Writers of WHQ: An Interview with Lisa Fransson

5 minute read
Author: Jo

In case you didn’t know, the Writers’ HQ writing community is the actual, literal best in the universe, full of amazingly talented and generous writers who make our little corner of the internet a very nice place indeed.

And so, we decided to show some of ’em off as a part of our monthly Writers of WHQ interview series.

Gif of Sandy the squirrel sitting down at a picnic bench opposite Spongebob, saying "so tell me about yourself"

Get to know our amazing WHQ members — how they write, what makes them tick, their influences, inspiration, top tips and favourite stories — and see just how different each and every writer is. ‘Cause there’s no one ‘right’ (write?) way to do things, right?

So today we are over the moon to introduce you to one of our most long-standing WHQers, fabulous author of stories for children, teens and adults, in Swedish and English, Lisa Fransson!

Tell us about your writing journey — where did you start, where are you now, and how did you get there?

I wrote stories as a child and wanted to be a writer more than anything else, but then life happened. It was only after I had children that I started to take myself seriously and realised that I owed it to myself to give this writing thing a go. And as proof that the universe will provide, when I was finally able to look up, there was Sarah and Jo, ready to lock me in a room in central Brighton with cake and my computer.

[Editor’s note: this was one our writing retreats — we did not kidnap Lisa. Well, maybe just a bit...]

And as soon as my youngest started school I booked myself onto the Creative Writing Programme run by New Writing South with the aim of finishing my novel during the course. Since then I’ve had many short pieces published, and I’ve been short-listed and long-listed, but my greatest success has been as a writer of children’s books in my native Swedish. I have two books out at the moment and another four on the way. So far 2022 has been mind-blowing: I’ve won a manuscript competition, I’ve signed for another book, I’ve signed with an agent, and I was awarded a residency which meant I got to focus on writing for a whole week in a beautiful house in Sweden where a famous Swedish author/journalist/feminist once lived

Do you have a writing routine? How do you work best?

I’m more goal-oriented. If I’m writing new words, I tend to set a goal of 500 words each day, if I’m editing it might be five pages per day, but I will fit those in whenever. And I try to be realistic, sometimes I have too much work on, sometimes life gets in the way, sometimes there are pandemics…

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve decided that 2022 is the year of finishing things. So far I’ve edited four manuscripts that are now out of my hands. Two of them are Swedish middle grade books that are now in production, one is the novel in English that I wrote all those years ago and that’s with a publisher who is deciding whether they want it or not, and the last one is a Swedish YA, which is with a beta reader. I was mean to start work on the second novel now, but because I’m ahead of schedule (thanks to the residency), I’m squeezing in another Swedish children’s thing first.

What advice would you give to a writer starting out?

Join a course.

Find a supportive network.


Don’t be afraid. With writing, it’s actually impossible to fail.

Gif of a bald black man in a denim jacket gesturing with one hand saying "there is no failure"

What’s the piece of writing you’re proudest of (and why)?

Hard question. Every publishing moment is a miracle. But I do have a project that I’m keen on working on, which will come after the second novel has been edited, and that will be a novella-in-flash of which this will be the first piece: Her Mother’s Likeness.

What are the main challenges you face with your writing?

Time, money and space (I believe these three are somehow connected.)

What are you currently reading?

During lockdown I gave myself a book-buying ban, and the task to finish what I’ve got, which means that for the next four years I’ll be reading all sorts of books that I at some point thought it was a good idea to buy. Currently I’m on Mario Vargas Llosa’s The War of the End of the World. I’m on page 426 and just starting to get into it.

What’s your favourite part of the Writers’ HQ Community?

The friends I’ve made.

Gif of two toddlers running towards one another on a street and hugging

And finally, give us three recommendations of writers or stories you love.

Oof! Only three? Well:

Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Robert Macfarlane (Landmarks for language nerds)

Shirley Jackson






Her Mother’s Likeness — official selection in the London Independent Story Prize

The Crow of My Dreams in 52 Crows

To Breathe is to Scream in Epoque Press

Sleepless Nights in Reflex Fiction

Lisa Fransson
Lisa Fransson

In her native Swedish, Lisa is a well-known children’s author, while in her adopted English she’s a writer of flash fiction, fairytales and novels-in-progress. She is represented by Intersaga Literary Agency.

Share this article:
Bookmark (0)

No account yet? Register


Join our amazing writing community!

  • It’s FREE!
  • Hang out with thousands of like-minded writers on our community forum
  • Join the online writing retreats
  • Try out THREE free writing courses
  • Get support, resources and pep and vim to keep you writing
  • Did we mention it’s free?

Want to be a better writer?

Or just to laugh at bum jokes? Either way, you need the famous Writers’ HQ newsletter. You know what to do – put your thing in the thing.