Wolfpack Writers: Misha Lazzara
Misha Lazzara graduated from NC State with a MFA in creative writing in 2021. She has put her education to good use as a creative writing adjunct professor, freelance editor, and writing coach.
First and foremost, Lazzara is a writer. Her debut novel, Manmade Constellations, released in August of 2022. The story follows two young adults as they confront their pasts and heal from childhood trauma. Lazzara’s book delves into what people can learn by leaving the familiarity of home and embracing new experiences.
We sat down with Lazzara to discuss her book and her approach to writing.
What inspired the topic of your book?
The main inspiration for the book, essentially a love triangle, never even made its way into the second draft! In the end, it’s about two people from the same small town and how their lives intersect. Where their values align –anti-consumerism, food justice and mild disdain for where they grew up– is one aspect of the story that ties them together. To find out how else they’re connected, you’ll have to read the book!
What is one word you would use to describe your book?
‘Angsty?’ Because the characters are. Or maybe ‘Winter?’ Because the book is obsessed with it.
What got you interested in becoming an author?
It’s what I planned to do for as long as I can remember. I must have told my mom that when I was little because for Christmas one year she gave me the children’s book The Lives of Writers by Kathleen Krull. Murasaki Shikibu is one of the first authors’ biographies listed, hailed as the first woman novelist and also, potentially, the first ever novelist. I fell in love. And so I’ve been enthralled from that moment on.
How has your education from NC State impacted your career?
I learned so much at NC State from Belle, Cadwell, Wilton, Elaine, Cat, Eduardo, Dorianne – the list goes on! Writing is, truly, done in community, and NC State taught me that. Besides what I learned from the professors, I had an amazing cohort that offered invaluable feedback on my manuscript but also on my overall writing style and process.
What is your ritual before writing to get into a creative headspace?
It was Belle Boggs who first started talking to us (my cohort) about taking walks to improve creativity and brainstorm our project. Since then, I’ve done some research and experienced it for myself, and I’ve determined that it’s extremely underestimated! Walking is really where I build my plots. Sometimes it’s in the bath, and sometimes it’s just talking it out with writing friends or my husband. Story, character and plot building is 75% of the work. And I don’t believe that’s done while writing, for the most part. I used to believe writing was sitting down and staring at a keyboard until something came out. I was wrong. Now I spend so much time brainstorming, talking about, and daydreaming about my characters and their journey. Usually by the time I sit down, the words rush onto the page. With three kids and adjunct teaching, I don’t really have the time to sit and stare at a blank white page! I let the ideas come first.
You’re organizing a dinner party. Which writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Wow this is hard; there are too many! I could make a list a mile long. Murasaki Shikibu! She’d be at the head of the table. Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Rivka Galchen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, Ottessa Moshfegh, Celeste Ng, Emily St. John Mandel, Ann Patchett, Belle Boggs, Elaine Orr – I could keep going.
What’s next for you?
I’ve turned in book two to the editors at Blackstone Publishing, which will likely be slotted for sometime in 2024. I’m on to book three! I’ve got the idea, and I really enjoy it. So far there’s a lot of verbal brainstorming, research, note-taking, loose outlining and WALKING!