This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
A careers adviser once told Lynsey James that writing “wasn’t a good option”. Several job changes later, she decided to give it a whirl anyway. Lynsey’s debut novel, Just the Way You Are, is published this month and she’s here now to tell us a little more about her journey.
Sure! It’s about a young journalist named Ava, who’s trying to find the sender of some mysterious love letters. Her admirer starts writing to her again after a six-year absence and she’s determined to unmask the man behind them. And that’s when things get very complicated indeed…
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
Oh goodness, everywhere! I’m one of those incredibly curious people who has to find out everything about everyone and I can get a story idea from a funny story or a throwaway remark made in conversation. My friends know that anything they say is liable to appear in one of my books! I also really like to sit in coffee shops and cafes, dreaming up stories about the people sitting around me.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
Haha, I wish I had one! I’m not at my best in the mornings, so I’ll usually have breakfast and watch some TV before I switch the laptop on. Then there are the twin distractions of Facebook and Twitter! My other huge problem is my love for Criminal Case (Kirsty Maclennan is the best partner ever!). Plus there are so many lovely people on Twitter, I spend loads of time chatting to them.Come early evening, I switch the Internet off and get down to writing. It’s my favourite time to write; I’m a major night owl and I find it easier to concentrate at night than during the day.
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
I love imagining who’d play my characters in movie versions of my books and I usually have an idea of this before I start writing. I get a picture of the characters in my head then find actors or actresses to suit each of them. Doing this helps me fix their looks firmly in my head. Personality-wise, I tend to let the characters tell me what they’re like as I write. Sometimes I find they share qualities with me or maybe some of my friends.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Ooh, how can I choose just one? I’d have to say it’s I Remember You by Harriet Evans. It has two beautiful stories running concurrently and the characters are just amazing. If I could move to Langford, I would!
What female writer has inspired you?
Again, it’s hard to name just one! I love Miranda Dickinson, Dorothy Koomson, Kirsty Greenwood, Mhairi McFarlane. Anybody who can make me cry or laugh or stay up all night to finish a book is a winner.
Can you give us three book recommendations?
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood and It’s Not Me It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane.
I’m a dive-in-first kind of person. I’d love to be the kind of author who plans their books out to the last detail, but I just can’t do it. I prefer to let the story unfold while I’m writing as you can very often be surprised by the turn of events that take place! I don’t have a perfect number of drafts (I wish!) but I’d say at least three. The most I’ve ever done with one story was twelve!
What was your journey to being a published author?
A careers adviser told me that writing “wasn’t a good option” when I was around 16 and for a couple of years, I believed her. I tried a little bit of everything – Human Resources, makeup artistry and teacher training, but nothing made me as happy as writing. So after quitting my job in April 2013, I decided to finally pursue my dream. I started writing Just the Way You Are in May 2013 and, a year and a half later, I began submitting. I was signed by Carina UK in December 2014.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’s all glitz and glam and we all lie on a chaise lounge Barbara Cartland-style, while a typist takes down our latest bestseller! In reality, I write on my Macbook in my pyjamas, with reality TV in the background while my dog tries to join in.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
The best advice I can give is to do it. Writing a book will change your life in ways you can’t even imagine and it’s one of the best things you’ll ever do. If you’ve got a story you can’t stop thinking about, get writing!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on my second novel and it’s a completely separate story from Just the Way You Are. It’s still in the early stages, but I can say it’s got a magical setting, a loveable heroine and a hero you will fall in love with!