I am so, so very excited to be bringing you a Q and A with the amazing Lauren James today! I was invited to interview her as part of the NYA Lit Fest which I will be attending this coming weekend.
Welcome to the blog Lauren!
Can you tell us about The Loneliest Girl in the Universe for anyone who hasn’t read it yet?
A girl alone on a spaceship find a connection with another ship, just at the time she needs that the most.
What inspired you to write The Loneliest Girl?
It started with a question from some Physics coursework at university! The question was about special relativity, and went something like this:
An astronaut travels in a spaceship to a new planet. After a few years, a newer faster ship is developed and launched, which overtakes the first ship. How old are the two astronauts when they each arrive on the planet?
I started thinking about what it would be like to be that first astronaut, and dedicate years to travelling alone in space, only for your ship to be overtaken by a faster one before you even arrive! What would that feel like? What kind of relationship would you have with the person on the faster ship? From that, the story of Romy Silvers was born.
I’ve always loved stories of isolation – it’s a great way to really get to know a character. I knew that if I was writing a whole book where there was only really one person, I would need to create a character who would keep the reader’s attention and loyalty. It was a big challenge, but I fell totally in love with Romy while I was writing about her, and I hope everyone reading The Loneliest Girl in the Universe does too.
What research did you have to do and what was the writing process like?
I always try to make the science in my books as accurate as possible, and I did a lot of research into space travel and the theory of space travel behind NASA’s equipment when writing The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. I read a lot of non-fiction about space travel – NASA does a series of free eBooks explaining their science for beginners, so I had a great time diving into them. I also got to watch loads of sci fi films like Moon, Gravity and Interstellar – and that really helped with capturing the aesthetics and design of the ship.
Which character was your favourite to write and why?
Out of every character I’ve ever written, Spart. Everyone who reads The Last Beginning loves him – he’s had at least 3 declarations of love and/or marriage so far – and I totally agree. He’s an Artificial Intelligence who’s very sassy and wise, and obsessed with trashy tv shows. I could write him into every scene I write in any piece of fiction for the rest of my life, and it would improve it exponentially. I’ll probably miss writing his dialogue the most.
How would you keep yourself entertained and motivated if you were in Romy’s position alone in space?
Lots of reading, like her! I honestly have a TBR on my kindle long enough to keep me occupied well to Earth II and back – fanfiction and otherwise.
What would you like readers to take away from reading The Loneliest Girl?
To be careful what you share online – in fandom or on social media.
Which writers or books inspire you?
I love The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. She has an incredible way of really making her characters seem like real people, and I learn so much about writing different perspectives from her work. The set up of that series is just absolutely my favourite thing, and I’m forever jealous I didn’t invent the character Gansey.
Also The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein- I’m a huge fan of thirties detective novels like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, and this is my perfect spin on that – there’s murder, rich people living frivolously, dogs, Bronze age marine archaeology, bisexual characters exploring both sides of their sexuality, castles, cross-dressing Cabaret shows, TREASURE-HUNTING, pearls, buried treasure (did I mention the treasure?), river trawling and Harriet Vane mentions. I’m so into it in every way.
Are there any 2018 book releases you are particularly looking forward to?
I have a long list here – but I’m really excited for Alice Oseman’s I Was Born For This!
Can you tell us anything about what you are currently working on?
My next book is out in Autumn, and it’s about extinction, mudlarking and time capsules.
Thanks to Lauren for answering my questions today. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is one of my stand-out reads from last year, so it was fascinating to get to learn more about the inspiration behind it.
Lauren James was born in 1992, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics.
She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university.
The Next Together was described by The Bookseller as ‘funny, romantic and compulsively readable’ and Kirkus as ‘An ambitious, promising premise . . . James is one to watch’. It was longlisted for the Branford Boase Award, a prize given to recognise an outstanding novel by a first-time writer.
Her other novels include The Last Beginning, the epic conclusion to The Next Together which was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for kids and young adults by the Independent. Two short stories set in the world of The Next Together series, Another Together and Another Beginning, are also available.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature scientists in prominent roles.
Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books, in the US by HarperCollins and in translation in five other countries around the world. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for the Guardian, Buzzfeed and The Toast. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, Tumblr at @laurenjames or her website http://www.laurenejames.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her new releases and receive bonus content.