Interview with RITA Finalist Lisa Olech

Hi everyone! I'm thrilled to have yet another talented author joining us on the Hustle this week. Lisa A. Olech is an artist/writer living in her dream house nestled among the lakes in New England. She loves getting lost in a steamy book, finding the perfect pair of sexy shoes, and hearing the laughter of her men. Being an estrogen island in a sea of testosterone makes her queen. She believes in ghosts, silver linings, the power of a man in a tuxedo, and happy endings. Her book WITHIN A CAPTAIN'S SOUL is a 2018 RITA finalist. Welcome Lisa!

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Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for being here today, and huge congrats on your RITA nomination. Tell us all about the book! What's it about? What inspired you to write it?

I’m so excited to be here! And, thank you. Being a RITA nominee is so surreal, but I’m thrilled that my book WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL has been recognized. It’s a very special book for me for many reasons.

SOUL is the fifth and final book in my Captains of the Scarlet Night Series. A pirate tale set in 1720 that believe it or not, it almost didn’t happen. You see, while focusing on the power of the love story in my books, I also try to write the truest depiction of this gritty, dangerous life as I can, and I desperately tried to kill my hero in an earlier book in the series! When I pitched the idea to my critique partners and my plotting group….well, they went nuts. They had come to love him as much as I had, and demanded that I save this character. I’m SO glad I did. It was then in the natural progression of the series that Captain William (Bump) Quinn became the final Captain of the Scarlet Night.

What makes this book so unique is first, the setting. Most pirate tales use the warm waters of the Caribbean as their backdrop, however, WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL takes place in the South China Sea. My heroine is based on the real-life pirate Cheng Shih, one of the most successful pirates in history. And given that Captain Quinn is also deaf, this book was deeply personal and a true challenge to write. 

My great grandmother was deaf, and she was a strong, formidable woman who never made excuses or let her lack of hearing stand in her way. It was important for me, therefore, to write this character with deep respect and the responsibility to accurately portray him to the best of my ability. During my research, I was honored to have the help of several members of the deaf community to add to the development of this character. I hope I’ve done them and my grandmother proud.

This is the fifth book in the Captains of the Scarlet Night series. Are the books connected? Can readers jump in wherever they like?

As with all good series, they are written as stand-alone stories…but, as the author, I really think the stories work best in order. I’ve slipped in certain snippets here and there that only someone with prior knowledge from the previous book will catch and enjoy. But whichever book you start with, I hope to keep you reading! 

What's your favorite thing about your Captains of the Scarlet Night series? What's your favorite thing about Within a Captain’s Soul, specifically?

I LOVE pirates! They are the ultimate bad boys…or in this series, bad girls as well! I’ve got some amazing pirate women represented as well, keeping to the history of some of the more famous women pirates. I love the continuation of characters. I love the threading of true historical events into the stories, and I love the ship itself. I’ve spent years wandering up and down her crimson decks, after all.

As I said before, my favorite aspect of WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL is my hero. I know we’re not supposed to have favorite characters…but…

I'm always fascinated to hear about how other writers write. What's your process like? Are you a plotter? Do you have daily word count goals?

LOL! I used to describe myself as a dyed-in-the-wool pantser, but writing a series like this makes that next to impossible. Basically, I had to keep track of times, dates, and which characters I killed off in battle! So, does that make me a “forced” plotter? I have this great powder room in my house that has a chalk board wall next to the commode. Don’t we all get great ideas while we’re…you know…contemplating life at 2:00 AM when the night is darkest and the ideas are brightest? I plotted this entire series on that wall!  I don’t have strict daily word count goals, but I do try to write in complete scenes. I find I work best writing the draft start to finish, jotting down notes of things to add as the ideas come from the developing plot. I usually start with my dialog. I get so much about a character by the way he/she talks. It’s funny, much of my story comes from writing the “first meeting” scene. I’m never quite sure how my H/H will interact with one another until I throw them together. Then I have an “onion” list of editing layers to build characters and story.

I know that we all have our reasons, but why do you write romance? What appeals to you about the genre?

That’s an easy one! Love and Happily Ever Afters! I truly believe in the power of love and light and hope. This is what we write. I’m proud to be a Romance author, and I’m proud of the amazing books written by our exceptional writers. I think our books are and will continue to be important in a world that is so often filled fear and hatred.

What's your favorite piece of writing advice?

My favorite piece of writing advice was given to me when I first started writing novels. A dear, wise woman told me not to submit any of my work for at least a year. I needed to learn my craft, learn the ins and outs of the publishing world, and build up my skin! This is a tough business. It takes determination and perseverance. It’s certainly not for the weak of heart!

What book influenced you the most and why?

So many… I wish I remembered the name of the first book I was able to read on my own as a child, because it gave me the magic key to being a reader. Books were my escape and my haven, and when I discovered those shiny romance novels with the salacious covers when I was a teenager…I was hooked for life!

Lightning round: This or That

Print books or ebooks? Both! Print books for the beach and my porch chair, ebooks for the airplane and my bed!

Beach or mountains? Beach…with a print book!

Coffee or tea? Coffee.

Skydive or scuba dive? Neither, thank you!

Chocolate or vanilla? I’m in danger of losing some cherished friendships here, but Vanilla.

Winter or summer? Do I hear Fall?

Cake or pie? White wedding cake and lemon-meringue pie! Don’t make me choose.

Cats or dogs? Cats. I have two that would kill me in my sleep if I chose dogs here.

Truth or dare? If I say dare, will you make me sky-dive?

Quiet night in or night on the town? A quiet night--with a nice glass of wine, a bathtub deep enough so I can pop the bubbles of my bubblebath with my earlobes, and a nice steamy romance novel. Doesn’t that sound like a little bit of heaven?

And finally, what are you working on now? What do readers have to look forward to?

I’m playing with a couple new series, but I think a bit more pirating may be in my future!

Thank you again, for inviting me to join you here. It was fun! I hope I’ve answered all your questions, but please, if you or your followers have any more…I’m an open book, just ask


Thank you so much for being here today, Lisa, and good luck at the RITA ceremony! If you'd like to hear more from Lisa, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

For your chance to win a signed copy of Lisa's RITA nominated book, WITHIN A CAPTAIN'S SOUL, simply comment on this post. The winner will be chosen on Friday, May 11th. (Canada and US entries only, please.) Good luck!

PS--Buy links are listed below the cover, just in case you can't wait to get your hands on this one!