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Author, presenter, change agent; Lisa Bent is a woman committed to creating positive change. In her own words, Lisa is ‘driven to disrupt the status quo by writing fresh perspectives that highlight the unknown.’ Her debut novel Symona’s Still Single captures this aim, fictionalising the stories of a Jamaican British woman in South London looking for her Mr Right, aware of the external and internal pressures of her biological clock.
Here, Lisa talks to TNE about the experiences which influence her writing, her aspirations and the upcoming release of her first novel Symona’s Still Single (October 8th).
SP: So, Symona’s Still Single is released on October 8th. For those who are eagerly waiting to read it, please could you give a short summary of your book?
“Symona Brown is a 37-year old Jamaican British woman living in South London looking for her Mr. Right whilst her biological clock loudly ticks on. She announces to her close girlfriends after a boozy Sunday brunch, that she is ready to up her game and start actively dating, to their surprise and delight. After being consciously single for a number of years, Symona remembers what worked and what definitely did not in the dating arena. This time, she knows who she is and what she wants.
As Symona reflects through her memories from one Mr. to another, she reveals her sensual, hilarious and downright frustrating encounters. She finds herself asking, “What does it mean to be a Black woman trying to exist, date and find love?” In her pursuit of love, she learns new lessons and different answers. Will these new revelations get her what she wants?”
SP: Do you have a particular audience in mind that you are writing for?
“Beginning as a memoir compiled from blogs and Facebook posts, I’ve created this novel to question what it means to exist and be a Black woman looking for love. This story is from the Black perspective to give a voice to our issues and concerns with themes that transcend race.”
SP: Lisa, this is your debut novel. How does it feel?
“I am so proud of how far I have come and what I have created. Adding myself as an author on Amazon and Goodreads was a surreal experience, let alone seeing my book listed in Foyles and Waterstones. I cannot stop smiling.”
SP: Although Symona is your debut book, I’m interested to know whether you have any unpublished or half-finished books which came before?
“Yes, I have a children’s book called Zahra’s Journey which I would like to get published soon. I also have three other books in my head that want to come out.”
SP: As a literature student, I have to ask: what place does Symona’s Still Single have in the modern literary canon? How is it different from other romance novels in what is a flooded market?
“Symona’s Still Single is an important piece of modern literature as it explores what it means to exist and be a Black woman looking for love in this era. This book began as a memoir on my own trials, tribulations and frustrations whilst looking for love, so it has a piece of me in there. I turned it into a novel to breathe life into characters that could take the themes further, I would say this makes it different to what is out there.”
SP: Given your background in psychology and counselling, how does this influence your work?
“My work has always examined the inner self work required to heal and thrive and my degree in counselling has definitely influenced my writing style.”
SP: Is there anything, in particular, that you chose to edit out of this book?
“Anything that did not move the story forward, got ruthlessly cut.”
SP: With your additional experience of being a published author, what changes would you like to see in the industry?
“I am part of The Black Writers Guild founded by Sharmaine Lovegrove, Afua Hirsch and Nels Abbey, because I am passionate about the industry changing to increase diverse narratives. Representation is important. The publishing industry has a duty to publish the diverse voices that make up society.”
SP: What’s one thing you’d like readers to know before they start reading Symona’s Still Single?
“Whether you are single or not, I hope you are able to take something from it.”
SP: Lisa, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Finally, I’d love to know, what are your hopes for the future of our media?
“The next four years should look and be more diverse than it is today. I hope more writers step forward, more independent publishing houses are formed and diverse narratives are included on the national curriculum. I also hope writers get the critical claim they deserve for their work and the writers gone before, who were overlooked are rightfully acknowledged.”
Symona’s Still Single, released October 8th 2020.
Symona’s Still Single is available to pre-order from:
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