As soon as I found out about Lisa Walker’s book, Paris Syndrome I knew I had to read it. Last week, I posted my review and I’m happy to say I enjoyed reading Paris Syndrome as much as I thought I would. In fact, I liked the book so much, I contacted Lisa Walker to interview her about Paris Syndrome…
NLK: You’ve previously written for adult audiences, what made you write a young adult book?
LW: The first novel I ever wrote, which will never see the light of day, was a young adult fantasy. After that, I turned to adult fiction, but I still had a hankering to write YA. I enjoy reading YA as it’s very emotionally intense, with the characters experiencing events like falling in love for the first time. A few years ago, a publisher told me that I have a good voice for YA, so that spurred me on as well. I’m hoping to write more! (So happy to hear this — NLK)
NLK: What message would you like teen readers to take away from Paris Syndrome?
LW: Paris Syndrome is intended primarily as an enjoyable story, but of course it does have underlying themes that are particularly relevant to a teenage audience. These include the importance of being true to yourself and appreciating the place that you’re in. It can be easy to think that an exciting and rewarding life is something that only happens somewhere else.
NLK: How did you come up with the idea for Paris Syndrome?
LW: I heard about Paris Syndrome a few years ago and it seemed such a crazy idea, that I just had to write about it. I thought about setting the novel in Paris, but it seemed a bit obvious. Then the character of Happy came to me – a Brisbane girl who is completely obsessed with Paris. The story grew from there.
NLK: Can you tell us about your journey to publication?
LW: I wrote three unpublished novels before my fourth one, Liar Bird was selected for the Varuna HarperCollins program. This meant that I got to work with a HarperCollins publisher at the Varuna Writers Centre in the Blue Mountains. After the program, they accepted Liar Bird and offered me a two-book deal as my next novel, Sex, Lies and Bonsai was almost complete as well.
NLK: What advice would you give to emerging writers?
LW: It’s important to enjoy the process of writing and take time to find your own voice. For me, the most pleasurable part about being a writer has been the connections with other writers and readers that I’ve made along the way. Publication can feel like a bit of an anti-climax, so it’s good not to focus on that too much as an end-goal. It takes such a long time to write a novel, you need to find pleasure in the moment.
NLK: Did you ever suffer from a touch of Paris Syndrome?
LW: I pretty much fell in love with Paris when I went there and it didn’t disappoint me at all, so no. I can easily understand how it might happen though if you are young and over-excited. No city can live up to the hype that Paris gets.
NLK: What’s your favourite thing about Paris?
LW: What I really love about Paris is its connection to literature, I find that incredibly exciting and romantic. I loved having a café au lait in the Café de Flore where Jean-Paul Sartre used to hang out, and visiting the mansion where Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables. The architecture is also very beautiful, so many pointed spires and quaint terrace houses. And then, of course, there is the food…
NLK: What’s your favourite part about Brisbane?
LW: Brisbane is not too big and not too small, it’s easy to get around. I really like the sub-tropical vibe. The Rivercats on the Brisbane River are a great way to travel. As you go up-river the mangroves and lush vegetation make me feel like I am somewhere exotic. I almost expect to see a crocodile emerge!
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