I'm delighted to announce we have the amazing Lisa Williamson for an interview today. She's the author of the fantastic The Art of Being Normal and most recently, the hilarious All About Mia. Both are fabulous books so I urge you to read them if you haven't already, after you've read her interview of course ;) Enjoy!
1. Do you try and portray homo/bi/transphobia in your works?
This was certainly the case with TABON. Not all trans people encounter bullying and prejudice but the majority do and I felt I had to explore this. I didn't want to paint an overwhelmingly gloomy picture though. While working as an administrator at the Gender Identity Development Service, I came across so many young people who were surrounded by amazing support networks and I wanted to represent this in TAOBN alongside the instances of bullying and transphobia.
2. Do you have an LGBT+ role model?
Lots! Rebecca Root, Juno Dawson, Ellen Page, Kristin Stewart and Jack Monroe to name just a few.
3. Which LGBT literature character do you admire?
The entire cast of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. It's such a powerful, beautiful and heart-wrenching book.
4. From a lot of LGBT+ people in the reading world, there is now a stigma against authors who include white, cis, straight characters in their works. What are your thoughts on this?
As an author, I always want my books to represent the world around me and, certainly where I live in London, this world encompasses people of all ethnicities, gender identities, sexual identities and social and economic backgrounds. I don't think there should be a backlash against authors who include white, cis, straight characters and I doubt there's anything to gained for attacking authors and their existing works for this reason. It is far more effective to put our efforts into encouraging own voices writing. Writing should never be a tick box exercise and I strongly believe representation for the point of representation alone usually fails to resonate with readers. It always needs to come from a place of authenticity. This doesn't necessarily mean basing our writing on our personal experiences but it does mean writing about LGBT+ themes from a place of sensitivity and truthfulness.
5. Out of all of your works, which was your favourite to work on and why?
All books present their own challenges and the process is generally one of intense highs and lows. TAOBN was special for me because it came from a place of real love. Writing it, I had no idea it would be published one day – I just knew I needed to tell this story, even if only a handful of people read it. The fact it's now been read by thousands of people blows my mind every single day.
6. Do you have an essential LGBT+ literature recommendations?
Lots! I'm going to limit it to three though: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour and I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.
7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Tell the story only you can tell. This doesn't mean it has to be based on things you've experienced firsthand. It just needs to come from a place deep within you. Don't be too hard on yourself or feel you have to make every word poetic and perfect. Just get the story down, and don't get bogged down with style or feeling you have to comply to a trend. Often simplicity can pack the biggest punch of all. Finally, don't rush or force it – it'll be ready when it's ready.
8. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmmmm, I'm not sure I'm all that quirky in my approach of writing. Unlike a lot of writers who need silence to work, I like a bit of a buzz around me. In fact, from next week I'll be renting a desk in a busy shared office. I'm a sociable thing and really feed off other people.
9. What does your work schedule look like when you are writing?
On a typical day, to get up around 7.30 and do a quick workout (some weights or yoga, maybe a run if the weather is nice). Then it's breakfast, a shower, then down to work. I always stop at 12 for lunch and a bit of telly before getting back to it around 1pm. I'm not very good at knowing when to stop for the day which is one of the reasons I've decided to rent office space. I'm going to treat it like a proper 9-5 job and avoid writing at home where at all possible, in an attempt to get a better work/life balance going.
10. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Everywhere! Newspaper articles, snippets of conversation, talking to friends, other books etc. I also sometimes just get ideas popping into my head when I least expect it. Once I've got an idea, I usually turn to the internet to find out more. I like to let ideas percolate for a few months before I start writing, scribbling lots of ideas in notebooks as I go along.
Thanks so much for interviewing, Lisa!
A sixteen-year-old book-lover from Ireland. Reviews will come as often as I finish a book, which is quite quickly, to be fair!