Today I'm bringing you a variation on my debut spotlight feature, an author spotlight on Laura E James whose second novel, her first in paperback format, Follow Me Follow You has just been published.
Truly, Madly, Deeply. Truth or Dare?, Laura’s debut novel, was shortlisted for the 2014 Joan Hessayon Award. Follow Me Follow You is Laura’s first Choc Lit novel published in paperback.
Thank you so much for inviting me today, Shaz. It’s exciting!
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel Follow Me, Follow You?
It’s a reunion story, set in and around the area I love ‒ Dorset ‒ specifically Chesil Beach, Portland and Weymouth. The theme is reconnection. The hero and heroine have lost their way and disconnected from life. Victoria Noble has retreated into her virtual world of EweSpeak, her social media business, and has a strained relationship with her young son. Chris Frampton, Victoria’s first love, is a Hollywood action hero coming to terms with a tragic loss. Both return to their childhood homes in Portland in the hope going back is the best way forward.
What inspired you to write about a busy single mum and the re-emergence of her first love?
I was intrigued by the concept of returning to a past relationship ‒ it’s not something I’ve experienced. I’ve been married for eighteen years, but I remember thinking in my youth, maybe naively, that when something was over, it was over. End of. The reasons the relationship failed remained. That posed the first question: Why would a person return to a relationship that left them heartbroken? Before I answered that, another question popped up: What effect would the breakdown of that intense love have on the emotional development of the parties involved?
Victoria Noble was suddenly on the scene ‒ a woman who’s given up on romance, thrown herself into work and withdrawn from relationships, including that of her young son.
Now let's dream... which actor would be perfect to play the role of Chris?
Johnny Depp. Lean, dark, intense. He’s got it going on behind the eyes. Oh, who am I kidding? He’s got it going on everywhere. And how good would he look in biker leathers? Or stripping off and running into the sea from Chesil Beach?
And I guess to be fair, who would be perfect as Victoria?
Rachel Weisz – I first saw her in the Mummy films, with Brendan Fraser. I like her oomph. She’s a versatile actress, and I can see her embracing all of Victoria’s issues and complications and acting them out.
Are you able to tell us anything about your current work in progress or is it top secret?
‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ is my third novel, currently sitting at 20,000 words, but it’s my first with a strong alpha male hero. Griff Hendry is a Watch Officer with the Coastguard. He has very set ideas about life and death, and believes everyone can be saved.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
How long I spend at the desk depends on how I’m feeling on the day. I have rheumatoid arthritis and as irritating as it gets, I’m guided by that. I have to pace myself. There’s part of me that thinks it’s probably a good thing. My mantra is ‘everything in moderation’.
Of course, one of the wonderful things about being a writer is that reading is part of the ‘job’, so on those days when I need to sit in a comfy chair, I read.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
I’ve been fortunate to receive many fab nuggets of wisdom over the past few years. I’m going to be rebellious and offer two: Read, read, read, write, write, write, and give yourself permission to write rubbish. Julie Cohen gave me that second one.
Have you got anything exciting planned for publication day?
We’re holding a launch at The Chesil Beach Centre, in Portland, Dorset. I am thrilled about the location, with the book set on and around Chesil Beach. There will be four local authors there for book signings and writerly chats. I’ve been practising my signature just in case …
Have you treated yourself to anything nice as a publication treat?
I’ve not done that, this time or for ‘Truth or Dare?’. Perhaps your readers could suggest something…
If you could go on a writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Italy. I went last year with Arte Umbria, on a course run by Sue Moorcroft. It was there I got down to the nuts and bolts of Victoria Noble. She was such a flawed character, I was struggling to keep her sympathetic, but with Sue’s wonderful guidance and excellent writing exercises, some of my favourite scenes were written in Umbria. I was there for a week and it had a profound effect on me ‒ the place, the people, the atmosphere. It will stay with me for a very long time.
Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance.
Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria’s first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he’s desperate to escape. But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria has lasted the test of time, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on?
With the risk of them breaking, will either #follow their heart?
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