Thursday, 19 February 2015

Q&A with Lucy Robinson

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Firstly – thanks so much for having me here, Simona. As always I appreciate your support and all the lovely things you’ve said about my books! It means the world.

1.    Did you always dream of being a writer? 

     Actually, no! It was never part of the plan. And even today, if someone were to ask me what my dream job would be, it wouldn’t be writing. It would involve being outdoors and doing something to do with nature. (As you can see, I’m still slightly unclear on that front . . .) That said, I’m not complaining about writing by any means. Writing offers fantastic freedom from the crushing hours I used to work and as a life-long wordaholic I love being able to play around with words and ideas all day long. And the feeling of seeing my books on the shelf of a shop is indescribable. It’s a great privilege to do this for a living.

2.    Your fourth novel The Day We Disappeared comes out in April, what can your readers expect and what is it about? 

     The Day We Disappeared is a story of two women who are running from something in their past. It’s hard to talk much about the story, as there are a lot of mysteries and plot twists, but my readers can expect two big love stories, horses, Lucy Robinson humour but also some great sadness and quite dark and unsettling storylines too. But I hope I’ve handled the darker stuff in a way that prevents it from being overwhelming. Overall it’s a positive and uplifting story about escaping very traumatic pasts.

3.    What was your inspiration for the book? 

     All I knew when I started it were two things: 1) I wanted to set part of my book in a horse yard and 2) I wanted it to begin with a woman being parachuted into a totally new life. Not a great deal to be working with there, as I’m sure you’ll agree. But the ideas started flowing as soon as I started to wonder who this woman was, and why she’d suddenly turned up in a completely new place. Where had she been? What had happened? But the greatest inspiration came from a conversation I had with a very brave woman about a year ago. I’ll remember what she told me for the rest of my life. You’ll have to read the book to find out more!

4.    The Unfinished Symphony Of You and Me was published last year, tell us more about the story. 

     I’m so very fond of that book! It’s about Sally, a girl from a council estate in the Midlands, who has the most incredible singing voice but cannot bring herself to sing in front of anyone else. She spends most of her life hiding in the shadows, until a life-changing summer in New York - involving a beautiful man she will never forget and a tragic event in her family life - forces her to step into the limelight.

5.    I absolutely loved The Greatest Love Story Of All Time, how did you develop the story and what is it about? 

     Thanks! That story came out of a chat with a book editor in a gay bar in Soho on a rainy Monday night. I’m still not entirely sure what we were doing there, but she had contacted me having read my blog in Marie Claire and was convinced that I should write a book. I was convinced that I shouldn’t. She won in the end. She asked about my life; I told her I’d had a terrible break up the year before and somehow we agreed that we’d use a horrible breakup as the starting point for the story. I hadn’t the faintest idea how to write a book but I just forced myself to do it and was amazed at the speed with which the ideas crowded my head.

6.    Where and when do you write your stories? 

     In my writing room in lovely, arty, beautiful, creative, mad, anarchic, lefty, graffiti-covered, hilly, friendly, community-focused Bristol. The Man and I moved here more than eighteen months ago and it’s been life-changing. I love it so much! I also rent a desk one day at week at a brilliant creative co-operative so that I don’t spend too much time alone. This coming year I’m going to get stricter about getting my writing done in the morning so I can spend more time outdoors in the afternoon.

7.    What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing? 

     I love walking and being around animals. Especially dogs and horses. I try to ride as often as I can but I don’t own a horse so it’s a bit of a challenge! I also love reading and exploring all the many interesting cultural things Bristol has going on. This year I’m aiming to do a bit of volunteering because, well, because. I’ve also got into healthy eating on a grand scale over the past six months and am eating the most amazing and delicious food ever. So at the moment I am really enjoying learning to cook things from scratch, avoiding processed foods and the usual nasties – sugar, dairy, gluten and so on. It’s been a brilliant journey; I’ve learned so much about food, and I feel fantastic.

8.    The covers of your books are amazing. How were they developed? 

     Aren’t they! They are developed by very clever and talented people at Penguin.  I’m only minimally involved, which is probably a good thing. I’m not remotely creative when it comes to visual stuff.

9.    If you could switch places with a characters from a book, who would it be and why? 

     You know what, I’ve never been as happy to be me as I am these days. But I always used to want to be Scarlett O’Hara. Kissing Rhett Butler and wearing corsets and being fiery and tempestuous. Yeah.

10.   A Passionate Love Affair With a Total Stranger is another one of your books, what makes this one special in your eyes? 

     Probably Charley’s final escape from crushing workaholism. I was going through a similar thing when I wrote the book. Also, though, it is hard not to love Sam Bowes. He is one of my all-time favourite men.
11. What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

     Oh, all of it. I do not find writing easy. Luckily, all of my author friends seem to have the same troubles. You just have to keep the faith, keep smiling and plough on through. Never let your concerns get out of control – it always comes right in the end.  I mean, it really isn’t life or death! My aim for 2015 and book 5 is to just enjoy it, in spite of the inevitable difficulties. I’m determined to make that happen.

12. If you could plan the perfect holiday, what would it be? 

     It would go on for about a year, and would involve me and The Man. We would not have phones, internet or anything that connects us to the incessant noise of modern life. But we would need a very good blender for morning smoothies. And ideally a food processor. Haha. I’m not sure! I’ve done a lot of travelling and can honestly say that I don’t have a favourite type of destination – I love sea and beaches but I love mountains and misty cloud forests. I love far-flung cities and strange little villages. I’ll take anything you’ve got, if you’re offering, Simona.

13. Coffee or tea? Neither! (I know! Weird, huh? But I hate them both!)

14. Paperback or e-reader? PAPERBACK FOR EVER AND EVER.

15. Mountains or the sea? See above. I’m incapable of deciding.

26. Summer or winter? Again, very torn! I do love a crisp, sunny winter like nothing else, but summer in the British countryside is surely one of the most beautiful things on earth. All two days of it.

17. Sweet or salty? Sweet. But no refined sugar please ;-)

About the author

Lucy Robinson is the author of The Greatest Love Story of All Time, A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger and The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me, which was named a book of 2014 across print and online media. Lucy worked in theatre and then television documentaries before starting a blog for Marie Claire about her laughably unsuccessful foray into the world of online dating. She did not meet a man during this time but she did become a novelist: every cloud has a silver lining. She now lives in Bristol with her partner, The Man, whom she met when she took off to Buenos Aires to become a bohemian writer in 2010. 
     Lucy on Twitter: @Lucy_Robinson

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