- Tell us about yourself:
- Where do you live? At the moment, I live in Barnsley, Yorkshire, but we’re about to move so we can spend part of our year somewhere warm with a beach.
- How long have you lived there? I was raised here but moved away when I went to University. We moved back five years ago to be closer to my family during a health crisis.
- Are you married? Yes, to Dave, a wonderful man who supported my decision to give up well-paid, full-time work in order to become an author.
- Kids? None. We dote on our nieces in the hopes that one of them will look after us in our old age.
- Full time job? I used to teach English in secondary schools (that’s students aged 11-18, for those outside the UK) and train other teachers, but now I write and do part-time tutoring.
- Education? I have an MA in Education, focusing on innovative strategies, but the qualifications I’m most proud of are my Advanced Skills Teacher status and passing the Lay-preachers Course. One, because I had to work hard for it, and the other because it pushed me out of my comfort zone.
- Who is your favorite author and book? This varies from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. I inevitably come back to Kathy Tyers’ Firebird trilogy as the first Christian speculative fiction book I ever read. It made me fall in love with the genre and will always have pride of place on my bookshelf.
- What is your preferred genre? I read all sorts of books, from historical fiction to spy thrillers, but I especially love Christian science-fantasy.
- How did you start this journey to become a writer? I’ve invented stories for as long as I can remember, but never thought I could make a living from it. When I took a break from teaching a few years ago to support a friend undergoing chemotherapy, Dave suggested I try writing something during my spare time between hospital visits. The idea for The Legacy Chronicles came to me, and I haven’t stopped since.
- What have you written so far? My debut novel, Courage, came out in February of this year, followed by Conviction, book two in The Legacy Chronicles, on September 7th. I also have an unpublished collection of children’s stories, written for my local church over the years, and the manuscripts for books three and four of The Legacy Chronicles, Strength and Endurance. I hope to publish the next one early next year.
- Tell us about your current book. Conviction tells the story of two humans living in a slave colony on an alien planet. They have completely opposing views on how to handle their captivity, but each feels drawn to what’s hidden beneath the other’s mask. Through their interactions and the events that take place in the novel, they both come to realise that there’s more to every story than what’s on the surface, and that trusting God means letting go of their own plans.
- What is the inspiration for your current book? Conviction was never supposed to exist. The series follows the women in Moses’s life and was supposed to move straight onto Reemah, but my mum, who acts as my alpha reader, kept asking what happened to some of the minor characters in Courage. I wrote it primarily for her as a thank you for all her help. The inspiration for the actual events came from the characters themselves, and from my fascination with how faith and trust go hand in hand.
- Who was your favorite character to write and why? This is a tough question, like asking me to pick a favourite child. In Conviction, I would have to go with Than. His ignorance of women and his kind and compassionate heart made him the most fun to follow. He gets himself into so much trouble sometimes but then turns around and does something so sweet that I, at least, can’t help but love him.
- Is there anything of you in that character? Nothing at all, except his propensity for movement. I’m always tapping my fingers or wiggling my toes—at least, according to Dave, that is. The character that’s the most like me is Mahsan, due to our shared experiences, but you’ll have to wait for Strength to find out more about that.
- What sets your book apart? My books reimagines the story of Moses in a unique setting. The combination of Biblical events and a science-fiction genre is something that stands out and allows me to focus on the issues and thought processes behind the stories we all know and love so well. Conviction takes a slight detour from the original character arc to fill in some of the time gaps and explore how our faith can be tested as it grows. My mum has described it as “Pride and Prejudice in space,” but I’ll let you decide whether she’s right in that.
- What’s your favorite part in the book? I have a few, but the one I’m sharing is taken from a scene where Menali has opened up to Than about her past for the first time. It’s the first real breakthrough moment he has with her and changes their interactions significantly from that point on.
“Groaning with the tumultuous emotions overwhelming his good sense, he couldn’t help what he did next. He brought his hand up to cradle her cheek, enjoying the feel of her soft skin. She leaned into his touch and closed her eyes for a moment as if drawing strength from their connection. His heart rate picked up speed. Moving slowly forwards to give her plenty of time to back away if she wanted to, Than let his gaze linger on her lips. They parted on her next exhale, and he was lost. Closing the remaining gap between them, he bent his head to hers … and heard the crunching of feet on gravel behind one of the shacks to their right.”
Short as it is, this is one of the moments of Conviction I will always remember with perfect clarity—not because it’s the first time they nearly kiss, but because they don’t.
In my plans, I had them kissing in this scene, but when I came to write it, no matter how often I replayed it in my head or tried to write it a different way, something kept interrupting them and they refused to kiss. It’s the first time I ever experienced characters refusing to follow my script, and it gave me a new appreciation for writers who had previously complained of this phenomenon. It also fits the couple much better than my original narrative, so it brings a smile every time I read it.
- What was the most difficult part to write? The scenes from Reemah’s viewpoint were tough because I wrote them last. I’d spent so long inside the heads of Than and Menali that I found it difficult to switch back to Reemah again. I also had to keep reminding myself to include details and reminders of certain technology or systems the Esarelians used that I’d explained in Courage but not mentioned since. I got there in the end, though.
- What was your favorite book to write? So far, my favourite is book three, Strength. It includes some big reveals to questions that are set up in books one and two. I loved seeing my mum’s reaction when she read it and got to those scenes. Strength also gave me the opportunity to explore a part of Moses’s life that is brushed over quite quickly in the Bible, but that would have had a significant impact on who he became as a man.
- How do you write? Do you have a set time or place? How many hours a day? I try to get any household tasks done first thing each morning so I’ll have no interruptions. Then I set a writing goal for the day, usually a scene, and I work until it’s finished or I know I’ll need another day to get it done—or Dave tells me it’s late at night and he’s going to bed. As for the place, I have a beautifully decorated office with everything I could possibly need positioned within easy reach of the desk and a comfortable chair set to one side. I do most of my writing sitting on the sofa with my laptop on my knees and my notes on a cushion next to me. Dave despairs of me.
- Why did you want to be a writer? Because I love stories. I always have and always will. There’s something special about seeing in print characters and events that I created, and that are part of me. To be able to share those stories with others, and know people enjoy them, is an indescribable privilege.
- How do you get your ideas? My inspiration comes from everyday life. I’ve been a people-watcher for a long time, and I enjoy asking, “What if?” My work so far has all been character-driven thanks to the intrinsic pleasure of wondering how certain characters would react in various situations. That said, a lot of the ideas for The Legacy Chronicles just popped into my head, and I rushed to write them down before they popped out again.
- What do you have planned next? I’m getting straight on with the next books in the series, editing Strength and writing book five (as yet unnamed). When I get chance, I have a YA fantasy series floating around my head that needs some attention as well.
Lauren has developed a give-away to celebrate the release of Conviction. Go to https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ebe7708e1/
You can get Conviction at http://a.co/doeQtkg