by Sigrid Macdonald
Finding Lisa is a character driven story about a quirky Canadian woman named Tara who is about to turn 40. She dreads the thought. Everything is going wrong in her life from her stale marriage to her boring job to her hopeless crush on a 24-year-old guy. The only thing right in Tara's life is her best friend Lisa who has just confided that she is pregnant and the baby does not belong to her partner Ryan, who has a history of domestic violence. Then Lisa disappears and the search is on to find her.
All the carts were taken at the supermarket on Tuesday. I found one off to the side of the vegetable aisle. It had a defective wheel, which resulted in me almost overturning a display of cantaloupes. The cart was also enormous. No doubt this was a deliberate ploy on the part of the supermarket to encourage excess shopping.
"I feel as though I'm driving a school bus," I announced to the frail, pale orange-haired woman to my left, who was squeezing the small, unappetizing looking cantaloupes.
She smiled faintly and nodded. I wondered how she had the strength to push the heavy cart through the long aisles of the grocery store at her age.
"Mum, I'll go with you to one of those Women against Rape meetings if you want?" Devon said to my astonishment, his voice rising at the end of his sentence. "There’s only one condition. You have to watch 8 Mile with me."
"8 Mile? Isn’t that the movie based on the book by Stephen King?"
"Nah, you’re thinking about The Green Mile," Devon replied. "8 Mile is the story of a rapper in Detroit. It's based on the life of Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers. Eminem even stars in it," he said with increasing enthusiasm.
"I think it’ll give you a better idea of where he's coming from. You know, you're always talking about these girls who've been, like, abused and what horrible lives they've had. You even feel bad about boys who were taken advantage of by priests or their hockey coaches. So why don't you have any sympathy for Marshall? His mother was abusive. She was mean to him, and she did drugs! Also, she, like, gave him something called Munchkins syndrome," Devon added uncertainly.
"Munchausen syndrome?” I asked, trying to picture the tough guy with the tattoos and bad attitude as a small child with a manipulative and controlling mother.
"Yeah, that sounds right. She made him feel sick when he was totally healthy. And, Mum, I know you would respect the way Em felt about his little brother, Nathan. He, like, didn't wanna leave him alone in the house with his mother when he finally split from Detroit. He's also really keen about his daughter, Hailie Jade. He talks about her all the time in his songs and on TV."
I pushed the buttons on the radio. The Steve Miller band was singing, "Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future." I had a sense of motion. The car was moving forward, and with every traffic light I passed, I was moving farther away from Lisa and our routine evenings at the ByTowne Theatre. The rest of us were going ahead, and Lisa had been left behind. I wanted to go back, not just to last Thursday night, but to my university days, so I could live my life all over again.
I wanted to be sixteen or twenty-six again, making decisions based on what I knew now. So many lost opportunities. How had I managed to completely screw up my life? I'd done everything wrong except that I hadn't become a street prostitute or a serial murderer. Too late for the former—who would want me? But there was still time for the latter.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm a bit of a hybrid. I was born in Canada and immigrated to the US at age six with my parents. We settled in New Jersey (New JOISEY, to those Soprano fans!) but my parents took us kids on trips back to Canada annually. We used to go to Montréal most often because my dad, a physician who did pharmaceutical research, had a lot of work there. Eventually I decided to go to grad school in Toronto, and my brother went to law school in Kingston, Ontario. I went back and forth between the two countries and settled in Ottawa, Ontario for a number of years until I got sick to death of "el invierno" — winter — and decided to locate in Florida. I run an editing company here, and don't tell anybody, but I would do the kind of work I do for free because I love reading, writing, rewriting, and editing so much.
What do you do when you are not writing?
In my free time, I study Spanish, play trivia, and scan Netflix for new movies or series. I'm also quite hooked on podcasts. Lately, I've been listening to something called "Conspiracy Theories." It's really good. A guy and a gal present background info on all kinds of theories like did the Royal family have Princess Diana killed, or did Jim Jones from Jonestown, Guyana, really convince 918 people to kill themselves with Kool-Aid, or did something more nefarious occur? These two approach issues with a skeptical perspective, and they present a lot of very interesting history about people like Marilyn Monroe and JFK.
Do you have a day job as well?
I do indeed. I own an editing company called Book Magic. We work with authors all over the globe and many of my editorial assistants are still located in Canada in Toronto and Ottawa. We do standard proofreading, copyediting, developmental editing, rewriting, and evaluating, and I love it. I'm so lucky to be able to do something that I love; many people aren't.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
My book, Finding Lisa, was inspired by the true-life disappearance of an acquaintance of mine. I was involved in the search party that went looking for her, and the trauma of doing so stayed with me for many years. Originally, I wrote this book based more or less on the facts of the true-life case, but then I realized that wasn't a mystery. Anybody who knew this woman's name and picked up the book would know exactly what was going to happen at the end. So I took artistic liberty with the story and made it something else. Above all, I want the story to be entertaining but also thought-provoking. I want people to think about it when they put the book down. I practically eat books, and because I do so many on audio, I'm probably "reading" three to four books a week now, not including the manuscripts I do for work. And I must say, it's unusual for me to spend much time thinking about a book after I put it down. But those are the books that are precious – the ones that stand out and make me go, "Woah! I didn't see that coming. I wonder what message the author was trying to relay here." Or it doesn't even have to be a great message; something can just be masterful, suspenseful, or purely entertaining.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I'm a huge fan of classic literature like John Updike, John Steinbeck, Joyce Carol Oats, Dostoyevsky and books that have a message or some depth. My favorite contemporary authors is Jodi Picoult because I love the way that she manages to address social or psychological issues in almost all her works, such as autism, school shootings, racism, the plight of the elephant in the wild, etc.(I see that you like her as well based on your quote from her book My Sister's Keeper!) In Finding Lisa, I address themes of violence against women, recidivism, addiction, and unrequited love. I also like reading trashy romances, with no redeeming social value whatsoever, which is where I get my subplot of my 39-year-old protagonist falling in love with a totally inappropriate 25-year-old guy.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I would like to say that although I write in the first person, I am not my character, Tara! It cracks me up that so many of my friends read my book and they say, "Ah ha! I didn't know you thought that way." And I don't. My character is fictitious, and I have given her many flaws and internal and external conflicts. She doesn't handle situations the way I would necessarily handle them, and she may not always do the right thing, but she's well-intentioned. Like most of us, Tara is a work in progress.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Originally from New Jersey, Sigrid Macdonald lived for almost thirty years in Ottawa, Ontario, and currently resides in Weston, Florida. She has been a freelance writer for years. Her works have appeared in The Globe and Mail newspaper; the Women's Freedom Network Newsletter; the American magazine Justice Denied; The Toastmaster; and the Anxiety Disorders Association of Ontario Newsletter. Her first book, Getting Hip: Recovery from a Total Hip Replacement, was published in 2004. Her second book, Be Your Own Editor, followed in 2010. Although Finding Lisa is written in first person, Macdonald only resembles her character in the sense that she once had a neurotic fixation on her hair, and she has always been called by the wrong name; instead of being called Sigrid, people have called her Susan, Sharon, Astrid, Ingrid and, her personal favorite, Siri.
Macdonald is a social activist who has spent decades working on the seemingly disparate issues of women's rights and wrongful convictions; she has worked at the Women's Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and was a member of AIDWYC, The Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted. She owns an editing company called Book Magic. Sigrid is a public speaker and a member of Mothers against Drunk Driving, Ottawa Independent Writers, the American Association of University Women, and the Editors' Association of Canada. Visit her website at http://bookmagic.ca/ or friend her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sigridmac.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER
Sigrid Macdonald will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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