Lisa Brackmann has worked as a motion picture executive and an issues researcher in a presidential campaign. A southern California native, she currently lives in Venice, California. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Rock Paper Tiger, set on the fringes of the Chinese art world, made several “Best of 2010″ lists, including Amazon’s Top 100 Novels and Top 10 Mystery/Thrillers, and was nominated for the Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best First Novel.
Brackmann's new novel is Hour of the Rat.
From the author's Q & A with Colby Marshall:
CM: Both your bestselling debut Rock Paper Tiger and your newest thriller, Hour of the Rat, are not only set against the backdrop of China, but the premises of the books delve deeply into the geopolitical and economic situations of the country. When writing about a land foreign to much of your audience, how do you go about making the settings and states of affairs depicted in your novels more real for readers?Learn more about the book and author at Lisa Brackmann's website and blog.
LB: I think having a character who is both an outside and an insider is helpful. She knows more than the reader, but she’s not totally a part of the scene that she’s observing—so she doesn’t take much for granted. This makes for a good filter for readers. What’s key is just to describe what’s there without ascribing too much to it. I don’t need to be telling readers over and over again, “China is different.” You know, it’s a place. Yeah, it’s not like California, where I’m from, but then, California isn’t much like New York, either. I just want readers to be able to form a vivid picture of a place that I try to make as accurate and specific as I can.
CM: In Rock Paper Tiger, your main character, Iraq War veteran Ellie Cooper, finds out she can safely communicate via online role-playing games. Where did the idea to use role playing games come from?
LB: I wish I could remember! In part it came from hanging out in a lot of dingy internet cafes in China and noticing the passion with which young people, mostly young men, played online games, and just how much social time they spent in these places. I also always liked the idea of a conspiracy that is rooted in something banal and more or less out in the open. There’s a book called The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon that I read while I was in China over thirty years ago that influenced me in a subtle way. It had nothing to do with China, but there was a conspiracy whose purpose was never really explained. I think it might have been just to exist and to...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Hour of the Rat.