Today I am delighted to welcome Erin Lawless to Curious Ginger Cat. In celebration of today’s release of her new novel, Somewhere Only We Know, Erin has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about the book, the writing process and her experiences as an author. It’s also our first Q&A on the blog, so two reasons to celebrate!
Hi Erin, a big welcome from us over at Curious Ginger Cat and thank you for taking the time to do a little Q&A for our readers. So, let’s get started….
1. To start with, please can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel, Somewhere Only We Know?
Somewhere Only We Know is the split-narrative story of Nadia, whose life is on the cusp of changing forever, and Alex, who hasn’t had all that much of a life to speak of since he left university. Nadia, social and vivacious – and about to be deported on account of her Russian nationality – strikes up an unlikely friendship with the downtrodden boy, and decides on a characteristic whim to take him under her wing while she tackles her “bucket list” of things she wants to see and do in her beloved London, just in case the deportation actually happens. Shenanigans ensue!
2. How much research went into Somewhere Only We Know? And what particular parts needed more research than others?
I barely had to do any research for Somewhere Only We Know, for a very sad reason. My best friend – also Russian born – went through the whole rigmarole of applying for her Indefinite Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom for years before and during the time I was writing the book, so I already understood the process from the inside. Of course in the book everything is extremely stream-lined and simplified – because who wants to read about hours upon hours of paperwork?? – but the general thread is true to life.
3. Who was your favourite character to write in the book and why?
I worried when I started writing the book that I would get bored – my first novel The Best Thing I Never Had has seven narrating characters! I thought going back and forth between only two would limit me, or that my supporting cast would get lost if we never went into their heads, but I needn’t have worried. It was probably the secondary characters I enjoyed writing the most – Nadia’s chalk-and-cheese best friends Holly and Caro, and Alex’s laddy flatmate Rory – they have some pretty epic one-liners between them.
4. The story is set in London. What do you think makes London such an attractive place to Nadia?
London is where I lived during my early/mid-twenties, and so there was nowhere else I could do justice. I really wanted to capture the timelessness of the city, versus the march of modernity, the intrinsic “Englishness” versus a growing multi-culturalism. It’s a city of contrasts, and so, in a way are Alex and Nadia.
5. How do you plan to celebrate the publication day for Somewhere Only We Know?
The truth is, I have a mock exam the day of the digital release! What timing! I am going to have just enough time over lunch to visit the HarperCollins’ offices to celebrate with my editor and the rest of the Impulse team, before running a virtual launch party between 11am and 2pm (everybody welcome!) before rushing off to take the exam (might only have the one glass of fizz…).
6. When looking back over your experiences regarding being a published author, what has been your favourite moment to date?
There have been so many amazing moments, and days, and experiences. One does immediately stand out. I was at a hen do dinner, one where the bride made us all sit all mixed up, rather than clumped in our already existing friendship groups. I was sat next to the groom’s cousin. We quickly discovered we were both voracious readers, and started making book recommendations to one another. She recommended my own book to me, having finished it a few days before and with no clue that I was the author. I almost spontaneously combusted.
7. What’s your writing process? Do you plan/plot the story or just start writing and see where it takes you? If you plan, how do you do it – notebooks, Post-It notes etc…?
I spent ages mulling the story over in my head, getting a real handle on the voice of my characters. Once I have them talking for themselves and my basic A-to-B plot, I move on to the notepad stage, scribbling down specific ideas for scenes and secondary characters. By the time I open Word and start actually writing, I write straight and chronologically, editing as I go, and so as a result my first submitted drafts are pretty clean. None of my books ever change materially from first draft to publication, which I think comes down to the fact I wait for so long before starting. It means I’m quite slow – particularly because I have quite a demanding day job – but it works for me!
8. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors who may be reading this? Anything that works well for yourself?
You should write and read every day – it’s a writer’s version of an athlete exercising.
9. If you were to dabble in a genre that you haven’t ventured into before, which genre would you choose (i.e. sci-fi, horror, crime, fantasy, childrens etc…)?
I would love to write a historical novel – I was ankle-deep in a Tudor novella when I was contracted to Harper Impulse for contemporary romance, so it was shelved. I also run a blog on British history and have won blog awards for my series of mini-biographies “Hidden Historical Heroines” – so that’s definitely the genre for me (one day!).
10. Were you a big reader before becoming a writer?
I still am a big reader! About 150 books a year along side the day job and the writing job. I’m not sure how I manage it either.
11. Finally, what’s coming next for your readers or is it top secret for now?
It’s very early days for book 3 at the moment – we’re only on the first tentative pages of the notebook stage! – but it’s my first sole-narrator and first person point of view novel. 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…
Erin, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions for our Curious Ginger Cat readers. It has been great to find out more about you and your latest novel, Somewhere Only We know. Best of luck with the publication day!
Thanks so much for having me!!
And now here’s a little bit more for you:-
Blurb for Somewhere Only We Know
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?
About the Author
You’d probably like Erin Lawless; she’s quite nice.
She 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.
If this interview has piqued your interest, a copy of Erin’s exciting new publication, Somewhere Only We Know, can be purchased here. Don’t forget to jump onto Twitter and visit Erin’s profile to wish her a happy publication day and to read the other blog posts from my fantastic fellow bloggers celebrating today’s release date!