Good morning Lisa and a big welcome as my first guest of 2017. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Thanks for asking me to do this, Jo. I am trying to convince myself that I’m not a fraud being interviewed by you as I’m not a proper, grown-up author yet! However, we all have to start somewhere, eh?
I should have just given you my Match.com profile for this part. It got me a husband after all. True story! Although, he may be asking me questions if I’m flirting with the readers of this interview through my dating profile. Moving on…
I’m in my 40s and I am very lucky to live in Bournemouth, close to the sea. I’m originally from Oxfordshire which is about as far from the sea as you can get.
I used to be a secondary school English teacher but I decided that I liked having a life and not feeling perpetually stressed, so I escaped.
I loved the job in terms of encouraging the next generation of readers and writers but this isn’t Dead Poets Society. Often the English teacher is met with groans when poetry and Shakespeare rear their heads. No one ever stood up on a desk and called me ‘Captain’ either.
How did your writing journey begin?
I came late to writing. It’s funny how I’ve spent years teaching writing skills, been an avid reader, and studied the classic authors to Masters level, but have never ventured into writing territory myself.
Here’s my time to boast – allow me this moment if you will, there aren’t many – I wrote a blog post about how I came to writing and won an international blogging competition in the process!
If I am allowed a cheeky bit of shameless self-promotion, here’s a link to the winning post: https://www.lisasell.co.uk/2016/05/crushed-by-a-cheeseburger/.
In short(ish), when I was 11 years old, I wrote a novel about a child spy called Pete whose exploits were fuelled by cheeseburgers. I handed it over to my favourite English teacher for her praise and adoration. I was gutted when she barely glanced at it and stuck it away in her drawer. It never saw the light of day again.
It may sound silly now but that rejection remained with me. Every time I attempted to write fiction after that, I felt like I was substandard. This lasted for decades!
In early 2016, I took stock of my life in many ways. I got married and was in the best place in terms of confidence and having a supportive partner.
I decided that I had something to share so I started writing. It wasn’t an epiphany; more of a slow burner. There has always been a writer in me wanting to get out shouting and screaming. I cannot shut her up now!
If you hadn’t become a writer is there any other occupation you would have chosen?
Before I became a writer I had so many different jobs, trying to find where I fitted in, that I think I may have exhausted my options!
Trite as it may sound I have finally found what I was always meant to be doing; writing and blogging. I wish I had come to this sooner. I would then have been spared awful jobs such as cleaning, working in a call centre and being verbally abused daily, and being a retail manager (also verbally abused).
I don’t even want to consider any other occupation now *shivers in horror at the thought*.
Can you tell us something about your current WIP?
One of the aspects that drove me to begin writing was my passion for enlightening people about the pain and struggle of both living with mental illness and being the loved one of people who have it. I have had major depressive episodes, on and off, for 20 years.
I decided to begin by ‘writing what I know’. That was tough in a few ways: to go back to dark places of personal experience, and to have some scathing authors sneering at the ‘newbie’ making the rookie first novel mistake of writing something partially autobiographical. I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. So I carried on.
I believe this novel had to be written; for me and for anyone who cares to be informed and entertained by it. It’s about depression, but depression isn’t all doom and gloom. Depressives are some of the funniest people in the world. Many comedians have depression.
I completed the first draft of the novel. I was proud to achieve something and I loved my main character and how she documented her highs and lows. I was just beginning the revising stages and then life imitated art; depression returned.
Long story, but I am beginning recovery now. I haven’t worked on the novel for months. It has been too painful to deal with concerning its subject matter and the illness rendering me incapable of doing much at all. I will, however, be picking it up again. This novel nags at me to see the light of day. It will.
I have also been scribbling short stories, which I really enjoy, and I have an outline and some characters planned for my second novel.
The one thing I have been consistent in writing throughout depression is my writing blog. I love it! I am now going to sound like a really sappy writer but writing that blog every week kept me going. It still motivates me.
Name the top two destinations on your bucket list.
I was extremely lucky to cross one of these off my list last year when I honeymooned in Rome. It is such a wonderful place to discover and eat your way through!
I’d love to travel around more of Italy in the future. I fell in love with Italy years ago from seeing it on the screen. It did not fail to live up to my expectations in real life.
I have wanted to go to Australia since the ‘80s days of Neighbours. I was a huge Kylie Minogue fan back in the day!
I’d love to visit Oz in the future. I even thought about moving there in the past, possibly to stalk Kylie. I’m sure Australia and Kylie are thankful that I didn’t.
Kylie is safe now. I’m over my fandom. Australia? Not so much.
And lastly, you’re planning to get away from it all for a year on a desert island. What four things would you take with you and why?
Do the Husband and cat count as ‘things’? If so I guess they’ve just taken up two of my list. I couldn’t live without them.
The Husband is so encouraging of everything I do, even when I make humongous mistakes. He also makes amazing dinners out of all the bits he finds in the food cupboards, so we’d be okay for meals!
Feegle, the cat (named after Terry Pratchett’s Nac Mac Feegles) is a given. I caved in and got a cat because it’s apparently writer law and I was jealous of all the cat pics on social media.
The next item would be a pen and notebook. I’m counting those as one as they go together, and frankly, I’m cheeky like that.
I would need to write, I’ve written journals since I was a child. Although I do wonder how exciting this journal would be: ‘Dear Diary, The sun is hot, the sea is wet and the sand is, well, sandy.’
My bookcase full of my favourite books is a must. I cannot live without my books! I’m not sure if I’m allowed a Kindle due to possible lack of electricity. Even if I could power it up, I’d still plump for the physical books.
I am old school. I delight in the feel of a book, with its delicious bookish smells, textured pages, and words spilling out across my hands. There’s nothing quite like it.
Social Media Links
Blog, ‘Reader I Wrote It’: https://www.lisasell.co.uk/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/lisasellwriter/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Lisa Sell is a fiction writer and blogger. When not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the Husband. Not particularly in that order.