“I wanted to write something that brought people together.” An Interview with Author Lisa Colozza Cocca
Lisa Colozza Cocca is the author of PROVIDENCE, a YA novel from SimonPulse/ an imprint of Simon and Schuster, and numerous school and library titles, as well as textbooks, workbooks, and classroom kits.
She grew up in Cohoes, New York and moved to New Jersey after college. Lisa works fulltime as a freelance writer and editor in educational publishing. Lisa loves her family, friends, reading, writing, and Saturday nights. PROVIDENCE, her debut novel, was the 2014 all-community read for the Morristown Book Festival.
I would like to welcome and thank Lisa for sharing her thoughts and time with Write on Fight on.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing in high school, but I stopped for quite a while when I was raising young children. I began writing again with an eye toward publication about 15+ years ago.
What book made you realize you wanted to be a writer
It actually wasn’t a book – it was a job, or more precisely the people I got to know because of the job. I had always recognized that reading was an intensely personal experience. There could be ten people in a room reading the same book and each could get something different out of the story based on what background experience they brought into the story.
When I started working as a school librarian, I came to realize how those individual experiences with the same title could also draw people together. Through discussion each reader could come away with a deeper understanding of what they read and a deeper understanding of each other. That was when I knew I wanted to write. I wanted to write something that made people think or feel and want to share those thoughts and feelings with others. I wanted to write something that brought people together.
Do you have any quirky writing rituals or odd sources of writing inspiration?
Quirky is in the eyes of the beholder. I usually work at my desktop, but if I’m stuck on something, I sometimes transfer whatever I’m working on to my laptop and go to a different part of the house to work. A change in surroundings can help poke my brain. Also, if I’m having difficulty figuring how to work something out, I close my eyes and picture the story as a movie. I listen to what the character’s say, watch how they move etc. As to inspiration, for me writing inspiration comes from life.
Sometimes it’s an interesting news story, more often it is an interesting person I come upon. I am a seasoned people watcher. I love to study how people react in situations – their facial expression, body language, and interaction with the environment or others around them. I try to imagine why the person reacted a particular way and how that experience might have changed the course of events.
What is the most famous book you’ve never read?
How is the writer’s life you’re living different than the one you imagined?
I was unprepared for the marketing demands and the expectations of others. On the plus side, I’ve met so many wonderful authors and made a few new real friends among them. This is a true gift when I’m trying to navigate through some difficult situation. I’ve also been challenged to do things that don’t come easily to me.
A couple of years ago, I was invited to speak at the NYC Public Library – a mecca for writers. That was something I never imagined myself doing. I was very excited when I thought I was going to be presenting in the safety of a panel discussion. When I realized I would be alone on the stage and needed to be funny, panic washed over me. I was certain I couldn’t be funny on demand and particularly in front of an auditorium filled with people. In the end, despite my inner terror, it went well and I lived to tell about it. As an added bonus, that experience made other speaking engagements seem easy by comparison!
If you could build a super-author consisting of three, living or deceased, authors who would you pick and why?
I would start with EL Konigsburg and her novels for grades 6 and up. I admire the way she always respected the intelligence of her readers and appreciated their ability for compassion. Her novels make readers think and feel and connect with the world. I would add Lois Lowry, another power house of a writer. I admire her creativity, and like Konigsburg, her ability to tap into the humanity of her readers. Thirdly, I would add some Jerry Spinelli. His ability to be both funny and serious is a gift. And like Konigsburg and Lowry, Spinelli consistently constructs characters that readers can find a piece of themselves in.
Of your invented characters, who would you like to meet for lunch? Why?
That’s a tough one. If I can only choose one, I’d like to have lunch with Becky (Providence) to let her know she can move forward in life without having to let go of the best of her past and that she is more capable than she realizes.
What are you currently working on that’s got you excited?
I’ve been working on a couple YA novels, but needed to take a break from them. I switched over to a cozy mystery and am thoroughly enjoying writing it.
Where can we find your books?
You can find my books in libraries (even as far away as Australia and Singapore!), bookstores, and online bookstores. You can find me at book festivals, libraries, and schools throughout the year and online at:
Contact Lisa at:
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