surprise. It’s a gift to read her work.

As an artist, and book cover lover, I have to know who the artist of The Unwanted covers is, and if it matches your mental images of your characters?

Owen Richardson is the cover artist for The Unwanteds series and he does amazing work. When I saw his cover for the first book I fell in love. I had a lot of say in how the characters should look, so yes, the cover images of the characters match my mental images quite beautifully.

Back to music…If we looked through your music, digital or old-school, which band/artist would we find the most songs of?

Erasure. Alphaville. The Cure. I also had a Billy Joel and Elton John phase, and then there was the ‘80s, so Kansas, Journey, Boston, and Styx are well represented. Some James Taylor… and oh dear – Enya (did I really just admit that?) Much more recently I’ve diversified so I’d say there’s more quality vs. quantity there. Bits and pieces of everything. Hey—that’s a great title for a book!

Lastly, One book, one band…about1_4_2187576445

Book: OKAY FOR NOW by Gary D. Schmidt.

Band: I have deep love for Pink. Not only can she wail, but she also teaches strength through music. I admire that so much.

Thank you so much for having me!

Thanks to Lisa for taking the time to stop by ATWN. You can find out more about THE UNWANTEDS series at her website, at The Unwanted Series Official Simon And Schuster page, and you can pre-order ISLAND OF FIRE here.

Time for the giveaway….

Up for grabs are three, yes I said THREE, SIGNED copies of the paperback version of the first book in THE UNWANTEDS series. What a perfect way to start reading the bestselling series, or to add a signed copy to your shelf. Click here, or on the Rafflecopter logo, to enter. North America only. Good luck!