Read Raw Ltd


Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland


Featured Author


Lisa O'Donnell



Image courtesy of Vanessa Stump


What first inspired you to write?


I donít think I was inspired to write. I think I was compelled to, most writers are. We have voices in our head and they take us on journeys we want to share with others and so we write.


What inspires you now?


Some people have said my stories are predominantly about women, their plight and struggles and thatís true, but I also have a soft spot for the under dog. I want to tell their stories and more than others. Forgotten people speak louder to me I suppose. Creating them is the challenge though because I donít necessarily paint a sympathetic picture of them either, thereís a reason theyíre the under dog after all. Iíve been known to throw my characters under the bus to see how they fare in the face of adversity, sometimes I rescue them and sometimes I donít, it rather depends on the challenge I need as a writer at the time Iím writing and that always inspires me. I think a writer should always challenge their characters to be more than the writer themselves imagined them to be and to put them in situations that test your skills as a writer. Itís your world remember and you shouldnít be afraid to own it.


What advice would you give to a new writer?


Donít be afraid of whatís inside you. Let it go, which is easier said than done. I know this, but itís something I say to myself every day because I am afraid and the more I write the more frightened I become. Iím writing something particularly difficult at the moment and Iíve walked away from it so many times, but it just wonít let me go. I know I have to tell this story, but every day, like so many other writers, Iím battling the fear that what I have to say isnít worth reading, but you have to go on because then thereís the other fear of being that person who is always talking about a book they might write when deep down they know they never will. I donít want to be that person ever. Do you?


What are you writing?


Iím writing something very dark at the moment and itís scaring the life out of me. Itís in development, which means much of it is stuck in my head. Itís a really challenging write for me. In the past Iíve always relied on comedy to relieve my reader in between difficult subject matter and frankly to relieve myself, like in Macbeth, Shakespeare had scenes with the Porter at the gates of the castle to lighten the load and to give the audience a break from the intensity of what they were seeing, but there can be no comedy in this new piece. It wouldnít be fitting and so I plough on. Iím writing in the first person, which makes it easier for me. I prefer to tell stories from the characters point of view and though it took months I managed to get inside my characters heads and start my novel, but Iím a mere 11 chapters in and Iíve found myself pacing rooms and taking long walks before I can even construct a single sentence. Itís a difficult time, but Iím getting on with it. Someone told me that Hemmingway would endeavor to sit down for 30 minutes every day with a blank piece of paper and if he wrote tons, then great, but even if he wrote one sentence he knew he had committed to his craft and had worked that day and itís a habit every writer should be in. Itís hard to sit down and work however. I know that. There are so many distractions in life, but surely even the busiest writer can salvage a half hour to sit down and write something.



What are you reading now?


Iím re-reading Any Human Heart by William Boyd. I love that book and Logan Mountstuart is an incredible character. Itís like sitting inside a manís head and better than that, a writerís head.


Who is your favorite literary character?


Olympia from Geek Love. Sheís an albino hunchback dwarf who tells the story of her Circus family the Binewskiís. When their circus starts to fail Al Binweski and his wife Crystal Lil start consuming pesticides giving birth to a family of circus freaks who challenge every thought us ordinary mortals have about love and beauty. Itís the darkest thing Iíve ever read in my life and even thinking about makes the hairs on my neck stand up. Iíve read this book a thousand times. 


What interests do you have outside of writing?


I enjoy a good movie and I love hanging with my kids, but mostly when Iím not writing Iím thinking, ďWhy arenít I writing?Ē


Any last words of wisdom?


Iím always asked about dialogue. Itís a very difficult thing to master, I under stand that, but my answer is always the same, know your character like family, own your character, hear them and see them because if you canít the reader wonít.







ďToday is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were belovedĒ

Marnie and her little sister Nelly have always been different. Marnie leads a life of smoking, drinking and drugs; Nelly enjoys playing the violin, eating cornflakes with Coke and reading Harry Potter. But on Christmas Eve, the sisters have to join forces and put their differences aside. And when Lennie, the old guy next door, starts to get suspicious, it's only a matter of time before their terrible secret is discovered.





ďThere are no strangers in Rothesay, Michael. Everyone knows who you are and always will. It's a blessing but it's also a curse.Ē

Eleven-year-old Michael Murray is the best at two things: keepy-uppies and keeping secrets. His family think he's too young to hear grown-up stuff, but he listens at doors; it's the only way to find out anything. And Michael's heard a secret, one that might explain the bruises on his mother's face.

When the whispers at home and on the street become too loud to ignore, Michael begins to wonder if there is an even bigger secret he doesn't know about. Scared of what might happen if anyone finds out, and desperate for life to return to normal, Michael sets out to piece together the truth. But he also has to prepare for the upcoming talent show, keep an eye out for Dirty Alice, his arch-nemesis from down the street, and avoid eating Granny's watery stew.















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