Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lissa Evans Author Interview

Photo Content from Lissa Evans

Lissa Evans grew up in the West Midlands. She comes from a family of voracious readers and spent most of her adolescence in the local library, thus becoming well read if not wildly popular.

After studying medicine at Newcastle University, she worked as a junior doctor for four years, before deciding to change to a career in which she wasn’t terrified the entire time; a job in BBC Radio light entertainment followed, and then a switch to television, where she produced and directed series including ‘Room 101’ and also ‘Father Ted’, for which she won a BAFTA.

Her first book, ‘Spencer’s List’ was published in 2002, and since then she has written four more novels for adults (one of which, ‘Their Finest Hour and a Half’, was filmed in 2017) and three novels for children. She lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She still reads voraciously.


What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on your writing?
The books I enjoyed reading most at that age involved the mingling of real life and magic - ordinary children discovering something extraordinary. I desperately wanted that possibility in my own, rather dull, life, and spent huge amounts of time just hoping and waiting for something magical to happen. (It didn’t)

I also loved funny books and I’ve since found that the books that made me laugh most as a child still make me laugh as an adult – my sense of humor obviously hasn’t changed much.

The books for children that I write now combine both these elements, so I guess you could say that the effect of my favourite stories was profound and life-long.

What made you take the plunge and start writing?
For twelve years, I worked as a comedy producer/director in radio and television, and spent a lot of time editing other people’s scripts. (Editing is an incredibly useful skill to have, because it’s all about knowing what’s important in a story, and what you can lose – and it’s about making the story flow). So I spent a lot of time helping other people to tell their stories, and I began to think that I had stories of my own that I wanted to share. This feeling got stronger and stronger, and in the end I took three months off work and started writing every day. It was a wonderful and liberating time.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside your genre?
Oddly enough (given what I’ve written above), my all-time favourite children’s book doesn’t feature magic at all. It’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ by Gerard Durrell, a very funny account of the author’s eccentric childhood. He lived on a Greek island with his peculiar family, and spent almost all of his time observing and collecting wildlife (an interest which he never lost - he ended up by becoming a zoo-keeper). I read it when I was ten, on a wet camping holiday, starting at first light and reading right through breakfast, lunch and tea and finishing by flashlight late that evening. It was my first experience of total immersion in a book.

I don’t think I can pick one single adult book as my favourite, but my favourite author is George Orwell, who wrote ground-breaking fiction and non-fiction in beautifully clear and vivid prose. ‘1984’ is still one of the most chilling novels ever written, and incredibly easy to read, and ‘Down and Out in London and Paris’ is a funny, sad, riveting account of a year spent living in poverty.

Why middle grade? What are some of the challenges of writing for this age group?
When you’re an adult, it’s often hard to remember what you were like at a particular age, but sometimes a specific incident or experience means you can pin down your memories with real accuracy. When I was ten, my family moved away from the village where I’d grown up, and re-located to a large town two hundred miles away. It was the beginning of the summer vacation and I knew no-one at all. My memories of the time are so intense that I can key into exactly how it felt to be that age – and when I started writing children’s fiction it seemed obvious to me that that would be the age group I’d be writing for.

For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, and a Very Strange Adventure, how would you introduce it?
“Small Change for Stuart” is about an ordinary boy, in an ordinary place, who discovers that his family has an extraordinary past and a lost secret.

Stuart’s 10, and small for his age, and when he moves to the dreary town of Beeton at the beginning of the summer holidays, it seems possible that he’ll die of boredom by the end of the week. Then he meets the identical triplet sisters (aged 10, tall for their age) who live next door, and things get even worse.

At which point he finds out something truly amazing about his family history, and begins a frantic quest to solve a series of clues and find his great-uncle’s lost legacy. It’s not cash, it’s not jewels, it’s a magician’s workshop – and somebody else wants to find it too, somebody who’ll let nothing get in her way…

Enter a wonderful world filled with real magic, mystery, and danger.

As if being small and having S. Horten as his name isn't bad enough, now 10-year-old Stuart is forced to move far away from all his friends.But on his very first day in his new home, Stuart's swept up in an extraordinary adventure: the quest to find his great-uncle Tony--a famous magician who literally disappeared off the face of the earth--and Tony's marvelous, long-lost workshop. Along the way, Stuart reluctantly accepts help from the annoying triplets next door… and encounters trouble from another magician who's also desperate to get hold of Tony's treasures.

A quirky, smart, charming page-turner, Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms will enchant young readers--as well as teachers, librarians, and parents.

Lissa Evans’ Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms is a great adventure that takes readers beyond their imagination. It was a fun read and made me feel like a little kid again. Imagine that school just ended and your summer vacation is about to start, only to be informed by your parents that the family is moving. Well that was the very thing that happened to 10-year-old Stuart. Faced with this news, he can’t help but get mad at the fact that he probably will not have any friends to play with all summer long. But his next door neighbors, the Kingley triplets, properly named April, May, and June, they set off to an adventure after Stuart finds a cryptic message from his magician Uncle asking him to find his secret workshop.

