BY MIKE LEONARD
Lisa Shanahan has spent most of her adult life writing, often freelancing, but generally not doing the kind of writing she yearned to do. During the decade she worked for a Boston-area book publisher, she churned out newsletters and press releases, built media kits, and wrote author biographies.
“It was like writing book reports,” she says. “I spent years trying to be a writer. And then, suddenly, things started happening.”
At the advice of her husband, James Shanahan, dean of The Media School at Indiana University, she began seeking out places to publish the writing she enjoys most. Pieces started getting accepted on story-hosting websites such as Medium and its curated Human Parts collection, and those pieces attracted an invitation to write for The Huffington Post. Shanahan also had several agents look at her novel-in-progress before her former boss at Christopher Matthews
Publishing read her manuscript and offered to run with it.
The subject matter hits close to home for the writer and publisher of Murder by the Book: A Boston Publishing House Mystery. “I wrote it and then had to change all the characters,” Lisa explains with a grin. Newly released, it’s the first in a projected three-book series.
The Shanahans moved to Bloomington last summer after James was hired to be the inaugural dean of The Media School. They settled in a neighborhood south of the IU campus that Lisa describes as both incredibly friendly and convenient for navigating Bloomington on foot.
The only thing that hasn’t been so handy is finding a year-round ice skating rink to satisfy her passion for figure skating, which she took up at age 38 while watching the couple’s daughter, Isabel, practice and compete during her teenage years. “It’s the greatest sport ever,” the 55-year-old says, downplaying that she’s good enough in her age group to compete at a national level, particularly in ice dancing. Trips to a rink in Columbus, Indiana, kept her in skating shape during the summer while waiting for Bloomington’s Frank Southern Ice Arena to open in October.
“Your 50s are really a golden time in life,” the Chattanooga, Tennessee–area native says. “It’s amazing what you can do when you’re an empty nester with time.”