Hey guys! Wow I can’t believe this is our last author interview! #LGBTQMonth has come and gone so quickly but I’ve enjoyed it so much! Anyways, without further ado I am delighted to welcome Lauren James to my blog. Author of The Next Together and The Last Beginning, and her anticipated new novel coming in September, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe! I’m so excited to get my hands on a copy!
1. As someone who is bi, would you or have you sought out members from other sides of the community for research for characters who, for example, might be gay?
I would research any characters who aren’t within my own experience, such as trans, Muslim, disabled, black – or even anyone who wasn’t from England! I usually research by reading #ownvoices novels, watching youtubers talk about their own experiences, and following people on tumblr. I’ve not yet hired a sensitivity reader, but I have a few projects coming up where I plan to. I’m going to use this Writing in the Margins resource to find a suitable intersectional editor, I think.
2. Who is your favourite LGBT author?
Sarah Waters, Alice Oseman, Cat Clarke, Alex Gino, Meredith Russo and V E Schwab are all amazing examples of how to combine accurate representation with genuinely thrilling and literary writing that will appeal to a broad audience.
3. Do you bring your own experiences surrounding the LGBT community and outside of that into your own works?
Absolutely! Everything I do impacts everything I write. I think one of the most important things an #ownvoices writer can bring to fiction isn’t necessarily the big experiences you have as a minority, but the smaller, everyday experiences that straight/white/cis people might not necessarily pick up on. The nuances of being in the LBGT community that aren’t tragic backstory or Pride parades, but everyday domestic life, in all its rainbow colours. That’s the real authenticity that only someone inside the LGBT community can write.
4. What are your thoughts on the mentality of some writers forcing diverse characters into the works to become more appealing and accepted the world of literature?
I think social media has done a lot for the diverse fiction movement, both good and bad. It’s brought a lot of attention to the issue, and encouraged publishers to take strides to increase diversity on their list and in their offices, but at times it can feel quite forceful and angry.
I can completely understand why some authors have felt the need to include diversity in their fiction for fear of backlash. I’m sure that, on the other side, there are also authors who are afraid to write about minorities because social media is so vocal that they’re worried about the backlash if they got it wrong – or just not-quite-right.
I think, ultimately, you have to ignore all the chatter and just focus on what you, personally, think is right. Every book should be written primarily for the author, first and foremost. You have to look at the world around you and try to write about it as realistically as possible – or what’s the point of being a writer?
5. Out of all of your works, which was your favourite to work on and why?
Always the last one I finished, I think! When I’ve done all the hard work and can look at a complete, perfect finished book. The one I’m always writing always feels like a terrible disaster while I’m in the process of getting it down on paper.
My next release is The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, a psychological thriller set in space, and I’m very proud of it.
6. Do you have an essential LGBT+ literature recommendations?
I run an LGBT YA review blog here on Tumblr, and all of my five star reads are here. Some include:
L: We Are Okay, The One Hundred Nights of Hero
G: Timekeeper, I’ll Give You the Sun
B: Girlhood, Far From You
T: When the Moon Was Ours, George
A: Radio Silence, Clariel
7. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Find out what makes your writing unique and own it. Be completely shameless about it in your query letter. If you love the zombie cats in your novel, make sure they are front and centre in your query. You need to find an agent who loves your book as much as you do, and spending months crafting the perfectly written query letter isn’t going to do that – but maybe persuading them to read the book with the promise of zombie cats might.
8. What is your writing kyrptonite?
TUMBLR. I always waste forever on tumblr. Although, to be fair it is a writing tool too. I do a lot of brainstorming on tumblr, often based on text posts like this, which is the most perfect thing to come across on your dash when you’re struggling for inspiration. I think the online community is a brilliantly creative place.
In particular, fanfiction is training a huge generation of writers better than any Creative Writing course could – and it’s all based on enthusiasm and enjoyment, which is just incredible!
9. What do your future plans include?
I want to write for as long as possible. I want to be a writer for my whole life, and earn a living wage from it. Everything you read tells you that for a new author in the 21st century, it’s not possible to support yourself by writing. I’m going to fight to prove that’s not the case. I’m doing okay so far, I think…
10. If you could spend a day with any character from one of your works, who would it be and what would you do during that time?
Spart! Everyone who reads The Last Beginning loves Spart – he’s had at least 3 declarations of love and/or marriage so far – and I totally agree. He’s an Artificial Intelligence who’s very sassy and wise, and obsessed with trashy tv shows. I could write him into every scene I write in any piece of fiction for the rest of my life, and it would improve it exponentially. I’ll probably miss writing his dialogue the most.
I think I would want to go time travelling with him, like Clove!
Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics.
She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. The Next Together has been translated into five languages worldwide. It was described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’ and Kirkus as ‘An ambitious, promising premise . . . James is one to watch’. It was longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to recognise an outstanding novel by a first time writer. Her other novels include The Last Beginning, the epic conclusion to The Next Together which was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for kids and young adults by the Independent, who called it ‘ideal for teenagers. The Last Beginning is on the ball’. A short story set in the world of The Next Together series, Another Together, is also available. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature scientists in prominent roles.
She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk.