Ten Questions for Lisa Thomas
Proud mother of three, Lisa is a self-employed content writer. While she loves her day job, she always dreamt of writing a book she would be proud to put her name on. She had two childhood dreams, to become an author and to write a song that made people happy, but both felt like pipe-dreams. Life changed when her daughter decided she had some big dreams of her own.
This prompted Lisa to realize that the only way her kids would try to make their dreams come true is by Lisa trying to do the same.
What was the first thing you remember reading?
Roald Dahl! I remember reading under my covers with a torch after lights out.
When did you start making films and art?
I have been writing since I was a child and won my first poetry competition when I was approx. 11 years old. However, I have never particularly been confident so as I grew older, I wrote less and kept whatever I did write private. In 2012, while on maternity leave, I answered some adverts for content writers and quickly established a returning customer base. Rather than return to work, I decided to leave my full-time job.
I therefore become self-employed and established my own writing company providing content writing services. Nine years later and I still thoroughly enjoy my job, however, content writing isn’t the same as creative writing, it doesn’t give me the freedom to express myself and it can’t provide me with the same level of satisfaction. So, in 2020 I decided to “pull up my big girl pants,” be brave and finally pursue my dream of writing a story I was proud enough to put my name on.
I have always enjoyed writing and had always wanted to write a story people from around the world could enjoy. As I mentioned, I have always lacked confidence so I never tried to make this goal a reality. Alongside this, I am quite musical, my secondary goal as a child was to write a song that made people happy. My daughter also enjoys music and told me she wanted to become a singer. She asked me if this was something I would do as she believes I have a beautiful singing voice, I said I wasn’t brave enough. She decided she wasn’t brave enough to pursue her dreams either. That’s when I realised my lack of confidence was rubbing off on my children, preventing them from attempting to achieve their dreams. So, I decided to lead by example and this was what prompted me to actually publish my story, rather than keep it too myself like every other piece of writing.
Is it hard to get noticed these days?
It is as there is so much competition, there are a lot of great authors with amazing story ideas. Therefore, I have tried to make myself and my book stand out from the crowd.
As I mentioned I am musically inclined. I had years of piano, drums and singing lessons, I have since brought myself a guitar and am now teaching myself to play.
My ‘music videos’ can be seen on my YouTube channel (link above). I intend to write a song. I will never be a great musician, but I am getting back to something I love and that in itself is amazing.
What artist/writer/filmmaker inspires you the most?
There are lots of authors that I love to read, although I can’t say I have one favourite, it really depends on my mood (I am terrible as the desert island game). I tend to have favourite books, rather than favourite authors. For example, I love Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and I really enjoy reading Dan Brown, his novels fascinate and educate me. The authors I enjoy reading are the ones who can create a story and/or a new world that I can completely get lost in. Stories that are interesting, have depth and have characters that I can relate to, or despise.
JK Rowling’s personal story motivates me greatly, she’s faced hardships in which she could have given up, but didn’t. I hope to have this level of resilience.
What piece of art are you proudest of?
My debut novel Unprecedented Times. It is the first of a trilogy (I am currently writing book two). I have self- published Unprecedented Times on my website and on Amazon, available in both eBook and paperback formats. This is a COVID-fiction story and through book sales I am raising money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
In this sci-fi, dystopian story we follow my version of the COVID pandemic, across two different timelines and through the eyes of four very different characters. Clara, a wannabe scientist working as a secretary at the WHO. Rosa, Clara’s twin sister, NHS nurse and new mother. Dr Vicente, the kind-hearted director-general at the WHO. And Ben, Rosa’s fiancé and a fun-loving police officer. As the virus takes a very different turn to reality, threatening humanity itself, we find out how far we are willing to go in Unprecedented Times.
This is a fact-meets-fiction novel that includes real statistics and data from the virus, which are all referenced. The idea for this book came to me in January, just after the virus had been discovered in China, but before it had hit most other areas of the world, months before it became a pandemic. I began researching it almost immediately and started writing in March 2020. The book was later released in October, the same year.
Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on type of art you cre- ate?
I think where I live and my own personal background has had a massive impact on the things I write. As I’ve mentioned I see the world as a beautiful place, but there’s so much heartache. I’ve grown up in a poor background, I’ve watched my parents struggle to find the money to buy bread and milk from the shop, meanwhile I’ve seen other people around me able to go on two holidays per day and always have the latest cars and tech. Because of this I appreciate the things that are important, family and friends, love and the memories we make, rather than materialistic possessions. I have also seen a lot of discrimination because of the environment I have grown up in, I’ve witnessed racism and I personally have been told I can’t do things because I am a girl, in fact I was told I couldn’t play drums because it was a boys instrument. This has given me a sense of equality, it has made me want to see and treat people equally, because I hated not being treated equally. My background has given me love and acceptance, it has made me want to help others who find themselves in desperate situations and all of this is reflected in my writing.
Is it easier for you to create if given an assignment or does it get in the way of your creativity?
I am a content writer by day, so the majority of what I write is for a purpose, it is essentially an assignment. Sometimes I find this easier, I research the subject, find information and facts and use that to compile the assignment. Whereas with my creative writing,
I don’t have this sense of direction, that comes from me and sometimes it can be harder to start a creative writing task. However, I have to be in the mood to write assignments and if I am not, I find it difficult to concentrate, the words don’t flow as easy. Creative writing is the opposite, I’m almost always happy to disappear into a world of my own creation.
Where do you think the world of litera- ture/popular culture will be like in ten years?
I don’t think the world of literature will be all that unchanged. Even with the technological advances, reading books is something people still consider to be a hobby, even if they read from their Kindle instead of the actual book. However, I do think the industry will continue to become harder to get recognized within as more people seem to be trying their hand at becoming a writer. My hope is that even in 100 years’ time, everyone (especially children) will still love to get lost in a good story.
What was the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to do in your writing career? a specific assignment/books for a publisher?
I was once asked to write a screenplay for a porn movie, that was quite… interesting. I was given some freedom in the narrative and plot, I was simply given a start point and an end point and told to “fill in the blanks.” This was a massive job which took weeks to complete, and a job I have never (and will never) share with anyone other than the client who ordered the work. It was not my finest moment, but it was different, it was fun to do and it was great to have that creative freedom in my content writing role.
What projects are you working on now?
At the moment my focus is three-fold. Firstly, I am continuing to try to market my first book and increase books sales so that I am able to reach my fundraising target. Secondly, I am working on the second book in this trilogy, the painstaking research is all complete so I am finally at the stage of starting to write it up.
Thirdly, I want to enjoy my music again, cover a couple of songs but mainly write my own song, to achieve my secondary childhood dream. This is the hardest goal for me to achieve as I know nothing about songwriting, so I will need to learn as I go and I am sure I will make plenty of mistakes along the way. But the dream is one day I will write a song that is unique, original, and that people can relate too on an emotional level.