Today Lis Angus is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Not Your Child, her debut suspense novel.
Welcome, Lis. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your upcoming novel, Not Your Child—what’s the story about?
It starts out with Susan, a single mother in Ottawa, who learns that a strange man has been following her twelve-year old daughter Maddy. It turns out he’s a danger to Maddy, but not quite the way Susan thinks: he claims that Maddy is actually his granddaughter, who was abducted as a baby. And he wants her back.
Wouldn’t a DNA test quickly settle the question?
That’s what Susan hopes and expects. But they do a DNA test, and it makes the problem worse. It says Susan is not Maddy’s mother. Susan is horrified; she knows that’s wrong, but she can’t explain it.
And then what?
The next thing is that Maddy disappears. Susan is sure the guy has taken her, but he has an alibi and searches of his house turn up nothing. The police launch a search for Maddy and the public is asked to report any sign of her.
That’s every parent’s worst fear—that their child would go missing.
Yes, it is, and the suspense builds from there. Early readers have said the book put them on the edge of their seats, navigating the twists and turns as the story unfolds.
Where did you get the idea for your story?
It’s actually an idea that came to me some years ago, in the form of a “what if” question. What if someone showed up and claimed that your child was in fact not your child?
To make that idea into a story, I had to figure out how such a development might happen: how would the characters react and what could develop from there? I ended up writing from three different points of view, showing events through the eyes of the three key characters.
This is your first published novel, I believe. You’ve already had two careers, first working with children and families in crisis, and then a career in business. How did you come to write a novel?
I’ve been writing all my life, and I always dreamed of writing a novel, but I hadn’t written any fiction since I was a teenager. My writing as an adult was primarily non-fiction, business-related. Later I took some fiction writing courses, but I hadn’t really worked at it. Then in 2017 I heard about NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. I said to myself, “if not now, when?” I decided to grab that impulse, not let the moment pass me by. So I buckled down and finished a first draft that November.
And the book is being published in April 2022. That’s four and a half years between first draft and publication—did that seem like a long time to you?
It did, and at the same time it didn’t. It turned out I had a lot to learn about writing a novel. I did a total of six rewrites before finally receiving an offer from The Wild Rose Press last summer. The actual process of working with the publisher has moved quite quickly since then: less than a year from contract to publication, which is quick for the traditional publishing world.
Are you working on another novel now?
I am, and it started with another “what if” question. What if you learned that your deceased father had another family—and that your family is the second one, secret from the first?
Oh my. When do you expect to finish it?
I’ve written a first draft already, but it’s still sketchy. I want to take the time I need to round out the characters and do justice to the story.
I’ll be reporting on my progress in my free monthly newsletter, and I have a bonus download for subscribers—including “outtakes” from Not Your Child: scenes that didn’t make it into the final version but give a flavour of the characters and story. To register, go to https://lisangus.com/sign-up.
When and where can readers buy Not Your Child?
It’ll be released on April 18, but it’s available worldwide for presale now. Amazon has a special presale price for the Kindle version, but it’ll be available as a paperback as well. There are other vendors carrying it too; I have a “universal book link” that shows several: https://books2read.com/notyourchild. And I encourage readers to ask their local library or bookstore to stock the book.
Thanks for answering my questions, Lis, and good luck with your debut novel, Not Your Child.
Readers can learn more about Lis and her writing by visiting her website.
The novel is available at many online retailers.
About Lis Angus: Lis is a Canadian suspense writer. She has always loved reading and writing; by the time she was six, she often sat at the kitchen table writing stories while her mom cooked supper. At age nine, she spent a summer writing a novel in her cousin’s hayloft. In her early career she worked with children and families in crisis. In her later career she was a respected telecommunications consultant and policy advisor, conference organizer, business writer and editor. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers of Canada, and Capital Crime Writers, and is an active participant in the North Grenville Writers Circle. She lives south of Ottawa with her husband.