Author Interview with Lynsey James

It's a special day on Becca's Books today, because I have the marvellous Lynsey James, fellow Carina UK author, answering my questions about her stunning debut novel Just The Way You Are, which publishes TODAY! Lynsey, welcome to Becca's Books, I am absolutely delighted to have you here and congratulations on the publication of your debut novel!

B ~ Lynsey, have you always been an ambitious writer? When did it all begin? Was there anything in particular that sparked the flame within you? 

L ~ I've always been an ambitious writer, in the sense that I always knew I wanted to have a book published one day. It might sound clich├ęd, but it started when I was pretty young. My granddad loved to tell me stories about princesses, dragons and castles, which I loved to listen to. When I was five, a Mr Frosty machine fell on my head from the attic in our flat; I'm sure that's what sparked off my writerly brain!

B ~ Can you remember any of the very first stories you wrote? What were they called? 

L ~ Haha I can actually! When I was around seven, I thought I had this winning idea for a children's mystery series: The Ollie Manderville Mysteries. I wrote one where he goes looking for his mum's missing diamond necklace. I also wrote this story called Unwritten when I was sixteen or so; it was about a woman named Holly who fell in love with a man named Jake. I passed it round all my mates at school and got them to write comments on the book. One said it was "unputdownable"!

B ~ At what point did you decide to take it seriously? Can you describe to us how it felt when you submitted your manuscript? 

L ~ After a disastrous university interview for primary teaching in 2012, I knew writing was definitely what I wanted to do. It took me another year to really get my act together though. I got a job as an administrator for a chocolate fountain company, but quit in April 2013. A month later, I decided to finally pursue my dream and write a book. It's the best thing I ever did. I'd submitted before, but been rejected so I assumed the same thing would probably happen this time. Amazingly, my lovely editor Victoria loved my story and signed me! 

B ~ Can you tell us some of your favourite books of all time? Who are some of your literary influences? 

L ~ Some of my favourite books of all time include The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, I Remember You by Harriet Evans and Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood. I love books that can make me laugh. I'm influenced by writers like Jane Costello and Miranda Dickinson; they have ways of creating characters that readers root for from the word 'go'. 

B ~ Your debut novel, Just The Way You Are, focuses on Ava and the mysterious love letters that once stopped but have recently started up again. Where did the idea for your debut come from? 

L ~ It kind of crept up on me when I wasn't looking! I was planning another story when the idea just sprang from nowhere. I was going to use same set of characters - Ava, Max and Gwen - in a different way. The plot was that Ava wanted to win her ex-boyfriend back and was prepared to do anything to achieve that, including some pretty funny things! There was going to be a massive revelation involving a letter and that was where the idea for Just The Way You Are came from. 

B ~ What can readers expect from Just The Way You Are? What themes have you focused on within the story? 

L ~ Readers can expect not one, but two romantic stories where the heroine takes control of her own happy ending. I've explored the theme of second chances and of how love can be found in the most unexpected places. There are a couple of more serious themes explored later on in the story, such as illness and not feeling worthy of love. 

B ~ Your character Ava sounds utterly delightful. Does she, in any way, share your own characteristics? Was she fun to create? 

L ~ Aww thank you! I think she is like me, in some ways. She's quite cynical about love, especially at the beginning, and I can be that way too. She also has pretty bad luck when it comes to dating, as you'll see in the story. That I can definitely relate to! 

B ~ How about your hero? In the blurb, he sounds very mysterious, only being referred to as Mr Writer. Is he someone readers are going to swoon over? 

L ~ He is pretty mysterious, but I promise you'll find out more about him as the story goes on! I think readers will love him, although he's a bit of an enigma to begin with. It was pretty interesting writing a hero who only went by a pseudonym for most of the story. 

B ~ Were there any parts of the plot which you found difficult to push through? As this is your debut, it was your first time for edits etc. How did you find it all? 

L ~ I found it quite difficult building up to the ending, probably because I had it planned in my head and I wanted to make sure the build-up was as good as I wanted it to be. I had to rewrite the last few chapters a couple of times to make them the best they could be. Editing was actually quite fun, although quite hard to start with. I'd never edited with someone else's notes before. It was a bit hard to get my head around at first, but eventually I got into the swing of it. 

B ~ As well as Ava and Mr Writer, who else will readers be introduced to? Anyone who we need to keep a close eye on? 

L ~ You'll be introduced to her best friends Max and Gwen, who each have plotlines of their own that span the whole book. There's also a jazz singer named Ivy St Clair, whose story becomes entwined with Ava's. Keep an eye out for her! 

 B ~ Do you have a particular writing process that you follow? Any writerly habits? 

L ~ I like to do at least three drafts and see each one through to completion. I find this helps when I get stuck in later drafts; having material to go back to can help you out of writer's block. 

B ~ How did you feel when you first set eyes on your gorgeous cover? 

L ~ That was a really proud moment. I don't mind saying that I had a little happy cry when I saw it. As someone who never thought they'd ever have a cover to look at, I was surprised and delighted when I saw the cover for the first time. 

B ~ Now that Just The Way You Are is out there in the world with your readers, have you started working on book #2? Can you tell us a bit about it, or is it top secret for now? 

L ~ I have started work on book 2, but it's top secret for now. All I can say is that it has a gorgeous setting and some characters that readers will love!

B ~ On a more personal note, were there any moments where you doubted yourself? 

L ~ Of course. I'd wanted to write for so long before I got my book deal and I truthfully didn't think it would ever happen. I submitted Just The Way You Are (previously called Dear Ava) to some amazing agents and was rejected by them all. I started to think that maybe my stories just weren't right for publication. Happily though, I've found a home at Carina. 

B ~ We all have fears. Can you tell us some of yours? 

L ~ I'm scared of quite a lot of things: spiders and clowns are the main ones. I also HATE the dark. 

B ~ Besides writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? 

L ~ I live really near the beach, so I go there whenever I can. It's really peaceful and sometimes you can see the seals. Apart from that, I like watching movies, seeing friends and reading. 

B ~ What is your perfect writing accompaniment? Tea? Coffee? Chocolate cake? 

L ~ Has to be tea and cake. There's nothing better than curling up with your story, a cup of tea and a nice slice of cake. Victoria sponge and chocolate cake are my favourites.

B ~ Is there anyone you'd like to thank whilst you're here? 

L ~ So many people! I'd like to thank you first of all, for having me on your blog and for your support so far. You've been great! I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered my book and that I hope you all enjoy it. My best friend Jennifer Marston also deserves a huge thank you for her support, encouragement and friendship. 

B ~ Any top tips for aspiring writers? 

L ~ I'd say the most important thing is not to give up. You will get there one day, if you just keep trying. Also never stop writing; you can edit words but you can't edit a blank page. Oh and read! Read lots! 

 B ~ Any parting comments, Lynsey? 

L ~ Thank you again for having me on your blog. I'd love to come back sometime!    

B ~ Lynsey, I wish you every single success with your debut novel, and I truly cannot wait to dive into what sounds like a stunning romance. *Raises glass* Enjoy every single second of your BIG day, and I hope Just The Way You Are captures of the hearts of many! Thanks so much for appearing on Becca's Books and I hope to see you here again when your second novel is revealed! 

~ Author Bio ~

Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She's an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely granddad - and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine - with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she's sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn't a "good option" and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left her job a couple of years ago, she started writing and full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She hasn't looked back since. 

When Lynsey's not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she's daydreaming about the day Dylan O'Brien finally realises they're meant to be together. It'll happen one day...

You can find Lynsey James on Twitter | Goodreads |

You can find Just The Way You Are on Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

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