13 February 2011

Author interview: LULU TAYLOR

I've recently read MIDNIGHT GIRLS by Lulu Taylor, which I absolutely loved so I was very excited when the author kindly agreed to an interview for my little blog! Read on to learn more about Ms Taylor, her inspiration, her writing process and even some scoop on her next book!!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was brought up just outside Oxford in England, and then went to university there, where I read English Literature – and had a marvellous time. After that, I worked in publishing for a while and then became a freelance writer. Now I love spending my time weaving stories about high society and the ridiculously rich. I live in London.

Your debut novel was published in 2009 and since then you've written a book a year. What was your road to becoming a published author like?
My road to becoming an author was a bit different to most people’s, as I had already worked in publishing and had an idea of how it all worked – for example, I knew how to send my work to an agent and I had a good sense of which agencies might suit me. I think that definitely helped, but having said that, no publisher publishes something that they don’t rate, so there’s no way I could have got a deal just by knowing the business. I get nervous every time I finish a book that the publisher won’t like it and it will all be over.

How would you describe each of your books in five words?
Sexy, dramatic, dark, rich, scandalous. That covers all of them, I think. Besides the heroines’ journeys, there is always another angle or two, and I research those carefully. In HEIRESSES, there is a lot about scent and how perfumes are made and sold. The exclusive nightclubs in MIDNIGHT GIRLS are based on famous places and you will find lots of real details in there of how they look and how they’re run. The department store in BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is based on a very well-known London landmark.

What all your three books seem to have in common is that they are set in the world of the incredibly rich. Is there are particular reason why you decided to write such glamorous bonkbusters? Where do you get the inspiration?
I wanted to write about this world because I’m fascinated by it and love reading about it. The rich really live very different lives to the rest of us. In some ways, those lives are very seductive – a world where you can have anything you want, where high luxury is just an everyday occurrence. In other ways, those lives are dangerous because they’re so removed from reality and because the most extraordinary events – like kidnappings or disinheritance – actually happen. I loved programmes like Dallas and Dynasty when I was growing up, and the novels are like that: soap operas with big cars and expensive houses.

I get inspiration all the time – in fact, it’s hard keeping hold of all the ideas. Newspapers, magazines, and just stories I hear about other people’s lives are always starting off potential plot lines for me.

Are your novels based on personal experience? What kind of research have you had to do so far?
There is plenty of personal experience in the books – in fact, I think readers might be surprised at exactly what is true and what is not! Some of the most bizarre things are completely real – but of course I’m not saying which. The bits in Oxford in MIDNIGHT GIRLS had a lot of truth: I saw some wild events and some very rich young people going off the rails. Luckily I didn’t get pulled into that life myself.

Writing HEIRESSES, I had to research perfume and became a real geek on it for a while, trying out dozens of scents and learning to distinguish between them. MIDNIGHT GIRLS was pretty enjoyable, as I had to go to some smart nightclubs and drink cocktails (I know, it’s a hard life). BEAUTIFUL CREATURES was more desk research than travelling about – though I did have to take a helicopter flight. It’s the small things that can cause the most difficulties – how family businesses work, points of law and trust management – that sort of thing. And I always spend a lot of time researching the clothes, food, furnishings... everything that makes the books feel real.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How and where do you write? How long does it take for you to write one novel, since they're all massive?
It takes several months to write each book. I work in a variety of places, most often at home. Sometimes I just have to get out of the house for a change of scene and new inspiration. In those cases, I go to libraries or quiet places. I like certain cafes or clubs where I can order coffee and cake when I need a boost. Surroundings can help, so I like to go to luxurious places occasionally. Once the first draft is done, there is always the second to do, and that can be really hard work. As soon as one book is finished, it’s time to plan the next.

As I said, your books are very lengthy and yet they're anything but boring and they seem to be very well structured. Do you do a lot of planning in advance?
I always know where it’s going to begin and where it’s going to end, and what the main plotlines are. I plan the early part of the book and then I always get keen to start, so off I go. Often I end up on quite a different track, or a character turns out not to be what I’d planned, and things change quite radically. That’s part of the fun – seeing where it all goes... I always try to keep it pacy and eventful, and easy to read so you want to keep turning the pages. Sometimes I get completely absorbed by it all, and carried away at high moments of emotion. When a character died in MIDNIGHT GIRLS, I was sobbing!

When can we expect your next novel and can you share any information about it yet (please!)?
My next novel is due out in January 2012, and it doesn’t have a title yet, though I’m working on it. This one is about two girls, born on the same day to very different families and backgrounds. But their lives become irreversibly intertwined and their fortunes vary hugely. There is a love story in this one that’s absolutely central to the plot, and a big, bold villain as well. It’s already lots of fun to write.

Your books would make fantastic films - do you have anything like that planned for the future? Which book for you most like to see as a film and what would your ideal cast be like?
I would love to see one of the novels filmed, though I always imagine them more as mini dramas on the television – because of my old Dynasty influences, I suppose. People are making rather grittier things than this at the moment though, or else making period dramas. So we shall see what happens, but I won’t hold my breath. My ideal cast would be, of course, very glamorous and very good at high drama. I’d love Joan Collins to have a guest role, even if I had to write it in!

Thank you for answering my questions!

Ms Taylor's book BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is out now! Don't forget to check out her other two books, HEIRESSESS and MIDNIGHT GIRLS.
You can learn more about the author on her website or follow her on Twitter!


Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

Great interview!

I added Midnight Girls to my wish list after reading your review. I love the sound of the upcoming book too, and I love the research process involved in these books. How fun!


Nina said...

I agree with Leanna, great interview. I haven't read her books, but the covers of her books are truly wonderful! ;)

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