I'm back today with a fabulous author guest to chat about their super fun and exciting MG duology, plus a surprise appearance from Bigfoot!
Here we go...
Lija Fisher was raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Her debut novel, THE CRYPTID CATCHER, was published in 2018 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux (BYR). It received a starred review from Booklist and was a Junior Library Guild selection. THE CRYPTID KEEPER, her second novel, is a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Lija travels the country doing school visits where she gets kids interested in reading and science through searching for hidden animals, or cryptids, like Bigfoot.
The Cryptid Catcher is the first book in a monstrously fun middle-grade duology by Lija Fisher about a boy who inherits a job hunting legendary creatures.
After Clivo Wren's archaeologist father dies mysteriously, the newly orphaned thirteen-year-old finds out the truth: his dad was no archaeologist. He was actually a cryptid catcher, known for finding elusive beasts like the bloodsucking chupacabra. His goal: discover the one extraordinary cryptid whose blood grants immortality—before the knowledge falls into the wrong hands.
The mission remains unfinished, and now there's only one person who can take the renowned cryptid catcher's place: Clivo. He may not know the first thing about monster hunting, but he's willing to give it a try—because anything beats staying home with his salsa-crazy aunt and her neurotic cats.
Who are you and what do you write?
Hi! I’m Lija Fisher, and I write humorous adventure novel for 8-12 year olds. My books focus on the world of cryptozoology, or the search for legendary animals that might be real (like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster!)
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I didn’t start writing until my mid-30’s. I was living in NYC trying to make my way as an actor and wasn’t having much success. But I knew I wanted to be creative, so I started writing since it was the easiest thing to do while waiting for the phone to ring. I always say that I came to writing out of desperation to fulfill my creative voice!
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
I wrote one book and queried about 100 agents, with no success. Then I wrote another book which was an adult novel about a soldier hunting dragons. I queried about 100 agents again and one agent responded. He said he liked my writing style but felt that the book would work better as a young adult novel. I had no idea what that genre was like, so I read a whole bunch of YA books and turned my book into a story about a 16 year old boy who's hunting dragons while wishing he had a girlfriend. It was terrible! So my agent suggested it might work better as a middle grade novel. So I read some MG books and changed the story to a thirteen year old boy who discovers that cryptids are real and his legacy is to protect them. That story worked, and I discovered, through writing for different age groups, that my natural voice fit in the middle grade genre. My agent sold that book to a wonderful editor, and I did another re-write with her. Then she unfortunately left her job, so I became an 'orphan book' and the process stalled for about a year. Finally, another amazing editor picked up my book and I did another full re-write with him. So my debut novel, The Cryptid Catcher, went through three different genres and at least four major re-writes. But I learned so much through all of that guidance that writing my second book, The Cryptid Keeper, went much smoother because I actually had a better idea of what I was doing this time!
What's been the most enjoyable part of your writing/publishing experience so far?
The most enjoyable, and delightfully surprising, part about my writing journey is how it’s introduced me to cryptozoology. I had no idea what a fun, interesting world the search for legendary animals was and I really enjoy getting kids interested in reading and science through talking about these mysteries. I’ve even been invited to speak at Bigfoot festivals, which I NEVER would have anticipated when I started writing!
Would you go back and change anything?
I wouldn’t go back and change anything, but of course there are things I wish I knew. There’s no manual for how to become a published author or what to do when you get there, so I certainly made some stumbles. Such as spending way too much of my own money promoting my book in ways that didn’t pay off. But that’s also how I learned, by discovering what it was I didn’t know.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10?
In 10 years time I would LOVE to still be writing. Publishing is a hard business with a lot of rejection, and there’s no guarantee your next book will get published. I picture it like I’m steering a ship in a storm, with rain and wind battering my face, and I just have to keep plowing forward with a smile, despite getting slapped occasionally by a flying fish. But I love creating stories and I’d be so fortunate to still be doing so in 10 years.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Honestly, I’d say - be careful who you show your work to. When we’re starting out at anything, we’re often uncertain and look to others for validation that we should keep going, and one harsh word of judgement can derail our confidence. Find people who you trust, who will champion your work even while pushing you to get better, and float on their encouragement. Your beginning work might stink, and that’s okay, what’s important is that you keep plowing forward with confidence, like the rain-soaked captain of that ship getting pelted with flying fish!
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Mayo, yummy!
Night or Day? - Day for sure! I go to bed so early my friends have called me a grandma since my twenties.
Inside or Outside? - Outside! I live in Colorado so hiking and biking in nature is my life.
Dogs or Cats? - Doggies! My boyfriend has a dog, Lucy, and he claims I love her more than him. (*whispers* sometimes that can be true)
Twitter or Facebook? - Facebook! On there I can interact with my friends who know and love me. On Twitter, I’m desperately trying to connect with people I don’t know and, for an introvert like me, that can be hard.
e-book or Paperback? - Paperback! I’ve never read an ebook. I need the smell of paper and ink when I’m reading.
Sun or Rain? - Rain! Anything to make the day cozy so I can sit inside and write.
Comedy or Drama? - Comedy, for sure. My books are all about the funny.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!