Today I am welcoming the lovely Lisa to my blog, for an interview all about Mia (haha, see what I did there?!), her writing process and what advice she would give to aspiring writers.
Hi Lisa, and thanks for appearing on Delightful Book Reviews! So, what is the inspiration being AAM?
Upon completing TAOBN, I found it really difficult to decide what to write my second novel about. With TAOBN, I never wavered from the characters or subject matter, but this time round I was experiencing major commitment issues. I started about four different projects, often writing upwards of 20,000 words but every time I lost confidence, and resolved to start again, hoping my next idea would be 'the one'. The one thing all these abandoned projects had in common was a secondary character called Mia. She was brash, unapologetic and devoid of sentimentality. I loved her and so did my editor. In fact she was the one who gently suggested Mia deserved to be at the centre of a story of her own. I was in Brent Cross shopping centre when I thought about maybe writing a story from the perspective of an overshadowed middle child. My immediate instinct was the make this character very quiet and perhaps a little dowdy. Then Mia popped back in to my head and I decided to make her the middle child instead. The moment I sandwiched her between two high achieving sisters, her bad behaviour started to make sense to me.
Tell us a bit more about the main character, Mia. Do you have anything in common with her?
Mia is sixteen years old. She is loud, daring and unafraid to speak her mind. She's outwardly very sexually confident and the natural leader amongst the friends. At home, it's a slightly different story. Her older sister, Grace, who’s nineteen, is incredibly academic, and her younger sister, Audrey, thirteen, is a champion swimmer. Mia doesn't feel she has any measurable skills or talent. In conjunction with her propensity for trouble, she feels like she's a constant disappointment to her parents.
I have very little in common with Mia, especially when I think back to how I was at sixteen. I've always been quite cautious and tend to think before I act, whereas Mia blusters straight in and worries about the consequences later. I was also very shy and a bit of a worrier. I often felt like I wasn't quite fully formed yet and was resigned to having to wait until I was a bit older to truly feel comfortable in my own skin. Having said that, although Mia comes across as very confident, I think her bravado masks quite a bit of insecurity, so perhaps there are some similarities between us. I would never have worked that out at the time though. In fact I'd have probably been scared stiff of Mia!
What made you want to write about siblings, in particular, sister relationships?
We're all inevitably influenced by our siblings (or lack of). For many of us, they're our first playmates, our first true friends. I've always been fascinated by birth order and the dynamics between siblings. As a kid, I was fascinated with the Walton sextuplets and would love watching the annual documentary programmes offering an insight into their lives. With just one older sister, I was always longed for more siblings and so idea of having five sisters to play and interact with looked like a dream come true. In comparison, being one of two seemed really quite lonely. Although I get on with my sister and love her very much, we've never been particularly close (growing up she alternated between bossing me about and ignoring me) and I've often wondered why this is and where is stems from. I love the brutal honestly that often comes hand-in-hand with sibling relationships. The expectation that their love is everlasting and unconditional often results in some spectacularly awful behaviour, which in turn is really, really good fun to write about.
What was it like writing from Mia's perspective?
I loved it. From the very beginning, it felt immediate and authentic. I really liked how different she was – not only from me, but also from David and Leo from TAOBN.
Do you normally come up the plot or characters first?
Characters first. I sometimes come up with a situation at the same time, but this often changes or disappears altogether. I find plotting in advance really, really hard. I never seem to know if a plotline is going to work until I actually write it. I also like to give the characters time to breathe before committing to a particular path for them. It's not the most economical way to write (I always end up with loads of deleted material) but it seems to be what I always end up doing!
Was the process for writing AAM different from writing TAOBN?
It was quite similar actually – lots of experimentation and false starts and deleted words. The initial thrust of Mia's plot was a love story and it took me ages to figure out Mia isn't the sort of girl to fall in love, at least not right now and not in the way I'd originally planned it. Once I'd worked out the spine of the story, things started to fall into place and Mia’s actions started to make more sense. In both cases, I really loved the editing process. I find first drafts hard. For me, the real excitement begins when I can concentrate on the nitty gritty and make the story as rich and detailed as it can possibly be.
Why is YA literature so special?
I love how unafraid it is of exploring really intense emotions. I enjoy reading all sorts of fiction but I often read adult books and get the sense the author is holding back somehow, as if it’s undignified to completely let go and embrace the full spectrum of emotions. YA fiction doesn't have that self-consciousness. I love the sheer variety too; the range of books and voices out there is becoming richer and more diverse by the day. It's also so, so inventive. There's a playfulness there, whether it's in the voice, the structure or the story itself, that I just don't think you find as much in adult fiction.
What piece of advice would you give to a young, aspiring writer?
Write! It sounds obvious but I often meet people who talk about wanting to write 'one day', but when pressed, reveal they're not doing anything about it now. And it's the now that's important. Writing is a muscle and you need to exercise it. You don't have to finish something; it doesn't have to be perfect; just get used to expressing yourself in the written form, whether that's keeping a diary, writing a poem, writing the beginning of a story or just scribbling down the odd few lines when inspiration strikes. Every little bit will gradually help you discover your voice. If possible, don't have publication as the only goal. It's so easy to get swept up in writing what you think people want to read. Try to block all that out and write the story only you can tell, that's when the real magic happens.
Sum up AAM in three words
Chaotic, addictive, unexpected.
Thank you so much, Lisa, for appearing on my blog! Make sure you guys check out the other spots on the tour <3
Buy All About Mia here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/All-About-Mia-Lisa-Williamson/dp/191098910X
Check out Lisa Williamson here: http://www.lisawilliamsonauthor.com
Until next time :)