Lisa Brunette was born in Santa Rosa, California, and now lives in a small town in Washington state. A so-called "military brat," she lived in nine different homes and attended nine different schools by the time she was 14. Through all of the moves, her one constant was books. Her mother would drag her and her three siblings to the base library, where they'd pick out large stacks of books, bringing them home in bags marked with the slogan, "Peace through Strength." Brunette read everything, from the entire Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series to her mother's books by Daphne du Maurier and Taylor Caldwell.
Writing for Social Change
Brunette began her writing career as an activist-writer. She penned op-eds, fundraising brochures, press releases, and other campaign materials for non-profits devoted to environmentalism, social justice, and science education. Perhaps as a rebellion from her military childhood, she ran a successful letter-to-the-editor campaign against funding for the B2 bomber and SDI--the Reagan-era plan to shoot down nukes from space using lasers. (Yes, that really was a thing.)
Short Stories and Poetry
Academia ruined Brunette for genre fiction, at least temporarily. She discovered Willa Cather and George Orwell on her own in high school and knew she had to torch her future earning potential by going for an English degree and then a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She put herself through school on part-time jobs, loans, and scholarships, including a Michener Fellowship.
Brunette wrote a semi-autobiographical collection of short stories called Nobody's Brat, for which she won the Miami Fiction Prize, an AWP Intro Journals Project Award, and a Tacoma Arts Commission grant. She was also named a finalist for the Faulkner-Wisdom Award, a semi-finalist for the Tennessee Book Award, and published half the collection in literary magazines. She's since posted three of the stories on Wattpad, where they've been featured in the Coffee Community, with more than 10,000 reads and 129 comments. They're also available as ebooks everywhere.
She wrote poetry, too, winning a William Stafford Award, her work appearing in the Comstock Review, Tar Wolf Review, and numerous other publications. Her collection, Broom of Anger, is now available in print and ebook.
Always with the Press Pass
Brunette wrote for her high school and college newspapers, enjoying the access her press pass gave her. Over the course of her career, she's written hundreds of articles appearing in Poets & Writers, Author Magazine, various blogs, newsletters, journals, alumni magazines, and newspapers. By 2007 she found herself in Seattle, where she joined an online news start-up called Crosscut. She served as a freelancer and then deputy editor before the investors pulled the plug. The org is now a successful non-profit. She also published with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer until they ceased the print edition and with Seattle Woman before it folded. She now writes for a variety of publications, including her local paper, the Lewis County Chronicle.
All Fun and Games
When the door on her journalism career seemed to close, another door opened. It all started with a contract gig in Nintendo's legendary Treehouse, where she wrote dialogue for a fashion journalist character in the hit game StyleSavvy. Soon she was recruited to Cat Daddy Games, a Take-Two Interactive studio, where she wrote for the AAA Carnival Games franchise. Two years later, she was aggressively recruited away from that gig to Big Fish, where she stayed for five years.
At the Fish she amassed credits as a narrative designer in hundreds of bestselling mystery games, built a team of game story experts, and established herself as a key figure in the casual game industry, with a headlining conference presentation covered in the press, references to her work in academia, and an appearance in the documentary Boys' Toys. She continues to write for games, with recent work on the game Smash Squad. She's currently designing and writing for Magic Tavern and Daily Magic and wonders when she gets the wand.
It's No Mystery
Her return path to the beloved mysteries of her youth began when she interviewed Seattle mystery writers Elizabeth George, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Mary Daheim for Seattle Woman. After the article was a wrap, she kept reading mysteries. When Big Fish recruited her to work on mystery games, she knew it was meant to be.
After eight years as a narrative designer crafting story by committee, Brunette longed to write her own stories. In 2014, she released her first novel under the Sky Harbor Press imprint, Cat in the Flock. The Dreamslippers Series was born.
Kirkus Reviews praised Brunette for her "refreshing majority of female characters," and she won her first indieBRAG medallion. For the second book in the series, Framed and Burning (2015), she was a finalist for the Nancy Pearl Book Award, a RONE Award nominee, and honored with another indieBRAG medallion. Book three, Bound to the Truth, released in fall 2016.
Speaking to Your People
Lisa Brunette is a seasoned speaker who's available for author book readings and signings, and she can also speak on the topics of writing, publishing, and video-game story design. Here's a video of her in action. Here's another. And here she is on a panel discussion; when the topic turned to women's equality in tech, the conversation kicked up a few notches.
Her talk at the 2012 Game Narrative Summit for the Game Development Conference in Austin, TX, was covered by industry press. She's also recently begun collaborating with University of Florida's Digital Worlds Institute and has presented to students on the topic of digital storytelling.
Enrique Cerna once interviewed Brunette on the KCTS Connects TV show.
She's given author readings in Seattle, Tacoma, D.C., Miami, St. Louis, and Oregon.
Workshops and Classes
Lisa Brunette taught in higher ed for eight years, so she knows what to do in a classroom and is happy to work with you to create the right experience for audiences and students. Here's a quick breakdown of her history:
From 2002-2005, served as English professor at Pierce College, where she taught English Composition, British Literature, and Shakespeare. She earned tenure in May 2005. She also served as Director of the Writing Center.
From 2000-2002, she taught Creative Writing and English Composition as part of the Michener Fellowship at University of Miami.
From 1996-2000, she taught Pre-Composition and tutored in the Writing Center at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley.