Pupils from Bolton Muslim Girls School, Canon Slade School, Sharples School and The Derby High School joined the whole of Year 8 and Year 9 at Bolton School Girls’ Division and the Girls’ Division YA book club for the event.
Lisa talked about her pathway to becoming an author, which began with writing short stories as a small child. She described how boredom can be good for writers as it develops imagination and said that ‘shyness is a superpower that allows you to observe everyone else’. Despite being shy herself, she went on to become an actor and has done panto with Basil Brush and even featured in a John Lewis Christmas ad!
However, after a while she decided she wanted to be in charge of the story and this led her to remember how much she loved writing. She wrote her first book over the course of two years while temping in offices but when it wasn’t picked up by any agents she began to look for other ideas.
While working as an administrator for the Tavistock Centre for Gender Identity, she was inspired to write her first published YA novel, ‘The Art of Being Normal’. As well as dealing with gender identity, the story is about being a teenager and not fitting in: something she said that everyone feels sometimes, no matter what age. Her second novel, ‘All About Mia’, follows a middle child whose behaviour spirals out of control and who has to deal with the consequences of her actions. Her latest book ‘Paper Avalanche’ was inspired by a TV documentary about hoarders. Lisa said that she wondered what it would be like to be a child or teen who has to live amongst all of the things their hoarder parent has accumulated, with no control over their living situation. This eventually became the story of Ro in ‘Paper Avalanche’.
Lisa peppered the descriptions of her books with readings of key moments in the story. She also teased the audience with a reading from her new book ‘First Day Of My Life’, which is about three friends and a stolen baby. It will be published in July. After Lisa had read from and talked about her books and her path to becoming an author, the floor was opened for questions.