When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I've been writing since childhood. I keep getting ideas that just insist on being written down in some form or other! I’ve done many other things in my time, but I’ve been a full-time professional writer for about twelve years now.
What genre do you write and why?
The new book LYDIA BENNET’S BLOG is comedy, which I love to write. I also write crime fiction, stage and BBC radio plays, and poetry which is sometimes performance poetry, often science-themed; funny poems about sex, moving poems about death, recently! I also create poetry installations for exhibitions or media projects which are ‘sci-art’, that is, interpreting scientific themes through poetry which moves and changes in a public artwork. I spray-painted poetry on live sheep in my Quantum Sheep project, using the principles of quantum physics. That project got a lot of media attention and still does! I like to make people laugh and cry with my poetry, novels and plays. But also my ideas come to me with a genre attached, they seem arrive ready to be a poem, a play, a novel. I’ve had ten previous books published, twelve plays produced, and many commissions and Writer in Residence posts. At present, I’m Writer in Residence at a Pathology Museum of human specimens, at a university brain institute, and at a physic garden growing mind-altering plants!
Tell us about your latest book.
LYDIA BENNET’S BLOG - THE REAL STORY OF PRIDE & PREJUDICE is my 11th book, my first indie e-book. It’s a comedy, telling the story of Jane Austen’s novel in the voice of Lydia Bennet, the outrageous, sexy, shameless youngest Bennet sister. She’s just like a modern teenager, so I’ve written her ‘blog’ in modern teen language, but with 19th Century explanations for her slang. Lydia knows a lot of what went on unknown to Lizzy and Darcy and the others, as she was manipulating the action behind the scenes to get her way and get her man, the ultimate bad boy Wickham! I thought she deserved to tell her tale, and to triumph! It’s available from Amazon kindle store at http://amzn.to/LydBBUK (98p) and in US athttp://amzn.to/LBBUS ($1.55) and from Smashwords http://bit.ly/LBBSmash. It’s collected some ace five star reviews, from respected writers too.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
This is my first indie e-book so it’s all new territory for me, though my crime novel THE ROTTING SPOT is also on kindle as well as paperback. I’m using facebook and Twitter and guest spots on blogs, also with the generous help of wonderful writers like best-seller Linda Gillard, award-winning Catherine Czerkawska, Paul Magrs and others who have written fabulous five star reviews about how much they enjoyed it. It’s taking a while to identify the target audience. The book can be seen as a crossover for young adults as well as adults, but the ‘post-chick-lit’ audience seem to love it. Though some obsessive Austen fans might find Lydia’s dissing of Darcy hard to take! Lydia has an actual blog where she’s blogging the novel in instalments on http://bit.ly/LydiaBsBlog. I’m working on my next crime novel though so time for marketing is limited!
What formats is the book available in?
It’s on Amazon Kindle and on Smashwords in their premium catalogue for other e-formats.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m an obsessive swimmer. I swim five miles a week and love snorkelling on my travels. I love to socialise and spend time with my boyfriend, my friends and my grown-up children, going to films, plays, literary events, readings, galleries... I enjoy travelling, touring and performing my work. And reading! I love books and I love my kindle with a late-flowering but intense passion.
Who are your favourite authors?
I have many favourites but to give a few stand-outs: Novelists, Barbara Pym, Anne Tyler, Patrick O’Brian. I also re-read Jane Austen and E F Benson often. Crime novelists, Dorothy L Sayers, Ann Cleeves, Raymond Chandler. Poets, Shakespeare, William Blake, Sharon Olds, Gillian Clarke. I love many poets’ work, but many of them are friends so naming some and missing others out is risky!
What advice do you have for other writers?
Write what needs to be said. Write what you want to say. Tell the story but use powerful language to bring it alive for your readers. Be open to editing but don’t write to please imaginary reviewers or publishers. I’ve seen people on facebook talk about changing their new book because of a single critical Amazon review comment about their previous one. That way lies madness.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
Peter Mortimer said a poem (or any piece of creative work) ‘needs an imperative of some kind.’ In other words, it’s something that needs to be said, and you have to try and say it in the best way possible. That’s the challenge!
What's the best thing about being a writer?
Moving and engaging people - making them see things in a new way. Learning, researching and creating for a living. In my new poetry book ALL THAT LIVES is a prize-winning poem about malformed foetuses in jars in the pathology museum. It always has a powerful effect on audiences because it celebrates the babies in an unexpected way.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
My website, www.valerielaws.co.uk. Some of my published books are available through Amazon as mentioned above, or in paperback through www.redsquirrelpress.com. Or google me! Come to one of my readings or performances, or invite me to perform where you are!
Anything else you'd like to add?
I keep writing in many genres and in all my work I celebrate the world, speak for the voiceless to tell their stories. I’m a mathematician and physicist as well as being interested in biomedical science, and I believe in embracing change and the randomness of the universe. My spray-painted poetry on sheep celebrated that, as did my random haiku on inflatable beach balls in a swimming pool, featured in a BBC TV documentary. I love to perform my work or take on the challenge of inventing new ways to use language using modern technology or unusual media. I welcome commissions or invitations to create site specific pieces. I hope LYDIA BENNET’S BLOG finds a wider audience and makes a lot of people laugh. Some say it would make a great sit-com. Who knows, perhaps it will!