Hello, and welcome to “WHO’S ON THE SHELF?” with yours truly, Nonnie Jules! Since we are a book club, you know we had to offer something that included a bookshelf. A lot of interviews merely cover an author’s work or an individual’s career stories. Here on this “SHELF,” we get down and dirty and ask the questions no other interviewer dare ask. We ask the questions that you want to open up a book and find the answers to on your favorite authors and fellow book club members, but, no one has dared to cover them. We get personal! Because, when you sit on this “SHELF,” YOU have to be an open book! Even if I have to pry you open!
Today, we have a special guest on the SHELF with us, RRBC / RWISA member, Author, LISA KIRAZIAN!
NJ: Before we get started, how do you like the design and feel of my new shelf? We updated it in 2017 and in all honesty, I can’t recall any accidents lately, so I think this redesign is working. It’s time for another new update but maybe later in the year. Are you comfy?
LISA: Yes — it’s clear and clean, a nice refresh! Like a sunroom or peaceful patio with a comfy chair.
NJ: Oh, it’s definitely clean and clear of clutter … otherwise, I’d have to ban myself to that island where messy folks are sent. So, let’s jump right in since we’re running a little behind and start by confirming whether or not your author name is your birth name or a pen name.
Lisa: My pen name, Lisa Kirazian, is my maiden name. My married last name is Kradjian, which is very similar. So there is sometimes confusion. I was publishing before I was married so it made sense to keep my maiden name as my pen name, but for everything else, I’ve changed my name to Kradjian.
NJ: How funny that your two last names would be so similar! Is it a cultural thing – the K – zian? You can answer that later for me. Tell us where you were born? Do you still live there now? If not, what city and state are you calling home these days?
Lisa: I was born and raised in San Diego in an Armenian American family. I have also lived in Palo Alto when I was a student at Stanford, in the Bay Area, and in Los Angeles, but San Diego was home from birth to age 24 and then from age 29 until now. I came back to live in San Diego when I got married and have been here ever since. You never think you are going to end up back in your hometown, but I am glad for it.
NJ: Sounds awesome. For me, I never assumed that I’d leave my hometown and I didn’t, of course, but others are clearly braver and more adventurous than I am. So, you’re married. To whom and for how long?
Lisa: Married to my husband Steve for 20 years.
NJ: 20 years – unheard of during these times, would you agree? Good for you! Any kids? What kind? Do you like them?
Lisa: 2 daughters, ages 11 and 15. Yes, I like them. And I love them.
NJ: Well, of course, we have to love them, but, I’m told sometimes there are some that aren’t that likable. OK, if you’re not there already, when you’re old and cranky, which one will keep you at home to care for you themselves, and which one started seeking out the A PLACE FOR MOM franchise facility in your area when they were 9?
Lisa: The jury is still out on this one :).
NJ: See! Again. We have to love them… Hahaha. Any pets? What kind? They act like kids, too, so I have to ask the same question…do you like them?
Lisa: Australian Labradoodle named Zoe who is 2. Our fluff ball – yes, we love her.
NJ: Oh, I’d love to see a picture of that one! She sounds gorgeous. Maybe have one posted to your RRBC Author Page. What’s the food that’s so good to you, you go to bed dreaming about it, and you forego breakfast just to get to it?
Lisa: Too many to name! Five rolled tacos with guac from Roberto’s. Very San Diego.
NJ: What’s your favorite color?
Lisa: Red and Black
NJ: Favorite sport…
Lisa: Baseball (I used to play softball)
NJ: Favorite TV Show…
NJ: Really? I never fell into that like everyone else did. OK. Favorite Actress/Actor…
Lisa: June Allyson.
NJ: Do you like to exercise to stay fit OR do you not mind walking around with a beer belly?
Lisa: Clearly, I don’t mind the pudge. But I am working on getting back in shape!
NJ: During this pandemic which we are all living through right now, what is the one thing you find that relaxes you and calms your mind and spirit?
Lisa: Praying, number one. Also journaling, watching favorite movies, watching baseball, listening to music.
NJ: In 15 words or less, what is the most common thing that the people who really know you, ALWAYS say about you? For instance, everyone who knows me all say: “You always know where she stands on things. You’re never left to wonder.”
