A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of reviewing The Blue Pen by Lisa Rusczyk. I found it very compelling, and a great read that I couldn't put it down. For that reason, I am honored that Ms. Rusczyk agreed to an interview here on Falling Into Words. I hope you will enjoy her responses as much as I did!
How would you describe The Blue Pen thematically?
The story explores elements of the paranormal in relation to symptoms of mental illness. It also plays out Cleo's family drama. Parker is a catalyst to bring Cleo full circle in her life experiences.
As you mentioned, there are touches of the occult in several places which sometimes converge with mental illness. How did that plot element come about? Was it something you were already interested in, or did Cleo's story take you there?
It's definitely something I have a personal interest in. I'm fascinated with the similarities between symptoms of mental illness and the paranormal. It was intended as the main theme of the book from the beginning. I wanted to write something that a reader might relate to on either side of the coin.
I found Cleo to be incredibly dynamic and mesmerizing. What was her inspiration?
Cleo just popped out of the pen. I don't know where she came from. She started out being a bit more crass, but as I wrote her character, she mellowed and I altered her earlier attitude.
The other main character, Parker, is a journalist. Have you worked in the field? I found the tension between "good" and "bad" journalists very interesting.
I've never worked as a journalist. I have a pretty bad job history, actually! Mainly I've worked as a sound tech and waitress, but now I freelance write and do proofreading/programming for my brother's company.
How much of the settings and characters are inspired by your own life?
The characters don't feel like they come from anyone I know, but the setting of the Beacon could be any number of dark punk clubs I played in during my punk rock playing years. Also, in the past I had a tendency to overindulge in drinking, so writing about it seemed natural. I spent every summer until I was sixteen in Philadelphia, so that is why I chose to put Cleo there. It's a great city, and I could see it supporting a place like the Beacon.
I can typically pinpoint the moments in my life that instigate large changes. Was there any such moment for you in relation to creating The Blue Pen?
I wrote the novel over a five year period when I lived in Phoenix, Arizona and was married. I spent seven years in the desert and it changed me quite a bit. When my husband left me, I became more determined to see one of my books get published. That doesn't have to do with creating it, but it did push me to work as hard as I could to make my career dreams come true. As far as creating it, I can't think of a particular moment, just long nights in the computer room typing away madly.
Who are your influences, both literary and non-literary? Which ones played a role in The Blue Pen?
I'm usually influenced by whatever I'm reading at the time, or TV shows and movies that fuel my imagination. Oddly, I think music influences me the most in writing. Music has so much mood and feeling in it that I am greatly inspired by it and often feel moved to write certain ways during or after hearing certain songs or albums. I listened to a lot of Radiohead while writing The Blue Pen.
Do you typically write in a linear fashion, or out of order where inspiration takes you?
I write in linear fashion, but plot a step ahead in my mind. I don't outline, but rather have a rough direction of where I want the books to go.
Outside of reading and writing, what are your hobbies?
I write and play music, though not as much as I used to. I also occasionally indulge in massive amounts of time loss due to playing MMORPGs, online gaming. I can't do that right now because I have dial-up, but soon I'll have satellite Internet and the gaming may begin again! I also love to snuggle up with the boyfriend with some Star Trek.
Lastly, if you can, tell us a bit about where you're going from here.
I have three more novels coming out with my publisher, two in an urban fantasy series called Sam the Night Person and Full Moon in December, and a young adult fantasy called A Dream of the Past. I'm working on a middle grade fantasy novel about cats mainly these days, a sequel to A Dream of the Past, and a book about twins with mental illness.
Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to metaphorically sit down with me. Again, I posted my review of The Blue Pen a couple of weeks ago, and I urge everyone to check it out!