Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, January 13, 2020

second chances... for good or for bad - Finding Lisa by Sigrid Macdonald

"Sigrid Macdonald's "Finding Lisa" is a well written, exceptionally edited novel, which I found hard to put down; even thought I was disappointed in the ending, but it did leave me thinking "what would I have done in a similar situation?" And any novel, that could leave you thinking and wondering what you might have done means that the author has done a really good job." Joseph S., Goodreads


Published: July 2019

Finding Lisa is a character driven story about a quirky Canadian woman named Tara who is about to turn 40. She dreads the thought. Everything is going wrong in her life from her stale marriage to her boring job to her hopeless crush on a 24-year-old guy. 

The only thing right in Tara's life is her best friend Lisa who has just confided that she is pregnant and the baby does not belong to her partner Ryan, who has a history of domestic violence. Then Lisa disappears and the search is on to find her.

From Real Life to an Interesting Story

How did real life influence my story? My book was inspired by the true life disappearance of an acquaintance of mine. Finding Lisa is not the verbatim tale of what happened to this woman but rather a highly fictionalized account of what could have happened if a number of factors had been different.

In real life, I worked on behalf of the wrongly convicted for many years, and a woman I'll call Laura was part of my support group. We never met in person because she didn't attend meetings, but we spoke on the phone once a month for two years. Originally Laura wanted to write a book about the wrongly convicted man we were supporting; however, she got sidetracked and fell in love with a "jailhouse snitch" who testified at our guy's Supreme Court hearing. Let's call the snitch Brad, and I'll call the wrongly convicted guy Dale. I'm using pseudonyms because I don't want anybody to Google this story and find out what happens before they read the book!

Laura visited Brad every weekend at a federal penitentiary, where he was serving time for having killed a woman in a drug dispute. Laura truly believed that Brad had changed; she spent tens of thousands of dollars of her own money to hire lawyers for Brad to get him out of prison earlier. When he was released, she was ecstatic. She took him into her home. All her friends and acquaintances like me were against this. We said don't do it. You have no reason to think that you can trust him. BUT she was in love, and she was simply a kind person. She was forgiving. She believed in self-reinvention, which was one of the tenets of her twelve-step program. Nine months after Brad moved in with Laura, Laura went missing, and I was part of the search team that went looking for her.

Laura's disappearance haunted me for many years, and I can't tell you how many times I have asked myself if she did the right thing by giving Brad a do-over, another opportunity in life to begin again. This is one of the questions that I posed in Finding Lisa. Lisa is based on Laura, but they are not the same person because as I mentioned, I did highly fictionalize this story, and I changed certain variables and asked myself: what if I had been best friends with Laura and she had been pregnant and met Brad at NA where people frequently make a 360° turn? What if Laura's partner had not been a murderer but rather a felon with a history of domestic violence? At the root of the book is the question, can criminals change? Can violent men become decent men and good partners? Are women kind and forgiving or stupid and reckless when they take these kinds of men into their lives?

Conversely, when something happens to a woman, should we always look to the male partner as our first suspect or to someone with a record? I did spend 20 years working on behalf of the wrongly convicted. We don't want to jump to conclusions. We need evidence before we can charge somebody with a crime. I can't tell you what happened with Brad and Laura, because that would provide major spoilers, but I will encourage you to read all about Lisa and her ex-fellow partner, Ryan, whom she met in Narcotics Anonymous, where people are given second chances, for good or for bad.
All the best,
About the author:
Originally from New Jersey, Sigrid Macdonald lived for almost thirty years in Ottawa, Ontario, and currently resides in Weston, Florida. She has been a freelance writer for years. Her works have appeared in The Globe and Mail newspaper; the Women's Freedom Network Newsletter; the American magazine Justice Denied; The Toastmaster; and the Anxiety Disorders Association of Ontario Newsletter. Her first book, Getting Hip: Recovery from a Total Hip Replacement, was published in 2004. Her second book, Be Your Own Editor, followed in 2010. Although Finding Lisa is written in first person, Macdonald only resembles her character in the sense that she once had a neurotic fixation on her hair, and she has always been called by the wrong name; instead of being called Sigrid, people have called her Susan, Sharon, Astrid, Ingrid and, her personal favorite, Siri.

