In conversation with... Laura Ambrose

Hi Laura! I have recently read A Hidden Hope, the first book in the Romancing the Page series, plus its short prequel, A Frozen Night, both of which I immensely enjoyed! Can you please briefly tell us what the novel is about?

A: A Hidden Hope is about two former writing critique partners a few years after a massive falling out. It’s an enemies to lovers romance set over the weekend at a science fiction and fantasy convention in London, though both of the leads are American. It’s geeky and sweet and sexy.

Can you please describe your journey to publication?

A: I’ve been a trade published author since 2013 and have released five books under the name Laura Lam (which is my actual name): The Micah Grey trilogy (Pantomime, Shadowplay, Masquerade) and near future thrillers False Hearts and Shattered Minds. I self-published some short stories and novellas that tie into my SFF novels over the past few years, and I enjoy the control and access to data. When I decided to write romance on the side, I knew I wanted to publish it myself, and so I did! 

Are there any autobiographical elements woven into the fictional lives of your characters?

A: The convention is basically an amalgamation of the cons I’ve been to over the course of my career. Both of the main characters are SFF authors, so there’s a lot of my own lived experience in there, but refracted through Natalie and El’s experiences. A lot of my feelings about the ups and downs of publishing are in there as well. I had a lot of fun writing the panels my characters are on—one is about writing strong female characters in young adult fiction and the other is about writing good sex scenes, which ended up being super meta. 

If A Hidden Hope was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the roles of Natalie and El?

A: We can but dream. Hmm. I always find these hard, but maybe Olivia Wilde for El and Alison Brie for Natalie? 

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: The surprise date they go on! It was fun to write, but I hadn’t actually done what they end up doing, so it was a lot of googling. 

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of A Hidden Hope?

A: I originally started it as M/F, with El as a guy, but then it was boring and not working so I made it two girls and it was instantly what I wanted to write rather than I thought I ‘should’ write because it’s a bigger market or what have you. I’m bi and read M/F, M/M, and F/F romance, but F/F is what I have the most fun writing. 

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: I work on way too many things at once. The second Romancing the Page novella, A Perfect Balance, was out on January 15th, and the third, An Unheard Song, is out in mid-March. I’ll then do a collection of the first three novellas in April. The second one is about two adorable weirdos who are afraid of commitment, so they have a no-strings-attached arrangement that works perfectly until they’re suddenly co-workers at the same science fiction publishing house. Can they keep it professional? (Spoiler: no). The third one is about an agoraphobic writer who hires an assistant to help her research her next book but then oops, they keep kissing. Can they keep it professional? (Also no).

I’m hoping I’ll be able to write more novellas this year (I have ideas for at least two more), but under the Laura Lam name I am working on editing my 2020 title, Seven Devils, which is basically Rogue One meets Mad Max: Fury Road (and has an F/F romance in it!) with my co-writer Elizabeth May, and then writing the sequel, which will be out in 2021. I also have to write another Laura Lam book this year too, so it’s a busy year! But I find writing these romances is really fun, and a nice balance to my rather darker other work, so I hope I’ll be able to fit some more in my schedule. 

What are you reading at the moment?

A: I’m an eclectic reader. I’m currently reading a non-fiction book called How to Break Up With Your Phone, because I’m tired of mindlessly reaching for my phone instead of reading or focusing completely on my work. Being hyperconnected is a challenge, as I’ll get into more below! Fiction-wise, I’ve been on a crime kick lately and read No Time to Cry by James Oswald. Next up I have a Cat Sebastian historical romance to read. 

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram 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: Constantly interrupting my creative process to check Twitter and Facebook is affecting how I work. As I lecture three days a week on a Creative Writing MA across at least three classes a trimester, I’m balancing a lot of different things in my brain. Trying to flit between them constantly, I’m finding, means I’m less effective. What I’ve started doing it locking myself in a café that has no internet for writing actual fiction. Once I settle in, I get more work done in 2 hours than it’d take me all day if I do have the internet, and I leave feeling happy and refreshed. 

That said, I still do love social media and the way it can connect writers and readers, plus be a fun water-cooler kind of chat. So in 2019 I’m trying to find good blocks of time for marketing and just kicking around online, and protecting my creative time so I can work smarter, not harder. That’s the goal, at least.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Be resilient. Work hard. You can’t control the outcomes like sales or many factors, but you can control the words on the page. I have no idea if my Romancing the Page novellas will be ‘successful’ whatever that even means, but if they don’t end up paying many of my bills, I’ve still loved spending time with these nerdy girls falling in love. As long as you love what you write, nothing’s wasted. This is something I’m still working on. 

Thank you for your time!

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