As an advance introduction to the authors, Renaissance (RTW) asked them questions related to their writing and some of the conflicts presented in the play SEX WITH STRANGERSZ by Laura Eason.
RTW: Can you describe your current book? What genre is it? What do you like about that genre? And what other kinds of writing do you do?
LISA: Recently I co-edited (with Christi Craig) and published an anthology of creative nonfiction, essays, and found poetry titled Family Stories from the Attic. Collaborating with Christi, who did the bulk of the editing, was a dream, and we both were fortunate to work with twenty-two generous, talented authors from around the United States and New Zealand. The book’s concept was to showcase writing as a way to understand more fully our personal and collective pasts, by writing about objects such as diaries, letters, photographs, notebooks—even a set of family silver. Given the diversity of approaches and backgrounds of the submissions we accepted, we were delightfully surprised at how well the collection held together as a whole.
In addition to publishing, I have written non-fiction books, essays, articles, and fiction, and I’m currently doing a kind of (later than) mid-life pivot to focus on writing speculative fiction and poetry.
RTW: What inspired you to write? What kinds of fiction genres do you like reading?
LISA: For as long as I can remember, I knew I would be a writer, even when I was making my own childhood poetry chapbooks on construction paper, tied together with yarn. Over the years, that persistent beacon has taken several forms, from being a journalism and then English major, to technical writing, teaching composition to budding engineers, writing a food and wellness column, and writing about psychological topics. I love to read almost anything (including old-fashioned hard cover encyclopedias), but really enjoy quirky authors, such as George Saunders, Flannery O’Connor, and Haruki Murakami, as well as science fiction, fantasy, poetry, and all stories and novels that offer a glimpse into parts of the universe—real or imagined—that I previously did not know.
RTW: Have you ever been tempted to use initials to disguise your gender as a writer?
LISA: As I’m making the transition to trying my hand at more speculative fiction, I’ve thought about using initials or a gender-neutral pseudonym, as that’s a genre does seem to experience some gender-bias, and also to make a more defined transition from one aspect of my writing career to another. Right now, however, I’m leaning towards using my real name, whether from laziness or principle.
Lisa Rivero is the co-editor (with Christi Craig) and publisher of Family Stories from the Attic (Hidden Timber Books), an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Lisa has written professionally for over two decades and taught college writing and creative thinking courses at the Milwaukee School of Engineering for many years. The author of four non-fiction books, a middle-grade historical novel, and several articles and essays, she is currently focusing on writing poetry and speculative fiction.