Kindle Author Interview: Lise McClendon

Lise McClendon, author of Blackbird Fly, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Blackbird Fly?

LISE McCLENDON: Blackbird Fly is part suspense novel, part family saga, part women's fiction, part travel fiction. It begins with the sudden death of Merle Bennett's husband, an event that unravels her tidy life as a legal aid lawyer in New York City. She goes to France for the summer with her teenage son, to grieve and try to come to grips with her new life, but it's not all golden stone and lavender fields. A squatter lives in her husband's ancestral home, the villagers are unfriendly, and something creepy turns up in the garden house. All must be resolved before Merle can go home again. Oh, and as you might guess, there's a Beatles tie-in, hence the title.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

LISE McCLENDON: Characters are the way I relate to stories so I spend a lot of time imagining my own characters to bring them to life. My main characters often pull interesting traits from people I know. In the case of Merle Bennett, she is a middle sister like me. Middle children often feel overlooked, even if they're not! How does that translate into a fictional character? That is the kind of question I ask myself about my characters. Secondary characters often have a specific purpose related to the main character, to show some side of her, to push her into action, to provide a little romance. (Yes, there is a Frenchman, and his name is Pascal.)

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

LISE McCLENDON: For Blackbird Fly my ideal reader is female, probably a little older, with kids. This is a midlife story about finding yourself, relaxing and enjoying the life you're given, a novel of self-discovery that most women can relate to.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

LISE McCLENDON: I began writing fiction about twenty-five years ago, when my children were very young, as a way to keep my sanity! I was a journalism major and did lots of nonfiction, made documentaries, taught broadcast journalism, wrote film reviews and articles. But I always wanted to write fiction. It took me five years from start to finish, to publish my first mystery, The Bluejay Shaman, in 1994.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

LISE McCLENDON: Well, I put down one word, then another, then another! Pretty soon, there's a sentence. Sometimes the process is fast, but often it is agonizing slow. I do tons of rewriting, rethinking, reorganizing. I think you need to be an organizer to be a good writer. So much of novel writing is figuring out how things work together.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

LISE McCLENDON: So many authors have inspired me: Tony Hillerman, Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Josephine Humphreys, John Harvey, Tim Sandlin, Alice Hoffman, Katy Munger, Jasper Fforde, and many more.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

LISE McCLENDON: Turtle Moon, by Alice Hoffman. Just a perfect book.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

LISE McCLENDON: I have a website, a blog, I do Facebook. I do postcards, conferences, bookmarks, and have a small publishing venture at Thalia Press where we're keeping the backlist in print and ebook. Even a Zazzle store for Thalia Press—where there are some Pro Keds to die for!

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

LISE McCLENDON: For a writer/publisher the Kindle platform is one of the easiest to handle, and gets the most traffic through the behemoth that is Amazon. I love how reader friendly Amazon is, it's participatory for all. It's almost a democracy!

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

LISE McCLENDON: Make sure your work, short story, novella, novel, or whatever, is well edited. Don't make the mistake of taking short cuts just because there is no "gatekeeper" telling you that your work needs editing. Find a book like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers and use it religiously. Also, good luck! Enjoy any and all feedback you get about your work.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Lise McClendon is the author of seven crime novels. Her new novel, Blackbird Fly, is a suspense novel set in southwest France called "a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, sisterhood, and the ties that bind us together." She is the author of two mystery series set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and early Kansas City, Missouri, including Blue Wolf and Sweet and Lowdown. She lives in Montana.

Visit her website, read her blog, and find her on facebook.

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