Macdonald is a social activist who has spent decades working on the seemingly disparate issues of women's rights and wrongful convictions; she has worked at the Women's Center at Ramapo College of New Jersey and Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and was a member of AIDWYC, The Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted. She owns an editing company called Book Magic. Sigrid is a public speaker and a member of Mothers against Drunk Driving, Ottawa Independent Writers, the American Association of University Women, and the Editors' Association of Canada. Visit her website at or friend her on Facebook: .

Author's Giveaway
the more you comment, the better your chances of winning


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

James Robert said...

I am enjoying these tours and finding all the terrific books my family is enjoying reading. Thanks for bringing them to us and keep up the good work

Bernie Wallace said...

How did the book change from your first to final draft?

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post - I enjoyed reading it!

katieoscarlet said...

I enjoyed this guest post. Book sounds like a great read.

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a great read.

Nancy Payette said...

Sounds very relatable.

Sigrid Macdonald said...

Hello, first I would like to thank MB for hosting and Joseph for his pensive review. Yes, I can see how you might have found the ending disappointing if you were hoping for something uplifting. Instead of a happy ending, what I tried to do was pose an irreconcilable dilemma at the end for my protagonist where she had to make an ethical choice. You might question her choice – so do I.

It's funny because since I wrote the book in first person, many people have come back to me thinking, that I am the character Tara. But I am not Tara. And they have said to me I don't think you would make that choice at the end and I have said no, I probably wouldn't, but I'm not my character!

Thanks for giving this so much thought, Joseph.

Sigrid Macdonald said...

Hi Bernie, that's a great question – how did my book change from the first draft to the final version? One of the main things I did in my many revisions of the manuscript was to look carefully at my main character, Tara, and to be sure to give her some flaws. I don't like clichéd, one-dimensional characters. I like my characters to be more like regular people and sometimes, I like to give them dreadful character traits but not enough to make them fully unlikable – just to make them human and clearly flawed.

Another way I changed from the first draft of the final version was that I made the final version more of a mystery. I didn't want people to know what had happened right from the get-go in the first couple of chapters.


Sigrid Macdonald said...

And, thanks to everybody else for their kind words.

Bea LaRocca said...

Would you mind sharing some of your favorite book titles and authors?

Sigrid Macdonald said...

Oh, my gosh, where do I begin? So many books, so little time! Here is an overview of some of the books I've enjoyed in the last year or two.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagan
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The Interestings by Meg Wurlitzer
Nine Perfect Strangers by Lianne Moriarity (as well as Big Little Lies)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Also I love the classics with all the Johns like John Steinbeck above (I like East of Eden best but Grapes of Wrath is a very close second), John Updike (the whole Rabbit series), and everything by John Irving, Tolstoy, or Dostoyevsky. Growing up I loved to read Joyce Carol Oates although she is a little dark now. In terms of mysteries, I like Mary Kubica, Gina Lamanna, Lucy Dawson, etc. And I love everything by Tom Perrotta; one of his books, Mrs. Fletcher, was just turned into a series on HBO.

I'm currently reading The Bronze Horseman, by Pauline Simons, which is a beautiful romantic Russian trilogy.

What are your favorite books, Bea?

Sherry said...

I think the book sounds very good.

Bernie Wallace said...

This book sounds like it would be fun to read.

tetewa said...

New author for me, sounds good!

Bernie Wallace said...

Did you come up with the title of the book before you started writing it?

Shannon said...

I love the cover and this sounds like an excellent read.

Sandy Klocinski said...

Thanks for the opportunity to win! And thanks for sharing.

peg42 said...

Love the interview. This sounds like a great book.

abfantom said...

I like the cover. It is beautiful and well done.

abfantom at yahoo dot com

susan1215 said...

Interesting backstory, I love reading true crime. Yes you should always look at the male partner as the first suspect because a women is more likely to be murdered by a man they are with. I think a violent man can become a decent one but the odds are against this happening especially without counseling and I think it's risky to invite a man with his past into your home.

clc408 said...

I like that the story is loosely based on a factual incident. That makes for interesting reading.

Bernie Wallace said...

What are your favorite types of books to read?

rosannepm said...

When I look at the cover I see a girl wondering which path or decision to make Rosanne rosans4 Comcast (dot) net

Sherry said...

I love the cover.

Yipperbear said...

Love the cover. It is so classy.