As a woman around that 40-year-old mark, I feel like I would have a lot in common with Lisa, the main character in Finding Lisa by Sigrid Macdonald. See if you think you might relate to her on some level, too, as you check out this interview with the author and excerpt from the story. Be sure to ask more questions in the comments section! Follow the tour for even more, and then enter the giveaway!
Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.
Lisa, Tara’s best friend, suddenly goes missing, and Tara launches a search party to look for her pregnant friend, who may have been harmed by her previously abusive boyfriend.
What was the inspiration behind this book?
Finding Lisa was inspired by the true-life disappearance of an acquaintance of mine. Her partner was immediately suspected as he had spent time in prison for manslaughter.
What kind of research did you have to do for it?
I went to the police station on several occasions so that I would really understand the process of solving a crime, and I made a number of trips to the pool hall because my character, Tara, is married; however, she has the hots for a much younger man, and there’s one scene where the two of them play pool together. I wanted to make sure that I had my terminology right about the game, and I hung out there with the staff on a couple of occasions and also went at night so that I could see what it was like when it came alive as a bar with lots of drinkers watching a hockey game.
Which character was your favorite to write?
Oh, absolutely, my main character Tara is my favorite. The funny thing is that because I wrote her in first person, many people think that she is a version of me, but nothing could be further from the truth. Tara has not taken many risks in life. When the book opens, she and her best friend, Lisa, are downtown having a girls’ night out at the movies. Lisa jaywalks and walks right into downtown traffic, and Tara is horrified. She is the type of woman who always goes to the crosswalk. That tells you a lot about her right there.
To which character did you relate the most?
Lisa. Lisa was wild in her youth, and so was I. She made some bad decisions, but she lived. I’m not like that now, but in my twenties, I knew how to party, and I wasn’t afraid of anything. I was adventuresome and spontaneous.
What was one of your favorite scenes?
My favorite scenes are when Tara is with Alain, the 24-year-old on whom she has the big crush. That’s because she gets very insecure and lustful in his presence. I also loved giving Tara a neurosis about her hair so that she was always going back and forth to the hairdresser and never satisfied with the outcome. The whole point of Tara being crazy about her hair is that she is deathly afraid of the clock turning and losing her youth. She is laser-focused on her appearance because she feels that if she can control the way she looks, maybe she can stop time and she won’t ride into middle age.
Will we see these characters again?
Why should we read your book?
One, my book is entertaining. I’ve tried to employ my quirky sense of humor, so I hope the book will give people a laugh in certain places. Two, it has a very empowering message for women. Our culture devalues aging. And we start fast. We don’t wait until people get really old; we devalue them when they enter their forties, especially if they are female. This is a terrible message. My message is, be yourself. Grab it, own it, embrace it. Other cultures like Asia or China revere aging and know that you’re not born with wisdom. It comes with the trial and error of making mistakes, enduring heartaches, and doing things differently. It comes with the passing of the years, not necessarily or automatically, but hopefully, over time, we learn lessons. And, three, Finding Lisa has a surprise ending. It’s not what you think. Therefore, the message is not really what it appears to be at the beginning either.
What is your favorite part about writing?
I genuinely enter a different world when I write. I played a lot of video games when I was younger, and I burnt out both wrists with repetitive strain injuries. As a result, I need to dictate everything, and I love that. I use a program called Dragon NaturallySpeaking, so I just sit and talk to my computer, and when I’m writing books or articles, it’s like magic. At some point, the characters just tell me what’s going to happen. I’m not the kind of author who writes using an outline except when I’m writing nonfiction. Then I do. But with fiction, I go with my gut and some skeletal outline in my head, and I dictate everything, and it’s lots of fun.
What is your least favorite part about writing?
Although I am a professional editor, editing my own writing is the thing that I like least. I’m too close to the material.
What are you currently reading? Up next on your TBR?
I resisted reading Where the Crawdads Sing up until a few days ago because I thought I would not like the setting in a marshland. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It got rave reviews because it’s a remarkable story. I subscribe to Audible and so does my sister. Audible allows family members to go into each other’s account, so we both listen to at least two audiobooks a month, sometimes three. Reese Witherspoon makes good recommendations for audiobooks. I’ve read at least eight of her last ten recommendations. And I generally read two or three other books in print every month. I just finished Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, which I would highly recommend. It’s about a radical thinking Muslim woman who gets involved with a very conservative Muslim man, and she has a jihadist brother. It’s excellent.
What book and/or author changed your life?
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Charles Dickens, for sure. He is one of my favorites. I love many of the classics starting with Dostoyevsky, moving on to Tolstoy, and all the Johns (John Steinbeck, John Updike, John Irving). More contemporary writers like Joyce Carol Oates and Jodi Picoult have definitely affected my writing style and my thinking because they write about social issues, and I appreciate that.
When not writing, what can we find you doing?
Watching Netflix, at the gym, listening to a podcast or audiobook, or visiting my brother.
What is one skill you wish you had?
