Friday, 12 June 2015

Q & A with Erin Lawless

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I'm very excited to welcome Erin Lawless on Sky's Book Corner today. Her newest novel Somewhere Only We Know was published yesterday: Amazon UK

1.     Did you always dream of being a writer?

     I have always been writing. When I was about 7 I wrote an epic saga series about the Princess of the Spoons (literal spoons, my grandmother had a lot of silverware). Then when I was a teenager I moved on to that guiltiest of guilty pleasures – fanfiction! Sadly I never managed an E L James/50 Shades-style transition (clearly not enough BDSM in my Pok√©mon fics) but I still think those years were the absolute best practice for being a writer ever!

2.     Your newest novel Somewhere Only We Know, is published this month, what is it about?

     Somewhere Only We Know is a contemporary romcom "based around immigration law"… no, wait, don't run! It's a gentle friendship-into-love story starring the bubbly Russian Nadia and the downtrodden Brit Alex, where the former is fighting against deportation and the latter works for the immigration department! 

3.     What was your inspiration for the book?

     I didn't have to dig too deep. My best friend is just such a Russian national who fought tooth and nail against deportation from the UK, where she'd lived since she was eleven years old. I felt so impotent throughout the whole process but the story inspired by the struggle – Nadia's story – absolutely poured out of me.

4.     Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

At first it looks like your usual 'opposites attract' deal, although (of course) it ends up being a lot more than that. Nadia is 'gung ho, get-up-and-go' with a true positivity and zest for life. Alex used to be a lot more like her, but something happened to change all that, and ever since then he's been stuck in a rut, happy just to play his Playstation, complain about his lot in life and lust miserably over his flatmate's girlfriend. 

5.     Where and when do you write your stories?

I have a full time job and so I really do mean it when I say the writing gets squished into the oddest times. I always try to grab a cheeky ninety minutes when my husband puts the football on at the weekend..!

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

As long as I've got my Kindle nearby and my Netflix subscription, I'm a pretty happy bunny.

7.     Your debut novel is called The Best Thing I Never Had, what is it about?

The Best Thing I Never Had is my mini epic, with seven characters spanning seven years. It's the story of a group of university friends – what brings them together, and what tears them apart – and how they have to face up to their past at a wedding five years after graduation.

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

Hermione Granger, because, well, MAGIC, woo! 

9.     You also write short stories, how is it different from writing a normal novel?

Very different. My short stories and flash fictions are belted out at speed, when I just HAVE to get whatever it is out of my system. With my novels, I have been known to spend half an hour on just one sentence. Having said that I am introducing a new, revised edition of my short story anthology The Last Train Home & Other Stories this summer, so no doubt that will involve having spent time agonising over my verb choice there too!

10. What books have most influenced your life most? 

An all time, ultimate favourite is the Tortall series by Tamora Pierce. My first foray into fantasy novels, and my first uncompromising, feminist heroine – those books had a massive impact on me. I re-read the entire set every few years, and I nurture a secret ambition to write my own fantasy saga one day!

11. What are you working on at the moment?

It is very early days for novel number three, but I am cautiously excited. It's like nothing I've ever written before – first person perspective and only one narrator for a change! It’s a romcom all about the fall-out after a couple decide to make a list of all the celebrities they’re allowed to sleep with. Let’s just say one half of the couple takes it more seriously than the other…

12. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love it when I reach the point in the process where the characters step away from the 'archetype' holders I've used in my structure notes ("the girl", "the guy", "the love triangle person", "the best friend") and actually take on personalities of their own. An entire subplot was dropped from The Best Thing I Never Had because by the time I got to it the characters involved told me point blank that they'd never do anything like that. And when that happens, you've really got to listen (or get your head examined). 

13. Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why. 

There are so many, but I'm going to pick three women I have huge, ugly girl-crushes on. Mhairi MacFarlane, because she's absolutely hysterical and I feel would match me cocktail for cocktail. Sarah J Maas because we can fangirl about writing for FictionPress back in the day and she writes the most kick-ass heroines ever. And Sarah Addison Allen because she is the queen of magical realism and I'd love to chat to her about life in the 'Deep South'.

14. What does your perfect day look like?

I would have a bit of a lie-in (definitely), or maybe laze around in bed reading after my alarm went off. Then my husband and I would load up the car and go off on an adventure, stopping for a cream tea, maybe visit one of the National Trust places we've been saving. Then I'd meet my friends for dinner and cocktails and probably end up shoeless and voiceless from too much dancing and singing come the early hours of the morning. 

15. Imagine Somewhere Only We Know would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

For purely looks-wise (we'd have to work on their accents!) I always feel that Candice Accola looks a little like the Nadia-in-my-head (she'd have to get hair extensions though) and for Alex, maybe Logan Lerman? He's got a lovely little face, heehee!

     16. Coffee or tea?

Tea, without a doubt. I can't even bear the smell of coffee. 

17. Paperback or e-reader?

e-reader for ease, but I always, ALWAYS buy paperbacks of 'keepers'.

18. Mountains or the sea?

I'm married into a coastal family and I'm a water star sign – so it's got to be the sea!

19. Summer or winter?

I am a massive Christmas fan, but the summer means barbeques, rose wine, pretty dresses coming out of storage and my birthday!

20. Sweet or salty?

I'm going to cheat – both! I love Reeses Pieces and salted caramel!


Boy meets girl… 

Alex Bradley can't help but feel that life is rather passing him by. And not just life – promotions, invitations, romance; the girl he loves only has eyes for his flatmate and his 9-5 job as the Immigration department skivvy is slowly numbing his soul. Until he meets Nadia. 

Girl meets boy… 

Nadia Osipova is running out of time. With no money, no lawyer and a totally fictitious boyfriend, she’s got one last summer and one last appeal before the British government deport her back home. 

Girl gets deported? 

It's going to be a bumpy ride, one she's dragging her new friend Alex along for. As Nadia races through a list of all her favourite London adventures, for what may be the last time, Alex can’t help but start to see the city, and his life, through Nadia’s eyes. 

From hazy summer days on the Common and heady nights in Soho’s basement bars, to twilight walks along the Southbank, will Alex realise what he’s got before it’s too late? 

Funny, addictive and always honest, this is a love letter to London, friendship and the unexpected from the author of the bestselling The Best Thing I Never Had. 

About the author: 

Bestselling author Erin Lawless lives a happy life full of wonderful friends, in love with a man who buys her books instead of flowers. To mix things up a little, she write books where friends and lovers hit obstacles and (usually) overcome them. When she's not doing that she's reading absolutely everything she can get her hands on, spending an inordinate amount of time in pyjamas and running a fun-but-informative blog on British history. 

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