A chat with debut author Lija Fisher, author of The Cryptid Catcher

What I love about The Cryptid Catcher is how much of a mess Clivo’s life is but he grits his teeth and perseveres anyway. This boy just can’t catch a break. His father has recently died, he’s stuck living with a kooky aunt and, as it turns out, he really doesn’t know much about his family. As the story unravels, with wild adventure and edge of your seat tension, the pieces begin to fall into place and Clivo starts to understand his purpose. I read this in one seating and can’t wait for the sequel.

(Buy the book: Amazon, B&N, Indiebound)

How about some questions for this debut author, yes?

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

I think everything began with my mom who would read ‘The Hobbit’ to me every night before bed. Then, growing up in the mountains of Colorado, I’d spend my days wandering the woods, creating imaginary worlds filled with pirates and fairies. Later, a friend of mine handed me a copy of ‘Pawn of Prophecy’ by David Eddings and my metamorphosis into a fantasy junkie was complete. I started my creative life as an actor, however, and didn’t start writing until my mid-30’s. I was on a trip to New Zealand to see where ‘Lord of the Rings’ was filmed (yes, that’s how much I love fantasy), and an idea for a story plopped into my head and I haven’t stopped writing since!

Clivo Wren is tasked with hunting mythological and legendary beasts. How much research did you do before beginning the novel?

I did quite a bit of research using the magic Google machine and watching shows on the search for Nessie and Bigfoot. The great thing about cryptids, however, is that some people believe that these creatures actually exist so the legends behind them all can be quite different depending on the accounts of people who claim to see them. That left my imagination quite a bit of wiggle room to create whatever ‘origin story’ I wanted for these creatures because, until we scientifically prove anything, everything is possible!

The Cryptid Catcher has parallel mysteries running throughout: which beast will give immortality and what happened to Clivo’s father? Are you a mystery fan?

Oh, yes. I love cozy mysteries like Louise Penny. And I’m a big fan of Robert Ludlum’s thriller spy novels. I love reading about adventures that happened before the internet was created, when spies had to exchange secret packages from park benches since email didn’t exist. That’s why the first thing I did was get rid of Clivo’s cellphone! It was my tiny nod to the adventure novels and movies from my childhood, the ’80s, when the only technology someone had was a maybe a walkie-talkie and fax machine.

I love how clueless Clivo is when he goes after his first cryptid. I remember feeling that way about almost everything when I was 13! Is Clivo based on anyone you know? How did you figure out who he is?

I found that for me to really understand Clivo, I had to make him close to me in terms of personality. I was a lot like him when I was a kid – unsure of myself, not wanting to make waves, always seeking approval. AND…always up for a rollicking adventure.

Writing for middle grade readers can be a challenge. What about this age range/genre appeals to you?

Honestly, the genre chose me. I kept writing books for adults and THE CRYPTID CATCHER actually started out as a story about a Delta Force soldier hunting a dragon, which I thought was fabulous. Thankfully, my agent, Jason Anthony, loved how I wrote but encouraged me to explore a younger audience. So I re-wrote the book as a young adult novel but it just didn’t feel right and was terrible. Clivo was basically a teenager navigating love while searching for Bigfoot. Just awful. So I tried again and re-wrote it as a middle grade novel and the genre just fit my voice and natural writing style perfectly and I couldn’t be happier.

Who are your favorite authors?

David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Anne Rice, Mark Helprin, and Isabel Allende who introduced me to magical realism. And, of course, JK Rowling, who got me in trouble with an editor after I tried to emulate her use of adverbs. Why do people hate adverbs so much?! People really get very upset about them.

What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?

I’m a mountain girl so I love to ski, snowshoe, hike and bike, even though I’m not very good at any of them. I also enjoy eating other people’s cooking because I can’t cook. I mean, at all. I can barely boil an egg.

What are you working on right now? Will there be Cryptid Catchers sequel?

Oh yes! The adventures of Clivo Wren will continue with book 2, THE CRYPTID

KEEPER, which is quite a catchy title, dontcha think?

How do you prefer readers get in touch with you?

Feel free to contact me through my snazzy website, LijaFisher.com. Or check me out at twitter.com/lijafisher. Happy reading everybody!