Lisa Heidke writes contemporary women’s fiction. Her first book, Lucy Springer Gets Even (Allen & Unwin, 2009), was quickly followed by What Kate Did Next (2010). Her third novel, Claudia’s Big Break, was published in January 2011.
What authors/books did you read as a child? When did you first discover your love of books?
My mother started reading to me when I was very small so I don’t remember a time when books weren’t a part of my life. Mum read Australian classics to me like Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie, Blinky Bill and The Magic Pudding.
Enid Blyton was the most prominent author I remember when I was a child. I loved The Magic Faraway TreeThe Naughtiest Girl in School, The Wishing Chair, The Famous Five, etc.
When did you first realise you were a writer? What do you hope your readers will take away with them from reading your books?
That’s a difficult question. I have always written because I trained as a journalist but I guess I realised I was a writer when I started wanting to create my own fictional worlds. I love having the power to make characters act and talk in ways they would never dare in real life.
Generally, I write about women in their thirties going through crises and personal upheaval so I guess I’d like people to read my books and realise that there’s light at the end of the tunnel (if they’re going through a tunnel). If women reading my books are already living prefect lives, then I’d hope they’d be relieved they are not living my characters lives!
That all sounds very gloomy...in fact I write with a humorous bent, so even though my main character might be going through a divorce there’s enough humour in the story to stop it from becoming a tragedy.
Do you find it difficult to read purely for pleasure? Does everything you read come under your ‘writer’ microscope?
No, I love reading for pleasure. I’ll admit when I am reading books in my genre, I’ll think, ‘now why didn’t I write that’ or I might analyse how the author has created the tension or woven several strands of a plot together. When I’m reading outside my genre, for example— crime, fantasy, historical romance etc, it’s entirely for pleasure. I love being swept away by a story and transported to another time.
Do you have to avoid reading certain types of fiction while writing your own? Does what you read while writing have an effect on what you write? In what way?
I avoid reading books in my genre when I’m writing, so that I am not indirectly influenced or led astray. To completely get away from what I’m writing, I’ll read memoirs, historical romance or the classics like Pride and Prejudice.
Name five authors or books that have influenced or inspired your own writing in some way.
Marian Keyes would have to be number one. I love her books – her style of writing, humour and characters appeal to me.
Stephen king. Even though I don’t read his fiction, his book ‘On Writing’ has been an enormous help to me.
Then of course there are the classic writers like Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen and Dorothy Parker, who continue to inspire me.
If you were travelling and were told you could only take one book with you, what book would it be and why?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams. In case I get lost – and it’s laugh-out-loud funny.
What makes a book ‘too good to put down’?
When I get swept away BY the story...when every page is a page turner and I am thinking to myself...I can’t go to sleep yet...just one more chapter...I have to read what happens next. And then I fall asleep thinking about the book and wondering what is going to happen in the following scene or chapter.
What makes you put down a book without finishing it?
I try not to do that. When I pick up a novel, I do my best to see it through to the end. Having said that, if the characters aren’t engaging or I can’t relate to them for whatever reason, I do find it a struggle to continue.
Do you have a favourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws you to them?
When it comes to modern day authors, I would say Marian Keyes. I like her style. However the more I read Australian authors, the more I enjoy them. Women like Kirsty Eagar, Kylie Ladd, Fleur McDonald, Sara Foster, Anita Heiss, Helene Young, Liane Moriarty, and Fiona Palmer are truly talented authors writing interesting and original stories.
If you had to list them, what would be your ‘top ten’ reads of all time (excluding the classics) and why?
This an almost impossible task and my top ten changes all the time. However, this is my list for today:
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
1984, George Orwell
What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty
One Day, David Nicholls
High Infidelity, Nick Hornby
Rachel’s Holiday, Marian Keyes
What was your 2010 ‘best read’? What was it that made it number one?
One Day by David Nicholls. It’s a love story about Emma and Dexter, who have an end of university one night fling - and about how their lives intersect and parallel over the next twenty years. It’s funny, wise, sad and poignant. One Day is definitely one of those books that after I finished reading it, I thought, why couldn’t I have written this?
What do you think of the non-traditional publishing methods – eBooks etc? Do you think the new technology will encourage more people to read? Do you think there’s a future for print books?
I don’t know a lot about the eBook market but I do know most books being published these days, including my own, are available as eBooks. As far as I am concerned, anything that gets more people reading or makes it easier for people to access books is good.
I definitely believe in the future of print books. Nothing beats holding a book in your hands when you’re reading in bed at night. (I have to confess I’m one of those people who turn the top corner of the pages over!)
In February 2011, Claudia’s Big Break, was listed in SMH’s Spectrum as one of the Top Ten Australian Best Sellers.
You can find out more about Lisa and check out her blog, at www.lisaheidke.com
You may also like to follow her on Twitter @lisaheidke