Authors Helping Authors

Interview with Lisa Fellinger

Let’s have a chat with the terrific Lisa Fellinger, shall we?

Can you share with us a little about your debut novel? 
The Serendipity of Catastrophe is about Anita Lorello, a middle-aged woman struggling with
anxiety whose husband dies in an accident the night before they’re supposed to leave for a
month-long trip to Europe. Almost a year later, her therapist convinces her to ask her estranged
daughter, Carrie to go with her instead. Carrie initially says no, but after being let go from her
job as a talent agent for sleeping with a client, she agrees to the trip to allow the dust to settle in
L.A. While Anita is eager for a chance to reconcile with her daughter, Carrie is desperate to
ensure her mother doesn’t find out the real reason she agreed to the trip and what a failure she’s
proven to be. But as Carrie’s life grows more and more complicated, her mother is the only
person she has to talk it all through with.
The idea for this story was initially sparked by a case study when I was in graduate school for
mental health counseling. I don’t recall the exact details of the case we were discussing now, but
a “what if” popped into my mind: what if a husband and wife had been planning a big trip for
decades only for the husband to die in an accident the night before they were supposed to leave?
From there, the idea of having her go instead with her daughter who she is somewhat estranged
from took hold, and the characters of Anita and Carrie planted themselves in my brain. The
opportunity to explore the mother-daughter dynamic and really dig into exploring what caused
these characters to have such a strained relationship despite Anita wanting a daughter so badly
and loving Carrie with her whole heart was exciting to me, and with each draft and round of
revision, I was able to dig deeper and really tease out who these two people were and what
caused them to butt heads and misunderstand one another .

You are a woman of many talents. Not only are you an author, but you are also a book
coach and editor. Tell us a little about how you got into this business. 
While I’ve been a writer my entire life, I didn’t think there was a way to combine my love for
writing with a stable career. Many people asked why I didn’t pursue journalism, but that was
never the kind of writing I enjoyed. Ultimately, I decided on a career in mental health counseling
and set my writing aspirations aside while I attended graduate school. But the job opportunities
available upon graduation weren’t what I’d hoped for or expected, and I ended up obtaining a
certification as a life coach which felt a little more in line with what I envisioned for my career.
But I struggled with this as I couldn’t niche down and decide what types of clients I really
wanted to be working with.
Then during the COVID pandemic when I was six months pregnant, I remember sitting in my
office thinking that what I really wanted to do was help other writers write their stories. And then
I had an “ah-ha” moment—why didn’t I just do that? I’d been studying the craft of writing
seriously for over a decade by then, and combined with my background in counseling and
coaching, I had the unique perspective of being able to see the obstacles writers were battling
and how they could work to overcome them. So, just months before my son was born, I started
my coaching business, and shortly after he was born, I enrolled in developmental editing courses
and found that I loved it, so I pursued a certificate in developmental editing as well and added
this service to my business. While it’s been a challenge starting and running a business at the same time as becoming a mom, I absolutely love the work I do and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Who are three of your favorite authors and why?
This is always such a tough question for me since I love so many authors. But if I had to pick a
top three, I’d say Chris Bohjalian, Jojo Moyes, and Katherine Center. I love that Chris Bohjalian
writes thought-provoking books that don’t all feel the same. He can write a contemporary story,
then a historical novel next, and they’re both equally incredible. Jojo Moyes does an excellent
job of creating believable characters, and Me Before You is still my favorite novel and I
recommend it to anyone willing to listen. The chemistry she created between the main characters
drew me in and had me unable to put the book down. And I absolutely love Katherine Center’s
writing style. The way she injects humor into heavier topics and situations and creates chemistry
between her characters keeps me turning pages and needing to know how the end turns out.

Do you have any peculiar writing habits?
I don’t know how peculiar this is, but I do have to write in chronological order. Even if there’s a
scene further on that I’m eager to get to, I can’t write it until I’ve written everything that will
come before it. Skipping around tends to confuse me, and the story doesn’t flow the right way
afterwards. So, I start at the beginning and work through to the end, and then I go back to the
beginning and work through revisions in chronological order as well.

What is one common trap new writers fall into?
One of the biggest things I work with new writers on is just getting started. Too often, new
writers convince themselves they need conditions to be just right or they need to have the perfect
outline before they can start writing the story. But the truth is, conditions will never be perfect
and even if you have a solid outline, things will always change as you start working through the
story. A lot of times, these are procrastination techniques preventing the writer from starting due
to underlying fears—fear of failure, fear of being judged, fear of success (yes, this is a thing!).
When I work with clients struggling with this, we start by identifying those fears and then work
through them. And a big part of working through the fears is getting started with the writing. If
you’re struggling to start writing, I’d suggest journaling to see if you can identify what’s really
stopping you. We often blame our inability to write on external factors, but when we really sit
down and think about it, it’s more often than not some self-limiting belief that’s actually holding
us back. And if you’re still struggling, working with a book coach can absolutely help.

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By subscribing to my newsletter! You can sign up at for regular
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I hope y’all enjoyed that as much as me! She’s absolutely delightful and oh so talented. If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of THE SERENDIPITY OF CATASTROPHE, you are missing out on a great read. See you soon!