Forfatter-interview #66 Lisa Drakeford

OMKRING BOGEN Babyen (The baby)


1.     Mention three fun facts that your fans maybe don’t know about you

  • Three Fun Facts?? I’m probably one of the most boring people on earth, but I’ll have a go…..
  • My real name isn’t Lisa or Drakeford.
  • I once toasted a mouse by accident. (It didn’t smell very good)
  • I’ve saved my younger brother’s life…twice. He’s 47 now and he’s still not thanked me!


2.     When did you know that you wanted to become an author?

When I was 17 I wrote in my diary that I wanted to write a book. I wrote some awful angst ridden poetry and sent a few of them off. A couple got published in magazines and leaflets and then without realising, other aspects of life began to take over: student life, a teaching career, getting married, setting up home, having kids etc etc. So, it was only when my life quietened down for a bit, when I was having a break from teaching, that I remembered that I wanted to write. Thirty three years after writing that sentence in my diary, my book was finally published! Ridiculous! I’m very cross with myself for that.


3.     How long have you been writing? And what started it?

So, I suppose you could say I’ve been writing all my life with a thirty three year gap. When I was having my break from teaching by working in a library, I became intrigued by the YA genre. It seemed new and interesting and exciting to have a genre specifically for young adults, something I’d not had access to as a young adult myself. So I went to a writing class in Leicester and never really looked back.


4.     Who discovered you? (Did you contact publishing houses? How was the process?)

Writing East Midlands have an annual mentoring scheme which I applied for and AMAZINGLY got on. My mentor was the sublime Maxine Linnell, author of two teen novels herself. She persuaded me to enter the book we were working on (The Baby) into the Times Chicken House Competition. I did as I was told and was delighted several months later to hear from Barry Cunningham – The Managing Director at Chicken House. Although The Baby hadn’t won, they still wanted to publish it.


5.     How many books have you published (so far)? And which genre?

The Baby was my first novel.


6.     Why this story? What made you choose this specific theme?

All my teachers and lecturers stressed that YA novels in particular have to start with a bang. What better, I thought, than to start with a teenage party where there’s a shock birth. After that the story kind of took off on its own. I was determined to show how the birth affected each of its witnesses and I loved writing it from five different perspectives. There are several stories about teenage pregnancies out there, but I wanted to extend the theme further by showing how a baby can affect a bunch of teenagers.


7.     What inspires you to write? Which authors have inspired you? (Music, art, things in life?

Loads of things inspire me. Authors like Tim Winton, Maggie O’Farrell and Christos Tsolikos blow my mind and YA authors like Melvin Burgess, Lucy Christopher and Sarah Crossan are particular sources of inspiration. But also films and TV shows can get me started. I’ve just seen a Monster Calls at the cinema and it took me two days to recover. It was BRILLIANT. Most importantly however I get inspired by young people themselves. I work with children who don’t go to school for medical reasons. Every day I’m blown away by their spirit, their sense of fun and their courage.


8.     What is the message of your book? How should the reader interpret it?

I suppose the message of the book is that everything affects everybody in different ways. Something which happens to one person can have some sort of influence on somebody else. Is it the ripple effect or the butterfly effect? Either way, it fascinates me.


9.     How do you identify with the character(s) in your book?

As a teenager I was most like Olivia. But over the years I’ve worked with many youngsters like Alice and I’m so proud that she has a voice. And more recently I’ve worked with young mums, so although I don’t identify with Nicola, I’m aware of the loneliness and isolation which she experiences. Ben was lovely to write about. He was everything I wanted in a teenage boy, and Jonty? Well Jonty had the most growing up to do and it was really interesting showing that.


10.  What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading The Girls by Emma Cline, (Very good.) I’ve just finished Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be The Place, (Stunning) and at the top of my TBR pile is The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, (supposed to be fantastic).


11.  Mention 3 book titles that you wish to recommend

I’d love to recommend We Were Liars by E Lockhart. I read this two years ago and I still think about it now. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is a clever and original read and then I’m going old school by recommending any novel written by the Godfather of YA – Melvin Burgess. Try Junk – it’s brilliant.


12.  When is your next book going to be published?

My newest book is called The Crash.


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