Monday, February 1, 2016

Author Interview: Lisa Maxwell

I am so excited to have Lisa Maxwell on The Reading Geek today! Lisa is the author of the upcoming novel, Unhooked. I love Peter Pan retellings and this one sounds really good and dark!  

1. ) How would you describe Unhooked in three words?

LM: Dark, Magical, Pirates

2.) What inspired you to write Unhooked?

LM: The short answer is that I’d just read a book with a pirate and watched Pirates of the Caribbean IV, and I really wanted to write a book about pirates. But I didn’t want to write a straight-up historical, so I came at it from a different way. When I thought of doing a retelling of Peter Pan, OUAT hadn’t started their Hook storyline, and I thought it would be fun to make the pirate in the story not exactly the bad guy.

3.) What makes your version of Neverland so dark? 

LM: When I was thinking about writing a retelling, I went and actually read the original Peter and Wendy, to get ideas for how I might approach the story. What I realized is that the original story is actually really dark. The musical and the Disney versions of Neverland have really stripped away the menace of the place itself. In those versions, Captain Hook is the bad guy, but most versions have turned him into an almost comic villain. But in Barrie’s original, Hook is out for blood and the place itself is filled with dangers—including Peter Pan. In the book, The Neverland is an island that’s basically made from the imaginings of children. When you consider how horrible nightmares can be for a child, you get a sense of just how dark Neverland can get. I wanted to go back to that forgotten aspect of the story and breathe some new life into it. Some of the most dangerous and horrible things in my Neverland (the loss of memory, the dangerous beasts) are taken from or inspired by Barrie’s original story.

4.) If you were given the opportunity to go to Neverland, would you go?

LM: Probably not. I’m not exactly a nature girl, so surviving on an island without air conditioning and room service doesn’t really sound like that great of a time—no matter how good looking the pirates or the fairies might be.

5.) Do you have a favorite film, television, or theatrical adaptation of Peter Pan?

LM: I grew up watching the old Mary Martin musical, because my mom loved it, but probably my favorite adaptation of Peter Pan is Hook. Robin Williams—the whole cast really—is just so good, and the movie weaves so many lines from the actual book in so seamlessly. I watched it in, maybe middle school? And *cough* *cough* years later, when I introduced my kids to it, it’s still just as good.

6.) Do you have a favorite spot to write in?

LM: I write on my couch in my office. My office is actually a formal living room that I’ve taken over as my own. It has a fireplace and bookshelves, and it has lots of windows that look out onto wooded hill out back, where there are always deer and fox running around. I’m a sit with your laptop on your lap type of writer, so the couch is perfect for me.

7.) What are some of your top favorite books?

LM: There are so freaking many! Outlander is probably one of my all-time favorites, as are all of the Harry Potter books. I’m a sucker for a good historical romance, especially those by Eloisa James, Sarah MacLean, and Julia Quin. But I’m a professional English major, so I also love Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Woolf. Basically, if a book has pretty words, I’m in.

Thanks so much for having me! If your readers preorder or request UNHOOKED at their local library, I have some awesome free gifts, including a limited edition map of Neverland I had commissioned for the book! They can get more information at


About the Author:
Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep, and Unhooked (Simon Pulse, 2-2-16). When she's not writing books, she's an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys. This July, she will be teaching a writing workshop for a week in western Ireland. You can check out more information at


Twitter: @lisamaxwellYA

About Unhooked:  
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer. But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along. The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe. With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

 Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Lisa! I personally can't wait to pick up a copy of Unhooked


  1. This is a great interview! I love Unhooked, and it's so interesting to see how Lisa came up with the wonderful ideas within the wonderful book.

    ~ Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

  2. Pretty much had me at pirates! Definitely enjoyed this interview and the book sound wonderful. A retelling that'll pull you in.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. My first comment had a typo lol
      I ment I love this interview!! Keep up the good work! :)

  4. Great interview, Traci!!! I've been wanting to read UNHOOKED and this interview made me want to read it even more!!

    I've always loved the story of Peter Pan, too, but I only actually read the original story a couple of years ago, and Lisa is so right! It really is a fairly dark story, and Peter himself is actually quite complicated. He's both a hero and an anti-hero, and his childlike nature makes him both extremely naive and innocent, yet also dangerous and ruthless. I'm really intrigued by Lisa's answers here! :D

    Ambur, Burning Impossibly Bright


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