Authors, Books, Fiction, Indie Author, The Writing Process, Tuesday Book Blog

Author Interview with Lis McDermott @LisMcDAuthor #Fiction #DarkRomance #TuesdayBookBlog

My guest on the blog today is author Lis McDermott who is currently enjoying her third career in the creative sector.

Lis spent thirty-four years working in music education, latterly as a schools adviser and OFSTED inspector. During that time, she worked throughout the UK running INSET training for primary teachers. She was a mentor for the Royal Schools of Certificate for Music Educators course, and a workshop leader and lecturer for the ABRSM course in the UK, Hong Kong and Macau.

In 2008, Lis, left education to set up her own photography business, where she predominantly photographed people; weddings, babies, families and latterly, business, people’s headshots.

She awoke another passion for writing and now regularly writes blogs for a friend’s clients, runs a monthly online poetry group, and also mentors others to write their books.

Lis lives in Royal Wootton Bassett with her husband, Conrad, and a collection of, cuddly toys!

Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)

I was 70 this year, so I’m semi-retired – not fully, because my husband, Conrad is 12 years younger than me and still working. We don’t have a family, so I enjoy keeping busy – but not doing things like housework! I love meeting people, so enjoy being able to get out and network in between writing.

As an only child, I was used to keeping myself occupied, and often played games on my own with my teddy, Ding-a-Ling (who nowadays sits on my desk).  I used to own two large picture book encyclopedias spending hours looking at one particular image of a village. I would imagine who lived in the houses, what they did, where they went – basically creating their back stories.  However, later at school, in English lessons I was always being told to write more as I tended to be a little terse and leave out what I thought of at the time as the ‘flowery’ stuff.

As a student I wrote poetry, but I didn’t write anything substantial or for other people’s eyes until I was working in education. Along with a colleague we were asked to write a music scheme, ‘Nelson Music’, to help non-musical teachers, teach the national curriculum.  From then onwards, I regularly wrote articles and work-related pieces. However, I didn’t feel like an author until I wrote a book of short stories in 2017 – because they were completely from my imagination, and had nothing to do with work.

When I’m not writing, sometimes I am still writing as I often have ideas for poems.  Otherwise you’ll find both Conrad and I reading, listening to music, going to the cinema or catching up with friends. During lockdown we bought a bird feed and bird bath – watching the birds at either of these gives us a huge amount of enjoyment too.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)

‘He is Not Worthy’ is my debut novel, something I didn’t think I’d ever manage to write.  After the music scheme, I also wrote a book related to photography: ‘Headshot Diva’, then I wrote a book of short stories: – ‘Changing Lives’; an autobiography – ‘Mixed Feeling’ – True love doesn’t care about age or colour; and several books of poetry including ‘A Tilted View’; ‘Blossom Falls’; ‘Lis’ Little Book of Limericks’ and ‘A Multitude of Stars’.

What genre is it, and what is it about?

‘He is Not Worthy’ is Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary Romance – I’d add, with a dark side.

Rhi Dobbs is head of the art department in a secondary school in Whittingbury, a small town on the south west coast of England. She has her dream job and lives in her own idyllic cottage by the sea with her cat Tibbs. Her life is more than she could ever hope for.

Ben Brooks is a loner who cares for his mum, who always makes him feel worthless. He is obsessed with a red-headed girl who he met several years ago, just once, on what was the worst day of his life. He lives his life vicariously through hers, until she does the unspeakable…

Tragic events and an inappropriate love affair mean that both of their lives will be changed forever.

What or who inspired you to write this book?

I watch a lot of thrillers and had watched one about a stalker. I began thinking about the idea of someone who is just incredibly lonely and becomes obsessed with someone, because she showed him some care several years before. Then I started to think about characters, and the idea of the love affair between a teacher and student popped into my mind.

I have been asked a few times if this is based on personal experience – I will add, certainly not. However, as you can see in my bio, my husband is twelve years younger than me, and in some people’s eyes not acceptable.

Having worked in schools for so many years, it was easy to create that environment.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

Work in the style you want to work. Don’t think you have to write so much each day, or you have to plan, or you have to use fancy vocabulary or you have to write to a specific theme.  Work in the way that suits you and your life. We are all different, so we all write in different ways. Believe in your story.

Don’t edit as you go – just write otherwise you’ll never get finished.

You are never too old to start!

What do you enjoy most about writing and why?

Being able to use my imagination to create places and characters. I see my characters and environments quite vividly in my mind. I particularly love writing dialogue for my characters too.

When writing poetry, I love the fact that there is no right or wrong – it is purely an expression of emotions, ideas and word play. I’m definitely not a highbrow poet – I like accessible poetry.

List three interesting facts about yourself

At music college I studied the harp, piano and singing. Playing the harp, I performed with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at The Three Choirs Festival a few times in the eighties.

In my photography career whilst photographing different events, I photographed a few famous people, including Prince Charles, and also Sophie Duchess of Wessex who were attending local events. And I was one of the official photographers when Wootton Bassett received the title, ‘Royal’ in October 2011.

When I was born in 1952, generally children were given fairly common names. My parents chose to call me Lisbeth, rather than the more normal, Elizabeth. I have since come to find that it is mainly a Scandinavian or Dutch name, but we have no family links to either place.

At primary school I was sent to the headmistress by one teacher who wouldn’t believe that I had been christened that name. I love to see her cope with the multitude of names she would be faced with now. 

Having read ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ – Stieg Larsson, I can refer to the main character Lisbeth Salander. Plus, I also have a dragon tattoo – on my right shoulder.

What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?

Having to read and re-read the edits. I’m not very good at detail, and don’t have the patience for it.

I quite like certain aspects of marketing, like giving talks, and social media, but I do worry about sharing things too often and appearing to be overkill.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

I’d ask them to please tell their friends about it, and if they are happy to do so, write reviews on Amazon, Goodreads or on my Facebook page.  Share your enjoyment with others with my thanks.

What is your next project?

I’m working on a new novel, based on a historical event that took place in 1915 that one of my relatives was involved in, but because I’m not a historian, and don’t want to write that genre of novel, it is set in the present day, occasionally looking backwards. And it involves ghosts and an old murder to be solved.

Connect with Lis here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lismcdermottauthor

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lismcdermott/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisMcDAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lismcdermott/

Website: https://www.lismcdermottauthor.co.uk

BUY a copy of He is Not Worthy:

Book link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Not-Worthy-Lis-McDermott/dp/1800421931/

Book Blurb:

Rhi Dobbs is head of the art department in a secondary school in Whittingbury, a small town on the south west coast of England. She has her dream job and lives in her own idyllic cottage by the sea with her cat Tibbs. Her life is more than she could ever hope for.

Ben Brooks is a loner who cares for his mum, who always makes him feel worthless. He is obsessed with a red-headed girl who he met several years ago, just once, on what was the worst day of his life. He lives his life vicariously through hers, until she does the unspeakable…

Tragic events and an inappropriate love affair mean that both of their lives will be changed forever.

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