Today on the blog I’m pleased to have Lucy Lawrie, who’s debut novel Tiny Acts of Love, published by Black & White Publishing is out now.
“Lucy was born in Edinburgh, and gained an honours degree in English Literature from Durham University before going on to study law. She worked as a lawyer in Edinburgh for several years, specialising in employment and pensions law.
When Lucy was on maternity leave for her first baby, she unearthed a primary two homework book in which she’d stated, in very wobbly handwriting: ‘I want to be an AUTHOR when I grow up.’ To appease her six-year old self, she began writing her first novel.”
Here Lucy tells us what it’s like becoming a debut author.
When preparing for my debut book launch recently, my publishers and I knew that several children would be coming, so we set up a playroom next to the room where I’d be speaking. We filled it with hundreds of lollipops (sorry, parents!) colouring sheets, two big street playmats, and two huge boxes of Lego.
It reminded me of being a little girl – very shy – who loved to escape into her own imaginary worlds. I had sprawling towns of Lego all over my bedroom floor, with complicated dynasties of plastic pigs who inhabited the homes I’d built. These homes were of questionable quality – I did my best but there was only one oven, one television, one tap and three chairs between about seven houses. In such straitened circumstances, it was hardly surprising that feelings ran high in Pig Town, with conflict erupting on a daily basis.
It wasn’t until I was 30 that I started creating characters again, and this time writing down their stories. But something unsettling happened when I’d finished my first novel, Tiny Acts of Love. I got bitten by the bug of wanting to be published – a very troubling malady indeed.
To start, with the manuscript simply wasn’t good enough. It took several drafts, and the patient input of a number of writer friends and critiquing partners, before it started to look like the book that it was meant to be. Even then, the publishing world proved to be a hard, unyielding place, full of daunting requirements like synopses, pitches, blurbs and cover letters. I knew brilliant writers who had never managed to get their work published. All the odds seemed stacked against me. But I couldn’t give up on my book.
Then two things happened. I found my literary agent – or rather, incredibly, she found me through an online writers’ forum. And after some painful rejections from publishers, the book found a home with Black & White Publishing, based just a few miles away from me in Edinburgh. In the space of a five-minute phone call in January last year, everything changed. As an unpublished writer I’d been on the outside, looking in to where I wanted – needed, desperately – to be. And now I was on the other side of the glass, because a handful of (very lovely!) people at Black & White believed in me.
Getting a publishing deal was a strange thing. People (not all, but some) looked at me differently from before. Small talk at dinner parties suddenly became easier. I was a soon-to-be-published author rather than a stay-at-home mum who awkwardly confessed to doing ‘a bit of writing’ (if she mentioned it at all). People were interested to hear my thoughts about writing and the world of books.
All the time, there was a little voice in my head, saying this is great, but I’m no better a writer than I was before. My ideas were no better, my words were no more shiny, my characters no more alive. The publishers who’d said no to my book had still said no, for all the same reasons. How had I ended up on the other side of this peculiar divide?
The insecurity, always there from the moment you type the first words in your first novel, doesn’t go away when you get a publishing deal. It merely shifts. All writers I know say the same thing – that you go from worrying about getting a deal to worrying about sales, then if the sales are acceptable you’ll worry about whether you’ll be able to pull it off again with the next book. And the next . . . and so it goes on.
So what can you do? There’s only one thing you can do – keep writing. Because being published, or not being published, has nothing to do with that dark, underground place where new shoots unfold and grow towards the light. Where characters are born. Where they start to talk to you, where they laugh and cry and where their stories unravel.
You need to let that happen, let your plots, settings and characters emerge and then play with them. Just see what they do. I remember the feeling I had as a child when I got home from school. That surge of warmth and excitement as I’d run upstairs to see what was going to happen to Pinky, Edward, Hamlet(!) and the rest of the pig clan. On a good day, that’s exactly how writing feels.
Getting published has been wonderful. It’s been like having an exciting new job, one that I love. I’ve learned new skills and met some amazing people. I’ve been pushed further outside of my comfort zone than I ever thought I could go. At my book launch I stood up in front of dozens of people and read from my book, and talked about the deeply personal experience of writing it. I was terrified beforehand. I’m a stay-at-home mum, not a public speaker. But as soon as I started speaking my nerves disappeared, and I loved every minute of it. I’m finding out things about about myself that I never knew.
It did cross my mind – what would my little-girl self have thought of it all? Would she be impressed with me, for standing up in front of that crowd? Would she be pleased, or embarrassed? Would she laugh, or want to run and hide?
It’s more likely that she wouldn’t be paying any attention at all. She would be through in the back room with the other children, probably on her third or fourth lollipop already, playing with the Lego, and all its infinite possibilities.
Tiny Acts of Love
“Juggling marriage, work and motherhood has never been easy – but between domestic misunderstandings and work-related disasters, never has it been so seriously funny!
Arriving home with her new baby daughter Sophie, employment lawyer Cassie is horrified to discover that her overexcited husband has emailed a detailed account of her labour entitled “48 Stitches Later”, with an attached photo, to everyone in her contacts list – including her clients.
This is just the beginning. Amid the mood-swings, the post-natal hypochondria, returning to work, and the side effects of the email, Cassie is struggling to hold it together, and Jonathan doesn’t seem to understand. And then who should saunter into her life again, but her sexy, exciting, heartbreaking ex-boyfriend Malkie – the one who got away, and who now wants a second chance.
Between advising a funeral director on ghost protocol, possible acts of hotel spa fraud, and extreme competitive parenting at Babycraft meetings, Cassie’s on an emotional rollercoaster as she tries to navigate her first year of motherhood. Are she and Jonathan strong enough to face the challenges their new life throws at them?
And will tiny acts of love be enough to help Cassie cope with it all?
In her impressive and beautifully plotted debut, Lucy Lawrie perceptively portrays the rawness of motherhood, the challenges of love and the powerful lure of paths not taken.”
Tiny Acts of Love is available in ebook or paperback http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiny-Acts-Love-Lucy-Lawrie-ebook/dp/B00H6V0C9U/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395043675&sr=1-1&keywords=tiny+acts+of+love