Author Feature: Lisa Lim

After reading her debut novel Confessions of a Call Center Gal, I got to know author Lisa Lim a little better.

Here’s a candid interview with Lisa Lim, notes in blue are mine.

Please give a short introductory description of yourself.
I’ve worked at a call center for almost a decade. *SOBS* And I still do. After I graduated with my journalism degree, I served as Copy Editor at Desktop Journal. Then I went on to do technical writing for a software company (Aspect) that developed call center apps. When I wanted to settle down and start a family, I started working at a call center for a major bank, in their financial software support department. On a more personal note, I’m a HUGE dog lover. I was the kid who went around my neighborhood feeding scraps to stray dogs. And I’m now the big kid who is the owner of 3 pooches. What does 3 pooches entail? 3x the love and 3x the doggie doo doo to pick up.

Because my readers and I have been curious… What’s your ethnicity?
I’m a Chinese Malaysian who resides in the States. Oh, and I know a little tagalog ~ Kumusta, uy pah-RE! mah-RE! and maBUhaay! *Zoinks* I hope no one is cringing. [I actually initially mistook Lisa for a Filipina… But wow, where’d you learn your Tagalog, Lisa?]

When did you start writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
I started writing stories when I was eight, but I started writing this novel about 5 years ago. Hmm, at the age of five I wanted to be a vet and a Disney princess; then later on I wanted to be a pirate captain and have my own ship. So, to answer the second question ~ no. I had other aspirations before I even entertained the idea of becoming a ‘novelist.’ [Ooh, pirate captain!]

What types of books do you like reading? What are your favorite books? Who are your favorite authors?
I’m a chick lit junkie. My favorite books? Oh so many books, so little time. I’ll just rattle off a few that come to mind . . . Something Borrowed, Something Blue, the Shopaholic Series, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Sushi for Beginners, oh I could go on and on so I’ll stop.

I also like reading other genres. A well balanced literary diet is a healthy one, so I try to switch things up a bit. I think the greatest love story of all time is The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. I also enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Pillars by Ken Follet. And the best classic/adventure novel I’ve read, hands down, is The Three Musketeers. [Now you’ve got me intrigued about The Bronze Horseman!]

And since this is a chick lit book, who are your favorite chick lit authors?
Sophie Kinsella, Marian Keyes, Emily Giffin, Helen Fielding, and the one who started it all ~ Miss Jane Austen.

What finally pushed you to write your first novel? How is your writing process, and what challenges did you encounter in writing it?
Mo’ Money. Bwah har ha ha. Just kidding. Well, maybe only half kidding. Whenever I couldn’t sleep (which was almost every night), I’d just plug away at my keyboard . . . no editing, no stopping, just whatever came to mind. The challenging part was trying to weave all my random thoughts into one cohesive story. I had over two thousand pages that I had to shrink down to three hundred pages. Not fun.

Why did you choose to write a novel about a call center?
I know this sounds cliched, but my English teacher in college prefaced every writing assignment with this advice ~ Write what you know. And I know too much about call centers. One only need to hear the word “call center” and everyone’s blood pressure within earshot rises exponentially. Otherwise calm and rational people go ballistic and become verbally abusive over the phone. Callers often feel entitled to unload their personal demons on us. Trust me . . . I’ve seen many of my co-workers on the verge of tears. And I wanted to tell our story. Plus, I’ve read countless of chick lit novels where the women all have fancy jobs, and they fancy men who hold fancy jobs. And I wanted to read about a woman I could relate to. A protagonist who is regular chick with a very ordinary job, who falls for a guy with an ordinary job. Although, the guy is anything but ordinary (I like to think).

How much of Maddy is yourself, and how much of the book is based on real experience as a call center agent? Do you also have a circle of friends — Karsynn, Truong, Inge, etc at the call center?
I’d say 50% of Maddy is me and 100% of the book is based on real experiences as a call center gal. And you bet-cha I have a tight knit circle of friends like Kars, Truong and Inge; otherwise I wouldn’t have survived as long as I have in the call center purgatory/Gulag camp. In my book, I had to change the call center from a bank to an ISP(internet service provider) and I had to change the location and not mention the bank’s name once. If I did, it could be grounds for termination. Oh, and since I’m a 2nd level software support agent, I am a proud owner of a wireless headset. Awwww yea. I would DIE without my wireless headset. [Wireless headset, well done, you!]

Top of mind, what are the top three misconceptions about being a call center agent that will get thrown out the window when you read this book?
1. We are androids with no heart, soul or emotions.
2. We just want to sell you products ‘coz we’re grease balls.
3. Pardon the French  . . . that we are your “Bitches.” Or that most of us are child molesters/ meth addicts/ ex-cons/ high school drop outs with little or no education.

Tell us about the journey to getting the book published — how did you sign on with a publisher, and how do you feel when the book finally came out?
Tons and tons of query letters and countless and countless of rejections before I finally got a ‘yes.’ By the time I got the ‘yes,’ my confidence was shot. And when the book first came out, my stomach was clenched in nerves (um, it still is btw). You know that sinking feeling you get when you’re up on stage after agreeing to act in a play . . . . the curtains go up and you’re standing there blanching and thinking, “Huh?!? What was I thinking?!? Now I actually have to perform and be subjected to critics.”

What are your future plans for your writing?
In a few years, I’d like to write a YA book. And if this book does well, maybe I’ll write a sequel. Or maybe not. I’ll let the critics decide. [Oh I would not say no to a sequel. I want more Truong! And a YA book — interesting!]

And here’s a little note from Lisa:


Confessions of a Call Center Gal is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is also available as a Kindle book, and a Nook book will be out soon.

Visit Lisa’s blog at

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