What inspired you to become an author?
I always loved creative writing and tried to make it part of my life since college. Most days, writing is relaxing and therapeutic. On rare occasions, it’s a challenge to add any words to paper, but I still enjoy it more than most other activities. I majored in English during college, thinking that I wanted to become a journalist, but instead became an English teacher. Even though I teach full time, I continue to write, mostly in the summer. Before turning to fiction, my articles appeared in the local newspapers and online magazines.
In addition to a love for writing, I enjoy reading and grew up surrounded by the novels of Piers Anthony, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. I was always attracted to horror and fantasy, and these authors inspired me to want to read more and write fiction. These days I am drawn to the books my students read like The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games. I love authors who can create vivid conflicts and life-like characters in relationships, romantic or otherwise. I enjoy reading romances with action and adventure, and I worked to create a book with those elements.
Do you write in different genres?
My first book was a paranormal romance titled Apocalipstick. Remote is science fiction with some romance. The common element seems to be romance, which I would not consider one of my writing strengths. I love horror and mysteries as well. I am working on a horror short story titled “The Christmas Present” and a full length mystery novel about a man in Connecticut’s local historic lore called The Old Leatherman.
If yes which is your favorite genre to write?
I like science fiction because it seems to click with my brain. Remote, my first science fiction novel, took me three months to write. My other books took much longer. In Remote the main characters, Yara and Jason, came to life quickly. I knew their quirks and characteristics from the start. The storyline was also well formulated from the moment I began. With other books, it’s often a struggle and I am figuring everything out as I write.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
My daughter, Dominique, reads and re-reads the drafts, and she is instrumental in telling me what was really and truly awful at the start. She is also the one who helps me think of the titles after I am done. The title is always the last important decision I make. I never start with one in mind. The title of my first book Apocalipstick came from my daughter and so did Remote. For Apocalipstick, I was telling her about a scene in the book where the main character, Jenna, puts on her mother’s lipstick for the first time after the zombie apocalypse. She is finally out of harm's way and has the luxury of remembering the past and looking forward to a possible future. My daughter joked, you should call the book Apocalipstick and the title stuck. She came up with the idea of calling the second book Remote as well. It is a play on the word because remote can mean isolated from others, which some characters are. There is also the idea embedded in the novel of being remotely controlled and this relates to the people who live in New State. After coming up with the title, I had to go back and rewrite a few scenes to fully incorporate the theme.
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
The title is the last thing I think about. I have a friend, also an author, who told me I had to have the title before stating the project, but that never worked for me and stressed me out. Instead, I wait until the book is done and then think about the symbols and themes that evolved as I wrote.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
After reading “The Pedestrian” by Ray Bradbury with my high school Science Fiction class, I began to think about the consequences of technology in our lives. I love science fiction and hoped Remote would open a discussion on the topic of overuse of technology today. Many of my high school students are glued to their cell phones and other devices in and out of class. While the students acknowledge that this isn’t good, they no longer know how to function without a phone in hand.
What books/authors have influenced your life?
I adore Stephen King and have read On Writing by King many times. During the summer, I completed Joyland and Doctor Sleep. King is such an amazing storyteller and his characters are written flawlessly. I hope if I continue to practice, one day I will possess a modicum of his talent. Another of my other favorites is Ray Bradbury. He was my first introduction to science fiction. Other authors who have influenced my life include William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, George Orwell, and J.D. Salinger.
What books are in your to read pile?
