Lis Angus is the author of Not Your Child, her debut novel published by Wild Rose Press, available now wherever you buy your eBook publications.
Avis: I personally loved your book. It was riveting, and a nail biter at the end. But I have several questions for you. The first is:
How important is setting to your story?
Lis: My characters, and the events that bring them into collision, could be set in many other places. In that sense the setting is not crucial, though Susan and Maddy definitely live in an urban, middle-class environment. But I chose to have the story take place in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, for two reasons. First, it’s a city I know well. While writing the novel, I many times walked the neighborhoods where the events take place, which helped me anchor the characters’ actions in a real, physical sense. Secondly, it’s a beautiful city, but one that American readers may not be familiar with; I wanted to bring Ottawa into their awareness, in the way that we often feel we are familiar with neighborhoods in New York City or London, simply because we encounter them so often in novels.
There are a few scenes, mainly flashbacks with the older man, Daniel, that take place in rural Alberta. It’s a setting not unlike many rural communities in the American Midwest, but I chose Alberta because it’s where I grew up and I could easily imagine how those scenes unfolded.
Avis: I love that answer. Setting is important to get right, and being able to walk through the setting, I think really did enhance your story. Here’s my second question:
Did you have to do any research in the writing of this novel, and if so on what?
Lis: I quite often found myself at a point where I needed some information and had to go digging for it. In what circumstances are Amber alerts issued? What legalities apply if someone harbors a runaway child? What’s the lethal dose of common sleeping pills? Could a mother have different DNA than her child? What year did Canada set up a national DNA database for missing persons?
For the key psychological underpinnings of the characters, though, I mainly drew on two aspects of my own knowledge. First, on my Masters degree in psychology and the years I spent working with children and families in crisis. And secondly, on my memories of being a young girl yearning for independence, and my experience as a mother facing the challenges of raising two daughters of my own.
Avis: Wow! I do remember reading about all of those things, but often we don’t think of the research an author does to make their story believable. All of your research paid off in Not Your Child.
My third questions is:
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Lis: Writing is definitely hard work for me. First of all, I’m not someone who imagines a story unfolding in my head like a movie: the story only emerges as I get it down on the page. So creating the first draft is quite draining: that’s where I’m groping to get to know my characters, what happens between them and why. And the first draft is just the beginning—then comes the fine-tuning. Going deeper into the characters, figuring out plot points and pacing, bringing it all to a satisfying conclusion. All that can take several drafts. And then there’s line editing: is it better to use this phrase or that one? Did she have green eyes three chapters back or are they brown? Have I overused a favorite word? At every stage, it’s work, and in a certain sense the book is never finished. Even when I reviewed the final galleys I saw small things I wanted to change. But there’s nothing so satisfying as having someone read the book and tell me they couldn’t put it down.
Avis: Thanks for your honesty, Lis! Writing is hard work, but all that hard work has paid off for
you in Not Your Child. It’s a riveting read!
To learn more about Lis and her fascinating book, check out the following sites and pages.
Crime Writers of Canada: Crime Writer’s of America
You can purchase Not Your Child at all major booksellers, including
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What happens when your only child disappears, and a DNA test says you are not her mother? This is the just one aspect of the complex premise for Lis Angus’ debut thriller, Not Your Child.
When Daniel Kazan, a white-haired farmer from Alberta, sees Maddie, he follows her. Maddie resembles his missing granddaughter Hannah’s mother at twelve, and Daniel’s insistence that Maddie is his granddaughter threatens Susan and sets in motion a series of events that involve the police, a lawyer, and DNA testing.
Susan and Daniel dance the precarious dance of who’s right and who’s wrong. And stuck in the middle is Maddie, who is tired of her mother’s suffocating control. After a bitter fight on the drive home, Maddie makes her mother pull over and she leaves, not with the intention of running away, but she doesn’t go home.
Maddie spends the night in her school, and Susan calls the police who search Daniel’s property. In a bizarre twist, Maddie seeks Daniel out after the police clear him, thinking he’ll help her while she takes a break from her mom. Daniel sees this as the chance he’s been waiting for and plans to take Maddie home to his farm.
When Daniel learns that a DNA test proves that Maggie is not Hannah, the level of danger ratchets for Maggie. Daniel makes one poor decision after another, and Maddie becomes suspicious. Susan’s intuition is the only thing that can save Maddie now.
In this story of family and mother/daughter relationships, Angus delivers plot twist after plot twist as the agonizing search for Susan’s daughter unfolds. Not your Child is a nail-biting, page-turner that satisfies from first page to last.
I highly recommend this delicious read.