10 questions with author Louise Beech; ‘My mum jumped off the Humber Bridge and survived’

Author Louise Beech

Louise Beech is an author who is not scared of switching genres – and doesn’t like to be labelled. She loves all forms of writing. So seven books in and she has transitioned through love stories to psychological thrillers and historical fiction. As she tells here, she also recently moved to memoir with her lockdown project ‘Daffodils’, the very personal story of her mother’s attempted suicide and the family fallout. Her journey to publication was a long and determined one. It took ten years before she was published by Orenda. And this week she signed with ‘the hottest new agent in town’, Silé Edwards, at Mushens Entertainment. Congratulations Louise.

Here are 10 questions with – Louise Beech

  1. What’s your name and where do you come from?

I’m Louise Beech, and I live just outside Hull in East Yorkshire. I grew up here, on the banks of the River Humber, and set most of my novels in this area. 

2. Do you write fact or fiction and in what genre?

I smiled so much at this question. Because I write it all. I only wrote fiction until earlier this year when I completed my memoir, Daffodils, during lockdown. It was certainly an intense experience. My mum jumped off the Humber Bridge in 2019, and miraculously survived, so I wanted to explore all that led up to this, and what the fallout was like for the family. Before this, my first six books were fiction. In a variety of genres, from the love story of The Lion Tamer Who Lost to the psychological thriller of Call Me Star Girl to the historical fiction of How to be Brave. Now I’ve started what you might call a speculative fiction, set fifteen years in the future, in a world where books are banned. I’m not sure if this year (2020 has been a corker!) got to me.

3. Are you traditionally or self-published and which route do you consider best? 

I’m traditionally published, by Orenda. I got my book deal in 2015. It took ten years, four novels, and hundreds of rejections. It was very hard to pick myself up and keep going. But I’ve wanted to be writer since I was nine and first scribbled stories in notepads to escape from a difficult childhood. I knew if I gave up, it would never happen. I don’t think either route is better; neither is right or wrong. It depends what you want. Many authors have been very successful with the self-publishing route. I just wanted to go the traditional route because it had been my dream all those years. I wanted to be in Waterstones, do festivals, go on book tours, the whole thing!

4. What’s your work schedule like when you are writing?

Before lockdown, I worked as an usher in a theatre and fit my writing around the evening and weekend shifts. Since March, I’ve been home, so I can write when I want. I still prefer to start early. I take a long walk and then I’m at my desk by nine, creating the words. By four o’clock I’m often spent. I like music when I’m writing but need silence when editing. Other than that, it’s just bum in seat, and do it. I’m lucky that I don’t get writer’s block. I guess I just have a lot to say!

5. What advice would you give to budding writers?

Very simply, never give up. Every book on every shelf is there because the writer didn’t give up. The rejections sting like hell but use them. Learn from any advice given. Improve. Then defy them. Make that no the fire that spurs you on. You only need one yes.

6. Who/what are YOUR favourite authors/ books?

In recent months, during lockdown, I loved Skin Deep by Liz Nugent, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, and A Song of Isolation by Michael J Malone. Some of my other favourite writers are John Irving, Matt Haig, Matt Wesolowski, John Marrs, SE Lynes, and Claire Allan. I love Gill Paul’s historical fiction too.

7. Are you a plotter or a pantster? (i.e do you plan out your work or fly by the seat of your pants?!) 

A total … pantster. I don’t like a map. I don’t like restrictions. I often don’t even know the ending until I get there. I love this freedom. I need it in order to be creative. I’ll only kick if I have boundaries! I sit down and I find the story by writing it. I have one notepad with each novel, but that’s more to scribble the odd scene or idea, and I have a general timeline to keep dates in order, but that’s it.

8. What helps you focus? 

My simple and absolute love of writing. There’s almost nowhere I’d rather be.

9. How long did it take you to write your book/books? 

It varies. I Am Dust was a quickie – I completed the first draft in three months. However, This Is How We Are Human (out next year) took almost ten months. I think I had a lot of other work on when I wrote that, and it needed the most research, being about a young autistic man.

10. Where can we find your book/s?

In all the usual places, like Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith – and never forget all the wonderful indie bookstores. For more on Louise look up her website

Review: Call me star girl by Louise Beech

If you are an author and would like to take part in ’10 questions with..’ please email me at nicolakadam@gmail.com in the first instance. The questions remain the same each week, for guidance.

All of these Q&As will later appear in multiple JPI Media (local) titles across the UK (think Lancashire Post/Edinburgh Evening News/Sheffield Star etc). To contact me in my role at JPI Media please email nicola.adam@jpimedia.co.uk

I also interview a small number of authors as a presenter at BBC Radio Lancashire and I’m particularly but not exclusively interested in northern writers with a back story for this. My email is nicola.adam@bbc.co.uk

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