Monday, June 10, 2019

Lisa Duffy Interview - This is Home

Photo Credit: Sharona Jacobs

Lisa Duffy is the author of The Salt House (Atria/Simon & Schuster), named by Real Simple as a Best Book of the Month upon its June release, as well as Bustle’s 17 Best Debut Novels by Women in 2017, a She Reads Book Club selection and Refinery 29’s Best Beach Reads of 2017.

Lisa received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts. Her short fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her writing can be found in numerous publications, including Writer’s Digest. She is the founding editor of ROAR, a literary journal supporting women in the arts. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and three children.

Her second stand-alone novel, This is Home, is forthcoming from Atria Books on June 11, 2019.

Lisa’s work is represented by Danielle Burby at Nelson Literary Agency.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Arlington, MA and I’m still in the area. Currently living on the south shore.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Surround yourself with people who support your passion. It’s a lonely endeavor, less so when you don’t feel alone in it.

What were your inspirations for the character development?
I took some liberty with Libby and stole some of own childhood for her character. I grew up in the middle apartment of a triple-decker in a suburb outside of Boston. My father was a policeman in my hometown. We had family members living on the first floor for various stretches of my childhood. It was noisy and crowded and I didn’t always love it. Of course, it took growing up and moving away to see how much of it made me who I am today. We sold the house years and years ago, and sometimes I’ll drive by it when I’m in town, and there’s a tug inside. Still a part of me that feels as though I’m home.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing THIS IS HOME: A NOVEL?
Typing the last line and putting to rest my fear that I wasn’t going to be able to do it again. Realizing that I was no longer a debut novelist. Just a novelist.

In your new book; THIS IS HOME: A NOVEL, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it
It’s a story about Libby Winters, a sixteen-year-old girl, who moves into the middle apartment of a triple decker outside of Boston after her mother dies. She lives with her father and two aunts, who occupy the top floor. She’s adjusting to the already crowded house when Quinn Ellis moves in downstairs. Quinn is the wife of a soldier who has just returned from his second tour overseas, suffering from PTSD he refuses to acknowledge. When Quinn’s husband disappears after a violent night terror, she ends up living on the first-floor underneath Libby. Told in alternating points of view, the story traces Libby and Quinn as they struggle to redefine their own definitions of family and home.

Are there authors that you’re excited to engage/work with?
I’m always excited to meet other authors, whether in person or virtually. There’s tremendous online support between authors. Sharing each other’s achievements and success and lending an ear when things are tough. It’s really one of the best parts of this gig.

What part of Libby did you enjoy writing the most?
Libby is completely fearless in a lot of ways. She has a great sense of who she is, and what she expects from the people around her. The fun parts to write were when the people she loved disappointed her. I didn’t always know where the scene would take me and that’s fun as the writer.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Quinn?
How much compassion she has for her husband, even after he abandons her.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m working on my third novel, My Kind of People, releasing from Atria next summer. It’s about class, identity and betrayal colliding when a young girl is orphaned in a close-knit island community off the coast of Massachusetts.

  • “I just sit in the heat with Rooster’s big head in my lap, his stench filling the air around us, and don’t say a word because I know what Bent’s answer will be. This is home.”
  • “And in my mind, I’d think, dying isn’t the only way someone disappears.”
  • “Now she knows what some of that emptiness looks like. It looks like a dog. And a dead friend. And smoke and shrapnel and a puddle of blood.”
  • “But even now, all these years later, with my mother gone and Bent alive—if I’m honest, I’d make that same deal. I’d make it every minute of every hour of every day.”
  • ‘Maybe John dreamed about the picture tucked under his head and the war he never asked about. And the father he never knew.”
  • “In the silence, the only sound is the fire behind them, the dry leaves exploding like gunfire in the dark night.”
  • “The world around me disappears, blurs into the background until it’s just the two of us. Me teetering on the edge. And him, waiting.”
  • “It occurs to her that maybe John has lived away for so long that away finally became home.”
  • “Quinn stays on the porch, watches as the police car disappears down the street. She stays even after she can no longer see the flash of the lights through the trees. Stays even after the lonely wail of the siren fades.”
  • “The noise brings her to her knees. She stops breathing, squeezes her eyes shut. Then there is nothing. A silence so bottomless, so empty, she holds on to the railing to keep it from swallowing her whole.”
Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
Hmm. Nothing original in my wallet. Maybe my pocketbook. I keep my keys on a ratty, old, weather beaten Neil Pryde keychain that my kids tease me about. But my late father was a windsurfer and it belonged to him, so it’s here to stay.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
Oh, geez. If you’re looking for a comedy, many. My husband and I have six kids between us in our blended family, ranging from 16-36, spouses for all of the older kids. They all have dogs. We live on a tidal river. When the tide’s out, the bottom is mud. Pick any family dinner when the whole clan is at our house and the tide’s out and the dogs decide to break free and go for a swim. It’s our own lovely chaos.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?
I can’t think of anything in someone else’s home, but we have an oddity in our basement. My husband was in the Merchant Marine a long time ago and he bought a sea chest at some auction overseas. It’s in the basement on a shelf now. It reminds me of some sort of baby coffin. It’s weird and creepy. He agreed to letting me try to sell it a couple of months ago and no one wanted it. He was shocked. I wasn’t. It’s a coffin! Call it a sea chest. Still looks like a coffin.

Name one thing you could do to improve any important relationship in your life.
Laugh a lot. Heals all wounds.

From the author of book club favorite The Salt House comes a deeply affecting novel about a teenage girl finding her voice and the military wife who moves in downstairs, united in their search for the true meaning of home.

Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters lives in Paradise, a seaside town north of Boston that rarely lives up to its name. After the death of her mother, she lives with her father, Bent, in the middle apartment of their triple decker home—Bent’s two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, live on the top floor. A former soldier turned policeman, Bent often works nights, leaving Libby under her aunts’ care. Shuffling back and forth between apartments—and the wildly different natures of her family—has Libby wishing for nothing more than a home of her very own.

Quinn Ellis is at a crossroads. When her husband John, who has served two tours in Iraq, goes missing back at home, suffering from PTSD he refuses to address, Quinn finds herself living in the first-floor apartment of the Winters house. Bent had served as her husband’s former platoon leader, a man John refers to as his brother, and despite Bent’s efforts to make her feel welcome, Quinn has yet to unpack a single box.

For Libby, the new tenant downstairs is an unwelcome guest, another body filling up her already crowded house. But soon enough, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, when Libby and Quinn stretch and redefine their definition of family and home.

With gorgeous prose and a cast of characters that feel wholly real and lovably flawed, This Is Home is a nuanced and moving novel of finding where we belong.

You can purchase This is Home at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you LISA DUFFY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of This is Home by Lisa Duffy.


  1. I would choose the day before my Daddy died. I missed spending that time with him.

  2. I wouldn't want to relive any day.

  3. The day my daughters died. I could save them.

  4. I do not want to relive any day of my life.