Author Confessions: Lisa Williamson
Hot off the paperback publication of her touching and highly acclaimed YA novel, The Art of Being Normal, we managed to track down Lisa Williamson and find out what makes her tick.
Which author or fictional character would you most like to party with?
Nancy Mitford. I imagine we’d drink cocktails and go dancing and she’d be very witty and I’d be in awe. I went through a period where I was obsessed with the Mitford sisters and devoured everything they'd ever written. A few years ago I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend a week on Inch Kenneth, the private island the Mitford family once owned off the coast of Mull. Although Decca Mitford sold the island in the late sixties, loads of the décor was unchanged and the sisters’ fashion magazines were still on the shelves! It was also one of the spookiest places I’ve ever been. I’d love to go back with a load of friends and play murder in the dark.
Who would play you in a movie?
Amy Adams. In a brunette wig. I love her and everything she does.
They used to serve mushy peas at my school discos. I still have no idea why. None of us do
How do you react to bad reviews?
I don't seek out bad reviews and enforce a strict 'no googling' policy. I figure good reviews will find me, and funnily enough I'm not keen on reading the bad ones. Although I do keep an occasional eye on my Goodreads and Amazon rating, I don't read the accompanying reviews. They're for readers, not me. Also, I think it's in our human nature to ignore the one hundred lovely reviews and focus on the one negative one! Although not reviews as such, I've had a couple of emails from readers asking me why I made certain character decisions they perhaps don't agree with, which I am always happy to answer.
Which of your characters is your favourite?
Leo! Poor David...
The Art Of Being Normal is narrated by two characters but it was originally a single narrative (David) with Leo as a supporting character. However, the more I wrote, the more it was clear the story was as much Leo's as David's and he got promoted to share narrative duties. Although I adore them both, there's something about Leo's surliness and the vulnerability it masks that tugs at my heart strings every time, and I love it when readers feel the same way. I especially love it when they think he’s a bit of a sex symbol. I didn’t purposefully write him that way but I’m very pleased his appeal comes across.
Is writing a pain or a pleasure?
A bit of both! On the days when it's flowing and it's almost like the story is pouring out of you, it's the best thing ever. Annoyingly, these days tend to be outnumbered by the days where you want to chuck your computer out of the window and wallow in self-pity. Writing is disjointed and often lonely and when it's not going as well as you’d like, it can be very easy to feel despondent and convince yourself you'll never write anything decent again. Also, I’m a natural worrier, which doesn’t help. Fortunately though, something then usually slots into place to get you back on track. At the moment it’s going quite well so I’m trying to enjoy it and not be so angsty!
What’s the strangest thing about the place you grew up?
I grew up in Arnold, Nottingham. The Luddite movement (Wikipedia it!) started there in 1811, which is pretty much the most interesting thing I can find out about my hometown. My school was quite odd. In year 11 PE we were sent to the local snooker club, and at school discos they used to serve mushy peas. I still have no idea why. None of us do.
Have you ever had a near death experience?
No. I was a fairly disastrous kid though. Lots of falling downstairs and bashing my head and sticking knives in toasters. My dad nearly drowned me once (by accident!). We were on holiday in the pool and he thought it would be a laugh to dunk me under the water over and over again, unaware that I was failing to gasp for breath! He stopped when my sister screamed ‘you’re killing her!’
I have terrible taste in music and dread being asked about what kind of music I'm into.
What’s your guiltiest music pleasure?
My entire music collection! I have terrible taste in music and dread being asked about what kind of music I'm into. I love greatest hits and compilation albums. My music collection basically resembles a cheesy wedding DJ's ultimate playlist.
What’s your most over-used phrase?
I talk like a teenager from the nineties a lot of the time – wicked, awesome, mega, cool, ace etc. When I get over-excited I used ‘like’ as a filler word way too much.
Who was your childhood crush?
Tom Cruise! Before all the weird Scientology stuff. I used to have a poster of him wearing a tuxedo and would imagine him cheering me on from the side of the pool when I was doing my swimming badges. I still enjoy his movies. Say what you like about him but he's always gives it his all in front of the camera and I admire that level of commitment.