Interview with Lisa Manterfield for the novel A Strange Companion

 

Thank you, Lisa, for allowing me to read your book and to be able to interview you today!

 

  • So first off I truly loved reading your book! I know this is considered a standalone, but I’d love to read a spin off about Jon and Alex, or even perhaps even a prequel about Kat and Gabe. Any plans for this or maybe a novella?

Thank you so much. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the book. I have a lot of ideas spinning around in my head right now. All the characters in the book have more they’d like to say, including the old man Kat meets in the retirement home. He originally had a bigger role, so he may yet get his moment. But yes, even though it wasn’t part of my original plan, I think a spin-off is in my future.

  • I checked out your website and noticed your hometown was Sheffield. Do you think this helped in you writing some of the background to your story?

I do. Even though I played with geography and moved entire parts of the city around to suit my story, it helped to have real places in my mind as I wrote. And I love the surrounding countryside, so I enjoyed being able to share some of that in my writing.

  • What inspired you to write such a beautiful and an emotional story?

Where to begin? Originally, this was a story about past lives and how souls find one another over and over again. I was really interested to explore why we sometimes feel deep, inexplicable connections to people we meet. But stories have a way of evolving as you write. I’d been writing a lot of non-fiction on the topic of grief, and it began creeping into this story. Finally, I realized that the story was really about love, loss, and how Kat deals with her grief.

  • Did anybody in your personal life inspire some of the characters for this book?

Not specifically, but incidents and experiences, or things people said to me found their way into the story. I lost my dad when I was 15, so I gave some of my experiences to Kat. When I needed a worthy love interest for her in Owen, I borrowed from someone I’d known, who wasn’t a love interest of mine, but who would have been a worthy one. Mr. Scroggins, the cat that adopts Kat’s mother, is based on a stray cat who adopted me some years ago. He was a scruffy, spiky little thing, but we had a lovely, if brief, relationship. I had to give him a role.

  • Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

 

The story itself is purely fictional, but many of the settings are real. And the flirtation scene with Owen at the start of the book? Yeah, well, that actually happened.

 

  • What was your favorite part to write?

 

One of my favorite scenes is when Kat goes to see Gabe’s family, especially the scene where she takes Mai to meet Nonna. It was fun to write that character, with all her beliefs and superstitions. I was really pleased when a friend read the book and told me that Nonna was exactly like her grandmother.

 

  • How did you choose the title for your book?

 

The original title was The Skeptic’s Guide to Reincarnation, which I loved, but which was never quite right for the tone for the book. I owe the current title to my friend Becky. She is an amazing woman, who has suffered so much loss in her life and yet is one of the most upbeat, positive people you could ever meet. We were talking about grief and she said, “Grief is a strange companion.” I had this moment of “Oh, that’s my title!” She very graciously agreed to let me use it.

  • Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Yes. The Smallest Thing is the story of a 17-year-old girl, with big plans to escape her boring English village, who find herself trapped there by a government-imposed quarantine. It’s really a story about friendship, community, and what it means to become an adult—and fall in love—in the midst of tragedy. It was inspired by the true story of the village of Eyam, whose residents chose to quarantine themselves to prevent the spread of the plague in the 1600s. My story is present-day version, plus there’s a hot guy in a HAZMAT suit.

 

  • Is there anything you would like to add or to say to your fans and readers?

Just thank you. Without readers, authors are just weird people who make stuff up for fun. One of the greatest joys of being a writer is knowing that someone has read your story and heard what you have to say. There’ a strange, invisible bond that happens when you connect with someone you’ve never even met because of a shared story. So, thank you for reading.

 

  • What is the best way your readers can get in touch with you?

I’m on Facebook and Twitter, possibly more than is healthy. And there’s a contact page on my website. LisaManterfield.com.  I’d love to hear from you.

 

Thank you, Lisa, again for this interview! It has been such a pleasure to have you on my blog!

 

If you would like to check out my review of her book you can do so by clicking here.

 

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