The books in my “to read” pile include Visions by Kelley Armstrong and The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Not only do I enjoy writing paranormal fiction, but I also enjoy reading it.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m so excited to release, Remote, a 71,000 word sci-fi novel geared for young adult and college-aged audiences. Yara, the main character, lives as an undergrounder and specializes in nighttime raids against the New State, where people are often more machine than human. Then she meets Joshua, a New State citizen, who doesn’t quite fit her preconceived expectations. As they become closer, Yara realizes how insidious the hold of New State is on the citizens and how few freedoms they have, all replaced by technological illusions. With the help of her father, an underground leader, Yara and Josh join in the rebellion and the plan to take down New State, but nothing goes as expected. The challenges Yara faces throughout the book test her loyalties and ultimately challenge her understanding of humanity. Remote is published by Etopia Press and came out on November 21, 2014. It can also be downloaded at Etopia Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble for Kindle and Nook.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up. Writing takes time, dedication, and passion. Maybe a little bit of crazy too. Most people who attempt to write books do not create a masterpiece the first time or gain immediate success. As I have learned from my years teaching and attempting to write something decent, a writer must set small goals and eventually he or she will reach the larger goal. For me, it was getting my book published. Once you reach one goal, you create others and keep moving forward and don’t stop. As a writer, your goals are endless.
It took me a long time to write something coherent. Many bad books ended up in the recycle bin before I produced Apocalipstick and Remote. I’m still learning from everything I write and from my reviews and fans. The goal is to continue to improve and one day, hopefully, write something many people would like to read.
Genre: Science Fiction, romance
Publisher: Etopia Press
Number of pages: 207
Word Count: 71,000
When technology fulfills every dream, reality becomes a nightmare.
Below the streets of New State, the undergrounders fight to remain free of the technological control of the world above. Every night, Yara risks her life fighting New State’s deadliest weapons, the drones. Half human and half machine, their living half tortured until everything human is gone, the drones have only one objective. Kill. And they do it with exacting precision.
Yara is good at her job and committed to her raids on New State. Until one of those raids brings her face-to-face with Joshua, a New State citizen who doesn’t quite fit her preconceived expectations. After a couple of awkward encounters, he shows her the meaning of hooking up—a computer simulation that allows people to live out their fantasies—without the complication of emotional entanglements or physical reality. But what Yara feels for Joshua is very real. And it’s punishable by law.
As she and Joshua grow closer, she convinces him to leave New State for her underground cause. But as the unrest between New State and the underground escalates, and the drones move in to destroy her world, nothing goes as planned. Families are arrested, loyalties are strained, and Yara’s forced to choose between her people and her feelings. The wrong choice could mean the end of her people, and reality could slip away—forever...
“Hi,” he called out.
Yara’s heart hammered, and adrenaline coursed through her limbs. She turned to run.
“Wait,” the stranger whispered. “I won’t turn you in. I’m out here too.” He obviously didn’t realize that Yara was a rebel. He might not know it yet, but he would soon. Still, he didn’t sound dangerous. Maybe Yara could take care of him. She had never had to kill anyone totally human, but she had trained to do so. At this point, she didn’t think she would need to. The skinny boy didn’t look like a real threat, either.
She turned back toward him and attempted what she hoped was a look of death and destruction.
Instead of being scared, he smiled at her and brushed the hair out of his eyes. Even in the shadowy street, Yara could see the color was a beautiful emerald green. She had a hard time looking away, until his voice jarred her back to reality.
“I’m Joshua15111,” he said robotically. “What are you doing out here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“Enjoying the night sky,” he replied, each word clipped and succinct. Unable to make prolonged eye contact, he looked toward the stars.
“Aren’t you supposed to be hooked up to an alternate universe, enjoying battle, boobs, or whatever perverted fantasy you want to conquer tonight?” Yara asked, and then instantly regretted her words.
“Hey, it’s not like that. You know how it is.” For the first time, his voice took on a more humanistic quality. He sounded peeved.
She grunted in response. She didn’t know anything of the sort.
Joshua15111 looked at her briefly, quizzically. “Wait, do you know that? Are you one of them? The rebels?”
Oh no. “What rebels?”
“Are you for real? Everyone knows about the rebels. You must be one. Are you a rebel? That’s so cool.”
Me and my big mouth. Fear finally overtook her. Vague ideas about running away from or fighting the stranger flitted by, but Yara’s feet felt like concrete blocks. She wasn’t even sure she’d be able to form a coherent sentence if he asked her something about the underground.
About the Author:
Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.