Interview: Lisa Hinsley, author of Plague

Please welcome Lisa Hinsley to the blog! Lisa has a few titles under her belt, and her thriller Plague has just come out in the US from Pocket Star! Lisa was kind enough to tell us a bit about the book, and more!

plagueLisa, have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I didn’t always want to be a writer, but since I can remember I have been writing. I taught myself to read just before I turned four and was soon writing poems. As I teen I started writing short stories, but mostly stuck to angst-ridden poetry. Then when I turned thirty my scribblings became longer. A book appeared, short and terribly written, but that was it. I was hooked. It took six years, mentoring by an editor who believed in me and four books until I finally published my first novel.

For a long time I wanted to be a painter or sculptress, but I knew it would be difficult to make a living so I trained in technical drawing. Before my writing took off I worked as an architectural technician. It’s kind of like drawing, and was creative enough to keep me happy.

Your novel, Plague, is finally available in the US! Will you tell us a little about it and what inspired you to write it?
Plague started late one night as my husband and I discussed the bubonic plague… as you do. He’d read about an outbreak in South America, I think. We got into a debate on where the disease came from and the various hypotheses about the methods of infection. I have a curious mind and the next day I bumbled around the internet, researching various outbreaks of plague. I read papers and accounts, and then Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. I used this to gain an understanding of how the people felt, their helplessness, and to inspire a few of the things that went on in my novel, for instance modernizing the lengths the authorities went to in their attempts to control the infection rate in 1665.

There are lots of books and movies about outbreaks of various potential population-killing diseases. I thought about how I would react in such a scenario. I wouldn’t be interested in or looking for the cause. I’d be trying to take care of my family, even if that meant simply making them more comfortable as the end approached.

What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a bit of both. I start when I have a good idea of where I want my story to start and a clear vision of how I want it to end. For the big middle section I’ll have a rough idea, but it’s while I’m writing that the characters come into their own, and something I thought was a sure thing suddenly becomes unusable or unfeasible, or simply something that particular character would never do.

What do you enjoy most about writing horror and suspense?
I love creating cliffhangers. I want the reader to be so curious about what happens next, filling them with that ‘need to know’, that they can’t put the book down.

What are some of your favorite books or authors?
That’s a big question, there are so many. I’ll name a few… Favourite authors: Stephen King, James Herbert, and Roald Dahl. Favourite books: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Dragon’s Egg by Robert L Forward. I used to babysit to earn money as a teen. I was 12 or 13 (we started earlier back then!) and used to get my pay and go straight to the local bookshop. I’d root through the sci-fi section and this is one of those finds that stuck with me. The book was given away by my mother after I moved away from home and years later I found a new copy. The book didn’t have the same hard-hitting impact it had on my younger self. The book is a story about evolution and hardship on a neutron star. It’s a thought-provoking read.

What’s next for you?
I just finished a science-fiction book called That Elusive Cure. Here’s a little bit about it:
Inside an abandoned church a futuristic pod is hidden from all but a few. Kath is hoping for a magic solution, the miracle. While waiting for her chemotherapy session a woman approaches, claiming to have a cure for cancer. Follow Kath in her search for the truth. This is a story about facing up to illness, mental and physical, of family struggle and, above all, of hope.

Keep up with Lisa: Website

In this enthralling debut thriller written in the vein of Contagion, a young couple struggles to save their plague–stricken son as they desperately fight back against a tyrannical government.

A new strain of the bubonic plague is diagnosed in London. Before it can be contained it spreads through the population, faster and deadlier than anyone could have imagined. Three weeks is all it takes to decimate the country.

Johnny and Liz are devastated when their young son, Nathan, starts to show symptoms, but Liz phones the authorities anyway, and a few hours later the army arrives and boards up their house.

Now Nathan is dying and there is nothing they can do to help him. Hours pass like weeks as their little boy grows weaker and weaker. All Liz wants is for them to die with some dignity, but the authorities refuse to help. Then their Internet and phones stop working. Cut off from the world and stuck inside their house, the family tries its best to cope—but there is nothing they can do to stop the lethal epidemic.

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