Today I’m pleased to welcome author Lisa Manterfield to the blog. I hope you enjoy getting to meet Lisa and don’t forget to check out her book and giveaway at the end of the interview!
1. What made you decide to start writing?
Writers often talk about the idea that won’t leave them alone. I had one of those and knew I had to do something with it. It was a topic I was exploring in my real life and writing seemed to offer some answers, or at least a way to explore ideas. I wrote it as a screenplay first, but could never get it to be the story I needed to tell. Eventually, I tried it as a novel and I knew I’d found the perfect outlet. I wrote a lot of other things in between, including two non-fiction books, but that original idea eventually became my first novel, A Strange Companion.
2. Do you prefer series or standalone books?
Standalone. I like to explore new worlds when I read, so I don’t tend to stick with a series for more than a book or two. Harry Potter is the only series I’ve ever seen through to completion. I love writing stand-alone novels because each one is a fresh canvas and a whole world of possibilities. That’s both the fun and the challenging part of writing standalones.
3. In your fiction you often cover serious themes like death and grief, how do you balance these themes in your work?
In real life, I’m quite a cheerful person, so it’s sort of funny to me that I explore death and grief so much in my writing. Fortunately, I’m also a sucker for a good love story, so even in the darkest stories, there’s still room for a flicker of love to burn. And my supporting characters often bring lighter moments to my books. Without them, I think my stories could be very sad. Instead, they’re hopeful.
4. Can you give us one fact about The Smallest Thing we should know?
The nugget of trivia is that it’s a contemporary novel inspired by the true story of the plague village of Eyam, a village that voluntarily imposed a quarantine on itself back in 1665. A little behind-the-scenes detail about my updated version is that Aiden, who plays an important and juicy role in the book, was born out of a one-sentence writing prompt. All of a sudden, this character marched onto the page and took my main character—and my writing group—by storm. His arrival changed the whole trajectory of the novel and I’m so glad it did.
5. What is one wish you have for your book?
You always hope that people will love the book and tell everyone, of course. But I also hope that readers will take away the message that even the smallest of good deeds can make a huge impact on other people’s lives. With so much going on in the world right now and so many calls to protest and take action, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that one small gesture of kindness can change a person’s entire day, maybe even their life.
6. Do you have any other creative hobbies?
I love the theatre and I love to dance. I like to cook, garden, and knit, too. But the truth is that these hobbies have taken a back seat recently as I’ve thrown all my creative energy into writing. Now that The Smallest Thing is out in the world, I hope to get back to some of those other outlets. I took my first tap dancing class earlier this year. It was so much fun (not to mention great exercise) and I’d like to pick that up again.
7. What is the best advice you would give to young writers?
Write for yourself first. Write the stories you want to tell and then figure out where they fit in the world. Because publishing has changed so much, almost any kind of story can find readers who will love it. I think it’s also important to find a community of writers to grow up with. Whether you go to a writers’ conference, find a local group, or join an online community, you need to find people you can trust to give honest and useful feedback, and to support you through the hard parts as well as the celebrations.
8. What can readers look forward to from you next?
I have a collection of short stories that will come out later this year. I’m also in the early stages of a new novel. At the moment, I’m still playing around with several ideas, including one set partly during World War II and featuring a character from A Strange Companion. This might be as close to writing a series as I ever get. But I don’t want to make too many rash promises at this point, as my novels tend to evolve into something quite different to my original idea. I’m in the very early stages right now and anything could happen.
About the Author:
Lisa Manterfield is the award-winning author of A Strange Companion and I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood. Her work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Los Angeles Times, and Psychology Today. Originally from northern England, she now lives in Southern California with her husband and over-indulged cat. Learn more at LisaManterfield.com.
About the Book:
The very last thing 17-year-old Emmott Syddall wants is to turn out like her dad. She’s descended from ten generations who never left their dull English village, and there’s no way she’s going to waste a perfectly good life that way. She’s moving to London and she swears she is never coming back.
But when the unexplained deaths of her neighbors force the government to quarantine the village, Em learns what it truly means to be trapped. Now, she must choose. Will she pursue her desire for freedom, at all costs, or do what’s best for the people she loves: her dad, her best friend Deb, and, to her surprise, the mysterious man in the HAZMAT suit?
Inspired by the historical story of the plague village of Eyam, this contemporary tale of friendship, community, and impossible love weaves the horrors of recent news headlines with the intimate details of how it feels to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy.
Follow along with the tour:
- July 18: Interview with Rebecca Lacko
- July 19: Guest Post at A New Look on Books
- July 20: Interview with Heather Sunseri
- July 21: Interview at Booked for Review
- July 22: Interview with Michael Raymond
- July 23: Interview with Farah Oomerbhoy
- July 24: Review by Mixed Bag Mama
- July 25: Guest Post at History in the Margins with Pamela Toler
- July 26: Review at YA Book Divas
- July 27: Review at The Reading Wolf
- July 28: Review at For the Novel Lovers