YEM Author Interview: Lisa Springer chats about writing a horror novel

Lisa Springer is the author of There’s No Way I’d Die First. There’s No Way I’d Die First follows Seventeen-year-old Noelle Layne, a scary-movie buff as she hosts an elaborate Halloween bash. The novel explores contemporary horror as well as comedy.  YEM was able to speak with Lisa about horror novels, her writing process, and having this be her debut novel.

Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first know that you wanted to be an author?

Lisa Springer: I’ve always been a reader and this led me to writing. I’ve always wanted to write books. As a kid I even used to make my own books with scrap paper. There’s something that’s exciting about creating worlds and characters and being able to share them with readers. Writing will always be my passion.

YEM: Have you always enjoyed horror novels?

Lisa: Absolutely! The first horror book I read belonged to my sister. It was Pet Semetary by Stephen King. I think I was maybe thirteen or fourteen at the time and it was way too scary. It took me a long time to read because I had to take several breaks and I definitely didn’t read it at night. 

YEM: What made you want to write a horror novel like There’s No Way I’d Die First?

Lisa: I love horror movies and there’s a running joke about Black people either dying first or being killed off before the ending of the movie. There weren’t any Black final girls in the horror movies I watched so I wanted to write a book about a Black girl who faces down a villain and survives.

YEM: Was any part of the book inspired by your real life?

Lisa: Fortunately not! I would not want to be trapped inside a house with a killer clown. This is all fiction but I like to think that I can be as strong and resilient as my main character, Noelle. 

YEM: What was the writing process like?

Lisa: I wrote the first draft of There’s No Way I’d Die First in about four months and then revised for a few months after that. I had a lot of fun writing this book. I started out with an outline but I was also figuring out things about the characters while I drafted. Being excited about a writing project really does make it easier to write. Fun fact: the horror movie quotes were added in the second draft. 

YEM: What did you learn about yourself during the writing process?

Lisa: I learned that I could slow down, take a breath and figure out what comes next. Revising a book is hard and sometimes it feels like a huge mess. I learned to be patient with myself and the process. Not everyday will be a good writing day and I’ve made peace with that.  

YEM: What do you hope your readers take away from your book?

Lisa: I hope readers enjoy this book and realize that they can face down the monsters in their own lives too and survive. It’s okay to have hope and believe that good things are possible. 

YEM: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to be an author someday?

Lisa: Keep writing. That’s it. You can only improve if you keep writing. Share your work and be open to feedback. Read writing craft books and see what works for you. Take a writing class if you can, it’s a great way to meet other writers and build a community. 

YEM: Is there a horror book that you are particularly fond of?

Lisa: I love White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson and I really like anything by Stephen Graham Jones. 

YEM: What is the most important part of creating a horror book?

Lisa: I think keeping the stakes and tension high are really important to maintaining a steady undercurrent of dread throughout the novel. The best horror books keep the reader uncomfortable until the last page.

YEM: With There’s No Way I’d Die First being your debut novel, what was the biggest surprise you encountered during the process?

Lisa: Having my debut selected as a Kids’ Indie Next pick for Sept/Oct was the biggest surprise so far. I’m blown away and super grateful for the support from booksellers. 

YEM: What do you have planned next for your writing?

Lisa: I’m working on a horror set in the Caribbean. Step into the darker side of paradise.  

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