A Philadelphia native who was always drawn to writing, Lisa Regan finished her first full-length novel by the age of 11, using a typewriter her parents had given her. However, it would be many years and many different jobs until she got her work in front of readers—this time using the Kindle. With her first self-published release in 2012, Finding Claire Fletcher, Regan rose to the top of the crowded Amazon bestseller lists for crime fiction and won several awards from the eFestival of Words, which celebrates online indie authors. After five more successful releases in the suspense and mystery genres, Regan has earned deals for releasing her works internationally, the rereleases of her earlier works through the Amazon imprint Thomas & Mercer, and three books with Bookouture for her upcoming Josie Quinn Detective series. I recently asked her about her career.
What drew you to the crime and suspense genres?
I had a brush with crime in real life, and I had been reading true-crime books to make me feel less alone. I found many authors who did an exquisite job of capturing the array of feelings victims experience, including the need to unravel the hows and whys of a crime, which gave me comfort and provided distraction. Then I just became completely addicted to the genre.
Your first book won at a festival for e-publishing. Did that help you gain visibility?
Absolutely. It definitely added something in terms of my fans recommending Finding Claire Fletcher to other readers. I think having an award made some readers more curious to check it out. I was really honored that readers would vote for the book. That meant a lot to me.
You won for best heroine and best villain. What do you think makes a great heroine? A villain?
I think what makes a great heroine or hero is grit. Someone who doesn’t give up no matter how much stress they’re under or how high the stakes are raised. Then if they can rise above or claw their way out of bad situations, it gives readers something to root for. A good villain, to me, is someone who is complicated. You’ll find that many of my villains have a very human, even relatable, side to them.
What else did you do to build a fan base and get your books in front of readers?
I can’t say enough about word of mouth. It is still one of the most powerful tools in selling books, even e-books. My large network of family and friends recommended my books to everyone they knew—friends, neighbors, co-workers. Facebook was extremely powerful in terms of getting the word out. I also leave bookmarks everywhere I can, and my friends and family do so as well if they have them.
How would you compare the experience of working with traditional publishers to releasing your own work?
There are pros and cons to both, and I love both. When you publish yourself, you take on all of the cost of editing, cover art, and advertising, all of which can be very expensive. You have to make all major decisions yourself without a large team to consult with, and that can be scary. On the other hand, you have absolute freedom creatively, which is really exciting.
What can readers expect from the Josie Quinn series?
I’m really excited about Josie. She’s a strong female lead. She doesn’t back down from a challenge, and her natural curiosity gets her into some sticky situations. She lives for her job, but she also screws up. She can be quite fierce but vulnerable at the same time.
Rhett Morgan is a writer and translator based in Paris.