Lisa Youngblood lives and writes in the town of Glenville, North Carolina, where, she says, there are "two stoplights, one grocery store, and an abundance of wildlife."
Before turning to writing, Ms. Youngblood practiced environmental law, and now works with children who have learning challenges. Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Portland Review, Confluence, The Rambler, Talking River, The Opiate, The Coe Review, Blue Lake Review, Front Range Review and The Northern Virginia Review. She plans to create a compilation of these stories, entitled LOVE, and is also hard at work on a novel.
Ms. Youngblood spoke to Mount Hope editor Megan Peters about her path to publication, and how she draws inspiration from both her students and the world around her.
"I practiced environmental law for almost eight years, and in those eight years, I learned two things: I was not meant to be a lawyer, and the only thing more powerful than the right word is the wrong one.
When my younger daughter turned five, we discovered she was dyslexic… I went back to school and became certified to work with children who struggle with reading.Working with children has proven to be one of the greatest joys of my life and an endless source of wonder, the lifeblood of a writer. My current students are extraordinary and have reaffirmed my belief in the resiliency of the human spirit. Most of the school population lives below the poverty line. This, of course, means many of the students carry heavy burdens into school every day. And yet, they march on, eager to learn and succeed. A few warriors are even writing books of their own. It is my great honor to work with these students.
"I think endlessly about why people are the way they are. I believe that understanding each other is the root of compassion, and I believe good stories challenge us to see the complexities of life and to question our judgment of others.
"For me, writing is like being locked in a strange, pitch-black room. I have no idea where I am and have to stumble around in the dark and search for clues. I finger walls and scratchy woolen chairs, knick-knacks that may or may not be discernable, a table with a lace runner. Eventually, I find a flashlight or a match or a light switch, but I never know where or when this will happen. “Books Without Pictures” was born of a dream I had where a woman threw a chicken nugget across a restaurant. I thought, ‘Well, that’s strange. I wonder why she did that?’ My most recent novel began as I was driving through a remote suburb in Atlanta. For no reason I could fathom, a mule sat on the side of the road. It was so odd that I couldn’t help but stop and take a look. The mule seemed to find me just as strange... I knew then the creature would find its way into a story
I do not pretend to understand the mystery of writing. I don’t know why or when an idea will come. And I don’t want to. I only promise to be awed and grateful when it arrives and to do my best to realize its potential."