Thursday, 28 September 2017

All About...Lisa! ; an interview with Lisa Williamson.

The beautiful Lisa Williamson is an astonishing UKYA author known for her debut 'The Art of Being Normal', and now her second novel, 'All About Mia'! 

This story is all about, well...Mia! The middle child in a pretty unique - and wildly successful - family. She has a big sis bound for the very best higher education, and a younger sister literally making waves as an athlete. What does she have, though? What does she do? She's not quite sure. 
Then one day, her academic superstar of a sister comes home with a surprise. One that might just change her perfect rep, and tip the scales in their home...


A post shared by Lisa Williamson (@lisawilliamsonauthor) on

Hi, lovely Lisa! Thanks for chatting with me about your excellent second book. Let's dive in and look at the characters first...

Mia worried she didn't have 'a thing'. That she didn't have a unique
talent at something, like her sisters did. What was *your* thing, growing
up?

I differ a bit from Mia in that I was into quite a few things growing up. I wanted to be an actor so naturally I was really into drama and performed with the school drama club and various local amateur dramatics companies. I also danced once per week (jazz, disco and tap!) and was really into History (it was my very favourite subject at school)
and watching old Hollywood musicals.


What originally made you want to write about a middle child?

I originally wanted to write an unrequited love story! I love doomed love stories (my favourite films include Brief Encounter and The Bridges of Madison County) so I started to think about who would be the worst person for a teenage girl to fall in love with. I concluded her sister's boyfriend would be pretty bad. I then thought of ways I could make it worse and decided making her sister really clever and perfect would be
pretty annoying. Then I added in another sister (also incredibly high achieving) for good measure. In the end though, the love story aspect got ditched, partly because every time I tried to make Mia fall in love with Sam (her older sister Grace's boyfriend) she just wouldn't let me, and partly because I realised I was far more interested in the love between Mia and her friends and sisters (there's still some snogging though!). I started reading up on birth order, in particular the so-called 'middle child syndrome' and their 'secret powers' and set about creating the ultimate middle child character in the form of Mia.


How did these characters come to you?

Mia (or a version of her) had actually already featured in two previously abandoned books. In each case, the story wasn't working but the character of Mia (mouthy, daring, unapologetic) was, hence why she kept following me from project to project. When I initially decided to write about a middle child I imagined she'd be quite meek and downtrodden, then I had the idea of casting Mia in the role and all of a sudden the story started to come alive in my head. She still developed quite a bit and the more I wrote, the more I understood why she did what she did. She's quite a handful and behaves pretty badly throughout the book. I knew to keep readers onside I had to make sure Mia's actions were authentic and understandable without sanitizing them. I experimented quite a bit with the other two sisters. For a while I considered writing from all three points of view but I soon realised I could explore all three sister's experiences through Mia’s eyes. Grace came to me pretty quickly and changed very little in terms of characterisation (she was always quite annoying!). Audrey actually
started out as a bit of a stage school brat, but something about the dynamic felt off so I softened her personality and swapped the singing and dancing for swimming.


What was your favourite thing to do while researching or writing this
novel?

I loved just talking to other people about their siblings (or lack of). Every single person who is or has a middle child had something to say about the dynamic and there were lots of correlations.


Your debut TAOBN was amazing, astounding and groundbreaking. How
did writing and releasing *this* novel compare to that first experience?

For ages it really psyched me out. As I mentioned before, I abandoned several different projects before committing to All About Mia. I was convinced I had to write another 'important' issue-led book and heaped all sorts of pressure on myself to find a subject I cared about as deeply as I did with TAOBN. This resulted in me writing the first 20/30 thousand words of six different projects, every time losing confidence and concluding it wasn't good or important enough to persist with. All the time I was very aware that time was ticking and the gap between my first and second books was getting bigger all the time! In the end though I've written a book with NO issue. And I'm actually really pleased I did!
Issue-led books are massively important but I think there's room for all sorts of stories and occasionally the more ordinary struggles of being a teenager don't get much coverage. Mia's problems are not unique, but I think that's what makes her such an appealing character. I think we've all felt jealous of a friend or sister, or done something stupid or mean when we're hurting, or felt directionless, and that's why I'm so happy I
wrote this book. I also think it's a lot of fun and my priority as an author is always to entertain first and foremost. A lot of people who read TAOBN were not really readers before. I like to think All About Mia might attract the same sort of audience.


I LOVED that Mikey was gay and that was never a plot point. Was that a
conscious decision?

It was and it wasn't. Mia's friends came to be pretty much immediately, complete with names and pretty distinct personalities. Mikey was always going to be gay and I never felt the need to spell it out or make it part of the story. I imagine he came out when he was twelve and is very comfortable with his sexuality. 


A post shared by Lisa Williamson (@lisawilliamsonauthor) on

What advice would you give for the kids - and young adults - in 'the
middle’? 

Don't panic! There is so much pressure these days to know what you want to do and exactly how to get there. I grew up convinced I wanted to act, now I'm a full-time writer. Dreams change, and that's ok. It's also ok not to have specific dreams right now. It may be that you just haven't found that one thing that gets you really excited yet, it doesn't mean you never will; there may be multiple things over the course of your life. Your time to shine will come and to be honest, it's often all the more rewarding when you have to wait for it. Talent and skills aren't always measurable. You might be an amazing listener, or have a great eye for fashion; it's not all about exam results and certificates. Follow your passions and instincts and try (it’s really hard, I know!) not to compare yourself to others. 


***

You can buy the amazing 'All About Mia' 
in any decent bookshop, and online at

Post a Comment

© Almost Amazing Grace.. Design by Fearne.