A New Hampshire Novelist Visits the Rust Belt

By Marah J. Morrison

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County’s Literacy Society presented Lisa Gardner, a number one New York Times best-selling crime thriller novelist, on Oct. 18.

Gardner has over 22 million printed book in 30 countries and has appeared on TruTV and CNN.

The author said she always read a lot and when she was 17, she began to read mystery novels.

“Anything with a dark and stormy night, dead bodies, [I] loved Erle Stanley Gardner, [I] loved the gothics,” she said.

At 17, she decided to write a book titled, “Walking After Midnight,” which is about a former prostitute who runs a shelter for homeless kids, witnesses a murder and a handsome detective who keeps her safe.

“It was absolutely terrible but it was a book, so not coming from anyone who knew anything about publishing and living in a small town in Oregon, I just put the manuscript under my bed and I went off to college,” Gardner said.

She said when she started talking to others about her book is when she was influenced to get it published. Gardner said it was the first time it occurred to her that she could try to be a writer.

“I’d never met an editor, an author, a publisher,” she said. “It seemed so far-fetched.”

Gardner said she used her local library and found books on how to be published. She said she was able to find an editor willing to look at her work and her first revision letter was 20 pages, single-spaced.

Photo by Marah J. Morrison/The Jambar

Three years later, her first book was published.

“I think it sold four copies and I think my mom bought three of them,” she said.

The biggest challenge Gardner has faced as a writer is fear of the blank page. She emphasized that authors don’t know what they are doing and they never know what they’re doing.

“I’ve written 30 some books now, and I’m still afraid of the blank page,” she said. “Every morning I get up and look at the computer and I’m like, ‘Really? I didn’t run away and join the circus in the middle of the night?’”

Gardner said after her first book was published, it felt surreal to her. She said she remembers going into the bookstore and actually seeing her book and felt an out-of-body experience.

“Communities should appreciate their libraries,” she said. “Speaking for my brother and I, who grew up in a very small town, it was our portal to the world. It made us dream bigger and aspire greater.”

Janet Loew, the communications and public relations director for the Public Library of Youngstown, said she enjoys bringing in authors particularly of Gardner’s stature to give the community an opportunity to meet them.

“It makes people more interested in reading when they meet the author very often,” she said. “Anything that generates a love of reading is something the library stands behind.”

Loew said the library does a number of things with authors each year. She said the library is such an important part of the community and they’re glad to give back to them by bringing in an author such as Gardner.