When I received a proof copy of Lucy Diamond's latest book One Night in Italy it put me to shame as I still hadn't read her previous book Me and Mr Jones which was languishing in my TBR pile! So I decided to ask if Lucy would like to do a Q&A to run alongside the reviews which she kindly agreed to do.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I have three school-age children so I usually work between nine and three o’clock, while they’re out of the house. I tend to start by going over my previous day’s words and editing them, then I carry on with the next part of the story. I’m either working at home in my own little office, or sometimes I go into town and work in a shared office full of other freelancers.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book One Night in Italy?
Where did the inspiration come from to write about Italian classes?
I’ve attended many evening classes as an adult myself – everything from scriptwriting to gymnastics (seriously!) to vegetarian cookery. I love that there’s always a random mix of students, all there for different reasons. It struck me as the perfect setting for a novel.
Did you sample all of the dishes featured in the book?
Oh yes. I take my research very seriously! The character of Anna goes on something of an Italian voyage of discovery and starts writing a cookery column for the local newspaper (she is a journalist). I am a real foodie myself so her storyline appealed to me very much.
Which character did you have the most fun creating?
I have a soft spot for Geraldine – she is one of the students of the evening class: a glamorous, feisty pensioner who fancies herself as an actress – diva, more like! But I think the character I rooted for most was Catherine. She starts the novel basically losing everything she’s held dearest for the last eighteen years and sinks to a real low before pulling herself together and trying to start again – a brave thing for anyone to do.
Are you currently working on a new book? If so, are you able to tell us anything about it?
I have another Christmas digital novella in the pipeline – I’m going back to the Beach Café in Cornwall for a third time (hooray) which, for me, is like catching up with lovely old friends. I think that’s coming out in November. My next full-length novel is already finished and that’ll be out in January. I’m keeping that one under wraps for now though!
What’s the best thing about being an author? And on the flip side what is the worst?
The best thing is definitely getting a lovely email or message from someone who has enjoyed one of my books and takes the time to let me know. I appreciate them so much and treasure every single one. It’s also a brilliant moment when I first get my hands on an actual copy of a new book – I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that!
The worst...hmmm. Sometimes I have terrible writing days where I change my mind about the plot twenty-five times or am just convinced that it’s all a load of rubbish. Sometimes it can be a lonely old business, which is partly why I started working in an office with other people again. Thankfully those days are few and far between. Being an author is generally ace!
Do you treat yourself to something special upon publication of each book?
Hell, yes. And definitely when I deliver the first draft to my editor too – that feels like the biggest milestone to pass, and one I’m always ready to celebrate. By then I’m usually completely crunched up from being hunched over my desk, so a knot-busting back massage is essential. As are the bags full of new books and clothes I splurge on afterwards!
What advice would you give to an aspiring author just starting out?
Write the book you always wanted to read. Follow your instincts – if a paragraph or character feels weak, it’s probably time to get the red pen out. Read lots of great books and then pick them apart forensically: how did the author set up the story? How might you have written it differently?
Finally, I’d advise a plentiful supply of cake, gallons of tea or coffee, and some serious self-discipline. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need all three!