Lisa: “You are funny without even trying.” (6 words)
“Loving for sure.” (3 words)
“You are selfless, kind, hardworking, understanding.” (6 words)
15 total 😉
NJ: Well, OK! Biggest pet peeve that makes you want to spit nails? (For the record, NJ does not condone violence, but she does believe in being honest, so she admits that there are those times and there are those people, who do cause her to want to spit a few nails in the direction of their foreheads. Hey, just being honest. It’s the only way I roll).
Lisa: Too many pet peeves. Gotta work on that. But given that we are in a book club, I’d say people who say “irregardless!” AGHHHHHHH!!!!!!! STOPPPP!! IT’S NOT A WORD!
NJ: LOL! I’m on the floor with that one, Lisa! But, irregardless of how you feel about the word…it looks like a word to me. Hahaha!!!
…So, are you neat or messy?
NJ: Well at least you didn’t beat around the bush about it. Thank goodness! Here’s another – are you nice or mean? Is that your perception of you, or is that what others think of you?
Lisa: Nice. Amazingly, other say so. I’m not sure I am…
NJ: Facebook or Twitter?
NJ: We’ve come to realize that the internet is giving way to tons of budding friendships. Who would you say is the one person you’ve connected with the most…your internet BFF or buddy?
Lisa: An awesome gal and former literary manager named Jenny Frankfurt. We’ve spoken for years, she has given advice on my work, we send each other birthday fundraiser gifts and books, vote the same way, etc., but have never met!
NJ: How cool! I have one of those. Who’s the one person that you’ve met online who makes you laugh the hardest?
Lisa: The author Anne Lamott, so witty and down to earth and insightful. Love her.
NJ: Who do you favor most: Nonnie Jules or Wonder Woman? Be honest.
I’m sorry but I’ve been a Wonder Woman fiend since elementary school. I was obsessed with Lynda Carter and wanted to be her. I collected all things Wonder Woman. I went to the early days of the Comic Con in San Diego when it was just a little hotel room with cardboard boxes of comic books and movie stills, looking for Wonder Woman comic books. I practiced twirling like her. I made my own “bullet proof” wristbands and truth lasso. I have the whole TV series on DVD and can still sing the theme song. I’m still obsessed even now in the Gal Gadot era.
NJ: That Wonder Woman? Name two favorite INDIE books that you’ve read by RRBC members:
Lisa: “Rave Soup for the Writer’s Soul: An Anthology, 1st and 2nd Editions.” To see the breadth and depth of the writers in RRBC is inspiring and motivating — it keeps me on my toes to see not only how dedicated they are but how prolific they are, and how supportive they are of each other. I love immersing in multiple forms as well, because I’m a hybrid writer myself, working across genres. The anthologies are true snapshots of the club.
NJ: Glad you like those anthologies. Give us the name of ONE good INDIE book you’ve read written by an RRBC member that was so good you wished the entire world would read it.
Lisa: My favorite piece of writing by RRBC in recent memory is Karen Black’s short story, “A Candle in the Darkness.” (A recent RWISA U grad, no less!)
NJ: What was so great about it?
Lisa: I don’t want to give anything away in “A Candle in the Darkness,” but I have not been able to stop thinking about it — slow and steady and then taking the reader in an unexpected direction. It affected me because I did not expect the outcome, and it has fascinated me ever since. Plus, it was very visual, very ethereal. And I can’t drive by and look at a roadside motel in the same way again.
NJ: I’m sure Karen will be pleased to hear that. Moving on, after you read books, do you post reviews?
NJ: What do you think readers should base their reviews on?
Lisa: The quality and “heart” of the book, the distinct elements of the author’s craft, and the uniqueness of the story/idea.
NJ: Are you one of those who are afraid to be honest in their reviews lest the author gets upset with you, or is honesty your best policy, especially in reviews?
Lisa: I don’t know them so I can’t be afraid of them getting upset 🙂 But I always season with lots of grace. My father was a professional literary and music critic, as well as a literature professor, and he was always surrounded by people who loved to hear the sound of their own voice in their critiques and lectures and loved putting other authors or artists down to somehow elevate themselves. He always said that no matter how awful a book or play or film was that he was reviewing, he would ALWAYS find something good or noteworthy to say about it, so that the review was balanced. As a writer and a composer himself, he knew how challenging it was. I try to do the same.
