Friday, March 7, 2014

Writer Spotlight: Laura Kemp

On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I'm delighted to welcome the lovely LAURA KEMP into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I have always loved words and finding out about people - a general nosiness really! - so it's no surprise I ended up a journalist by trade. But it was only when I had taken voluntary redundancy after having a baby six years ago that I discovered I could actually write creatively. It was a real shock because I'd never thought I had a book in me. I began writing features for national newspapers and magazines as a way of keeping myself sane when my son was small and then when he was about 18 months old, I came up with the idea for my first book. I was lucky enough to get an agent, a two-book deal and my second book has just been published. I'm still a bit stunned by it all!

What interests you as a writer?

Balancing the lows of life with the highs - being able to survive the bad times through humour and love. That's what we're all up against! It comes down to being fascinated by people and how we cope with everything thrown at us. Life is material, at the end of the day!

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

My typical writing day starts after I've dropped my son at school and had my first coffee of the day so I aim to sit down and start at 9.30am. Then I'll write for an hour or so, get up, have a faff about doing something like washing or whatever, have another coffee, then get back down to it, finishing around 1ish because my focus wanders by then. Before my son started school, I'd do it when he was having a nap and at night but as his bedtime has got later, I don't bother at night anymore. I'd rather store it all up for the morning when I can concentrate better. During school holidays, it's a totally different matter - I have to write whenever I get the chance, perhaps if my son is round a friend's house, or if my husband is around to take charge, which isn't much because his job means he's away for 26 weeks of the year, sometimes for three weeks at a time. 

Which authors inspire you and why?

You, of course, Miranda - such an epic writer with so much passion and positivity! Likewise Milly Johnson. I also love Allison Pearson's writing, so spot-on and relatable, and the mother of mum-lit Fiona Gibson, who is super cool. I also love Khaled Hosseini because his storytelling is simply beautiful, he's a real expert at understanding the human condition and exploring emotions in a poignant and touching way.

Tell us about your latest book.

It's called Mums on Strike and it's about a woman who has had enough of being the family skivvy so she goes on strike with the aim of getting her husband to share the housework equally. That's the top line but it's also a love story - how we deal with changes in our lives and whether relationships can survive them. The strength of female friendship is key to the book too - those relationships are ones that are just as important to us as our marriages.

What are the best things about being a writer?

I love the escapism, the journey into your characters' lives, where you enter their world and feel as if you're in the same room. It's a complete joy to immerse yourself into another reality. Writing comes to me when I write, so I'll have the basic framework planned, but things come to me as I sit down and tap away and I love the way your brain can throw up things which you'd never have thought of if you weren't physically doing it. I also love talking to other authors, it's taken me a while to believe I'm actually one of them because I just felt I wasn't good enough but the writing community is so warm and supportive and really helps you get through those moments when you doubt yourself. I also really enjoy quiet time, the silence of working, which came as a surprise because I used to thrive in a noisy newsroom, but they are different disciplines. If I ever need a chat, I just go on Twitter, which I love, and it's like a virtual office for me.

And the worst?

I get embarrassed about promoting my books on social media because it makes me feel a bit of an idiot but it has to be done. Gone are the days when an author can expect an awareness of their work without shouting about it - having said that, there's a lot of fun to be had with it so I try to keep it light.

What are you working on now?

My third book, which will be a departure from mum-lit to chick-lit. It's a sexy comedy on the surface but beneath is all about the ups and downs of falling in love. I'm also going to do a script-writing course in the spring because I'm really drawn to giving characters a voice. 

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

I would love to write a TV series - I love tragic comedies like Early Doors and Rev, they're so fantastically funny and poignant which stay with you long after you've finished watching them. And of course more books.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

Write as though you'll wake up tomorrow being unable to write - so get it down now with passion. Don't expect a smash hit with your first book because it's all about establishing a career long term, so you might have to do another job until you get established. And be determined. Rejection is inevitable - you just have to get back up and keep going!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Just a big thank you for having me, see you on Twitter and if anyone's going to the shop, can they get me some crisps. XXX

A massive thank you to Laura for braving the Writer Spotlight! You can find more about her at her website, follow her on twitter @laurajanekemp and find out all her latest news on Facebook. Mums on Strike is published by Arrow and available on Amazon - click here to get your copy!

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