Irreverent Questions With… Lisa Ballantyne

As part of the release of Redemption Road, Lisa Ballantyne kindly answered a few of our irreverent questions!

10865828_809984035753883_8254848204158460780_oLisa Ballantyne was born in Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland and studied English Literature at University of St Andrews.

She lived and worked in China for many years and started writing seriously while she was there. Before being published, Lisa was short-listed for the Dundee International Book Prize.

Her debut novel, The Guilty One was translated into over 25 languages, long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and short-listed for an Edgar Allan Poe Award. The Guilty One was also the Autumn 2012 Richard and Judy Book-club Winner. Redemption Road is her new novel. She lives in Glasgow.

Picture and bio reproduced from Lisa’s website.

What would you be or want to be (or still are), if you weren’t an author?
A character actress or a social worker… but even if I had the talent and skill to be either of those, I would write as well! I will always write, however I earn my money.

Describe your working environment right now (desk, sofa, bathroom, etc.)
I write at my kitchen table, in a Glasgow tenement, looking out of my kitchen window. There are two huge sash windows before me, still fitted with period glass that slightly blurs my view of trees, the railway, a church spire, and hills in the distance – the scene wavers, as if it is under water.

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I had a big party with my friends.

What gets you in the mood or inspires you to write?
Nothing particularly gets me in the mood for writing; I daydream constantly and this is the main source of my work, but I find that I have a lot of good thoughts when I am on busses staring out of the window.

What is the best experience you’ve had with fans?
I am touched when people write me letters to say they’ve been moved by my work.

What do you value most?
The people I love and my creativity.

What is your favourite type of music?
That is such a hard question to answer. I love music and have eclectic taste, but I write listening exclusively to classical music.

Many thanks to Lisa Ballantyne for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to know more about the author, visit her Website, Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook!


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, irregular feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into our curious heads. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

Redemption Road

This story shows how one mistake, one miscalculation of judgement can ruin everything and leave hopes and dreams in ashes.

 The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she’s spent her life remembering little – her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. Now she has a burning desire to discover who she is and why her life has been shrouded in secrets. What really happened to her when she was a child? Could it have anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life?

Flitting effortlessly between past and present, this is a suspenseful, gritty and emotionally charged journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness.

Well this is not my usual kind of book, in fact there is no romance at all, so why did I pick it up? The blurb on the back cover intrigued me and the publisher sent me a copy for review, and boy am I glad they did. This is a really compelling book and once I got into it, I could not put it down.

It did take me a few chapters to get into it, as it is told from three different perspectives (and also 2 different eras). I often struggle to keep it all straight in my head to start with and have to keep going back to check dates etc! Having said that, after those first few, I was dragged in and read it at every opportunity. Once I got used to the characters and the way the book told the story, it flowed very well. I felt it was very well written and vividly descriptive.

Parts of the story I could easily see where it was going and there wasn’t any surprise when it happened, but I was still compelled to keep reading, to see everything tied up. This story shows how one mistake, one miscalculation of judgement can ruin everything and leave hopes and dreams in ashes.

The characters are believable and fallible and I especially felt drawn towards Big George, even when I felt I shouldn’t! I liked the way their layers were revealed bit by bit and this story shows you should never take things at face value.

It was emotional and a real page turner for me, not something I would usually pick up, but I can definitely recommend it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lisa Ballantyne
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Guilty One

 This is without a doubt one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read but it’s also absolutely brilliant. I started it this morning and I could not put it down; the few times I had to when life inserted itself, I was still thinking about it.

There are pretty much two stories intertwined here. One in the present when eight year old Ben Stokes is murdered and eleven year old Sebastian Croll is arrested. The second is the story of his lawyer, Daniel Hunter, who is the product of an extremely troubled childhood himself. He empathises in part with the accused and as the trial moves forward, we are taken through Daniel’s life from about the same age, when he is in foster care.

For Daniel it raises great questions about nature/nurture and the similarities he can see between himself and Sebastian.  He can’t help but wonder if his life would have been that different had he never met met Minnie Flynn.

This is a book about life; painful, weird, funny, shocking and loving. It’s about lies that can cut deeper than any knife but done with so much love it’s almost unbearable. The Guilty Ones… all of us.

The book is extremely well written and easy to read, although the pace can feel a bit disjointed as it skips between Daniel as a man and a boy, it doesn’t detract from the story nor did it keep me from reading on. It is very tense though and I did have to stop myself sneaking ahead to find out things, but if you can bear it, let it unfold naturally. I’m glad that I did.

The story is also incredibly thought provoking and even now after having finished it, I’m still trying to piece together how I feel. I think most people will find some empathy with Daniel and Minnie, even if it’s just a glimmer, as well as a whole gamut of other emotions. The trial itself was fascinating and the processes extremely well researched and laid out. I can’t say more than that about it or I would spoil it.

I think this book well deserves the acclaim it has received and it astonishes me that The Guilty One is Lisa Ballantyne’s first book. I really look forward to what she does next.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lisa Ballantyne
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)