One of the greatest things about writing, is the people you meet. Lisa Heikde is a funny, warm, gorgeous person and a great writer, with really gifted insights into life and people. I met Lisa through Allen and Unwin – she’s published by the same imprint and an ‘pick up’ from A&U’s ‘Friday Pitch Day’, as I am and therefore we both share the wonderful, Louise Thurtell, as our publisher.
Lisa is a mum, wife and author. (I love seeing those three words together!) She also writes for Omigoddess, an online women magazine.
Lucy Springer gets even, was Lisa’s first book and has been published in Australia and England and given an 8/10 by the ‘Chicklit Club’. What Kate did next is her next novel and is available in all good bookstores now.
From Lisa’s website there you’ll be able to join her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter. Australia has some wonderful authors and Lisa is up there with the best of them.
Lisa will be popping back and forth to answer any of your questions or comments, if you’d like to leave a comment here.
Lisa will be giving away three copies of What Kate did next to three lucky people who comment here!
How and why did you start writing?
I wrote for ACP magazines for many years and when I left to have my third child, I decided it was ‘now or never’. I’d been talking for years about writing a novel so I sat down at the computer when Mia was a month old and started writing. I’d read several ‘how to’ books and decided I could write a Mills & Boon sweet romance. It was as simple as that!
Three months later I had written a 60,000 word sweet romance. The next week when I re-read it, I cried. It was dreadful. I kicked the cat, sulked and refused to wash my hair. But after my temper tantrum I decided that although I wanted to write a novel, I didn’t want to write a M & B. (Mainly because I couldn’t. Hats off to all my M & B friends because they are very hard to write well!)
How did you get your first publishing deal? (and how excited were you?)
I’d been sending partials (three chapters and a synopsis) to Australian publishers for more than a year when I heard that Allen & Unwin had instigated The Friday pitch where unpublished writers could email their first chapters. Within the week, the publisher had requested a complete manuscript.
The process of her reading and me rewriting bits took approximately five months and when I received a contract for Lucy Springer gets even I danced around the house and kissed the cat. It was a memorable moment.
I should point out that by the time I signed a contract, I had written three 85,000 manuscripts. I think it helped that I had a body of work to show.
Has it been a life-long dream to write, who are your inspirations, favourite authors and people you look up to?
My inspirations for storylines come from everyday conversations with friends, stories I see on the news and read in newspapers and magazines. I write contemporary fiction so my novels usually reference to pop culture and what’s going on in the wider community/world.
Marian Keyes is one of my favourite authors. When I read Watermelon, her first book, I thought it was fabulous and laugh out loud funny. I was interested to find out more about her life. Then when I read how difficult Keyes journey had been, I felt even more inspired and encouraged to write.
My philosophy is if you have the desire, you have to give it a go! I am so glad I didn’t give up because there were many times when I wanted to.
What Kate did Next is your second book, tell us about it, what was your inspiration behind it (and why it’s a brilliant summer read) and also tell us about Lucy Springer gets even.
What Kate did Next is about Kate Cavendish, a married mother of two, who rediscovers her passion for life amidst dealing with a distant husband, a rebellious thirteen-year-old daughter, a heavily pregnant and neurotic sister and parents who reunite after twenty years apart. Kate has a lot to deal with and her life quickly spirals out of control.
I wanted to create a snap shot of typical suburban life where the mother’s career has been sidelined in favour of keeping house and raising a family. Then ask the question: What happens when she wakes up one morning to discover that the dreams she had for herself at twenty, aren’t any closer to becoming a reality at the age of thirty-six? I wanted to write an essentially realistic but optimistic story. However, I felt there wasn’t enough mayhem so threw in a pregnant, neurotic sister and aging parents reuniting after many years apart.
A core theme centres on the sometimes difficult yet loving relationships between mothers, grandmothers, daughters and sisters. This theme is really at the heart of What Kate Did Next – Kate has an all-consuming love for her mum, sister and daughter, despite the heartbreak that such closeness brings.
I think it will be a popular summer read because it’s got a bit of everything: intrigue, drama, romance and humour.
My first novel, Lucy Springer Gets Even is about Lucy, an out of work actress and mother, who is living through a renovation nightmare when her husband suddenly takes off and she is forced to get her act and life together. I wanted to write a light hearted story in diary form about a woman whose husband leaves her, day one, sentence one. I thought it would be interesting to look at a woman in her mid-thirties with a couple of kids who thinks her life is moving happily along and rip it to shreds. I plotted Lucy’s journey from the depths of despair and bewilderment on day one to her getting her life together by day sixty-five.
What would a ‘writing day’ hold for you?
Generally, I write Monday to Friday during the school term. I don’t get a lot of writing done when the kids are around. After they’ve been packed off to school, I’ll check my emails and float around Facebook. (An addictive time waster! I’ve had to remove solitaire from my computer because I got too distracted.) After an hour of mucking around, I’ll settle down and start writing.
If I’m working on a new manuscript, I try to write about 2,000 words a day, five days a week to get the story moving ahead. I try not to think about spelling, tenses and grammar. My main objective is to write the story. Of course that changes once the first draft is written and I’m editing and re-writing.
On a typical day, I try to spend four productive hours at the computer. Often I can achieve it, but sometimes I’ll burn out at three and then catch up on reading or writing a blog on my website. I am still learning to be disciplined and consistent.
What’s next for you?
In November, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) an international writing competition where the aim was to write 50,000 words of brand new material. I did that and am thinking about developing the manuscript further to see where it takes me. The story is set in suburbia and it’s about the secrets people keep and the lies they tell. I am enjoying the process enormously.
That’s what is so great about being an author: I get to create real but flawed characters who often behave appallingly and say and do things I’d never dare to in real life. I have a lot of fun writing and thinking up plot twists and turns. It’s great seeing a story come together. I start with a blank page and think, ‘how am I going to fill this with 85,000 words?’ I love disappearing into a world of make believe. The possibilities…