In the Spotlight

Lise Quintana

Lise Quintana

Editor-in-Chief, Zoetic Press; CEO, Narrative Technologies

Santa Cruz, CA       Member Since: 2012

About: Lise Quintana is an award-winning writer, publisher, and software developer. She has worked with NaNoWriMo, Litquake, and Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. See her authoring platform at


Find Lise in the Directory of Members



Who are your favorite literary publishers?
I’m a sucker for genre fiction, so of course my favorite publishers are houses like Tor, Tachyon Publications, and Bantam Spectra. But I also have a deep love for independent presses like Sundress Publications and Lit House Press, where they’re less about money and more about the love of new literature.

Is there a manuscript published in the last ten years that you wish had come across your desk?
There are so many that I think our publishing platform is better equipped to handle than traditional publishers. The Cloud Atlas, anything by Italo Calvino.

What is the best advice you can give an aspiring writer?
You are not going to make a lot of money writing fiction. Don’t let that deter you.

Which book should be required reading for young people?
All of them. I hate locking people into one book that everyone should read for all time—new, amazing literature is being written all the time. But most people stop reading once they get out of school, preferring more passive means of entertainment. I want young people to read enough books that they develop an appreciation of the differences between reading and watching a movie or TV show, and that they seek out books after they’re done with school.

What does your office look like?
I have a huge desk covered in papers. I have art from contributors to NonBinary Review on the walls, as well as postcards, cards, and letters from Zoetic Press authors. Outside my window, there’s the courtyard of an Afghani restaurant, where I can hear happy people talking to each other all day.

How do you like to receive queries? What will automatically end up in your “we’re not interested” pile? What will catch your eye?
We accept queries via Submittable. Anything submitted via email or improperly formatted gets tossed immediately. I’m too old to read twenty pages of single-spaced, 10-point type. Things that catch my eye use language in exciting, innovative ways, have plots that don’t necessarily unfold in a linear fashion, and have characters I can understand, even if I can’t relate to them.

What is your favorite memory from an AWP Conference?
In 2015 in Minnesota, I was sitting in the lounge of my hotel with a few friends. One of my friends spotted another friend approaching across the room. She ran across the lobby to hug her friend and ended up tackling her to the ground as the whole room looked on, laughing. In my mind, this is how poets always act.

Who encouraged you to be a writer?
My parents read to us when we were little, which gave me a love of stories, but it was my grandmother who taught me the relationship between the letters of the alphabet, words, and stories. I was doomed from that point.

Where do you get your best reading recommendations?
I like award lists—Hugo Awards, Nebula Awards, etc. But I also like hearing what all my writer friends are reading. In that case, I don’t have a single go-to source—I go with the books I hear mentioned most often.

Would you like to share a project you are currently working on?
I’m writing a historical fiction about a male artist in central Mexico in 1924 who falls in love with a black man while creating a shrine to Martin de Porres at a church. It was based on the story of Narcissus, but tackles the treatment of homosexuals in the Catholic Church, the land reforms in Mexico just after its civil war, and inter-racial relationships. But ultimately, it’s about what happens when you love someone who can’t love you back.

What is your favorite line from a book?
“I said, and said, and said those words. I said them, but I lied them.” (From the story “What Was I Scared Of?” in Dr. Seuss’ The Sneetches and Other Stories.)

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