Lisa Ballantyne author of the new thriller, Everything She Forgot, joins us today for Q&A. The book starts with a woman named Margaret who's in a car accident, trapped in the wreckage. She's rescued by a stranger before the car goes up in flames, but the stranger disappears. After the accident Margaret understandably can't let the accident go. Who saved her and why did they disappear. She starts to realize she's forgotten on purpose...
What was the last mystery novel you read, other than your own, that you loved? Why did you love it?
I recently re-read ‘Laidlaw’ by William McIllvaney who is credited as being the Godfather of the Scottish crime novel. I loved it for its portrayal of Glasgow and its citizens. My favourite mystery novel of all time is ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by Robert Louis Stevenson – a wonderful quintessence of taut writing, striking characterisation and precise plotting.
If you protagonist were a real person would you be friends with them? Why or why not?
EVERYTHING SHE FORGOT has three main protagonists: Margaret, George and Angus. Although I enjoyed writing all of them, I am not sure I would be friends with any of them in real life and probably readers can understand why. Angus is just too misogynistic and right wing for me; George would probably charm me and I would find him attractive but his impulsiveness, driven by his deep yearning for stability, might jeopardize our friendship. I’m sure Margaret would be a good friend, but she’s probably not quirky enough for me to hang out with on a regular basis.
If you could meet any author alive or dead, who would it be and why?
This is a difficult question, as I have already had the pleasure of meeting some of my heroes. I recently won a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship - which was a writing residency in a small town in France that had once been an artists’ commune. Robert Louis Stevenson had spent a significant amount of time there, and I found myself reading some of his letters while I was there, and then wrote a poem to him before I left. Although he lived over a hundred years ago, there was so much about his character, life and attitudes that I found both inspiring and incredibly contemporary. Perhaps it was his Byronic, poetic temperament which doesn’t seem to date, but it was also his raw talent, drive and compassion for others which really inspired me. I think I would like to meet him.
Do you share any traits with your protagonist? Which traits?
I think in order to write a character – even a villain – you have to understand them in some deep way. I unfortunately share Margaret’s neuroticism, but also have George’s dreamer tendencies shot through with a joy for life. When I was writing the character of Angus, I was very aware that he was the writer in the novel. It was fun to exaggerate his vileness, but he has a rabid drive and ambition that is familiar to a lot of writers.