Hello Laura! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of BloodMining. Can you tell us what it is about?
A: Thank you. Primarily set in Wales in the not-too-distant future, it’s about a mother, Megan, whose son is diagnosed with a terminal, hereditary condition. A condition passed down the mother’s line. Buried family secrets are revealed during the search for a donor to save his life and Megan finds out the truth about her past, and its relationship with an appalling national tragedy.
This is your first published work of fiction. How did your book deal come about and how did you feel to finally see your first novel in print?
A: Unbelievable. It feels unbelievable, quite surreal. Even now, a year and a bit after receiving the call from Bridge House informing me that I’d won their debut novel competition and they’d like to publish the book. After a couple of other competition short listings and near misses with interested agents I’d consigned BloodMining to the ‘failed first novel’ drawer. So it’s amazing and, of course, utterly wonderful. Writing a novel involves dedication, commitment and a huge amount of hard work. After two years of writing and rewriting it’s also a relief to see it come to fruition – to know that the graft was not in vain. I feel so lucky and privileged that people will read my story.
The subject of motherhood is central to BloodMining. How much of what you wrote is autobiographical and how much is just the fruit of your imagination and research?
A: It is not autobiographical, I’m glad to say. I have two healthy boys and I hope never to confront anything as threatening to their well-being as my protagonist Megan does. Of course, I hope there is emotional truth in my character’s experiences and perhaps this would have been harder to achieve without the experience of motherhood myself, but perhaps not. The imagination is a powerful thing. Also, as I say in the extras bit at the back of the book, although BloodMining is in no way autobiographical it is fair to say that my life experience influenced the exploration of identity in the novel, and what it means to be a parent. Raised by a stepfather, I knew virtually nothing about my biological father until I was an adult. I could not have asked for a better father than the man who raised me, but had I had the opportunity of tracing my biological father, who knows what I would have done.
BloodMining is an intriguing title. Did the title come before or after the novel? Or perhaps it changed while the novel itself took form?
A: It came as the novel progressed through its many drafts. The working title during the early months of writing was Thicker than Water, but aware this was all wrong, it quickly morphed into Bloodlines. Sometime during draft three I did a search on Amazon which threw up numerous books called Bloodlines so I knew it had to change again. Also, Bloodlines felt too much like a crime novel. I wanted to keep ‘blood’ because it’s all about family, and identity, and ‘mining’ came after a long conversation with my sister (they call it brainstorming in business circles, don’t they?), principally because Megan has to dig deep to unearth the truth.
If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?
A: Not at all. Novel #2 follows the relationship between a deformed boy and a beautiful, psychologically damaged woman, an artist. One is on a quest to look ‘normal’, the other is experimenting with cosmetic surgery as a means of artistic expression. It’s set in Manchester in the 1980s and London in the 90s. It’s pretty dark, though there’s humour in there too.
Due to the popularity of social networking websites, it seems that interacting with readers – be it via a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a blog etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?
A: I’m a big fan of Twitter, as well as Facebook and other networking websites. As well as connecting with readers – and it’s fantastic to get reader feedback this way - I have made some really good writing buddies. But, you need to be disciplined. Social networks are beasts that need feeding. It’s all too easy to allow them to become very, very greedy and eat away your writing time. Especially if, like me, you have other jobs as well as writing.
On my writing days I am rigorous about the amount of time I spend on Twitter et al. When I am writing nothing gets in the way. I turn off Outlook, Tweetdeck and Explorer, and only put them back on once I have my target word count, or I’ve edited three chapters, or whatever goal I have set myself. On other days, when I tend to write in the evening once my kids are in bed, I dedicate an hour or so (sometimes more, sometimes less) after supper to networking while my boys are playing or just hanging out.
What one fundamental piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
A: Read, read, read. Especially in your chosen genre.
And lastly, is there anything that you would like to share that I haven’t asked?
A If you are a reader, please do seek out and support the independent presses. There’s some great work out there, but it’s hard to find because the small houses don’t have the marketing budgets that the big six do, who can get their books into the shop fronts, on the three-for-two tables and so on. Some smaller houses to look out for are: Myriad (Brighton-based), Tindall Street, Arcadia, Seren, Honno, Sandstone and Alma. There are many more, but it’ll take too long here.
If you’re an unpublished writer, keep at it. Practise your craft and keep submitting. And good luck!
You can follow Laura on Twitter and keep up-to-date with her latest news on her website.
And for a chance to win a copy of BloodMining, click here and complete the form. The competition will close on the 6th February at 1pm.