Writer Spotlight - Lisa Dunick

Lisa Dunick (no, not her, the one with the hat : ) JK

Today, Lisa Dunick is stepping into the spotlight. She will be the last Writer Spotlight unless I get some other voluteers (hint, hint). So if you meet the criteria listed on the Writer Spotlight page above, please do email me asap or I might have to interview myself : )

Back to Lisa. Lisa is a recovering academic who decided that instead of just reading, studying, teaching, or selling books, that she should try to write one. She has a PhD in English and teaches writing at a local college part-time. She's originally from the Midwest but now resides in the heart of Dixie with her husband and two kids.

Lisa is also a blogger on Romance Magicians, where Birmingham's Southern Magic Romance writers talk about, well, writing (duh).   

So Lisa, tell us what manuscript you have out on submission now? 
It’s a 90k YA supernatural romance titled A SWEET UNREST.

Love the title. Awesome.

Give us the three to four sentence pitch.

When Lucy Aimes moves to an old plantation just outside of New Orleans, she starts having vivid dreams about the past that feature a boy from her present. It soon becomes clear that the events she’s been dreaming about really did happen more than a century ago, and she has to figure out whether she’s falling for a ghost. But before she can, an ancient curse threatens to put everyone she loves in danger.

AWESOME, curses, love, dreams, maybe-ghosts AND New Orleans-This story has it all!!!

Would you care to share the opening line or paragraph?

Stepping out of the air-conditioned van, the bright heat of the Louisiana June felt like a solid wall. Humidity hung in the air, and for a moment I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to breath through it. I could practically feel my hair start to frizz into unruly curls. A trickle of sweat slid down my back as I lifted my camera to focus on the view in front of me and looked through the viewfinder.

All I saw was whiteness.

I've been to New Orleans in June so I can totally relate to getting slammed by the wal of heat. Nice opening, Lisa.

How would your main character describe you? If you entered into a scene in your manuscript, how would you be introduced, how would the MC perceive you? Give us a short scene but keep it under 250 words : )

I didn’t think the official opening of the mansion would have that much of an effect on my life. After all, I’d already lived through a summer of constant construction, ghosts, and attacks by a Voodoo priestess. Imagine my surprise when those early crowds at Le Ciel seemed to turn my life upside down once again.

Most were just elderly folks who migrated in on tour busses or history buffs like my parents, but one day this woman showed up with a notebook in hand, and I could tell she was after something. Something that she probably didn't need to know.

I might not have even noticed her at all, except that she had these two little boys with her—one about school-aged and one a little younger. All I could think was that the house didn’t stand a chance if she took them inside.

From the look on her face and the way she tugged her dark, curling hair back into a disheveled ponytail, I had a feeling she was thinking the same thing.

"Jay! Would you take these two so I can get the tickets?”

She handed the kids off to a tall, lanky guy and came up to my window.

“Two adults and two little monsters, please,” she said, grinning apologetically.

“They’re cute,” I offered. And I meant it, sort of.

“You want one?” She asked playfully, her dark eyes glinting with a humor I hadn’t noticed when she was wrangling the boys.

I shook my head. I had my own monsters to deal with. But first, I had to make sure she didn’t find whatever it was she was looking for.

LOL, this is great Lisa. Nice.

What is your least and most favorite word? Use each in a sentence, writing in the voice of one of your characters from any of your manuscripts.

My least favorite word is amongst.

From Lucy’s mom (who is an English teacher): Unless you’d say whilst, you shouldn’t use amongst.

My most favorite? That’s really, really hard. I don’t think I really have a favorite word. Maybe abnegation, but I don’t think my characters would use it, since they’re not Faulkner. Can I share my favorite character/voice in the book, though?


Here’s a snippet from Mama Legba when Lucy's friend, Chloe, asks for a love charm:

“That ain’t never gonna happen, Chloe-girl. You bind someone, and you not talking love. You talking something else. And you, Chloe-girl,” the woman said, walking over and tipping up Chloe’s chin.

