Interview by Ashley Eastman
Featuring Hidden Agenda
Ashley: If you’re a fan of romance, but need that twist of suspense to keep the pages turning, then Hidden Agenda is the right read this spring. Lisa Harris continues her exciting Southern Crime Series with the third installment Hidden Agenda. I had some time to sit down and ask Lisa some questions about her new book and about her as an author. Lisa, how did you come up with the idea for this series?
Lisa: Like with most of my books, they start with a character. In this series, that was Avery North. At first, all I knew is that she was she was a single mom and a police officer, but I knew I had to tell her story. A brainstorming session with a group of authors helped me further develop the series that eventually came to revolve around the Hunts, a family from Atlanta who has served their country through the armed service or police department for generations. Despite conflicts that arise between them, they are very close knit, and when it comes to fighting injustice, they stick together and do whatever it takes to stop that injustice.
Ashley: Who are Hidden Agenda’s main characters?
Lisa: I really had fun writing Michael and Olivia’s story in Hidden Agenda, primarily because their stories were different from anything I’ve written. They are two people who come from opposite worlds who end up having to work together to stay alive. Michael’s the son of a former Police Captain and an undercover detective. Olivia’s father is part of a South American drug cartel and wants Michael dead. But despite their mistakes, they both are after the same thing. The truth.
Ashley: I promise these two characters’ stories deliver on the promises of romance and suspense. Lisa, in three sentences what is this book about?
Lisa: For the past eight months, Michael’s family has thought he was dead, but the undercover assignment he’s been working on has just been blown. With a contracted hit on his life by the cartel and not knowing who he can trust in the police department, Michael finds himself on the run from both the cartel and the law with the daughter of the man who wants him dead, Olivia Hamilton.
Ashley: Lisa, what are the Biblical threads woven into the series?
Lisa: Overall, I’d say it’s a call for us to realize our own weaknesses and fears and to in turn learn to rely only on God’s strength. Each main character in this series is pulled out of his or her comfort zone to a place where they have to turn to God.
Ashley: How many books are planned for this series?
Lisa: Hidden Agenda is the last book in the three books series. Dangerous Passage and Fatal Exchange come first.
Ashley: Do you prefer to outline the entire series, or do you write as you go letting the characters take control of the story?
Lisa: A little of both, but for the most part I spent a lot of time staring at a pile of sticky notes in order to bring the story together. ☺ The plots of each individual story, and then the three books together as well, are woven pretty tightly, so that forced me to stay organized. But there were also a few surprises along the way as some of the characters took over!
Ashley: Any certain research required for the book, or is it all straight from your imagination?
Lisa: I spent hours doing research on everything from the setting (Atlanta and the Georgia coastline), to drug trafficking, to bomb squads. I love the research part of writing and too often find myself having to stop or I’d never get any books written!
Ashley: As a reader I appreciate a well researched book. Can you give us a hint at your next project?
Lisa: I just turned in book one of a brand news series to my editor at Revell. It’s about a newly established missing person task force, and this first one is set around the Smoky Mountains. Like the last series, this one took tons of research—everything from rappelling, to poaching, to mobile command posts—but I really enjoyed that part of the writing.
Ashley: What is your favorite genre to write for?
Lisa: I love romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense.
Ashley: Where do you like to write?
Lisa: Where ever I can find a quiet place. I don’t have an office right now, but the couch, or dining room table, or desk work fine.
Ashley: Sounds like you invest a lot of time in writing. Are you a full time writer?
Lisa: No. For the first time in seven years, though my role as ‘mom’ has changed. I’ve been a homeschooling mom until just a few months ago when the last of my kids went off to attend a missionary boarding school. It’s been an adjustment, but thankful, I have plenty to keep myself busy with as I’m still writing, am involved in our women’s ministry, and run a non-profit called The ECHO Project that helps meet people’s physical needs where we live here in Mozambique.
Ashley: How long does it usually take you to write a single book in the series?
Lisa: I like to have at least six months for a full-length novel. That gives time for research, plotting, and writing.
Ashley: Do you plot or outline the entire series before you begin writing, or do your books take on lives of their own? Or is there a combination?
Lisa: Definitely a combination. I have in the back of my mind an arch of the character and story line and start from there to fill in the details.
Ashley: What is your inspiration for writing this series?
Lisa: I wanted a series that went beyond just a fast-paced romantic suspense, but also delved deep into the character’s lives and how their experiences affected them. Each story also deals with a real life issue like human trafficking and the drug cartel.
Ashley: Coke or Pepsi?
Lisa: Neither. (Unless I’m on a tight deadline and need a caffeine jolt)
Ashley: Soft shell or hard shell tacos?
Lisa: Hard, because I love them can’t get them where we live.
Ashley: Favorite place to vacation?
Lisa: I love the sun and the beach, because we live near the Indian Ocean. But with summer on the way, I’ve been dreaming of a cozy cabin somewhere in the mountains with a fireplace and a good book.
Ashley: Favorite season?
Lisa: Spring and fall (Not too hot or cold!)
Ashley: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like coco, raspberry tea, animal crackers?
Ashley: Favorite color?
Ashley: What’s your favorite holiday memory?
Lisa: Making homemade ornaments one Christmas because our car broke down and we couldn’t make it home. It reminded me that being together is what really matters!
Ashley: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Lisa: II Corinthians 4:16-18. I love the reminder what we see here is temporary and we need to fix our eyes on what is unseen, the eternal!
Ashley: Favorite pasta dish?
Lisa: Anything with homemade pasta. I bought a pasta maker recently and wow, there is such a difference!
Ashley: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what are some examples?
Lisa: Anything without words. Right now on my playlist is the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and Lindsey Stirling.
Ashley: Thanks for sharing about Hidden Agenda all the way from Mozambique and thanks for serving for the Kingdom there.
Author Website: LisaHarriswrites.com
Author Twitter: @heartofafrica