Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What use a kitchen?

Possessing little in the way of domestic skills, Laura E James found a much better use than cooking, for the family kitchen. Tucked neatly in one corner is her very small, but very tidy desk from where she produces issue-driven romantic novels, short stories, and flash fiction.
Living in and enjoying the inspirational county of Dorset, Laura is a graduate of the RNA NWS, and a Romaniac.
Her debut novel, ‘Truth or Dare?’ is published by award-winning Choc Lit.

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take you to write?

For years I read issue-based novels and was totally sold on the idea of posing moral questions within a story. I’m a big Jodi Picoult fan, and was particularly moved by My Sister’s Keeper. I loved the twist at the end. Alice Sebold is another author whose books have stayed with me – The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon were so dark, I was drawn right in.
Two other writers I cite as my inspiration are Jill Mansell and Erica James. Both have the ability to make me laugh and cry, and their scene setting is wonderful. With this in mind, when I decided it was time to write ‘that novel I’ve always said is inside’, ‘Truth or Dare?’ emerged. I was toying with the idea of knowing when to do the wrong thing for the right reason and examining if this was ever acceptable (my Picoult/Sebold influence), but with my love of romance and family relationship novels,(my Jill/Erica influence), I was focused on a hopeful or happy ever after ending. There’s always a twist, too.

‘Truth or Dare?’ took six years … yes, you read that correctly … six years from day one to publication. I
was my mother’s full-time carer and I had two young children, so most of my writing took place late at night, fitting in what I could, when I could.

If there was a soundtrack to accompany your book what three songs or pieces of music would you choose and why?

I write in silence for the most part, but music has solved some plot problems. Paloma Faith played a big part in ‘Truth or Dare?’. One line in her song, ‘Black and Blue’ helped me define my antagonist’s actions.
When I need to bury myself in romance, I play Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pas De Deux’, from The Nutcracker Suite. It’s a beautiful, emotional, honest piece of music. I stop breathing when I listen.
For desperately sad scenes, it’s Maria Callas and ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’. It makes me cry every time. It’s such a heartfelt plea from a daughter to her father to let her be with the boy she loves. If she can’t be with him, she will drown herself. So tragic.

How do you fit your writing around your home life?

With my children at school, I have the chance to write during the day, but I’m still very much a late night writer.
I set aside weekends, unless I’m in edits, and we ensure we have family time, playing games, swimming, or going to the beach. I love playing Cluedo.

What part of promoting your book do you enjoy most?

I love getting out there in person and talking to readers. I used to sing in competitions and shows, and am drawn to the spotlight like a moth to the flame. Any chance to be on stage, in a panel or up at the front giving a reading, and I’m there. I would attend the proverbial opening of an envelope. Well, it’s stationery …

Do you enjoy research?

Research is great. I have learned so much during the course of writing the novels.
Part One of ‘Truth or Dare?’ is set in the eighties, and I had great fun recalling the fashion of the time, and watching Madonna and Adam Ant videos. And checking out the size of car phones back then. I’d forgotten quite how large they were.

If your book was turned into a film who would you like to play the main characters?

For Part Two, set in modern day, I would choose Sandra Bullock for my heroine, Kate Blair. For my Irish hero Declan O’Brien, it would be Rob Lowe. Ahhh. Rob Lowe …
And I’m back.
That was a pleasant few minutes on Google.

Thank you so much for having me here today.
Laura J

It’s been a pleasure, Laura. Thank you for joining us.

Watch out for Laura's next book, 'Follow Me, Follow You' due in September

Facebook: Laura E James
Twitter: @Laura_E_James 

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Margaret James said...

A great interview, Laura. Yes, Rob Lowe - a wise decision.

Laura E. James said...

Thanks, Margaret. I appreciate he's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think he's aged like a fine wine :-)

Berni Stevens said...

I really enjoyed both Truth or Dare and Follow Me, Follow You.

Fantastic interview too. Good luck for next week!!

Laura E. James said...

Many thanks, Berni :-) xxx

angela britnell said...

Interesting to find out more about the way you work, Laura. I enjoy a lot of Jodi Picoult's books too.

Laura E. James said...

Thank you, Angela. I've been lucky enough to meet Jodi Picoult, and stand on stage with her and howl like a wolf :D

Sue Fortin said...

Great post, Laura. Whenever I hear Paloma Faith, I always think of you and taking me to see her in concert. Fab evening.

Can't wait to read Follow Me, Follow You.


Laura E. James said...

Thank you, Sue. Paloma's a bit special, isn't she? x

Clare Chase said...

I'm just reading Truth or Dare at the moment, and loving it. Great to read about the influences and writing process behind it!

Laura E. James said...

So pleased you're enjoying it, Clare. And thank you for popping by :-)