Ask the Author: Lisa Alfano
What would you like your readers to know about you?
My name is Lisa Alfano. I am a lifelong New Englander, married to my college sweetheart, and proud mom to two grown sons and a rescue fuzzybutt named, Austin. I’m a late bloomer in the writing world. After a career in business and raising my two sons, I transitioned to a career in writing. I have always loved writing but lacked the confidence to share my stories with the public until a few years ago. I am pleased that Rhetoric Askew Publishing is publishing my first two novels. The first, coming in 2020, is a young adult thriller, PMS Girls. The second, an adult thriller, Fractured Secrets, is currently in the editing process with my editor.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
PMS Girls is 15-year-old, Arianna Worthington’s story. As the only child of a powerful Senator, with Presidential aspirations that values his donors more than his daughter, Ari struggles to find herself and her place in the world around her, which is the restrictive boarding school, Perpetual Mercy School for Young Women. Perpetual Mercy caters to the daughters of the uber-rich and powerful. Ari’s new roommate, the exotic, Bentley “Jess” Jessup, seems to be the answer to Ari’s loneliness; her soul sister in an all-female elite boarding school overflowing with bullies and egos. When Jess’ psychological games push Ari to the brink of sanity, Ari finds herself drowning in lies and danger. Torn between preserving her father’s political career and her own self-preservation, Ari must decide if she will be a victim or a survivor.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
PMS Girls is different from other stories that I’ve written as it breaks the 4th wall. Ari speaks directly to the reader, pulling them into her world and her story. I didn’t intend to write it in that manner, but sometimes the story dictates the method in which it is to be written. PMS Girls began as a short story that I wanted to write as a way to entertain my best friend who was going through a difficult time in her life. However, as Ari dictated her story to me, I discovered hidden secrets lurking in the dark halls of Perpetual Mercy School for Young Women that needed to be revealed. So, PMS Girls blossomed into the novel it is now. The setting for PMS Girls is a fictionalization of my childhood environment in rural New Hampshire and other New England locations that I’ve lived during my lifetime.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
My favorite scene to write was the tennis court scene for two reasons. First, I grew up playing tennis, so I share Ari’s love of spending time on the court. Second, and the most fun, was that in this scene Ari takes her first step in finding her inner self and really letting go of the constraints she’d placed on herself and placed on her by her father and society. For the first time in her life, Ari ignores the weight of her family name and responsibilities, doesn’t turn the other cheek, and doesn’t swallow crap in order to be dutiful daughter of a Senator. Here is an excerpt immediately following the tennis court scene. And, as you can see, Ari enjoyed her reaction as much as I did.
“In that moment, beneath the autumn trees, I found my voice—the one locked away since childhood—the one buried beneath responsibility and obligation—the one stifled by the gag of etiquette and decorum.” Ari Worthington PMS Girls
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I have been an avid reader my entire life. As a child, I spent hours getting lost in Tolkien’s Middle Earth and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. As a teen, I loved being blanketed by fear while reading Stephen King’s The Shining, IT, and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the classics from Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I have eclectic tastes, but these authors have also inspired me to create complex characters and worlds and put them into dangerous, scary situations. I adore twisted characters in flawed worlds.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
First, I’d say, “listen to your heart, not your head.” Writing comes from the heart. If you love writing—write—end of story, even if it is just for you to read, or, as was the case for me for a long time, to entertain your closest friends when they were going through difficult times. Second, don’t become discouraged. As with any other career, there will always be others more talented, or not as talented, but luckier. I don’t compare myself with others. I write the stories that I love and nothing more. The last bit of advice I’d give is to not let fear keep you from trying. The publishing world is tough, and rejections are the norm rather than the exception, but I haven’t let a rejection letter ever stop me from continuing to submit my stories or stop me from writing my next story. If I had never conquered my fear of rejection, PMS Girls and Fractured Secrets would’ve remained trapped forever between the covers of my notebooks. And that, at the end of my life, I would’ve regretted because a life dictated by fear is an unfulfilled life.
My Twitter is @AlfanoLisa
Instagram is la_alfano