Thursday, 19 January 2017

We sat down for a chat...with Lisa Heathfield

Lisa Heathfield, author of the emotionally charged and spellbinding Carnegie nominated Paper Butterflies, joins us today to talk a little about her novel.

Lisa Heathfield, author of Paper Butterflies
WSD: Bicycles hold a significant value for characters in Paper Butterflies. What was so 'dear' to you when you were a teenager (or now, if you can't remember)?

Lisa Heathfield: I know that it's a bit obvious to say it, but books were always my most important possessions as a teen. The all held precious words and worlds. I still never bend a spine or fold pages!

WSD: If someone gave you a paper sculpture, what do you wish it would be?

Lisa Heathfield: My perfect paper sculpture would have to be of our three sons. Although, I think that'd be fairly impossible even for Blister, so failing that I'd opt for a Scottish mountain.

WSD: Do monsters exist?

Lisa Heathfield: I don't think that anyone is born bad, but so called 'monsters' are created out of circumstance. If all children had the very basics of being looked after and loved, then many 'monsters' would never exist. There's a cycle of abuse, where the child who has suffered often acts out that very same abuse in adulthood - the way to break it is to talk about it, blast it out into the open where the secrets have nowhere to hide.

WSD: In my review, I omitted to mention anything about race although June's abuse was often linked directly to her being 'black'. Would you like to say more about 'racism' as a theme in Paper Butterflies?

Lisa Heathfield: Writing about racism in Paper Butterflies was never a conscious decision. June appeared to me one day and asked me to tell her story. She was as clear to me as if she'd just walked into the room - feisty, guarded and strong. I didn't choose her skin colour any more than I chose her character. And it hurt to watch her suffer racism at school as much as it hurt to see her suffer at the hands of Kathleen, her step-mother. Thank goodness for her bike. Thank goodness for Blister.

WSD: June and Blister have such a deep and intense relationship. Who are some of your favourite fictional couples, either friends or lovers?

Lisa Heathfield: For me, Liesel and Rudy in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief are unforgettable. Their relationship is beautiful in a time of brutality. But it's completely heartbreaking. And I love Tessa and Adam in Jenny Downham's Before I Die. I read it years ago and cried and cried. I still think about them. I also love Saba and her brother Lugh in Blood Red Road - her fierce determination to find him in the incredible world that Moira Young created. 

WSD: Craziest thing you've ever done in a library?

Lisa Heathfield: I've never done anything crazy in a library! But seeing my book in libraries is like my craziest dream coming to life!


Paper Butterflies has been nominated for the 2017 Carnegie medal.
Read my review here.

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