Overall, this book was fun. Evans writing style is easy to follow and very descriptive. You can see, smell, and almost touch every step of Stuart’s exhilarating journey. The mystery behind the Uncle’s puzzling message was so nerve-wrecking. I desperately wanted to find out before Stuart did. The characters are very likable and with every bump on the road of their adventure, you just want to jump inside the pages and help them out. That is how much you will start to care for them. It’s a super-adventure full of magic, mystery and mayhem. I am interested to read more about the very-determined 10-year-old Stuart. Lissa Evans has reminded us that adventures are waiting for us to overtake. It just takes imagination and determination, excellent qualities that Stuart possesses. 

You can purchase Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms at these following Retailers: 

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LISSA EVANS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive one copy of Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans.


  1. when i was 18 i ran away with the circus (no joke) i was the magicians assistant and glass walker i was so mach fun and I met my husband there he was a tent man and stage crew we've been married for almost 16 year now best adventure ever!

  2. Wow love the giveaway and the interview!;))) My greatest adventure ummmm I have to say some of the books I have tread! hahaah:)

    thanks for this!

  3. I think it was singing in from of 300 people! It was super nice!

  4. My greatest adventure was my way to become a child psychologist :)

  5. +JMJ+

    What a great interview! I can't believe I haven't heard of Lissa Evans before, when I love Middle Grade books and hers seem to be right up my alley. Thanks for this chance to win Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms! =)

    My greatest adventure was going to college in another country--one which had a culture very different from my own. Everyone spoke English, but their English felt like a whole new language!

    PS -- My aunt is living with diabetes and I know how hard it can be. I think JDRF is a great charity to spotlight. =)

  6. I think university and moving to a big city has definitely been the most adventurous times I've ever experienced (even in spite of the tons of homework :P)

  7. My husband and I were fortunate enough to go to Italy last year.

  8. I don't think I've had any yet..I've had gone on a trip to NY..that's it.

  9. I dont really remember but my europe trip was amazing

  10. great interview and giveaway
    hmmmm mine would have to be travelling with my friend to buy herself a new car, and its just as well cus we were travelling over one massive mountain that is notorious for accidents when her brakes failed. that was one near death adventure i never want to repeat. but atleast she bought herself an amazing new car and it was fun travelling home :P

  11. Ow, I've hat a lot of amazing 'adventures', but I'm still young enough to experience some more. xD
    But I can't pick just one. There's some big, but also small adventures. dx
    I've been to China a lot of times to visit my family. It's a big city they live in, and there's also a lot of fun. They took me to many places. (:
    But I also clearly remember my first A+ in the school. Mwhahha. I was so damn happy. Couldn't believe it. xD

  12. Raising my 6 y/o! ;)
    Tracy Juliano
    ohsopetite1 at yahoo

  13. Going to europe was my greatest adventure...

  14. My greatest adventure was a trip to Peru and Machu Picchu. Magical!

  15. I don't have many adventures...though this one sure does sound AMAZING! The ones I can recall are things I do going hiking and getting to the top of a mountain or the likes...anything that has to do with nature...I'm a really boring person! Can't think of any right now!

  16. sliding down sliding rock into the ice cold mountain water

  17. I would say being a mother and wife has been quite an adventure for me. And at such a young age! It hasn't always been fun, that's for sure. Haha.

  18. My greatest adventure would be when I hiked a mountain with the steepest path I've ever seen.

  19. I've traveled to Europe a few times, but I've always wanted to try the whole survival in the wild for a week thing. My husband is an Eagle scout, so I think between the two of us we could actually do it. I'd like to do that before we have kids, which is fast approaching. Eep!

  20. I still dont have a great adventure...i mean one memorable!!!
    thanks for making this international

  21. I think cruising to Alaska and seeing the glaciers. It was a wonderful experience.

  22. The summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, a friend of mine invited me at the last minute on a month-long roadtrip. Originally she was planning on visiting her long-distance boyfriend for a month, but he dumped her three days before she left. So we had an adventure instead. First we followed one of her favorite bands (Alkaline Trio) up the east coast from FL to Ohio. Then we went to Indiana to stay with her family for a few weeks, taking day trips to places like Chicago. Then we stopped at a feminist convention in Alabama on the way home. So many things happened to me that summer that it literally changed me life.

    the imagine tree at aol dot com

  23. Spending 3 weeks road-tripping with my parents and family friends along the cape coast. Awesome times!

    Sarah Bibi Setar

  24. Traveling and moving back to California and starting over!

  25. Thank you for taking the time to do this giveaway :)

    My greatest adventure was flying to Ireland (by myself) and learning to drive in Dublin (on the wrong side of the road)... and then travelling along the entire bottom coast, ending up in Shannon a week later :) It was tons of fun and I would totally recommend it :)

  26. Thanks for the giveaway.
    hmm my greatest adventure I went camping with my friends (boys and girls) when I was like 15 and didn't tell my mum ;)

  27. I would love to say I had so many adventures, but to tell you the truth I haven't done anything I think is adventures yet... I wish I could start my list soon though.