New authors are always exciting to discover, especially if they are out to engage new minds. This past week Lisa J. Lawrence launched Rodent, a gripping novel aimed for the teenage set. Lawrence grew up in several different locales in British Columbia and Alberta. She now resides and works as a teacher in Edmonton.
1) First off, can you give a bit of an outline of Rodent?
Rodent is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Isabelle, who is essentially the caregiver for her mother and younger siblings because of her mother’s alcoholism. She tries to keep everyone alive and together as her mom bounces from job to job and they move from friends’ basements to shelters to sketchy apartments. Rodent begins after one of these moves. At the same time, Isabelle starts grade eleven at a new school. That brings a lot of new, unexpected things for her—both good and bad.
2) Where did you get the inspiration to write Rodent? Was there much research involved in writing it or was it more of a work of ‘pure imagination?’
The spark for Rodent came one night when I was putting my youngest daughter to bed, who was three or four years old at the time. After going through the bedtime routine and tucking her in, I thought, “What would it be like for a child to have to do all of this?” I started thinking about circumstances in which children care for other children, playing an adult’s role. From there, it was mostly a work of imagination. I had a couple of teenaged “consultants” who I would bounce things off of from time to time! I know a RCMP officer who was kind enough to answer my police-related questions. I also read some accounts of children living with a parent with an addiction.
3) I know it has been a short while since Rodent was released but how has the reaction been to it so far?
So far, the early reviews and feedback on Goodreads (Click on link here) have been positive. That’s a great feeling. When you share your story with others, you hope they’ll like it or at least relate to it in some way.
4) Who are your favourite writers? What are you reading right now?
Margaret Laurence held the title of favourite for a long time. I’m all over the place these days. I hate to be a cliché, but I adore the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I was a late bloomer; all the movies were out before I started reading any of the books, and then I was hooked. I felt a little depressed when I finished them all! I also enjoy Susan Juby, especially her Alice trilogy, and some Neil Gaiman. I loved Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpoole. With my daughter, I’m currently reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In the near future, I hope to tackle Seven the Series.
5) Is there much planned in the way of public readings or book-club events for Rodent? If yes, are there events you are excited to be attending?
I am looking forward to a launch for Rodent at Audreys Books in Edmonton on May 14th. It’s my first launch, and I’m excited to celebrate with friends, family, and anyone who would like to attend! I also plan on doing some readings at local schools. I’m open to participating in other events that may come up as well.
6) Are you working on anything new right now? If yes, are there details you care to share?
I’m currently finishing a manuscript about a thirteen-year-old girl with Turner syndrome. I’ll just say it takes place in northern Alberta and involves some highly unusual circumstances!
7) You have an active fan page on Facebook right now. Will you be using it to keep in contact with fans? Will you be expanding to any other social-media platforms like Twitter or Pinterest?
Yes, the Facebook page is new. (Click here for link) It’s been pretty quiet so far, as I get things going, but I hope to use it to keep readers informed about upcoming readings, etc. I’m eyeing Twitter as well, but I don’t think I have a really good feel for it yet! Maybe it’s the word limit that gets me.
8) Your biographies have you listed as living in Edmonton. How do you like living there? Does its cultural life offer you much in the way of inspiration for your writing?
I love Edmonton. It’s been my home for about twenty years now. I think most of my inspiration, though, comes from those very human moments that can happen anywhere: feeling left out, restlessness, overcoming something difficult, making an unexpected connection. I grew up in a small town (Stettler, AB), and a lot of inspiration comes from there as well. Having said that, I do love Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre and Fringe Festival!