Lisa Heidke signed up for internet dating so she could write about the experience in It Started With A Kiss.
Character development is essential to any storyline. Do you complete any research before putting pen to paper?
Ha! I wish. No. I start with a protagonist and a crisis and go from there. I’m a pantser (fly by the seat of my pants) so I do little to no research before I start writing a new manuscript. I have no idea where my story is going. The research usually begins after the first 20,000 words when I say to myself, ‘Hmm, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Maybe you need to explore this concept a bit more.’
Juggling a family and writing, how have you seen your writing journey develop over time?
My writing life has been killed by my family! In some ways it was easier to write when my children were very young because they were at school or asleep. Now that they are independent beings, they seem to be around a lot more and want to chat with me. I have to be ruthless about protecting my writing time. When I close my office door, it means I’m writing. Still, they disregard this blatant sign and stomp in all the time demanding food and/or money!
What was your intention when writing began for It Started With A Kiss?
I wrote a sad story about a woman who signs up to internet dating and gets stalked! Even though my characters are always in crisis – because conflict drives the story – no one wants to read about a perfect person living the perfect life – I try to couch it so that there is some humour. I see enough tragedy in the real world and on the evening news; I want my characters to triumph over their adversity, – not straight away, but eventually. And I think I can make my point by hopefully having readers smile rather than cry.
What is your writing process?
Theoretically, I write four days a week from nine am until three pm. This rarely ever happens because a) refer to question 2, and b) now that I have a few books out, I spend a bit of time doing publicity, promotion, library and book club talks, etc. I also teach writing popular women’s fiction at the Australian Writers’ Centre, so I guess I’m time poor. That’s my excuse, anyway!
What common misconceptions do you think readers have when it comes to Australian authors?
That we’re rich! Seriously, I think that it’s that we’re somehow not as good as UK or US writers. The Australian authors I’ve met are incredibly talented and write brilliant books. They are every bit as talented as overseas authors.
If you were to read the first draft of your very first novel, how far do you believe you have come as a writer?
EEK! A long way! Even though I came from a journalistic background, I had no idea about pacing, point of view, structure, conflict…the list goes on.
Do you struggle with storylines and characters?
I would say yes. Generally not the through line – i.e. the main story, but I struggle to come up with the secondary characters, stories and conflicts. They have to be plausible and relate back to the main character’s dramas, so it can become quite complex, especially when a new plot line comes to me when I have completed my first draft! (It always happens that way.)
What challenges did you face when writing your latest release?
Mainly realising that I couldn’t write Friday’s story without signing up to internet dating. It wasn’t enough to interview friends who had been /were on it. I had to find out for myself. It was incredibly daunting and nerve-wracking.
What advice can you give to new and aspiring authors?
Learn your craft: i.e. write until your brain hurts! Over and over again. Practise with point of view, dialogue, and writing sex scenes…whatever. Because until you do, how will you find your voice? You could be brilliant at writing sex scenes but how will you know if you don’t sit down and write them. Be brave. Be persistent and be show up every day! Bums on seats. Write!
Have you learnt anything new as a writer since finishing It Started with a Kiss?
That even though the writing might get easier and I might not have to write as many drafts than when I was starting out, self-doubt is always niggling in the background, trying to cut me down. I’d hoped that inner self-deprecating voice would disappear over time, but it hasn’t. I guess I have to accept that it’s going to hang around and try to drag me down. I just have to make sure it doesn’t!
What’s next for Lisa Heidke?
A glass of champagne and a long soak in the tub! I am writing about Lily – a city gal who loses her job and boyfriend and takes off to the coast to begin a brand-new life as a florist. Of course, she doesn’t know the first thing about flowers!
Friday Jones is distraught when Liam, her husband of nearly twenty years and the father of their teenage daughters, tells her their marriage is over. Still heartbroken many months later, Friday is deeply flattered when a funny, handsome man takes an interest in her. From their very first kiss, Friday finds it difficult to control her attraction for him despite numerous warning signals. When Friday’s best friend, Rosie, discovers Friday is risking further emotional pain she convinces her to end the relationship and join a dating website. But not long after Friday dives into the world of online romance she starts taking wrong turns. Could one of her flings have become a little too obsessed with her? And has the time come to step back and take a good look at where she’s going in life?
After growing up in Brisbane, Lisa Heidke ran away to Sydney, via London, and worked in book and magazine publishing. After many years living in the inner west, she was surprised one morning to wake up and find herself with three children and living on the North Shore. It Started with a Kiss is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.