Into the Mind of Lisa Mangum

Greetings Realmies!

We are very excited to begin our Into the Mind series on our Faculty for this year’s conference. Today we are sitting down with author and editor Lisa Mangum. So pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable, we’re delving right in!

We’re so glad to have you, Lisa!


If you could spend the day with one spec fic character, who would it be?

The Doctor. (Specifically the Tenth Doctor.) And the best part would be that, in the TARDIS, that one day could last a very long time.


Oh, you know—just me and my husband hanging out at Salt Lake Comic Con with our good friend NATHAN FILLION! *squee*

What is your favorite food? 

It’s hard to pick just one. I will say that my most recent meal at the Napa Rose in Disneyland was divine. (First course: rabbit sausage; second course: sweet potato soup with root vegetables; third course: filet with corn, okra, and tomatoes; dessert: fudge cake with peppermint silvers and tangerine ice cream.)


What book has made the most impact on you? 

I would say The Secret Garden. Not because it’s the best book I’ve ever read, but it is first book I remember reading with my mom. She would sit in our big green rocking chair and read to me when I was just three or four years old. I think that was the beginning of my love of books.


Are you a gamer? What games do you enjoy and why? 

Yes, I would consider myself a gamer, though not always of video games. I really enjoy cooperative board games like Pandemic and Settlers of Catan as well as humorous and fast-paced card games like Guillotine.


How did you get into writing? 

I grew up around words and books. My mom was a writer, and she taught me a lot about how to plot and build characters. I’ve written for most of my life, but I started getting serious about it in 2007 when a coworker invited me to be part of a writing group. Being accountable to other people really helped push me toward my goal of completing a manuscript.


Allie Cat being annoyed that my laptop has booted her from her favorite snuggling spot.

Is there a step in the writing process that you dread/loathe/wish you could throw over the side of a cliff with a mill stone tied around its neck? 

The “getting started” part. There is something about seeing that blank computer screen that can be paralyzing. What if the words don’t come? Worse, what if they do, and they are dumb? Sometimes I wish the first chapter could just magically appear and I could jump in with chapter two.


What is your goal in and for your writing? 

My goal in writing is to share stories with people that help them see that it is possible to do hard things and that growth and change are part of the journey toward a happy ending.


How did you get into your profession?

I clearly remember the day I was in the bookstore and flipped over a copy of Dragon Prince by Melaine Rawn and thought, “Who writes the stuff on the back of the book? Because I could do that.” Turns out editors do that (among other things). I was still in high school at the time, but that was my first step to becoming a professional book editor.


Do you work as a freelancer or are you employed by a business/organization?

I am the Managing Editor for Shadow Mountain, the national-market imprint of Deseret Book Company. I’ve worked at the publishing house for nearly twenty years now.


What inspires you to do what you do? ”

I love it when I find a “diamond in the rough” manuscript and see the potential in the story or the author. Being able to help polish that diamond and share it with other readers is a powerful motivation for me.


My passions from left to right: my husband, Tracy; Mickey Mouse (I’ve been to Disneyland nearly 30 times); a key chain toy of Sam Winchester (from the TV show Supernatural), and a T-shirt mashup of Mickey and Hamilton.

What is your goal in your current line of work? 

Is it cheesy to say I want to stay ahead of my deadlines? I’m always working on ten or twelve books at any given time, and sometimes those deadlines come at me fast and hard. A long-term goal would be to help build the Shadow Mountain line of books so that we are successful enough to hire another editor.


What are you doing/teaching at the Realm Makers conference?

I will be doing a one-hour live editing demonstration on an actual manuscript as well as teaching a class on character motivations. I believe I will also be taking pitches from authors, so if you’ve written an amazing book, I want to hear about it!




Lisa Mangum has worked in the publishing industry since 1997. She is currently the Managing Editor for Shadow Mountain Publishing and has worked with several New York Times best-selling authors, including Ally Condie, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, and Jason F. Wright. While fiction is her first love, she also has experience working with nonfiction projects (memoir, educational, cookbooks, etc.) and some children’s picture books.


Lisa is also the author of four national best-selling YA novels (The Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello) as well as several short stories and novellas. She has also edited three anthologies about unicorns and dragons. She graduated with honors from the University of Utah, and currently lives in Taylorsville, Utah, with her husband, Tracy.

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