"You deserve love. Not that something else.”

Great voice, thanks for sharing.

What are you working on while you wait?

Right now I’m working to figure out what I want to write next. I have the beginnings of a couple different stories started, but the one that's grabbed me right now is called Remembering After. I don't want to get into the plot too much, but I will say that part of the story is narrated by a teen who doesn't remember how he died.

Cool!! Sounds great, good luck.

What book have you read in the past six mo that’s inspired you and why?

Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. It’s just really, really spectacularly done. I swear, I put it down but couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. I wish I could write a book like that—as important as that one is. I’m not sure that it’s the kind of story I really have in me to tell, but wow. Just wow.

Same!!! I could not stop thinking about this book either. In fact I wrote a post about the book (here) and Jay Asher (hilarious speaker, BTW) who I was lucky enough to meet at my local book seller.

Do you have a literary-character crush? OR Rather if you were a teen now or when you were a teen who would be your your lit-crush, and/or your BFF?

My only lasting literary crush is John Grady Cole from Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. In the words of one of my lit professors in college, he’s the most ardent-hearted character I’ve ever read. (And that was before Matt Damon played him in that awful movie.) He still makes me want to be 16 again and try to save him.

If I was a teen now? I think I’d be crushing pretty hard on Vincent from Amy Plum’s new Die For Me. Oh, wait. I am crushing on Vincent. I mean, he’s beautiful and French and totally swoon-worthy for reasons I can’t convey here without giving away the plot.

: )

Any random fun-facts you’d like to share about yourself?

I have a picture of the backside of Ernest Hemingway, naked. I should specify that it was a young Ernest Hemingway, and not the grizzled grandpa-looking Hemingway that a lot of people think of. I got it while I was doing archival research at the Hemingway collection at the Kennedy library for my dissertation a few years back. They had these 8x10 pictures that different organizations had used and then sent back for whatever reason, and the curator said I could take whatever I wanted, since they were extras. I took a bunch to use for teaching the different novels, but I ask you, how could I not take a picture like that, too?

LOL, that is sooo funny!! I'm reading The Paris Wife, a story about the young Ernest Hemingway and his love affairs. I wonder who took the picture?

I have a PhD in English, which I guess isn’t necessarily “fun,” but I did hang it on my refrigerator for a year, and that was fun. Especially when we had people over who did double-takes when they saw it up there next to my son’s pre-school finger-painting.

Good for you, Lisa!! Thank you so much for the interview and for sharing your works with us. I wish you all the very best with, A SWEET UNREST!!! And keep us posted!!!!

If you like these Writer Spotlights and would like to see them continue, please spread the word to your writer friends who have ubber-awesome completed manuscripts to pitch and then shove, push, drag, and tug them into the spotlight. More info on Spotlight interviews can be found here.


  1. Great interview! New Orleans culture is fabulous; I'd love to read more!

  2. Ugh...New Orleans in the summer... It's a good thing it's such an incredible place to make up for the humidity!
    Thanks for doing the interview, Paula; and Lisa--it was nice to meet you! The setting and premise of your book definitely leave me intrigued!

  3. Great interview Lisa and Paula. I loved the pitch and the title.

    And I loved 13 Reasons Why. I saw Jay Asher speak too. You're right, it's so funny.

    Good luck Lisa with querying and figuring out what to write next.

  4. Lisa, your book sounds like a yummy southern gothic - my favorite kind of summer read. Best of luck!

  5. Thanks everyone! There's been some interesting developments on the querying front today, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

  6. Lisa, that's great!! It is fate that you heard news today on your ms on the very same day as your interview. Will keep my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for you. Keep us posted.

    Thanks Melody, Faith, Natalie, and Kiki for coming by to meet Lisa.

  7. Great Writer Spotlight, as usual, Paula. I have loved "meeting" so many talented writers.

    Lisa, I love the sound of your book. Curses, strange dreams, ghosts: I'm totally hooked. Best of luck--and hope it was great news today.


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