“When I first discovered Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles I was “bitten” by the lure of immortals and the fantasy of what it would be like to live forever.”

DarkMedia Interviews Lisa Kessler:

“I have always loved to make up stories. My first published work was The Wonders of Unicorn Creek in 6th grade. The 9 page epic was published by my tiny elementary school.

Since then I’ve published short stories in anthologies like: Dead Souls, Ladies of Horror 2009, Hell Hath No Fury, and magazines like: Sinisteria, Horrorfind, Twilight Times, The Writers Hood, Savage Night, The Murder Hole, Behold and Shadowkeepzine.

My story ”Immortal Beloved” was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award, and my story “The Third King” won second place in Behold’s short story contest.

When I’m not writing, I also sing. I’m a professional vocalist, performing with the San Diego Opera as well as other musical theater companies. I’m married to an incredible man who is also a great writer, and we live with our two teens in sunny San Diego, California.

Halloween is a fun time of year for me and all my ghouls. I’ve always been fascinated by magic and what might be lurking the shadows. Passion, love, jealousy, power and immortality also fuel many of my plots, but I’m not a villain… I just enjoy writing them…

I hope you enjoy reading them!”

Your latest release, Across the Veil, was part of a contest called “The Paranormal Fight Club”. Will you tell us a little about the contest itself and how the story evolved?

It was a contest for writers on the Romance in the Backseat book blog. Each week we added a new installment and readers voted. One write was cut each round, and in the end, Across the Veil was the last one standing! 🙂 It was stressful, but really fun, and the other writers were great so we had a good time.

You’ve called yourself an “avid fan of Disney villains”. What is it about these characters you love so much? And how often do you wear “the power suit”?

Ha! I’ve worn my power suit three times for Halloween parties and once to Disney World. Kids ran to the other side of the street, and adults wanted their pictures with me. It was fun!

My attraction to the villains is mainly because it’s often the villains who propel the story story. In a Disney movie, the villains can be especially clever and devious, while the Prince and Princess are usually busy “reacting” to the situation. The villain stirs the cauldron and makes things happen. The Evil Queen from Snow White is my favorite villain because she never gives up in her quest to be the Fairest of the Land. When one plan falls through (the hunter) she takes matters into her own hands.

A good villain can make a story go from ho-hum to amazing!

What do you think makes a good story?

Tough question! It’s very subjective and every reader is different, but for me, I need characters that feel real and I can relate to them. Then I need break-neck pace to the plot. I want to keep turning pages, not get bogged down in descriptions.

Why write paranormal romance as opposed to standard romance? Will you tell us what it is about the genre that engages you as both a writer and a reader?

As a reader, I loved Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul. I loved page-turner horror novels where you’re never sure who will live or die. I found that I didn’t enjoy contemporary stories as much. I like the tension of life or death situations. I route for my favorite characters and hope they make it through.

When I first discovered Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles I was “bitten” by the lure of immortals and the fantasy of what it would be like to live forever. How do they keep themselves vital in the world around them without time passing them by.

BUT, I hated that her vampire lore made Lestat incapable of having an erection! LOL Impotent for eternity? Bummer!

So when I discovered Paranormal Romance, I had the best of both worlds! Vampires, life or death situations, AND some steamy sexual tension. It was a perfect match for me as a reader and a writer.

What’s your favorite book to give as a gift and why?

I don’t know if I have a “favorite”, but I have given out a few copies of “The Loch” and “Meg” by Steve Alten. Both books mix real science with the mystery of unknow water creatures. Both are great reads and stand alones so they make a fun gift.

What are you reading right now?

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong – I’m enjoying it so far! 🙂

When did you first realize you were a writer?

In 6th grade I knew I loved to write stories, and as an adult I wrote every night for years just for fun. I didn’t know I really could be a “writer” until I visited a palm reader in New Orleans. I had my first short story published and my first novel written six months later. I haven’t stopped writing since.

How long does it typically take for you to write a book or a short story? Do you have any special formula to your writing process?

I can write and edit a short story in less than a week now. A novel takes me a few months. I wish I had a writing process! LOL I’m a pantster, so I start at the beginning with a cague idea of what the ending might be, and the characters take it from there. My music playlist for each book is very important though. Music definitely helps me keep the “mood” of the book.

In addition to being a writer, you’re also a singer. Do you get a chance to perform in public often? Which would you say is your first love? Could you ever choose one over the other?

Music was my first love. I still sing professionally as a soloist so I perform at least once a week these days. I’m not sure I could ever choose one over the other because both music and writing mingle for me. Music is integral to my writing, and when I get really stressed about something, music is always my core that settles me back down. In my books and stories, music is often a theme.

What, or who, is your greatest inspiration as an author? What about them inspires you?

Ray Bradbury. I got to meet him once and it changed my life as a writer. Although he’s older now and his body is feeble, his spirit is SO vital and filled with love for life and the written word. When I grow up I want to love life as much as he does! 🙂 He still gets up and writes every day!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? What’s the best, or worst, advice someone gave you?

Ray Bradbury gave me my best advice. I asked how to improve my writing. I expected him to recommend some books on the craft, but what he did instead was challenge me to write a new short story every week for a year.

I took on the challenge and enjoyed it so much that I still keep writing short stories in between writing novels. I leanred so much more than I ever could from a book!

My advice for aspiring authors would be to keep writing new material. Writing is a craft. You have to practice it. There’s no “recipe” to suddenly make it simple. Keep writing and keep reading.

What are you working on right now, and how can your readers support you and your upcoming projects?

I just turned in my edits for my first novel, Night Walker! The book will be released in print and eBook on August 5th.

In the meantime, I my eBook short story Across the Veil is available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Finally, what’s got you inspired or excited?

Definitely my new book cover for Night Walker! I love it! The publisher should be revealing it soon and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.


Lisa Kessler can be found on her blog, her website and on DarkMediaCity.

Many thanks to our contributing interviewer and reviewer, D.

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission, excepting links to the interview.)

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