Lisa Alber Talks Sophomore Slump, Genre, and What Makes Her Laugh (+ a Giveaway)

Whispers in the Mist by Lisa AlbersWe are super excited to welcome back a former Deb, who is here today to talk about her second novel. Lisa Alber, from the Deb class of 2014, is celebrating the release of WHISPERS IN THE MIST, which has been called “rich, dark, and complex,” “ingenious,” and “a first-rate crime novel.” Here’s a description of the novel:

There’s a whisper in the mists…

In Lisfenora, Ireland, a strange fog has rolled in off the Atlantic. Along with the fog comes tales of the Grey Man, a predatory faery of local lore who snatches innocent souls into his deadly gloom.

And with the mists come murder.

When a teenage boy dies in Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern’s arms, Danny finds himself pursuing his own grey man, a killer who becomes more elusive the closer Danny gets to the truth. A mute woman may be the key to solving the murder and helping Danny heal his own broken life, but first she must unlock the memories from her past.

If you haven’t already, pick up a copy, or RETWEET/SHARE this post to enter to win one! (US only; details below.)

Without further ado, here’s our interview with Lisa:

Tell us a secret about the main character of your novel—something that’s not even in your book.
I write a crime fiction series, the County Clare mysteries, set in Ireland. The books feature an expat Californian named Merrit Chase. In the first novel, KILMOON, she arrived in Ireland to meet her biological father for the first time and the story takes off from there and includes Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern as the other main protagonist. (I write in multiple third person point of view.) Kilmoon was Merrit’s story. WHISPERS IN THE MIST is Danny’s story. Merrit and Danny don’t get along well … However, Merrit is slightly in love with Danny. She doesn’t know this (yet?), and I don’t know if anything will happen between them. My books are on the dark side and my characters deal with a lot of personal issues. So, I can see Merrit’s emotions leading to trouble rather than happily ever after. I’m a sucker for increasing the complications!

Speaking for WHISPERS IN THE MIST, it’s received great reviews, but did you fear the infamous “sophomore slump”? Do you have any advice for avoiding it?
Good question! I have to admit that I thought about the sophomore slump now and then. Hard not to, right? Most of us spend at least a few years writing our debut novels, learning the craft. We take all the time we need to get our first novels as good as possible so we can find agents … If we’re lucky, we get published, and if we’re still lucky, we find ourselves on a yearly publishing schedule, and suddenly, it’s like, Oh my god, I only have a year to develop, write, revise a novel! Sometimes having a faster writing schedule is the real culprit, not the writer’s ability.

My only secret when it comes to the sophomore slump is to not try to reprise what you thought made your first book work or be successful, and also not to take all the external stuff too seriously, even the good reviews. Ultimately, it’s only about us and our blank pages, and going with our guts when it comes to our stories.

Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? How did that turn out?
Haha! This is hilarious to think about now. One of the reasons it took me so long to get Kilmoon published was that I’d set it aside to try out other types of stories. My crime novels are more of the psychological suspense type of mystery. I tried to write a thriller — that was a joke. I’m not fast-paced enough in my plotting to write thrillers, plus in general, thrillers feature antagonists who are known to the readers and there’s a race against time to reach a goal. I like my antagonists to be mysterious and for there to be uncertainty about their natures.

I also tried writing women’s fiction. I had a great idea and then as I was developing the idea, I kept veering toward mystery/suspense type elements. My heroine ended up being the victim of an obsessive stalker … and of course, someone died. I also tried a couple of more fantastical stories. One an adventure/quest kind of story with Druidic elements and the other a dystopian story. I had tons of fun writing these two, but, ultimately, they didn’t stick.

Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.
Old Carol Burnett Show re-runs! You know the skits where they’re cracking each up and can barely function they’re laughing so hard? Yeah, those. The show was already in re-re-runs when I was a kid. My parents used to watch them, and maybe I didn’t know what was going on exactly, except that the actors were cracking each other up. I used to laugh so hard, I’d cry. I still do when I happen to see outtakes from the show. I not-so-secretly want to buy the Carol Burnett Show Collection.

On the scatalogical (sadly, yes) side, that one scene in Bridesmaids always cracks me up—it’s awful, on my God, but I always laugh … You know the scene I mean, right?

Talk about one thing that makes you happy right now.
I’m happy in my garden on these lovely summer days and long evenings. I’m a first-time homebuyer as of May 2015. When spring arrived this year, I surprised myself by taking to gardening (who knew?). I have a wonderful patio and table in the shade, and I’ve been sitting out whenever I can to work on my third novel (Midnight Ink, August 2017). I’m so happy out there in my private space with my dog and cat, the flowers I’ve planted, and butterflies and bees and birds. I can spend all day outside working without a problem.

Thanks for having me! Such a pleasure to be back for a day.

Tell me, readers, what makes you laugh or makes you happy right now?

GIVEAWAY: RETWEET on Twitter, and/or SHARE on Facebook by noon (EST) Friday, August 26th to win a copy of WHISPERS IN THE MIST (US only). We’ll select and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!

Lisa Alber writes the County Clare mysteries. Her debut novel, KILMOON, was nominated for the Rosebud Award of Best First Novel. Her second novel, WHISPERS IN THE MIST, launched on August 8th. She balances writing her third novel (Midnight Ink, August 2017) with gardening, dog-walking, and goofing off. She lives in Portland, Oregon. You can find Lisa on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.
Learn more and order your copy of WHISPERS IN THE MIST on Amazon.

Author: Jennifer S. Brown

Jennifer S. Brown is the author of MODERN GIRLS (NAL/Penguin). The novel, set in 1935 in the Lower East Side of New York, is about a Russian-born Jewish mother and her American-born unmarried daughter. Each discovers that she is expecting, although the pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, in this story about women’s roles, standards, and choices, set against the backdrop of the impending war. Learn more at

4 Replies to “Lisa Alber Talks Sophomore Slump, Genre, and What Makes Her Laugh (+ a Giveaway)”

  1. Thanks Jennifer for this post on Lisa Alber and her novel Whispers in the Mist. What a great title! I so want to read this book! Lisa, I love hearing about your laughing fits when viewing the old Carol Burnett videos…she is so hilarious…I love her also. And I also love sitting out in my garden watching all the wildlife and my birds, specially my humming birds! Going to share this on FB and Twitter!

    1. Hi Carol, thanks! Thanks for sharing this too. As I write this reply, I’m once again sitting on my patio. I have my coffee and the sprinkling is going because we’re having a mini-heatwave — 100+ degrees in Portland, OR! That’s just nuts. 🙂 Gotta get my patio time in before it gets to steamy out here!

  2. Shared on FB and tweeted. I just ordered Kilmoon and can’t wait to read it as well as Whispers in the Mist. Just the name the Grey Man gives me the shivers! I love anything Carol Burnett, especially the out takes — right now I’m thinking about the skit on Gone With The Wind ~. Thanks for the interview and your giveaway!

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