Lisa Ballantyne is a Scottish-born writer who lived and worked in China for many years and started writing seriously while she was there. Before being published, Lisa was short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize. Her latest novel is “Everything She Forgot.”
In talking about the book, Ballantyne said, “The greatest joy for me as a writer is creating characters—new consciousnesses—that readers, and myself, can believe in, fall in love with, hate, mourn. Publishing a book and sharing it with others is like breathing life into these characters that started off in my head. For me it doesn’t get better than that.”
In addition to the characters, Ballantyne also enjoys exploring what makes people tick. “I continue to be interested in the issue of nature vs. nurture, which is often played out in the relationships between parents and children. I am intrigued by good and evil and how the choices we make in life change us, and continue to use characters that explore these enduring concepts.”
I wanted the relationship between father and daughter to gradually soften as the road trip progresses…
When she began working on “Everything She Forgot,” Ballantyne was interested in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The first scene of the book involves a car crash and a strange savior.
“The scene came to me quite quickly,” Ballantyne said. “I knew the burned man who rescues Margaret would be the key to her past. In writing the 1980s scenes, I wanted to write about a man who steals his daughter and for the journey they undertake to be a redemptive one, spanning the whole country. I wanted the relationship between father and daughter to gradually soften as the road trip progresses, from one of captor and captive to one of genuine affection and love.”
Ballantyne describes her second novel as something like a fable or fairy tale. “It has big symbols, heroes and villains, but it is also an investigation into the mechanism of memory and how the past impacts on the present. It is a novel about fathers and daughters and asks if we really can escape our pasts.
“One of the key themes of the novel is illiteracy, and in particular adult illiteracy. The protagonist, George, cannot read or write as a result of institutional violence he experienced at school in the mid sixties, when he was beaten for using his left hand. One of my aunts experienced similar abuse for being left-handed, and has problems writing to this day.”
Find Lisa Ballantyne on the web at lisaballantyne.com.