Hello everybody! Today, I’m unbelievably excited to be welcoming Lisette Auton, author of the phenomenal The Secret of Haven Point, for an interview as part of her blog tour celebrating the book’s release. Onto the post!
1. Hi Lisette, thank you so much for being here! To start off, can you please describe the Secret of Haven Point in 5 words?
Kind, Northern, Friendship, Adventure, Mermaids!
2. I remember reading your book deal announcement last year, and it mentioned you were found by Penguin in their WriteNow scheme. What was that experience like? What are the most valuable things you learned doing WriteNow?
I entered with only a vague idea and the really small sample required, knowing I wouldn’t get through. And then I kept getting through each round and having to write lots very quickly! Oops. The best bit about the experience was meeting other writers, not just our final cohort, but those from previous years, and from one of the selection days in Liverpool. In fact, I think that was one of my WOW moments – talking to Holly, a Puffin editor, who really believed I had potential. From then on I took it loads more seriously. Belief, I think I learned that, and to write messily! Just get it on paper, editing does magic later on. I don’t have any training in writing novels, just what I’ve learned by reading lots, so my mentor, Emma Jones, who became my editor was AMAZING. I learned so much about the mechanics of a story, and how to write things for maximum impact. The friendships I’ve made too, having a group where we have each others’ backs and can ask questions about some frankly odd publishing stuffs has been invaluable!
3. You already know this based on my review and my fangirling on social media, but the Secret of Haven Point means so much to me because the representation is so authentic and it made me feel so seen. What books have there been in your life like that?
That’s the really sad thing, there hasn’t been. In terms of language, David Almond had a massive impact where I saw my northern voice on the page and realised I had permission to do that too. But in terms of my experience as a disabled person? Nope. Not having an adventure and being the heroes and the friendships and the way the disability community is awesome. NOPE! That’s why I had to write this one, not for anyone else, but me. I’m slowly beginning to realise other people have needed it too…
4. Something else I loved in the book was the wonderful, utterly original gang of Wrecklings. Who was your favourite to write? Do you think that’ll align with readers’ favourites?
I’m hoping that because there are a canny few Wrecklings there should be a favourite for everyone, fingers crossed! I adore Alpha and Badger and their friendship. But I have the ultimate soft spot for Flea and Large.
5. They feel like such a family and I absolutely love the camaraderie and dynamics between them. Who are some of your favourite found families in fiction, from whatever medium you like?
Oooooh, good question! The inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh and company, are the ultimate for me! Really different in personality and behaviour, but ultimately will do anything for each other. My dad used to prod me awake at night to read more to me, not quite the point of a bedtime story…
6. The setting of Haven Point is also amazing, and I was wondering if any places in real life inspired it? And what gave you the idea for the story too?
My childhood at South Shields on the North East coast with a sprawling gang of cousins, going off for adventures with sweets from Nana’s marching ration tin. Old Ben is an imagined mash-up of Souter and St Mary’s lighthouses. The Leas, Marsden rock, Camel’s Island, the location is real, I just squished things around to make the story work! The very first chapter, where Alpha tells you the facts about herself came out in one go, with the following chapter about Cap’n discovering her following soon after. I’ve never had anything like that before! I had no idea who they were or what was going to happen, but I very definitely was going to find out…
7. If you are anything like me, you’ll probably be a bit frustrated by the lack of diversity or disability representation in all books, but especially classics. If you got to rewrite a classic to make it diverse and representative of the world we actually live in, what would it be and why?
Shall we take on Treasure Island first? So much to change! And I’m currently in a fortunate position to be co-writing an adaptation for the incredibly problematic The Secret Garden for the stage. I think with lots of these books the heart is there, the theme is usually beautiful, but what happens in terms of disability, race, sexuality and more is usually a flippin nightmare. I’m hoping for a whole heap of diverse writers and books which will become new classics.
8. Also on the theme of writing, what is your writing routine like, if you have one?
Do you have any unusual habits or quirks? Probably not writing much and calling myself a writer! I think it’s due to impairment, but loads of my writing work is day dreaming and imagining, editing in my head, and then it comes out in a big blurt. And I’ve learned that is really okay. As long as your routine works for you, then it is right and legitimate. I got myself in a pickle for ages trying to follow ‘write 400000000000000 words before breakfast’ routines that were never going to fit my body and brain. As long as I make time for day dreaming, then I’m reet. Naps. They’re an essential part of my routine. I go to sleep wondering about a tricky bit to solve and then usually have it sorted on waking. I have a studio full of all the things that mean something to me, and when I go in there I immediately know I’m in work mode, which definitely helps with procrastination!
9. Finally, before our quickfire round, can you tell us anything about what you’re working on at the moment/will be releasing next?
Oooooh, am I allowed to say? I don’t know! Ha! Let’s just whisper and I’m sure we’ll be okay… A new book to come out that’s deep in editing land right now. And then lots of ideas for more, but one yelling voice is particularly loud at the moment so I’ve just put some sketches on paper and I think it’s got enough to be a THING. Then lots of work that aren’t books too, a new lyrical essay film, the theatre adaptation of The Secret Garden, hopefully a theatre piece with my excellent friend Richard, a big national piece of performance art…
Favourite thing about lighthouses?
The view from the top
Favourite Winnie the Pooh character, because I love your onesie ?
Ha! That onesie! Tigger, always.
Would you rather be a penguin or a mermaid?
Ooooooh, I love penguins but I think I’d be too cold, so I’ll go mermaid.
3 books you loved in 2021?
Not necessarily out in 2021, but when I read them! The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll, and Careless by Kirsty Capes.
3 books you’re highly anticipating this year?
Far too many, my pre-order shelf is already heaving! Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall, The Thief who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson, and any one of the billionty brilliant books forthcoming from Rashmi Sirdeshpande!
Thank you so much for reading!! Are you planning to pick this book up? What do you think of the books Lisette has mentioned? I’d love to chat about it with you in the comments!