Lucy spent her formative years lost in the world of Mills & Boon romance when she really ought to have been paying attention to her teachers. Up against sparkling heroines, gorgeous heroes and the magic of falling in love, the dissolution of the monasteries and ablative absolutes didn’t stand a chance. Now she writes for them – nine books to date – and she still can’t quite believe it. Originally from London, she and her family live in Spain where she spends much of the time reading, failing to finish cryptic crosswords and trying to convince herself that the beach really is the best place to work.
1. What got you into writing? Principally, I wanted to try and write a Mills & Boon. Having devoured them in my teens I hadn’t read one in years, but then I had a month off work and set about tackling that challenge. Unsuccessfully to begin with, but it didn’t matter because by then I’d been bitten by the bug.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? Thanks to nursery/pre-school I can write from around 8.30am until 4pm. Not that I do – I wish! Instead my day looks a bit like this: check emails, mess around on Facebook/Twitter, read the news, make coffee, write a bit, repeat. I aim for 10,000 words a week (although it varies depending on what stage in the book I’m at), and am pleased if I get to half that.
3. Do you get writers’ block? If so, how do you overcome it? I haven’t had it yet, thank goodness, although some days even writing a measly couple of hundred words can feel like pulling teeth. Having written nine books, though, I’ve come to realise that this is simply part of my process and have to trust that it’ll pass.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I used to be a complete panster, revelling in the idea of total creative freedom – until I realised that it meant my books could veer spectacularly off course and inevitably led to some truly horrendous revisions. Now I have a vague idea of where the story’s going to go, and try to know my characters as much as possible before I start. I send my editor a brief outline of my ideas so she can advise me of any potential pitfalls she can see and then the story in chunks. Seems to be working so far!
5. What was the publishing process like for you and do you have any advice for aspiring authors? The publishing process for me was relatively straightforward. Having submitted a number of partials to Mills & Boon with limited success, I entered the Feel the Heat contest that they ran in 2008. I sent in Chapter 1 and synopsis of the story I was working on, and to my complete surprise and amazement won. Around two months and a few tweaks later the full manuscript was accepted, and subsequently published as Bought: Damsel in Distress. It was then that things got really hard because my next couple of books were a nightmare!
My advice to aspiring authors would be keep at it, and remember that a rejection isn’t personal. One submission might not be what they’re looking for at that particular time, but another might just.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? There have been so many! Seeing my book on the shelves for the first time, receiving my first box of author copies, my first translations, winning the RNA’s NWS Joan Hessayon award, having people who aren’t family come up to me and saying they like my books… The list is endless!
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish? Out now (or around about now) I have a trio of books connected by siblings. The Reunion Lie came out in December 2013 and features socially awkward statistician, Zoe Montgomery, advertising hotshot Dan Forrester, and a moment of madness at a school reunion. Next up in April is One Night with Her Ex, a second chance-at-love romance between Lily (Zoe’s sister) and her ex-husband, Kit,
who have a whole load of baggage to work through before they can get their happy ending. Finally, in June, The Best Man for the Job hits the shelves. In this story Dan’s uptight workaholic sister, Celia, comes up against her nemesis, Dan’s best friend, Marcus, although an accidental pregnancy soon gives them something other than their mutual dislike to focus on.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? When I’m not treading on Lego, searching for missing jigsaw pieces, finding the TV remote control in the cutlery drawer or trying to think of something new to do with mince, I read and guiltily eye up the exercise bike that’s gathering dust in the corner of my study.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why? Right now, I’d like to trade places with top human rights and extradition lawyer, Amal Alamuddin. Not only does she rock international law and speak three languages (one of which, Arabic, I have a degree in but can’t remember a word, so to be fluent would be awesome), she also gets to snog George Clooney.
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Nothing more than a great big thank you for reading my books. Without my lovely readers I wouldn’t be able to do the job I love.