Monday 5 June 2017

A Conversation With Louise Walters

Louise Walters, who lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and five children, is the author of the acclaimed debut Mrs Sinclair􏰄s Suitcase, published by Hodder in 2014 and translated into 15 languages. 

She returns with her second novel, A Life Between Us, a gripping and heartfelt story of a family coming to terms with a devastating secret.

􏰀􏰂Following a childhood accident, Tina Thornton􏰁s twin sister Meg died, but for almost forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her sister􏰁s death. During a visit to her aging Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to finally question her memories of the day her sister died. 

"Louise carefully weaves a tale of family secrets and effortlessly spans decades in this cleverly crafted story." 
             - Louise Jensen, author of The Sister and The Gift.

􏰀The day was set, in her mind, if not in her heart. She knew what happened. For many years she had re-lived it, frequently, slotting things into place, arranging them to her satisfaction. But had she got it wrong?􏰁 

Who, if anyone, did kill Meg? As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the tangled family mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful French Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all. 

We'd like to thank Louise for taking part in A Conversation With...and wish her much luck with A Life Between Us, and her future publishing journey.

Tell us of your journey as a writer.

I think the writing grew out of my love of reading. Ever since I can remember I’ve loved to read, and as a child I used to love writing stories. In my 30s I started writing poems, then in my 40s I started writing novels. I’ve now written three, and I’m going to be waving goodbye to my 40s this year…! Hopefully the next decade will bring forth another three novels…

How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?

I’m not sure what the role is… I just really enjoy it. I can’t imagine not writing. I also need to earn money, so if I can do that, it’s a bonus. I do now critique and edit other people’s novels, as I need a regular income. It’s hard to earn money from writing alone. But regardless of money, writing is just what I do.

Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?

Yes, I have. In my latest novel, A Life Between Us, my “baddie” grew from being utterly hateful, in my mind, to being not all bad. I found her soft spot, and made sure the readers could see it too. She is still a meanie, but I do feel for her.

What has been your experience of writing about diverse characters?

In my third novel, I write about a family who decide to home educate. Home educated kids (and parents!) struggle to find themselves in fiction… often it’s in a negative light, or in a strange or “wacky” light. I’ve tried really hard to show the reality of home educating. That’s about it for diverse characters for me. Don’t we all tend to write, at least to begin with, about people like us? I do have a few ideas swimming around for future novels, and one of those is about a friendship between two women from different cultures. It’s an idea I’m really excited about and can’t wait to start work on it.

If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?

I have a fantasy of owning a large house, in the middle of the English countryside, where it’s always summer, and I have a desk at an open window where I spend my civilised days writing. I would relish that peace. The reality is somewhat different! Luckily, I can write anywhere. I don’t have a room of my own, but I do have a desk of my own, in the corner of our living room.

What is the one book you wish you had written? 

Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. It’s an incredible novel, one that any novelist would be proud of.

What advice do you have for would be novelists/writers?

I always say read, read, read. It’s the most important thing you can do to learn to write. When you are writing, don’t think too much in terms of finding an agent and getting published. Write for its own sake, to begin. But be honest with yourself. You have to develop objectivity towards your own work.

What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?

I’ve just finished the most recent edit on my third completed novel. It’s with my agent. Fingers crossed it will be my third published novel! Whether I’ll get a book deal or bring it out myself, I’ve no idea. Right now I’m working on my second screenplay. It’s a totally different way of writing, and I enjoy it very much. Lots to learn though.

Who is your favourite literary character from childhood and why?

I loved to read as a child, and I read a lot of classics. Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) was a favourite, I loved her attitude to life. Also Jo March from Little Women, with whom I identified big time!

A Life Between Us is published by Matador.

You can follow Louise on Twitter: @LouiseWalters12

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