A New Thriller-Suspense from Three Points of View!
What would you do if your grandchild went missing? What about your teenager? I’d like to welcome my fellow GUPPY and debut author Lis Angus to the blog today. Her debut novel, Not Your Child, takes these questions to the next level in a chilling story of loss and resilience told from the perspectives of three characters. Thank you for being a guest, Lis. I’m so happy for you and look forward to seeing Not Your Child out in the world on April 18th. You can read my review of this chilling novel here.
Back Cover Blurb
Ottawa psychologist and single mother Susan Koss discovers that a strange man has been following her twelve-year-old daughter Maddy. She fears he’s a predator, but it’s worse than that. The man, Daniel Kazan, believes Maddy is his granddaughter, abducted as a baby, and he’s obsessed with getting her back.
Susan insists on a DNA test to disprove Daniel’s claim, but the result is one she can’t understand or explain: it says she’s not Maddy’s mother.
Then Maddy vanishes. Susan’s convinced Daniel has taken her, but he has an alibi, and two searches of his house turn up nothing. The hunt is on—police are on full mobilization, and Susan fears the worst.
Author Q & A
Tell us a little about your debut.
It’s a suspense novel told from three points of view: Maddy, a twelve-year old girl wanting more independence; Susan, her protective single mother; and Daniel, an older man who thinks Maddy is actually his granddaughter who vanished years ago. The story goes back and forth between them. Readers know more about what is going on than any of the characters, which increases the suspense, I’m told. I’ve had several people say it kept them reading late into the night because they needed to learn how it turns out.
One of your graduate degrees is in psychology. How handy was that background in the creation of these compelling characters?
It’s hard to separate out the influences that contributed to my development of these characters, but certainly I drew on my psychology studies, as well as the years I spent working with children and families. But just as important were my own life experiences. I’ve been at the ages of all three of those characters, and I well remember the yearnings and concerns I had at those life stages. A young girl’s longing for more freedom; a mother’s fears that she is failing her child; an older person’s wish to redeem the past—I could put myself into each of those characters, and I hope that I take my readers there as well.
Not Your Child placed second in a prestigious writing competition. How did that win effect the trajectory of getting your work published (if at all)?
Liz, you were a finalist in that same writing competition—the 2021 Daphne du Maurier award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. That’s how we met: we were both entered in the category for unpublished novels. Out of six finalists, the two of us placed second and third. In my case, and probably in yours as well, the contest win and the publication offer happened more or less in parallel. When I got the phone call telling me that I was a finalist for the Daphne prize, I had already had a Wild Rose Press editor tell me she wanted to take the novel to her approval committee.
I think both developments showed that my novel had finally reached a stage where it was resonating with readers. By that time I had completely revised it several times. With each revision, I refined the pacing and the plot and got a deeper understanding of my characters. Having done that work, it was finally ready yet to take out into the world.
You’ve written short stories and this novel. Is your process different as you develop a long or short project?
I can’t say I have established a process for either kind of project —with each one I’ve learned more, which somewhat shapes the process for the next one. My short story, “A Walk in the Park,” which was published in February, is one I first wrote a couple of decades ago; two years ago I dusted it off and updated it to submit to Black Cat Mystery Magazine.
My novel, Not Your Child, took me four years to write and involved a huge learning curve. Hopefully I don’t need to relearn all the same things for my next one, but I’ll undoubtedly have new things to learn so the work will take its own pattern.
What advice do you have for unpublished writers?
I don’t give advice on process or writing schedule, and I’m not going to pinpoint a position on the plotter-pantser spectrum. I find every writer has different things that work for them, that don’t necessarily work for others. But there are two things I think are important.
First is: aim for quality. Aim to make your novel —or short story, or memoir, or nonfiction piece—the best you are able to make it. But keep in mind: to get to that stage takes work. You need to take the time to learn your craft, and be willing to change and revise what you’ve written.
My second piece of advice is to reach out for helpful advice. Your story may be clear in your head, or may be still taking shape, but to assess what works you need to know how it resonates with others. At various stages I invited comments from beta readers and exchanged manuscripts with other writers. I engaged two different editors. Though I didn’t necessarily accept all of their advice— ultimately the story had to be mine—each one gave me their reactions to the story at that stage, and gave me ideas for strengthening it.
Not Your Child debuts on April 18th. What’s next on your writing agenda?
I have a second suspense novel in the works. I’ve written what I call a “draft zero:” the core of the story is there, but it needs work before I’d even call it a first draft. And we’ll see where it goes from there.
When you are not writing, what do you do for fun?
I love to read; in particular, I like to read crime fiction and suspense. I always have several novels lined up in my TBR pile. I also walk regularly: I have some devoted walking buddies and favorite trails. I love exploring foreign cities, though with the pandemic I haven’t travelled in a while. And these days, Netflix and Wordle seem to feature regularly!
Lis Angus is a Canadian suspense writer. Early in her career, she worked with children and families in crisis; later she worked as a policy advisor, business writer and editor while raising two daughters. She now lives south of Ottawa with her husband.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers of Canada, and Capital Crime Writers, and is an active participant in the North Grenville Writers Circle.
She has graduate degrees in psychology and business from York University in Toronto. Her early career was spent working with children and families in crisis. In her later career she was a respected telecommunications consultant and policy advisor, conference organizer, business writer and editor.
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