NJ: Read any poorly written books lately?
Lisa: No. I don’t have enough time to read as much as I’d like, such that I would read so many books where a clunker would even be in there. I haven’t even read all the classics I want to read — and I was an English major!
NJ: There are some INDIE authors who have come onto the scene and have given our literary playing field a new look. Can you name two INDIE authors who have done this in your eyes? And, how have they changed the field for us?
Lisa: If you’re talking in the context of RRBC, I would say you and Jan Sikes. You challenge us to raise our game. And you both motivate me to take ownership of the ENTIRE process — not just the writing and revising, but the marketing and social media/web content as well. I do think that’s how writers have to be now, and from now on: they have to take the reins of the entire process but still allow others to come alongside to help, advise, and give needed feedback.
NJ: No, actually I was speaking generally. There are some innovators and trailblazers outside of RRBC, but, moving right along – are you an author? Are you a good one? C’mon, we love honesty here.
Lisa: Yes and Yes.
NJ: How long have you been writing?
Lisa: Since age 5. I had my first stage play produced when I was 18.
NJ: Are you able to take constructive criticism of your written work?
NJ: Name two books that you’ve written.
NJ: Which one do you think is the best?
Lisa: Not sure. Bravura is the strongest world-creation. Appassionato is the most relationally raw and honest.
NJ: Which online resource or organization has helped you as an author the most?
Lisa: Stanford Alumni, UCLA Extension. RRBC
NJ: How were you helped by them?
Lisa: Mentorship from Stanford, practical coursework from UCLA, and opportunities/reviews/exposure from RRBC!
NJ: Since you’re sitting on the SHELF, you’re obviously a RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB member, so what do you think of the club?
Lisa: It’s fantastic. I am writing about it in one of my guest blog posts this month and have loved writing about it before. It is totally unique in terms of the support and the exposure for writers. And it is ahead of its time in terms of being online and international long before COVID demanded book clubs and writers’ conferences and arts organizations transition their programming online. The fact that we can be online or on a radio show talking with fellow writers from England, Africa, the U.S. and more, is remarkable.
NJ: Have you come across any other online entities like it?
Lisa: Nope. For the reasons I shared above. And I go more into detail about that in one of my guest blog posts this month.
NJ: Would you recommend it to your friends and family?
Lisa: I have! But they are not as fully active in their writing yet as they hope to be. Hopefully soon!
NJ: Are you a member of the prestigious RWISA? If so, what do you think of it?
Lisa: Yes. Also a great honor. As writers we always want to be getting better, pushing ourselves more. RWISA represents that for me. It challenges me to keep up my writing and revising on a regular basis. I have a ways to go!
NJ: What’s your most favorite program or place here within RRBC? (#PUSHTUESDAY, RAVE WAVES Shows, Block Parties, Writers’ Conference & Book Expo, BOOKS OF THE MONTH discussions, “ON THE SHELF” interviews, etc.)
Lisa: Writers’ Conference and Book Expo. Hands down. I love all the radio shows and twitter chats, but the conference really shows ALL of what RRBC is and does. The resources, the workshops, the posts, the exposure for writers and folks providing professional services, the feast available to readers, the camaraderie – the prizes LOL! And embedded in all of it is the dedication to encouraging each other. Seeing it all on full display at once is truly exciting.
NJ: Well, Lisa, I’m so happy to know that you enjoy the WC&BE. Early-bird registration is open now. It is an amazing event so we hope to see you there.
This shelf is getting hard on my hiney so we’re going to wrap this interview up. Any final words for our reading audience today?
Lisa: Thank you, thank you, thank you! Onward!
NJ: Thank you, Lisa, for joining me on the shelf today!
Have you joined RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB yet? Well, here’s your chance! And, since Lisa was on the “SHELF” today, tell them she sent you.
Until next time, take care. We’ll see you in March, right here on the “SHELF” with another INTERESTING GUEST!!!