Out of a bar … and into the downtown Lancaster Marriott: We’re pleased to welcome memoirist Lisa F. Smith to HippoCamp 2017’s debut author panel and evening readings, during which she’ll read from her memoir, “A Girl Walks Out of Bar.” Here, Lisa shares a little preview of what we can expect and what she’s looking forward to about her trip to Lancaster.

lisa k smith author photo

HM: Without any spoilers, what can attendees expect to learn from your publishing journey? 

My publishing journey demonstrates that you don’t have to have a background in writing to start the process and ultimately get published. If you’re passionate about telling a story, it’s never too late to start.


Literary citizenship is so important today, and by being part of our conference, you’re contributing to the CNF community — why is sharing with others important to you? 

Telling our stories gives us hope in difficult times and lets others know they’re not alone in whatever challenges they confront.

As someone in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction, writing my story helped me to understand what happened and how I could heal. It was incredibly cathartic. I would spend an hour writing early in the morning before getting ready for work and it was the best hour of my day.

Now I feel passionate about working to break the stigma of addiction and mental health issues. I felt completely alone in my active addiction. Now I know that there are so many people out there struggling with alcohol and drugs who are reluctant to ask for help because of the stigma that surrounds this disease. I want people to understand that they’re not alone and that there’s help out there. And there’s an incredible life possible in recovery! I get to read from my book at HippoCamp! What could be better than that?


Taking off your presenter hat, what are you hoping to learn as an attendee at HippoCamp?

There are going to be so many rock star writers at HippoCamp; I can’t wait to learn from as many of them as possible! Learning about both the craft and the business of writing nonfiction is so important.

Also, there are going to be loads of inspiring stories to hear and understand. Being part of a community brings a feeling of support to writing, which can be such a solitary endeavor. A weekend in and among writers talking about all aspects of the writing life is a dream.

Lancaster is an amazing city – if you’ve never been here, what about visiting the region excites you the most?

I’ve never been to the area and being a New York City person, I can’t wait to get out and about in the beautiful fall scenery. But of course I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t say that I also plan to check out the Lancaster Central Market and the galleries. I’m a shopper at heart.


What was a recent and memorable work of creative nonfiction you read – whether a book or shorter piece? (And what did you love about it?)

I read so much fascinating nonfiction, but Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s, “You Might Want to Marry My Husband,” essay in The New York Times’ Modern Love column on March 3, 2017 moved me profoundly. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful, affirming the power of true love. But it’s mostly heartbreaking, so be warned. I love her voice. It reflects real grace, beauty and strength.

I’m also a massive consumer of addiction memoir. Cat Marnell’s book, “How To Murder Your Life,” is stunning in its honesty and ability to convey what it’s like to be living in addiction. I couldn’t put it down. She will be the first to tell you that she’s not sober at the end of the book or today, so it’s not about recovery. But I think it’s a really important addition to the genre.

Interested in registering for HippoCamp? Get details here. Registration closes 8/28.

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