Hey guys, I’m back! I have missed blogging so much. I am back with a super exciting post. A couple of weeks ago the author of ‘The Loneliest Girl in the Universe’, Lauren James came to Manchester for an evening with her. The lovely Kimi and Fiona at the Waterstones in Manchester arranged for me to have the opportunity to interview Lauren James. Not only that but I was a guest on their podcast A Tale of Two Booksellers alongside Lauren James, make sure you click on the link to listen to the episode it was a lot of fun!
Time to get into the interview!
1. What inspired you to start writing?
Lauren: So I was always a really big reader and I used to go to my local library and get the maximum number of books out on my library card, my brother’s, my Mum’s and my Dad’s. Then I’d go back the next week and do it again. So, I was always reading loads and it got to a point where I wanted to read books that didn’t exist, so I started writing them. My first book The Next Together I wrote when I was 18 because my friends where doing NaNoWriMo and I wanted to join in because I felt left out.
2. What made you decided on writing YA and not Children or Adult fiction?
Lauren: I didn’t know I was writing YA, my agent told me “look this is a YA novel” and I was like but it was just about me and people my age. So, when I was a teenager I didn’t really read YA, I read adult books and now I’m an adult I read teenage book. I think it is because today you can’t really find stuff you want to read about people like us in adult fiction because it is more about the baby boomer generation. Life is so different now from how it is portrayed in literary fiction, So, I think I’m always going to write YA because it is not really a book aimed at teenagers, it is a book about the millennial generation and what life is going to be like, now and always will be. I think the reason you get so much crossover reader of YA is not because they are trying to read easy books, it is just they are trying to read books they relate to and it’s going to grow and grow and every book will be YA and they’ll admit there is no such thing as Ya, there is just books.
3. What was the writing process like when writing The Loneliest Girl in the Universe?
Lauren: It was really interesting because everyone tells you that the second book is hard as an author because suddenly you’ve been writing alone with no one reading it and then for the second book you are writing for an audience knowing that it will get published, or at least the editor will see it. For your third book, you are supposed to have got used to that then and just be a writer. But I found it hard, especially because my first two books are part of a series and then I was thrown into making a whole new set of characters and a new world again. I found that quite challenging. I think it was good that it was a very limited cast and a world where I didn’t have to make much up it was all about the technology and NASA so that really helped me with that. But it was hard because I wanted to make sure that it was, because it is such a small concept of one girl alone you want to make sure that she is a really strong character in the sense that she is really well developed. So, I spent a lot of time just planning her rather than the plot because I sort of knew the basic plot, so that didn’t take as much work. It was mainly about making her. Jay’s character was so hard to write. I went through a phase of watching American male YouTubers to try and get his character right and making notes on the way they talked just because I could see it in my head who he was supposed to be but I couldn’t really get it right on the page. So I wanted him to have a specific vibe that was really difficult to achieve.
4. What do you hope readers take away from Romy’s story?
Lauren: I can’t really say the true thing I want them to take away because it is a spoiler but a lot of the book is about what Romy sends back to earth and the kind of things she chooses to transmit to the planet and I think it is just important in general that people especially now internet friendships are becoming so common that people think about what they are putting in a public space online and what people could do to use that against you.
5. Would you ever like to go to space?
Lauren: Yes, but I’m a bit of a wimp so I would only go if it was really safe. I think I’d like to go to a plant really far away because it is not going to be worth the risk unless it is something that is so cool. I feel like going to the moon or mars would be boring because of how close it is.
6. Romy deals with so many things and has undergone a lot throughout her short life. How did you go about writing about PTSD, anxiety and the death of her parents?
Lauren: I read a lot of self-help guides for teenagers who have been victims and have experienced trauma. I read case studies and found them particularly useful. I also looked at my behaviour and the behaviour of my friends when we have been through difficult times and just to remember what it is like to be in a situation when you are overwhelmed. A lot of what I went through at university when I was struggling is in how Romy feels about running the ship.
7. Which do you like e-books, paperbacks or hardbacks and why?
Lauren: My answer is all three. I will read anything and everything. I normally have like 10 books on the go and they are always a mix of physical books and e-books.
8. Do you like to write in silence or do you have to have some form of background music?
Lauren: I write to music. I used to craft really careful playlists about my books. But I write too fast now that I’d have a million playlists on the go because I’m always hopping between projects. So, I can’t spend years crafting the perfect playlist. So, now I just listen to albums on Spotify. I listen to increasingly a lot of classical music just because I think it is easier to find the right feeling. You can get an emotion from classical music whereas pop music hops around a lot from track to track.
9. What is your favourite book of 2017 so far?
Lauren: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wine. It is a prequel to Code Name Verity which is a WWII spy novel and it is about a pilot from that book, before WWII starts whilst she is going home to her rich family’s mansion in Scotland and then a murder happens and she starts doing a murder mystery.
10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Lauren: Try and write something really unique and don’t write to a trend because you can tell when an author is really enjoying when they are writing about and especially if it is something really weird and quirky that you don’t think many people would be interested in. That is what will make you stand out because you’ll find that the agent and the editor will like that weird quirky thing and there will be people who want to read it as compared to the hundreds if not thousands of contemporary romance YA’s that they are getting sent. You want to write the weird thing that no one else is writing.
11. Do you feel completely happy with a book once you have finished writing or do you always think of things you could change?
Lauren: Always! But I wouldn’t want to go back because I’ve got too many ideas to write. But I think I’ve read like thousands of time more books than I will ever write. So, I am always a better reader than I am a writer. So, I am always frustrated when I finish writing because critically it is not the book I’m happy with reading but my skills as a writer aren’t ever going to match it because I’m always getting better at reading. So, I always know I could do better if I went back to a book but I would never do that. I like having the record of how my writing is changing over time.
12. If you could only read books by one author for the rest of your life who would it be and why?
Lauren: That is so unfair! Can I say like fanfiction authors, anonymous fanfiction authors in general? You get such a range of genres in fanfiction. That doesn’t omit me to one person.
13. How long did it take you to write The Loneliest Girl in the Universe?
Lauren: 4 or 5 months I think. It was between editing The Last Beginning and promoting The Next Together. So, I was doing a lot of stuff so it wasn’t like it was my full time job for 4 or 5 months. But it was a really fast one. I thought it was going to be a short story and I just ended up, like, the first draft was quite short and it grew into a novel.
15. I have to ask, will there be a sequel to The Loneliest Girl in the Universe?
Lauren: I really want there to be a sequel! There is a lot more in Romy’s life and story to tell. That would be really good!
Thank you so much to Lauren James for taking the time to answer my questions and being so lovely and a huge thanks to Kimi and Fiona from Waterstones Deansgate and Walkers Books for letting me have such an amazing opportunity.
Be sure to get you own copy of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe! You won’t be able to put it down I promise!
Be sure to check out Book Depository using my link here: Loisreadsbooks
Until next time,