1. What was the inspiration behind "Smashed"? How did you first come about the story?
When I was seventeen, I was in a terrifying car accident. My best friend and I were asked by a teacher to go on a school errand. We were in my friend’s car and he was driving. It was a cold, wet, November day, and a slushy snow was building up on windy back road in
My friend was a careful driver; we were only going 30 miles an hour—I remember
looking at the speedometer. But as we
were going around a corner, the slush took hold of the wheels of the car and
pulled us into the other lane, just as a car was coming toward us. My friend tried to gain control of the car,
to get us back on our side of the road, and we started to turn in the right
direction. The last thing I remember was thinking we were going to miss that
car by an inch…When I came to, there was blood splattered down the front of my
We were both fine, but that moment wouldn’t leave me for many years. Writing about a difficult time can be cathartic, but I didn’t want to write about that accident And that particular incident didn’t have the characteristics of a compelling story—it was simply bad luck, bad timing, bad weather.
So I began to do what-ifs…What if an accident was someone’s fault? What if the driver was drunk? And what if the passenger, who was hurt, was not a friend, but someone the driver didn’t even like? Someone she was trying to get away from? As I asked these questions, a situation emerged that interested me, and that’s what I need—a situation that is complex enough to keep me interested as a writer. Then I ask myself, who would find themselves in this particular situation? For me, characters emerge from conflict.
2. Did you always wanted to be a writer while growing up?
Not until I was in high school. I’d started writing a few things down when I was eight, in a little diary, but I didn’t keep it up. I began writing in notebooks again when I was eleven and continued doing that, but it was an emotional outlet for me; I never thought about being a writer. In school, I don’t remember ever being assigned to write anything—nothing—until I was in high school. When I was assigned to write my first personal narrative in tenth grade by my English teacher, Barbara Tindall, I discovered I loved telling stories. I got a great deal of positive feedback from her and from other teachers and that sealed the deal: I’d found something that I loved to do that I was good at. That’s when I knew.
3. What advice could you give to aspiring writers?
Write every day. Make it a habit. You will absolutely improve through practice. By the time I’d written an entire draft of my first book, I was a new writer. I’d improved dramatically. Second, writing and publishing is all about perseverance. You can’t give up. You need to be able to respond to criticism and weather rejection. Every writer goes through it. Keep doing what you love and write about things you are passionate about! That passion will shine through in your writing.
For more info on Lisa and "Smashed" visit her at http://http://lisaluedeke.com/