Lisa Heathfield lives in Brighton, England, with her husband and three sons. She’s a former secondary school English teacher, and now, instead of just inspiring teenagers to read, she’s writing the actual stories that they’ll be unable to put down. Seed is Lisa Heathfield’s debut novel, and it introduces the reader to Pearl, a girl who is discovering that the cult she was born into may not be as perfect as it’s always seemed to be.
Due to the positive reception of Seed in both the UK and the US, it seems that the sequel can’t get here soon enough:
“Seed was intriguing and fascinating — Lisa Heathfield’s debut is stunning and has left me aching for more. Do yourself a favour and do NOT pass this one up. Spellbinding and filled with mystery and deception, this is a novel that demands to be read.” — Confessions of a Readaholic
“Seed will hold readers’ attention as the story’s mood slowly changes and the work builds to an ultimately stunning conclusion.” — School Library Journal
Suffice to say, we here at Germ were very excited when Lisa Heathfield was willing to answer a few of our questions about herself and her book. First, for those who have not yet heard of her book, Seed, see the short synopsis below.
All that Pearl knows can be encapsulated in one word: Seed. It is the isolated community that she was born into. It is the land that she sows and reaps. It is the center of her family and everything that means home. And it is all kept under the watchful eye of Papa S.
At fifteen years old, Pearl is finally old enough to be chosen as Papa S.’s companion. She feels excitement . . . and surprising trepidation that she cannot explain. The arrival of a new family into the Seed community—particularly the teenage son, Ellis—only complicates the life and lifestyle that Pearl has depended upon as safe and constant. Ellis is compelling, charming, and worldly, and he seems to have a lot of answers to questions Pearl has never thought to ask. But as Pearl digs to the roots of the truth, only she can decide what she will allow to come to the surface.
Congratulations on the publication of Seed! What made you want to write this particular story about a cult-like society?
Thank you! There was actually no real thought process behind Seed. I was writing another story when Pearl appeared, and she kept telling me that I should really write her story instead. I remember talking to my agent and saying that I wasn’t sure what to do — I was really enjoying the book I was working on, but Pearl was so insistent. My agent told me to follow my instinct, and so I did. Pearl came hand-in-hand with the community at Seed — as soon as she appeared, she was already a real person and Seed was the place she lived in.
While not many people can relate to living in a cult, many can still relate to a poor authority figure (although hopefully not as bad as Papa S) or to the desire to know the truth. Did any of your real life-acquaintances or experiences influence the story, whether through characters or events?
I think it’s more the books I’ve read over the years that may have had an influence on Seed. As a teenager, I loved to read dark books with sinister characters, and I wanted to watch the scariest movies. I’ve also always been slightly fascinated by cults — by the ability of one human being to have such complete control over others.
Is a sequel indeed coming? If so, what adventure of Pearl’s do we have to look forward to?
Initially, I wrote Seed as a standalone novel; however, my editor was interested to know what happened next! So, yes, I’m working on that at the moment. I’m going to keep quiet about what happens in it if that’s ok! I’m a bit superstitious when I write and prefer not to talk about it too much until my agent and editor think it’s good to go!
Seed is your debut novel, and an amazing one at that. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
Well, I’ve always loved reading and writing. When other friends were getting Barbie dolls or Legos for Christmas, I was swooning over my new typewriter! There’s something about the way words look on the page and the way they sound. Billboards, menus, newspapers… I have to read everything. And writing was always there, always an integral part of me. Now, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to spend so much time with our children and write whilst they’re at school.
Can you tell us about your general writing process? Where do you usually start when writing a story?
The characters tend to appear to me, as real as anyone I meet. Then they rumble around in the background until I know I have to write their story. It feels a bit like when the stars are aligned, then their story is ready for writing. I don’t like to plot. I prefer it when I’ve no idea what’s going to happen next — it’s as though I’m reading it for the first time. I hand-write in biro and try not to read back what I’ve written until I’ve finished the book. Then I type it up.
Do you ever encounter writer’s block? How do you push through it?
At around 40,000 words I have a moment when I think, “Can I really fill the next 20,000?” But then one day I look up and it’s finished!
Do you have a favorite quote about writing?
I can’t remember it exactly, but I read a good one recently that was along the lines of “You’ll never write a book that will please every reader.” Everyone has such different reading tastes, so it would be impossible to write something that everyone likes.
Do you have any advice for our readers who hope to make a career out of writing?
Try to write every day. And read every day. Follow your instincts. And write because you love it, not to get published.