I wish I understood science better. I’m definitely a language arts/social science type person. I’m interested in biology, but things like chemistry or physics zip right past me. POOF!
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I would love to time travel. I feel nostalgic about earlier years and would be elated to relive them and express more gratitude and appreciation to my now gone parents.
If you could meet one person living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would be thrilled to meet Queen Elizabeth II. I am a big fan of the Netflix series The Crown, which I think nicely portrays the Queen as playing a role that is both a privilege and a burden. I would like to know what she most regrets in life and what her greatest joys have been in her position. Or if she ever wishes she were a commoner and had a more ordinary life. I think of Megan Markle being in the spotlight now, and I don’t envy her at all. We, as a society, seem to have a need to elevate certain people like rock stars, movie stars, sports players, and the Royals, and then we love to tear them down. Eat them alive, literally like Princess Diana.
Finding Lisa is a character driven story about a quirky Canadian woman named Tara who is about to turn 40. She dreads the thought. Everything is going wrong in her life from her stale marriage to her boring job to her hopeless crush on a 24-year-old guy. The only thing right in Tara’s life is her best friend Lisa who has just confided that she is pregnant and the baby does not belong to her partner Ryan, who has a history of domestic violence. Then Lisa disappears and the search is on to find her.
Read an excerpt:
All the carts were taken at the supermarket on Tuesday. I found one off to the side of the vegetable aisle. It had a defective wheel, which resulted in me almost overturning a display of cantaloupes. The cart was also enormous. No doubt this was a deliberate ploy on the part of the supermarket to encourage excess shopping. "I feel as though I'm driving a school bus," I announced to the frail, pale orange-haired woman to my left, who was squeezing the small, unappetizing looking cantaloupes. She smiled faintly and nodded. I wondered how she had the strength to push the heavy cart through the long aisles of the grocery store at her age. "Mum, I'll go with you to one of those Women against Rape meetings if you want?" Devon said to my astonishment, his voice rising at the end of his sentence. "There’s only one condition. You have to watch 8 Mile with me." "8 Mile? Isn’t that the movie based on the book by Stephen King?" "Nah, you’re thinking about The Green Mile," Devon replied. "8 Mile is the story of a rapper in Detroit. It's based on the life of Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers. Eminem even stars in it," he said with increasing enthusiasm. "I think it’ll give you a better idea of where he's coming from. You know, you're always talking about these girls who've been, like, abused and what horrible lives they've had. You even feel bad about boys who were taken advantage of by priests or their hockey coaches. So why don't you have any sympathy for Marshall? His mother was abusive. She was mean to him, and she did drugs! Also, she, like, gave him something called Munchkins syndrome," Devon added uncertainly. "Munchausen syndrome?” I asked, trying to picture the tough guy with the tattoos and bad attitude as a small child with a manipulative and controlling mother. "Yeah, that sounds right. She made him feel sick when he was totally healthy. And, Mum, I know you would respect the way Em felt about his little brother, Nathan. He, like, didn't wanna leave him alone in the house with his mother when he finally split from Detroit. He's also really keen about his daughter, Hailie Jade. He talks about her all the time in his songs and on TV." I pushed the buttons on the radio. The Steve Miller band was singing, "Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future." I had a sense of motion. The car was moving forward, and with every traffic light I passed, I was moving farther away from Lisa and our routine evenings at the ByTowne Theatre. The rest of us were going ahead, and Lisa had been left behind. I wanted to go back, not just to last Thursday night, but to my university days, so I could live my life all over again. I wanted to be sixteen or twenty-six again, making decisions based on what I knew now. So many lost opportunities. How had I managed to completely screw up my life? I'd done everything wrong except that I hadn't become a street prostitute or a serial murderer. Too late for the former—who would want me? But there was still time for the latter.
Originally from New Jersey, Sigrid Macdonald lived for almost thirty years in Ottawa, Ontario, and currently resides in Weston, Florida. She has been a freelance writer for years. Her works have appeared in The Globe and Mail newspaper; the Women’s Freedom Network Newsletter; the American magazine Justice Denied; The Toastmaster; and the Anxiety Disorders Association of Ontario Newsletter. Her first book, Getting Hip: Recovery from a Total Hip Replacement, was published in 2004. Her second book, Be Your Own Editor, followed in 2010. Although Finding Lisa is written in first person, Macdonald only resembles her character in the sense that she once had a neurotic fixation on her hair, and she has always been called by the wrong name; instead of being called Sigrid, people have called her Susan, Sharon, Astrid, Ingrid and, her personal favorite, Siri.
Macdonald is a social activist who has spent decades working on the seemingly disparate issues of women’s rights and wrongful convictions; she has worked at the Women’s Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and was a member of AIDWYC, The Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted. She owns an editing company called Book Magic. Sigrid is a public speaker and a member of Mothers against Drunk Driving, Ottawa Independent Writers, the American Association of University Women, and the Editors’ Association of Canada. Visit her website at http://bookmagic.ca/ or friend her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sigridmac.
Sigrid Macdonald will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway