“In a strange way, staring at the old man was like looking into a mirror. He seemed, for a moment, a little less like a stranger.”Vanishing Hour – Lisa King
After recently reading Lisa King’s debut novel, Vanishing Hour, I was blown away with how perfect it was in every possible way. Everything from her writing style to her gripping apocalyptic plot had me desperate for more, and it has quickly become one of my favourite reads of recent years! I asked the lovely Lisa a few questions to get to know her better, and what we can expect to see from her next! (See my review of Vanishing Hour here!)
- How does it feel publishing your debut novel?!
Overall, I’m bursting with gratitude. I love writing and becoming a published author is a dream I’ve harbored for years. That said, publishing a book is wildly nerve-racking and there’s so much to learn about the industry! I often find myself pivoting between excitement and slight terror. Still, it’s definitely surreal to witness your dreams materialize, and I’m bubbling with thanks.
- I loved both Matthew and Ruby’s characters in Vanishing Hour – how did the idea of these two opposite characters come to you?
I’m so glad you loved Matthew and Ruby! One of my favourite parts about writing is the ability to bring together odd pairings, under unusual circumstances, and watch them thrive as a team. I’ve always been inspired by unlikely friendships and underdog characters, and Matthew and Ruby’s friendship embodies something that generally uplifts me in life: watching opposites learn they’re less opposite, only to bring out the best in each other. I knew my first novel would feature this blueprint in some capacity.
- How long did the whole process of writing and editing the book take?
A long freakin’ time.
The actual writing of Vanishing Hour, on my part, took about two years on and off. What came next lasted approximately three years: from signing with my agent (Travis Pennington of The Knight Agency), and then my publisher (The Story Plant), to actually publishing the book. So, just a measly five-year project (ha!). At every stage, there was editing. So. Much. Editing. At one point, I probably could have read you Vanishing Hour verbatim.
- Admit it…did you shed a tear or feel overly emotional when writing certain scenes? (Because I did reading them!)
I may have teared up in a few spots (I won’t disclose which spots for the sake of spoiler alerts, but a number of scenes toward the end pulled on my heart strings).
I also felt unexpectedly guilty at times. As a writer, your characters become very real, and a part of you wants to award them each a happy ending. Obviously, this isn’t ideal from a storytelling perspective. You have to break their hearts and crush their dreams and flood them with disappointment—even if you don’t want to.
- Which character did you find the easiest and the hardest character to create and why?
When I set out writing Vanishing Hour (many moons ago), Matthew was my strongest character formation. I envisioned the end of the world for someone who wasn’t particularly fond of it. His voice in my imagination was loud and clear, so I found him easy to write. That said, he went through substantial physical changes over the course of writing this book. He actually started out as a “Not Normal” teenager, and it wasn’t until my agent (brilliantly) suggested we up his age from seventeen to seventy that he became a grumbly old man.
Jud was the trickiest character for me. I generally find it more challenging to write from a villain’s POV, in part because I’m not a villain (pweph!), but in Jud’s case, I didn’t want to overly stigmatize the “evil insanity,” construct. As a mental-health researcher by day, I felt compelled not to perpetuate certain media stereotypes, but as a writer, I found it challenging not to. I struggled with this dilemma on a personal level and ultimately tried to emphasize that Jud’s mental health conditions perhaps exacerbated—but didn’t cause—his villainy.
- What do you like to do when you take a break from writing?
These days, writing is my break. Besides authoring, I have a two-year-old daughter and full-time job, so a lot of my free time is spent writing – and that’s wonderful, because I enjoy it immensely. That said, I love spending time with family and friends, and I love nature (… and reading, and wine). I’m a homebody at heart that delights in small pleasures.
- Who is your favourite author?
This is a toughie. There are so many incredible writers in the world! It’s hard to pick just one, so here are a few of my favorites. I love the way Markus Zusak uses words. He’s so playful and imaginative with language. Donna Tartt leaves me in literary awe. John Green is a riot—and a genius. He’s hands down my favorite young-adult author. I’ve read almost all of his books twice, if not three times. On the poetry front, I love Mary Oliver’s soulfulness and insight, and Rupi Kaur’s minimalist wisdom.
- Which book has inspired you the most in becoming an author?
The Giver by Louis Lowry was the first book I feel deeply in love with (and I’m still deeply in love). I was so moved by the main character, Jonas, and Lowry’s impeccable world-building. The story not only captivated me, but made me think—which is something I try to achieve in my own writing: an enjoyable story with a stroke of something deeper. I’ve read The Giver countless times over the years, and it still inspires me every single time. If I’m feeling lousy or incapable as a writer, I often look there for answers.
- What can we expect to see from you next?
I’m working on a number of projects simultaneously that are very different from each other in terms of genre, including a young-adult and new-adult manuscript. At the moment, I’m probably most excited about a speculative fiction draft that’s part psychological thriller (think an episode of Black Mirror). We’ll see which of these projects reaches the finish line first :).
- What is one piece of advice would you give to new authors?
I have boatloads of advice for new authors (and I’m more than happy to share, don’t hesitate to reach out), but if I had to pick just one important sentiment, it would be don’t give up, followed by a zillion exclamation marks.
If you aspire to be a published author, you’re going to encounter more rejection and self-doubt than any human being is comfortable with. This is totally normal. Cry, yell, chug tequila – do whatever helps you cope, and then keep writing. Don’t stop writing. Every single rejection is a learning opportunity that will either make you a better writer, or a stronger person.
About the author.
Lisa King is a fiction author and researcher whose work has been published in numerous academic journals. She holds degrees in psychology and neuroscience from Western University. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys family outings, ample coffee, and unapologetic napping. She lives in London, Ontario with her husband, daughter, and wonky-eyed cat.
You can purchase your own copy of Lisa’s debut novel, Vanishing Hour, on Amazon now! (I recommend you read this!)
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