The Indie 400: Lisa Nowak

Thanks for stopping by for another edition of The Indie 400. Today’s Indie is Lisa Nowak – YA author and  fellow Indelible member. What’s even better is that Lisa is the PERFECT guest for the Indie 400 with her book, DRIVEN.

What drives you as a writer, Lisa?

Creating emotionally charged scenes, dialog that makes you believe you’re eavesdropping on a conversation, and characters who seem like real people. These are my passions when I’m writing. I’m a little evil. When I hear I made someone cry, I do a little fist-pump in my head and yell, “score!”

Ready readers? The 400:

“Nice driving,” I sneered before I even realized I’d opened my mouth. Well, that wasn’t how I’d intended to start things.

Cody’s head snapped up and he turned to stare at me. His eyes were like Race’s, a warm brown, rich as dark chocolate. In fact, he looked so much like Race, he could’ve been his brother. He was shorter, though—only about as tall as me.

“Who are you?” he asked, chin raised at a cocky angle. Unruly brown hair hung in his eyes, tousled and damp with perspiration. The fact that he was good-looking only fed my annoyance. He was probably one of those boys who got everything he wanted, simply because he was hot.

“I work for Teri Sue Cline,” I said. “You know, the driver you spun out? She could’ve taken sixth if it wasn’t for you.”

Cody’s stare hardened into a glower. The anger lasted only a second before fading. He shrugged and stuck his hand back in the ice chest, bringing out a can of Pepsi. “That’s racing,” he said, smooth as molybdenum gear lube.

“That’s bullshit,” I shot back.

“If you can’t take a little rubbing, you don’t belong on the track.”

The smirk was what did it. I had to put up with girls scorning me in school, and Lydia mocking me when she was drunk, but I’d be damned if I’d take attitude from some arrogant punk at the track. My outrage rumbled from a simmer to a full boil, and in a flash I was slugging him. Or trying to. My fist made only the briefest contact with his jaw before his arm flew up to knock it away. Furious, I flung myself at him. He pulled off a quick ducking maneuver that left me lying behind him in the dust.

The realization that Cody might know a little more about fighting than I did didn’t stop me from scrambling up to launch myself at him again. His foot snapped forward to catch me on the shoulder. It didn’t hurt, but it put me back on the ground. I leapt to my feet in a red haze, ready to attack again. I would’ve, too, if someone hadn’t grabbed me from behind.

“You really don’t wanna do that. Cody’s been studying karate, and his sensei says he’s a natural.”

There was something in that easy-going voice I thought I recognized, and it stopped me cold.



Woot! Awesome except, Lisa! 404 words, which also means that Lisa gets the trophy for stay under 405 words and over 395. So, what car would you like to take for a spin out of the Indie Garage today, Lisa?

I love me some muscle cars and was excited to see the retro designs for the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro that have come out in recent years. It amazes me how designers are able to make these cars look so aggressive. Sadly, modern safety features have made them claustrophobic inside, with their high doors and so forth. But they look totally cool, and I’d love to drive any of them.

My hubs would be happy to hear you mention the Mustang, one of his fave cars. 


The last thing on 16-year-old Jess DeLand’s wish list is a boyfriend. She’d have to be crazy to think any guy would look twice at her. Besides, there are more important things to hope for, like a job working on cars and an end to her mom’s drinking. Foster care is a constant threat, and Jess is willing to sacrifice anything to stay out of the system. When luck hands her the chance to work on a race car, she finds herself rushing full throttle into a world of opportunities—including a boy who doesn’t mind the grease under her fingernails. The question is, can a girl who keeps herself locked up tighter than Richard Petty’s racing secrets open up enough to risk friendship and her first romance?


“The first romance is captured beautifully—just the right combination of natural and awkward, of eager and scared.”

 ~ Bob Martin, writing professor, Pacific Northwest College of Art


About the author:

In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron.

Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she’d use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.


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