County Kilkenny-based author Lizzy Shortall found novel-writing a cathartic way to process the grief associated with losing her brother, Lar, to suicide. Lizzy’s book, The Lotus and the Tiger was published by The Conrad Press on the 12th of June 2021.
Lizzy explains, ‘When I started writing The Lotus and the Tiger I was expecting my first child and began thinking about how my baby would never meet my brother. I was still experiencing grief. I had not yet resolved the pain of how my brother died and I wanted to focus on how he lived instead of how he died. I was two years into writing the book when that happened for me. It took me five years to complete the book as I had a baby, then moved home and county and then had another baby. Lockdown finally gave me the opportunity to complete the book.’
Lizzy continues, ‘Part of the process of trying to let my brother go was to travel to Thailand where I carried out a ritual with a lotus in a beautiful temple among other efforts to try to reconcile the grief. The Lotus in the title represents bereavement. I started to write about that time to make more sense of it. Writing The Lotus and the Tiger helped me to heal my own grief. I believe this is a book about hope and resilience.’
While writing the book, Lizzy, who is a former social worker, trained to teach mindfulness for wellbeing. Lizzy, like the protagonist in her book, Lucy, is a strong believer in the benefits of practicing both mindfulness and gratitude. Lizzy says, ‘I like the idea of promoting resilience through these tools as a preventative measure for children and adults. I wrote a children’s book, Joy’s Playground that teaches children about mindfulness and gratitude. It will be published in September 2021. I believe children can benefit from learning these skills early. Many people can use these tools to recover, find happiness and thrive after experiencing difficulties in their lives.’
Lizzy continues, ‘My novel explores some serious and sensitive themes such as grief, abuse, ostracism or estrangement and addiction. I would like people in emotional pain or turmoil to know they are not alone and that they can recover from circumstances that may initially seem impossible to accept. That we can go through hard and traumatic things and come out the other side still a whole and happy person. In my novel, Lucy uses mindfulness to stay in the moment and gratitude to focus on all the positive in her life. This enables her to cope and to be happy again.’
Lucy Woodrow, a life-loving Dublin girl, tries hard to make sense of her life and her family. Her romantic and personal adventures are full of charm, wit and are highly entertaining. She goes on a worldwide adventure of self-discovery, returning to Thailand three times. Each time her experiences there are radically different.
This is a story of one woman’s determination to find and live the life she loves. Along the way Lucy experiences the devastating loss of her older brother, Shane, and true love with a wonderful man, Charlie. As Lucy’s life takes off in different directions she holds on tight to her self-belief. Although at times she goes through painful personal growth, she refuses to give in and ultimately finds her very own happy ever after.
Lizzy is qualified with a degree in Social Studies and a master’s in Social Work from Trinity College, Dublin. She is certified to teach mindfulness for wellbeing to children and adults. She has also written the children’s book Joy’s Playground that promotes resilience through teaching mindfulness, gratitude, and self-belief. Over the last twenty years Lizzy has worked with children and adults as a social worker and teaching mindfulness and creative writing in education, disability, addiction, and mental health services.
The Lotus and the Tiger by Lizzy Shortall (RRP £9.99) is published by The Conrad Press and can be ordered from all good bookshops, including in-store at the Book Centre and Khans Bookstore Kilkenny or online on Amazon and the Book Depository.