Friday, September 20, 2013
"What Else Do You Have?" A Conversation with Lisa Kline
In the next two blog posts Lisa Kline, author of the Sisters in All Seasons books shares how this five book series was born.
I imagine that many series first come into being as a proposal with a synopsis for each book. Mine didn’t come about that way.
Several years ago, I wrote a book about two stepsisters, Stephanie and Diana, on vacation at a mountain ranch with their newly married parents. My publisher wasn’t interested. I sent it to a few more publishers, and they weren’t interested, either. With great sadness, I put those characters behind me, wrote some other books, and a couple of years went by.
After my agent sold Write Before Your Eyes, she said, “What else do you have?” And I told her I had this manuscript about two stepsisters. “Send it to me,” she said. I had a rush of emotion. I wanted the manuscript to have another chance, but didn’t want to get my hopes too high. But after she read it, she suggested I change it from third person to first. I balked. I had so carefully chosen third when I wrote it. But I decided the change was worth a try. This was a fairly extensive process, much more than just changing pronouns. It involved “revisioning” everything and working to differentiate the girls’ voices better. Making that change brought me closer to both characters. It seemed to open channels of understanding for me. Only a few months later, my agent sold the manuscript to Zondervan. But they didn’t just want Summer of the Wolves. They also wanted three more books about Stephanie and Diana. And their schedule called for me to write each of the books in about seven months.
It was a surreal feeling. I was exhilarated and panicking at the same time. I’d never written a book that fast before. Eleanor Hill, my first book, which was historical fiction, took about three years. The others had taken about two years apiece. But wasn’t this what I’d always dreamed of? And the hardest part, the character development, was already mostly done. No matter how intimidated I was, how could I say “no?”
The pub board immediately asked me for ideas for settings and plotlines. I spent several weeks feverishly brainstorming. I knew that I didn’t have time to actually visit locations for the books, so I decided to write about places I’d already been. There was a wildlife adventure in Summer of the Wolves, so I decided each book should have a wildlife adventure. And somehow the idea that the books might take place in different seasons formed. So my editor and I hit on the title for the series – Sisters in All Seasons.
I bombarded my agent and writers’ group with scenarios and they helped me refine them. After I submitted these ideas to the pub board, they chose their top three. My editor then told me that the covers for all of the books would be shot over a two-day shoot so that the girls they’d chosen as models for Diana and Stephanie wouldn’t age too much between covers. So, the covers were shot before I had written the first words of the books. I’ll be honest, I was freaking out!
Lisa will continue her story next week and will also be giving away a copy of the last book in this series, Seasons of Change.