Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Into Fantasy: Author Interview with Lisa Desrochers (Personal Demons)

I live in central California with my husband and two very busy daughters. There is never a time that I can be found without a book in my hand, and I adore stories that take me to new places, and then take me by surprise. Books that changed my world include JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Contemporary authors that I can't get enough of include Melissa Marr, Kristin Cashore, Jay Asher (write something else, Jay!), and Suzanne Collins.

I have a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and my day job is my full time PT practice. Growing up all over the United States has inspired wanderlust and I love travel, which works out well, because my weekend job is lecturing internationally on a variety of health care topics. But, one day not long ago, for no apparent reason, I decided I needed another job and started a night job—writing. Personal Demons is my first novel.

From author's website

What inspired you to write Personal Demons?

I wrote Personal Demons for my daughter. She enjoyed other paranormal YA novels, so I wanted to write her something along those lines. The name Lucifer Cane popped into my head one day and I thought to myself, what a fun name for a demon. He started telling me a story and I took dictation. The rest flowed from there.

Why did you decide to alternate points-of-view? Why don’t we see Gabe’s thoughts?

As I was writing Personal Demons, Luc was the initial POV character, but then Frannie showed up, and I realized that this was really her story. She demanded that I tell her side, so, once again, I took dictation. Though Gabe had a strong presence, I always heard him through Frannie and Luc. Not only did he not demand a POV; he didn’t want one. For those of you who are Team Gabe, you’ll be happy to know he’s finally ready to speak up. He demanded a POV in Hellbent (bk #3)

How would you react if you discovered your significant other was a demon? An angel?

That’s an interesting question, and part of what I wanted to explore in Personal Demons. At a recent signing I was asked how I knew what my characters looked like. I answered that I picked the most cliché appearances for a demon and angel I could think of. My thought was, if there truly were angels and demons walking the earth, would we ever allow ourselves to believe that’s what we were seeing, even if they looked and acted exactly how we think an angel or a demon would? What would it take for us to believe someone was actually a demon? So, to answer your question, there are some days I’m convinced he is. (I’ll let you decide if I mean angel or demon :p) I’m sure I’d be pretty freaked out if I found out he really was, but if he was able to pass long enough to actually become my “significant” other, then I’d have to think he couldn’t be all bad.

In some ways, Personal Demons challenges our notions of Heaven and Hell. How did you go about building this world?

There are several YA angel novels out that have a sort of gothic feel to them. I find them very interesting, but, starting out, I decided that I wanted to keep Personal Demons contemporary. I did a lot of reading on demon and angel lore and then put a modern spin on it. In Personal Demons, Hell is a bureaucracy. I looked at demon hierarchy and tried to figure out what departments there would be and who would be in charge of them. Then I did the same thing with Heaven. Once I had that sorted out, I had to figure out how, within this bureaucracy, it would be determined who went to Heaven and who went to Hell. It made sense that Hell would have an Acquisitions department. Heaven, on the other hand, would be in charge of sorting the souls who died before they were tagged because of the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing, so they wouldn’t need and Acquisitions department. They would be more like the police, to keep Hell’s Acquisition team from running wild on the mortal coil. So, it’s really based in the bureaucracy of modern society.

We learn that Luc is fond of Dante – what are some his other favorites? Frannie’s?

Luc is a sucker for the classics. He was Dante’s Muse, so he’ll always be partial to Dante’s writings, but he also has memorize all of Chaucer’s writings and most of Shakespeare. He also enjoys some (relatively) contemporary writers. He loves to pick apart Proust, but the English translation is lacking, so he sticks with the original French. His copies of Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago (in the native Russian), Tolstoy’s War and Peace (also in Russian) and Dickinson’s poetry are very well worn. Frannie accuses him of memorizing Steinbeck and he denies it. That’s a lie. (He’s a demon, so lying is in his DNA.)

Frannie leans toward more contemporary literature. She’s read most of Stephen King’s books, all the Harry Potterbooks, all of Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series and Twilight.

There are some questions about free will implicit in the novel. What are your thoughts on fate versus free will?

Luc says “fate is a crock.” I’m not sure I agree with him, but I think we can influence our fate by the choices we make. Some things are just bound to happen. We don’t have control over everything, but we always have choices.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this novel?

Keeping up with my characters. They have conversations in my head, and they talk way too fast. I’ve asked them to slow down, but they just snort at me and keep talking, so I’ve had to get quicker on the keyboard. When I’m writing a first draft and the story is just coming together, I’m obsessed. It’s hard to make myself do anything but write, because it all comes so fast. I wrote Personal Demons in eight weeks. Original Sin took six.

Luc and Gabe haven’t seen each other for 400 years. What happened the last time they met?

Luc was in the Vatican leading the Inquisition that found Galileo guilty of heresy. Galileo was sentenced to “formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition.” Copernican sentiment was strong and Gabe was unable to influence the outcome of the trial, but he was able to persuade Pope Paul V to allow Galileo to remain under house arrest for the rest of his life versus being at Luc’s mercy. Because of this, Galileo was able to continue his research.

Why do you think the paranormal YA genre has become so popular in recent years?

Teens are teens and want to read about other teens who may be going through what they’re going through. Adults were teens at one point and enjoy reliving their misspent youth. It’s easy to identify with a teen who’s trying to find their way in the world. We’ve all been there. When there are paranormals involved, it’s just that much more fun. I mean seriously, didn’t boys feel like a totally different species when you were a teen? All the angst over what to say and whether they liked you too. So, when they actually are a different species, anything can happen, and it’s thrilling to be along for the ride.

What is a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?

I burp like a frat boy. Ever since I was in college, hanging around my boyfriend’s (now husband’s) frat house and trying to impress the guys, I’ve burped loud. I can’t do it quiet, and even my kids give me a hard time. “Nice one, Mom!”

What can you tell us about the future books in the Personal Demons series?

Well…there are two. Original Sin is out in July 2011 and Hellbent is scheduled for May 2012. In Original Sin, Frannie finds out what’s so special about her family. Nobody’s who she thought they were. She also finds out that Hell will stop at nothing to tag her soul. In Hellbent, we finally hear from Gabe. It’s the final showdown and both sides (Heaven and Hell) send the Big Guns.

For more about this author, please visit:

Thank you so much to Lisa for this great interview! I love that Luc and Gabe were battling over Galileo - Luc would be stirring up major historical trouble, wouldn't he? :-)


Jamie said...

Great interview! I'm going to see if I can get this one through my local library! Have a great weekend!

The Slowest Bookworm said...

This book sounds superb. I must grab myself a copy.

yllektra (force-oblique) said...

Thanks for this interview, it was great!
I have already read the book and I enjoyed it immensely. I didn't mind that Gabe didn't have a voice, either!
I was happy to see Frannie's and Luc's! XD

I cannot believe she wrote the book in 8 weeks, that is like amazing and I cannot wait to read the next one!

Ahahha, she burps? That's so cute and funny!

IvaliceAlliance said...

Great Interview! I have read so many positive reviews about Personal Demons and I can't wait to read it.

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