Virtual Book Tour Guest: Interview with Lisa Karlin, author of 'Below the Water Line'

Lisa Karlin is the author of Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina. She is an oncology nurse who, unlike weather chasers who look for storms to track, has had the weather chase her, and these experiences are described in her memoir. Lisa lives in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband, daughter, son, and Yellow Lab named Buddy.

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About the Book:

Title: Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina
Author: Lisa Karlin
Publisher: Centennial Publishers
Pages: 376
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback 14.97/Kindle 9.99/Audio 22.99

Below the Water Line provides a gripping account of a family’s hurricane evacuation experiences and all that followed in the decade after Hurricane Katrina. The story begins in August 2005, when author Lisa Karlin, her husband, thirteen-year-old daughter, eleven-year-old son, and two dogs evacuated New Orleans for what they thought would be a two-day “hurrication.” The day-by-day account of the weeks that follow vividly chronicles the unprecedented displacement of thousands of Americans, and on a personal level, describes how her family makes the trifecta of major life decisions: where to live, where to work, and where to enroll their children in school. Below the Water Line provides a first-hand commentary on how everyday life has been impacted by Katrina’s aftermath and how, a decade later, there are still lingering effects of one of the most devastating events in American history.

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  • Below the Water Line: Getting Out, Going Back, and Moving Forward in the Decade After Hurricane Katrina is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I’ve kept a journal all of my life. As the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approached, I read my journal entries from 2005-2015 and decided to type them up so that my children, who were only eleven and thirteen when Katrina hit, would have a readable record of that time. Because my journal entries were so detailed and included events as they unfolded, the realization hit me that in capturing our family’s history, I was also capturing a part of United States history.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

My journal from 2005 lay untouched in a filing cabinet until the fall of 2014 when I decided to read it. Although it had been nearly a decade since I wrote it, my journal still had the power to make me cry, and I had to keep a box of tissues next to my keyboard as I typed. Revisiting the emotional journey we were on in 2005 was difficult; however, as I kept typing, I was uplifted by the world’s generosity in helping New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on our journey to recovery.

New Orleans songwriter Paul Soniat wrote, “When the water came in, it changed everything, in just that moment of time. That’s when my life fell below the waterline.” His song perfectly captured how I was feeling in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, and I decided to title my book Below the Water Line. My tip for authors would be to choose a book title that is meaningful to the author, as well as descriptive and reflective of the content.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Quite simply, I wanted to maintain creative control of my memoir so I decided to independently publish. I set up a publishing company, Centennial Publishers, to get my own book published. When people learned what I had done, they started contacting me to assist them in getting their work published. I had learned a lot from my publishing experiences, so we’re now working with a small group of debut authors in getting their books ready for publication.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

What has surprised me most is how book publishing has changed. It’s now easier than ever to publish—but harder than ever to be successful. I wasn’t aware that hundreds of books are published each day, and was ecstatic when the first copy of my book sold—to someone in Great Britain. I’m still wondering how someone so far away even heard about my book.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

My “day job” is that I’m an oncology nurse. I’m also editor of a nursing journal and I’m updating several textbook chapters, so the writing I’m doing now is all healthcare related.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I can’t go a day without looking at, which showcases the world’s best misspelled words and grammar goof-ups.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I’m hoping that readers will feel my deep sense of gratitude to the many, many people who helped us, as well as everyone else in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, in the days and years since Hurricane Katrina.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

To everyone who has ever thought of writing a book: start writing and just keep writing.

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