Author Q&A: Lauren James

When I write my book reviews, I always try to contact the author and ask them a few questions about their book so I can add some interesting quotes into my piece. When I wrote to Lauren James, author of The Next Together, she responded with such wonderful answers that I decided to put them into a blog post of their own! I didn’t expect to be sharing these questions so please forgive how sloppy some of them are…

If you’d like to read my book review of The Next Together first, the link is here!

I was wondering why you chose the time periods that you did, and if there were any time periods that you’d have liked to have written about but weren’t able to?
I would have loved to include lots more of Kate and Matt’s lives, but I think it would have been far too complicated to read – and I can’t even imagine trying to write it! It was a little complicated to keep track as it was – especially during editing, when I struggled to remember which plotlines I had written, which I had removed from an earlier draft, or had yet to write! As the plot involves time travel elements, this made is especially confusing, both for myself and my editor. I had to make a lot of posters keeping track of plots.

Why did you chose 3 main time periods? Also, in your mind were there an endless number of reincarnations or was there a certain amount?
I thought three would be the maximum that readers could keep track of – but there are definitely more. You can read a medieval short story about one of their other lives here.

I think both Kate and Matt are a little bit of me, but apart from just shamelessly stealing my own characteristics – Matt is based a little on Prince Char from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I absolutely adored that book when I was thirteen, and I would have taken a bullet for Char – and Matt! Kate is inspired by Jim Kirk as played by Chris Pine in the Star Trek reboot, because when I saw that film I was desperate for a silly, lewd, brave character like him – but who was a girl!

How long did it take you to write, and was research a HUGE part of the writing or did you just add in the details later?
I actually chose the timelines in the book based on which I could research for free, mainly using my university library and primary sources available to access on Google Books. I was a student when I started writing as a hobby, so I didn’t want to spend any money on history textbooks. It seemed to work out quite well!

In hindsight, choosing a storyline with multiple historical time periods might have been a bad idea for my first ever novel, which was hard enough to write without the research. If there was anything I couldn’t find out through research (even when I caved and bought textbooks, after I realised I wanted to make the story into a proper novel!) I used my imagination, and a bit of dramatic licence.

You said in your ‘6 Questions with‘ that this story has been with you a long time, were you nervous to share it?
I’m ecstatically petrified right now! I’ve been writing this story since I was sixteen – seven years ago! – and it’s been two years since I was offered a book deal, so it definitely felt like publication day would never arrive. I’ve put my whole heart into the book though, and I don’t think I could have made it any better than it is. I’m very happy with it!

Did you find it hard to write a convincing love story?
Their relationship is just based on what I imagine being in the perfect relationship with your soulmate would be like – when you both have your flaws and irritating traits, but those things fit together perfectly, and just make you love each other more.

There’s a very flirty carriage ride near the start of the book, in the 1745 timeline, which is full of unresolved sexual tension and intrigue, and it was the very first thing I wrote which clicked for me. That’s when Kate and Matt’s relationship and chemistry came to life, and after that it all seemed to flow.

I think the snippets that we see of Kate and Matt’s interactions whilst in a long term established relationship really help to bring them to life and make their love story seem genuine. I hope so, anyway!

Did you always have a 2 book storyline in mind? My god, that epilogue! I read it over and over and then had to calm myself because I’d gotten a little overexcited about the prospect of a follow on…
I didn’t! It was always going to be a standalone novel, but as I got closer and closer to writing the end, I realised I just needed to find out what happened next. So I had to write it! I like to think of the series as Jane Austen meets Doctor Who, and that is even more appropriate for the sequel than for The Next Together.

How much input did you have regarding the final product of the actual book like with the page design and stuff? I thought the notes and maps were such a fabulous idea because it was like a scrapbook or like a detective’s notebook! I think Walker do such a good job of making books feel special – I remember thinking how gorgeous the page numbering in Non Pratt’s books was!
I designed crude versions of the maps and notes in Microsoft Word (originally just as a way to procrastinate from writing!). Then the Walker designer Jack Noel (who also designed Non Pratt’s books) took all my notes and made them into professional graphics. He did an excellent job, and I absolutely adore the finished book. There are so many little details, like the timelines across the tops of the pages which match up with the time period in the chapter. It’s so rewarding to read!

The biggest thank you to Lauren James!

Find Lauren: twitter | tumblr | blog

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